IN THE movie, coming someday to a theater near you, Joey helps Jonny become a baseball hero with the heart of a lion, the skin of a rhinoceros, and the fight of a bald eagle. This film already exists in the minds of the Gomes brothers. Jonny calls it Grind to Shine, or Tough Times Go Away, Tough People Don't. Joey calls it Forever Moment. It starts on the Point Reyes peninsula in northern California, with Joey, the older one, leading Jonny toward the crest of a steep, wooded hill.
Everybody could walk down the thing. And everybody could run down the thing. Everybody could even sprint down the thing—but that wasn't enough. Because the goal wasn't to get to the bottom. The goal was to almost get your heart to jump through your chest.
The boys reach the hilltop and look down toward Tomales Bay. Jonny takes off running. Joey follows. They crash down through the woods, around the trees, over the stones, a hundred miles an hour.
When I was a kid, I was always trying to collect Forever Moments. Jonny—
Jonny jumps over a bush and disappears over a hidden cliff, yelling as he falls into the void. Joey runs to the edge, looks over and sees his brother on the ground 15 feet below, unharmed and apparently invincible.
—his Forever Moments came in the form of either not dying or hitting homers.
BY THE time you see Jonny's best-known Forever Moment, the three-run homer in Game 4 that rewrites the script of the 2013 World Series, you realize that much of the Gomes brothers' film amounts to a list of reasons that that home run should have been impossible.
[On the field at Fenway Park, talking into a TV camera after the Red Sox clinch the World Series] As soon as we went to Fort Myers [for spring training], the movie's already been written. All we had to do is press play.
If Jonny repeats himself during the film—often using lines about playing each game and living each day as if it's his last—the critics will understand that this sentiment comes from hard experience. Jonny's life and baseball career always seem to hang in the balance. At age 12 he's doing work on his grandmother's house when a hired hand shows up with a wolf on a leash. Jonny loves dogs but has never owned one, given that his family is occasionally homeless, so he approaches the blue-eyed wolf.
"No, no, no!" the man says. "It's a real wolf. You can't pet it."