Faithful Friday: My review of The Hill: The Real-Life Story of Rickey Hill

Faithful Friday: My review of The Hill: The Real-Life Story of Rickey Hill

by: Debbie Waltz

Most of my friends will tell you I’m not a big sports fan. Imagine my surprise when I asked my dad to take me to a movie called The Hill. Let alone that the title gives little indication of what the movie is truly about. Now sports fans will probably disagree with here, but the only clue that really gives you any sneak peek is the movie poster.

But I digress. This movie is truly a gem. Not only does it explore the complexities of finding your God-given talent, but it highlights the struggle to stay true to that calling even when everything seems stacked against you. In the movie, Rickey Hill (Colin Ford) faces his share of medical and spiritual challenges to pursue his dream of playing Major league baseball. He underwent several surgeries to correct his legs from ” being wrapped around each other.” Though these were successful, it left Rickey having to wear braces for most of his early childhood. This was because of a degenerative spinal disease.

Despite this, Rickey felt “free” on the baseball diamond playing with his siblings. But that is not his only talent, he also has a way of memorizing God’s Word and preaching straight from his heart. His father James (played by Dennis Quaid) couldn’t be any prouder and has high hopes for his son following in his footsteps. Things came to a head when James and Ricky argued about his son’s fascination with baseball. He spent 16 hours a day hitting rocks with a stick. Not only did James grow increasingly concerned about his son’s health, but he also worried about Rickey’s interactions with other children while playing the sport.

I can understand James’ paternal need to protect and guide his children. Not everyone has received the proper education and etiquette for teaching their children the right way to act towards someone with special needs; this is especially true in the seventies. But parents can’t protect their children forever. We must equip them with the tools needed to advocate for themselves in the future and stand up for what they believe in. One scene in particular that highlighted this happened when Rickey had just moved to a new town; The Hill siblings just “happened” upon an in-progress baseball game and inquired if they could join in.

Seeing Rickey you can guess what their response was. Let’s just say it wasn’t a favorable one. However, the family wasn’t deterred. At first, the brother said if Rickey wasn’t allowed to play; none of them would. Then Rickey bet one bully that if he hit a ball over the fence, he could play and it was on. After settling himself at the home plate, he missed the first swing and fell flat on his butt on the second try. Frustrated by his inability to pivot his lips quickly to produce the proper swing, he began tearing off his leg braces. Wouldn’t you know it, with his legs free, he could hit the ball out of the park so much so that they weren’t able to find the ball to continue playing the game. From that point on, he never wore braces again.

Although James is happy to hear the news about his son’s ability to walk, he grows concerned about  Ricky’s preoccupation with basketball. Rickey doesn’t seem concerned about the danger sport could have on this growing body, but he seems to lose his spiritual focus. The child who plays younger Ricky “acts” out this delicate balance of wanting to please his father and following his dreams beautifully. During one particular scene, he has finally made a choice and comes to his father asking for his blessing to play baseball. During this impassioned speech, Ricky questions respectfully why he has to choose between his two loves- love of God and love of basketball- Especially since he recognizes where his talent comes from… The Lord!

By this time, others have recognized his talent and come alongside him, urging his father to reconsider and let him play.

He finally relents. With only one condition, he won’t come and see him play.

In 1972, Rickey plays high school basketball for Haitom High, but dreams of doing more. A friend does a favor by arranging a try-out for Rickey, but unfortunately, he injures himself while trying to catch a fly ball by going through a wall, putting his dreams on hold. The community comes to his aid with the funds for his surgery. Despite a successful surgery, the doctor is not optimistic about his recovery in time for the tryout. He warns that the damage was much more extensive than he thought and not to rush things.

I won’t spoil the ending for those of you wanting to watch the movie yourselves. I will say this movie reminded me a lot about God and the lessons I’ve been learning in Jess Connolly’s. You Are The Girl For the Job: Daring to Believe the God who Calls You. God does not always move in ways we’d expect; nor does he limit us to only one calling. As I’ve alluded to in previous posts, He uses weakness to show HIS glory 2 Corinthians 12:9. Not only that but God is flipping the world on its head, getting people to question themselves. What is the true meaning of wisdom and strength? After all, look at what it says in 1st Corinthians1: 27, “But God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong.”

For more information on the similarities between the real-life story and the movie, please feel free to read more here:

3 thoughts on “Faithful Friday: My review of The Hill: The Real-Life Story of Rickey Hill”

  1. Sounds like a really good movie. And I will look for the book you mentioned Jess Connolly’s. You Are The Girl For the Job: Daring to Believe the God who Calls You.


Leave a Comment