The Stratton Story

The Stratton Story is a 1949 American biographical film directed by Sam Wood which tells the true story of Monty Stratton, a Major League Baseball pitcher who pitched for the Chicago White Sox from 1934–1938. This is the first of three movies that paired stars Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson, the others being The Glenn Miller Story and Strategic Air Command. Stratton commented that Mr. Stewart "did a great job of playing me, in a picture which I figure was about as true to life as they could make it".

The Stratton Story
1949 theatrical poster
Directed bySam Wood
Produced byJack Cummings
Written byDouglas Morrow
Screenplay byGuy Trosper
George Wells
StarringJames Stewart
June Allyson
Frank Morgan
Agnes Moorehead
Music byAdolph Deutsch
CinematographyHarold Rosson
Edited byBen Lewis
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • May 12, 1949 (1949-05-12)
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4,488,000[1]

The Stratton Story was a financial success and won the Academy Award for best Writing – Motion Picture Story.


Texas farm boy Monty Stratton (Stewart) demonstrates a knack for pitching a baseball. With the help of washed-up, catcher-turned-scout Barney Wile (Morgan), he manages to get a tryout with the Chicago White Sox during their spring training in California. He shows promise and is given a contract.

On his first evening at spring training, he is introduced to a young woman named Ethel (Allyson). They start dating and fall in love. Stratton must part from Ethel to go to Chicago. When Stratton is sent down to a minor league team, he proposes marriage. Stratton is called back up to the White Sox and returns to Chicago with his newlywed bride. By the end of the season, they're expecting a child. Next season, he is pitching an away game and doesn't seem to be able to keep his mind on the game. He wishes he was with his wife who's giving birth in Chicago. When he is notified that he has a son, he throws a wild pitch and is taken out of the game -- grinning from ear to ear.

As his career progresses, Stratton improves so much that he's voted an all-star in the American League. In the off-season of 1938, Stratton accidentally shoots himself in his right leg while hunting on his farm in Texas. When his leg has to be amputated, it looks as though his pitching career is over. He understandably goes through a very dark, brooding period. Nevertheless, with the support of his wife and a wooden leg, Stratton learns to walk along with his baby boy. He works hard and starts practicing his pitching again. He makes an inspirational, successful minor league comeback in 1946.


Ronald Reagan had sought the title role but was under contract with Warner Bros., which did not want to release Reagan for the film because they thought the movie would be a failure.[2] Van Johnson was also announced at one stage to play the lead.[3]


Scenes were staged at various baseball parks, including:

Brookside Park in Pasadena, a spring training site for the White Sox.

Moorehead reportedly met her second husband, actor Robert Gist, during the making of this film.


According to MGM records the film earned $3,831,000 in the US and Canada and $657,000 overseas resulting in a profit of $1,211,000.[1] It was one of the most popular films of the year.[4]

Radio adaptation

The story was also adapted for a CBS Lux Radio Theatre episode in 1949 as "The Stratton Story". Stewart and Allyson repeated their roles for the program.[5]


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. "Monty Stratton, 70, Pitcher Who Inspired Movie, Is Dead". The New York TImes. AP. 1982-09-30.
  3. "The Starry Way". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 13 March 1948. p. 2. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  4. "Top Grossers of 1949". Variety. 4 January 1950. p. 59.
  5. "The Stratton Story", via Jimmy Stewart on the Air.
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