For a while, ''Pastime'' moves like a TV movie in search of commercials, then almost surprisingly takes a turn for the better, thanks to some excellent performances and a script that does novel things with a familiar plot.
William Russ plays Roy Dean Bream, a 41-year-old baseball player. He has served some time as a pitcher with the majors, but now he's a reliever with a D team whose younger members treat him as a has-been.
Bream doesn't seem to notice. A truly gentle soul, he is also rather naive, a rube, really, but we should all know rubes like this.
Bream (Russ) has never married. He really doesn't know how to behave with women. When he approaches a bar maid to ask her for a date, he is like a shy teen-ager.
A good man, Bream has befriended the newest member of the team, a black youth who appreciates the advice he receives.
What Bream doesn't know is that the owner of the team wants to let him go. The team manager, however, is not so cruel. He hasn't the heart to tell Bream that he is through, but when Bream throws a wild pitch in a crucial game, the matter must be faced.
''Pastime'' is a sweet film. That's the best way to describe it. It all takes place in 1957, but there is no name-calling or race baiting. This may be unrealistic, but this is a very pardonable sin. ''Pastime'' sees the best in people.
Russ is superb as the over-the-hill player, Jeffrey Tambor is the team owner, and Glenn Plummer is Tyrone Debray, the old newcomer.
It's a nice cast, and this is a nice film, one that plays today and tomorrow at the Charles.
** An aging baseball player is told he is being dropped from the team.
CAST: William Russ, Scott Plank, Glenn Plummer, Kathryn Kates, Diedre O'Connell
DIRECTOR: Robin B. Armstrong
RATING: PG (language)
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes