PLOT POINTS MAY BE REVEALED BELOW.
BOSTON, Mass. October 2001: Ellis Elliott, a young woman covering sports for The Boston Globe, has gotten a dream assignment: interview aging Red Sox legend Ted Williams, “the greatest hitter who ever lived, and the Red Sox’ most titanic figure in all its history.”
But she soon discovers she’s in for more of an ordeal than she expected: not just a simple Q&A over the phone, but an expansive feature to run in the paper’s Living/Arts section. What’s more, she’ll have to travel to Florida to get the interview in person. And what’s more still, she’ll have to team up with high-minded arts reporter Simon Willicombe, a culture connoisseur with a taste for fine wine and poetry. There’ll be a week-long road trip to and from the Sunshine state, which Simon will doubtlessly pack with endless stops to take in art and God knows what else.
To the no-nonsense sports fan Ellis, it sounds like a recipe for misery. But she hopes the assignment will lead to a staff position, which she needs desperately: not only does she have a baby on the way, but her father is battling cancer, and a full-time job would let her enroll him under her own health insurance, getting him the care they can’t afford. She bites the bullet and goes, dragging her husband David along for the ride.
The journey south starts out as rough as Ellis had feared: Simon talks her ear off about poetry and insists on roadside stops for baroque music in Manhattan and sightseeing at Monticello. And while he and David quickly find common ground, Ellis and Simon just don’t click.
Then, at a southern sports bar, Simon is harassed by a local troublemaker, and Ellis finds herself sticking up for him. Simon is touched—he’s never had someone defend him that way in his life. And just like that, the trip feels more manageable to Ellis. She and Simon both locate their heretofore dormant sense of empathy, as they rock out to “Sweet Caroline” on the open road.
But when they finally arrive at Williams’ home in Hernando, Florida, they are rudely shaken from the idealism of their expectations: the great ballplayer, it turns out, is a foul-mouthed, quick-tempered old man who kicks them out of his home practically as soon as they get there. With no interview, no story, and a broken-down car, the trio flies back to Boston empty handed.
Then, just a few weeks later, Ellis gets heartening, albeit shocking, news: an organ donor came through for her father, and he’s being moved to Dana Farber Cancer Center—one of the best in the world.
Simon, it turns out, had gone back in to talk with Williams shortly after they had been given the boot, and convinced Williams to have his well-known charity, the Jimmy Fund, take on Ellis’ father’s case.
A year later, the three gather at Christmas, where Ellis and David have a surprise: they’ve made “Simon” their baby’s middle name, grateful for the gift he’s given them and the experience that brought the three of them (well, now four of them) together.