Keith Carradine has been waiting a while to play Pete Gray. Gray, a one-armed fellow who made it to the major leagues, is the subject of "A Winner Never Quits," ABC's ode to the new baseball season airing at 9 Monday night.
James Keach, brother of TV's Stacy and longtime softball friend of Carradine's, had had it in mind for sometime to film the story of Gray, who played for the St. Louis Browns in 1945.
"Jimmy knew that I love baseball," said Carradine, a former high school shorstop, pitcher and first baseman. "He told me eight years ago that if he ever did the story he wanted me to play Gray."
It helped that Carradine resembled Gray. But it hurt that he had to learn to play lefthanded as well as one-handed. "It was difficult to play him," said Carradine. "I've been a right-handed player all my life."
Baseball action does not dominate the story. "It's really a movie about people," said Carradine. "It's about Pete Gray and his effort to achieve a goal. His father, brother, his girl and a little boy all have an influence and an impact on him."
Most devastating, of course, was the loss of the arm for a young man who wanted to play the game.
"His whole personality was colored by what he had to overcome, by what he had to do," said Carradine. "He was kind of steely and shy around the press. He was a show-me kind of guy. He just said, watch what I can do."