We went down to the Academy last night to see “Moneyball,” staring Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the paradigm breaking general manager for the Oakland A’s, from the book by Michael Lewis. I have not read the book, but I liked the movie.
The A’s were a poor, inner-city team, and when good players left them as soon as they could, they couldn’t afford to replace them, but a new approach to fielding a team of inexpensive but utilitarian players worked, and changed the game. The story of the Academy Theatre is a little like the 2002 A’s winning season depicted in the film.
For years the theatre was home to Nickel Ads, a free newspaper flier that was nothing but advertising, mostly from individuals, a precursor to Craigslist, which of course helped put Nickel Ads out of business. Nickel Ads had been housed in the old theatre for years, then the building was empty until Flying Pie Pizza (next door) bought it with the idea to restore it to its original East Side, working class splendor. The lobby was reconditioned, and features a rising, carpeted floor leading past the concession stand (where patrons can buy pizza and beer to take into the show) to three small theaters cut from the original, single hall. The seats are roomy, comfortable, and rock. The arms have drink holders, and side tables are scattered throughout the rows, At first, Academy tickets were $3, but now they cost $4, but Tuesdays are 2 for 1, and locals often find 2 for 1 coupons around, good any night.
The new Academy wasn’t the first theatre of its kind, but it has helped change the game of going to the movies. Now what we need is a Billy Beane of Education.
Related: Baseball and the Parts of Speech