“Class Preunion” – Boy Meets World S1E9

Two consistent items stand out from the first season of Boy Meets World, each of which are prominent in the 9th episode of the series, “Class Preunion.” The first, as I’ve discussed numerous times, was Cory Matthews’ naivete at his lucky lot in life, which would stay rampant throughout the seven seasons. He never quite grasped how easy he had things, nor just how much his parents shielded him from the harsh realities of the world (which would come back to haunt him in later seasons). The other theme, or consistent plot point as may be more accurate to describe, was Cory’s passion and love for America’s Pastime: baseball.

Cory is OBSESSED with the sport, and with the Phillies, during this first season, which fits right in line with numerous other middle schoolers throughout the nation. I, personally, was never a more dedicated, emotionally invested fan of any team than from the ages of 8 through 14, when I’d literally live or die based on the Red Sox, Patriots, or Celtics nightly results (figuratively speaking). Frivolous endeavors, such as sporting activities and the professional teams that play in our geographic areas, have much greater meaning before the weight of adult responsibilities take over.

We don’t understand how little relevance these things have on our ability to survive, day to day and year to year (for anyone who doesn’t play or work for a professional team, that is), when we’re kids. You don’t have the proper perspective, or have the necessary life experience, to recognize that it’s all bullshit and none of it really matters. It’s impossible to grasp the fact that sports, and rooting for our local professional teams, becomes a form of McDonald’s (as Jim Gaffigan would say) when we grow up: something to distract us from the cold, unforgiving world we live in.

So it makes perfect sense that young Cory, who has been told by his father before to enjoy being a kid and to stave off adulthood as long as possible, would place such prominence on baseball. He should, at this point in his life, care as much about the trivial hobbies in his personal orbit as he does. It’s important to enjoy that fleeting moment in our lives, to not let the real world encroach on the only truly carefree time in our short time on Earth. Because, as the show has touched on before and any grown ass adult can tell ya: being a grown ass adult sucks.

There’s an undeniable logic within that mindset that Alan Matthews would, after Cory’s dream of playing professional baseball is crushed (rightly, if a bit more cruelly than usual, by Mr. Feeny), deem it necessary to send “sixty three telegrams to a complete stranger.” This complete stranger is Jim Abbott, the famously one-handed former MLB pitcher, who is coerced to come and speak to Cory about sticking with his goal no matter what. It fits right in with the unintentional ethos of the series, that the main character was a spoiled and sheltered jerk, if he sincerely believed he was destined for the majors despite the overwhelming evidence of his lacking athletic prowess. Of course his father would go to the lengths he did to make his son happy again, because his parents always went above and beyond what was necessary.

After Abbott (who was unaware he’d be on the show until arriving on set one day to say hello to the cast) appeals to him to never give up on his dreams, or listen to those who tell you you’re not good enough (like his best friend, Shawn, who rightly notes Cory had “31 errors in Little League” the previous season), all is right with Cory in his world. He’s free to once again pursue his rightful dream and passion, unencumbered by the cynical pessimisms of those who would criticize anyone willing to put themselves out there in the pursuit of greatness.

Yet within six months, Cory Matthews would never pick up a baseball bat or glove again. What a shit kid. I jest, of course (somewhat, at least), because Cory was, generally speaking, a good young man who was just trying to find his way down the road we call life. It’s just that so many of his issues, and the conundrums he found himself in were self-created, that when a time comes that his emotional reactions are generated from an exterior source, you tend to notice. Mr. Feeny wasn’t wrong to chastise his pupil for presuming he’d be living a comfortable life “pulling down seven mil per year,” given the enormously low odds of becoming a professional athlete in any sport. But he could’ve chosen a more tactful approach than dumping on the kid for his lack of business acumen. Cory was right to sulk, and his father was right to prop him back up when he was down, even if the lesson learned from this week seemed to miss the forest for the trees.

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