Joe and Meg
Boyd, a couple in their forties, are sitting in their comfortable living
room in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on a warm evening. Meg is talking to Joe
about the weather, but he's obsessed with a baseball game. She sings
that for "Six Months Out of Every Year," Joe is a great husband, but a
lost cause during baseball season, when the Washington Senators take
over his heart. The game ends; Joe is furious because his team lost. He
wants them to lick those champion Damn Yankees just once. Meg gives up
and goes to bed, announcing she has to play bridge the next day. As she
leaves, Joe swings at an imaginary ball, and says he would sell his soul
for one long-ball hitter for the Senators. Applegate, a mysterious
stranger who seems to be a cross between a slick salesman and a
song-and-dance man, suddenly appears from the shadows.
Applegate knows of Joe's youthful dreams to play baseball. The stranger
does several feats of magic, and enables Joe to touch his toes for the
first time in years. Two friends of Meg's, Sister and Doris, pass by,
and accuse Joe of talking to himself. Joe realizes Applegate is
invisible to everyone but him. Applegate reveals his identity as the
Devil, and offers Joe a chance to save the Senators. If Joe agrees, he
has to disappear from his present life and become a 22-year-old baseball
star named Joe Hardy. A shrewd real-estate agent, Joe insists on an
escape clause. Applegate is sure he can make Joe forget his wife, and
agrees to let him have one chance to escape selling his soul forever on
the 24th of September at midnight. Applegate goes off to call a taxi,
and Joe leaves Meg a note as he sings "Goodbye, Old Girl." Although he
doesn't tell her where he is going, he insists he loves her. Applegate
transforms Joe Boyd into young Joe Hardy, and they leave for the
In the Washington Senators' dugout, the team's manager, Van Buren, is
encouraging his players to keep trying to win against the Yankees. His
players have talent but they also need one essential ingredient for
success: "Heart." As they leave, reporter Gloria Thorpe enters to
interview Van Buren. Applegate convinces Van Buren to let Joe try out
for the team. Joe amazes the team with his skills, and is hired. While
Applegate insists he found Joe in Hannibal, Missouri playing sandlot
ball, reporter Gloria probes to learn more about him. In the meantime,
Joe has to borrow a pair of shoes-his old shoes are too tight for him.
Gloria decides to make him famous: she nicknames him "Shoeless Joe From
Sister and Doris are outside the ballpark trying to see the new baseball
sensation, Joe Hardy. Joe, who is now hitting .480, has led the team to
second place in the American League. He is in team owner Welch's office
complaining about the reporters' nonstop questions about his past. Welch
leaves Applegate to reason with Joe. When Applegate scolds him for
sneaking around his old home, Joe says he is lonely for Meg. Applegate
says he is going to bring Joe a fascinating woman who will make him
forget his wife, but Joe insists he isn't interested. He reminds
Applegate that Applegate doesn't own his soul until September 24th. Left
alone, Joe reflects on all he has given up to join the Senators ("A Man
Doesn't Know"). Joe tells Gloria and a group of reporters that the
Senators will have the pennant race sewn up by September 24th.
Applegate gets together with Lola, his female assistant. She reports
success on her last assignment; she ruined a man's life and got him to
jump out a window. Applegate, who actually wants the Yankees to win, has
called her in to help with Joe. He fears Joe's escape clause may
endanger his evil plot. He plans to let Senators' fans believe their
team can win until the last minute. Then he will pull the rug out from
under them by letting the team lose, causing the fans to have heart
attacks, apoplexy, or commit suicide. He wants Lola to make Joe forget
Meg. She assures him she is the woman for the job ("A Little Brains, A
Increasingly lonely and disturbed by Applegate's treachery, Joe returns
to his house to see Meg (who does not recognize her much-altered
husband), and convinces her to let him rent a room in her house. They
share their feelings of loneliness, although she has no idea who he is
(Reprise: "A Man Doesn't Know"). Sister and Doris recognize Joe as the
famous ballplayer, Joe Hardy. Joe pretends to find money in his room,
which Meg is sure her husband left for her. Applegate tries
unsuccessfully to stop Joe from renting the room.
In the locker room corridor, the players are enjoying their new success.
Gloria presses Applegate for information about Joe's past. Applegate
brings Lola to the locker room to begin working on Joe. When Joe rebuffs
her initial advances, she explains, "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets."
Joe is impressed, but he remains true to Meg. When Joe heads for Meg's
house, Applegate accuses Lola of using old-fashioned methods. He decides
to cause a scandal for Meg because she has a single man living in her
A group of teenagers and Sister are rehearsing their fan club
presentations for a Senators Pep Rally. They reprise "Heart." At the
rally, Lola, claiming she is on Joe's side, explains that Applegate made
the team lose that afternoon as part of his plan to win Joe's soul.
Gloria tells Applegate she has been to Missouri to research Joe's past;
she has found out Joe is not really from Hannibal. Applegate suddenly
insists that Joe is not Shifty McCoy. Gloria discovers Shifty McCoy was
a ballplayer in Mexico who took bribes; she goes off to investigate.
Lola performs "Who's Got the Pain" as a member of a group called the "I
Love Joe Fan Club." The baseball commissioner calls Welch and accuses
Joe of being Shifty McCoy. Joe insists the story isn't true and swears
he will clear his name and lead the team to victory.
In the locker room, the team members discuss their support for Joe and
express their determination to live by the rules, dedicating themselves
to "The Game," forgetting any thought of enjoying themselves until the
pennant race is over. Joe has asked Meg to meet him outside the
ballpark. She apologizes for asking him to give up his room. She says
she misses her husband more than ever now that Joe Hardy is gone too.
Joe assures her her husband will come back ("Near To You").
Applegate tells Lola that once he has Joe trapped after the 24th, he
will make him throw the pennant game. Joe comes in and says he is going
to exercise the escape clause on the 24th and Applegate pretends to
agree. After Joe leaves, Applegate chastises Lola for feeling sorry for
Joe and mourns "The Good Old Days" when evil was in fashion.
At the hearing at the Commissioner's office on September 24th, Applegate
says he has a witness coming to prove Joe's innocence who will arrive at
fifteen minutes past midnight. Joe says he can't wait. Meg, Sister and
Doris appear, pretending to be from Hannibal, and claim they can
identify Joe. They convince the postmaster from Hannibal, who has come
to the hearing, that he remembers Joe too. At five minutes before
midnight, Joe asks to leave the room. The commissioner won't let anyone
leave. Meg is giving a speech to vindicate Joe as the clock strikes. Joe
has surrendered his soul by default.
Lola has knocked Applegate out with strong drinks. She tells Joe she was
the ugliest woman in Providence, Rhode Island before she sold her soul
to Applegate. Joe says he will find a way to win the pennant in spite of
Applegate. Joe attempts to make the best of his new life and kisses
Lola. They go off to spend the evening dancing together ("Two Lost
Outside the ballpark, Doris and Sister join a crowd waiting for tickets
to the big game. Applegate has awakened and is furious with Lola. He is
on his way to the game and intends to make Joe throw the game, even if
he has to change him back into Joe Boyd on the field. In the dugout,
Lola and Van Buren are watching the game. Joe catches the ball that wins
the game as Applegate turns him back into Joe Boyd. In the corridor
outside the locker room, the team is looking for Joe, who has
Joe Boyd has returned to Meg's house. He finds her crying on the sofa.
She joyfully accepts his return. As they sit together reaffirming their
feelings for each other (Reprise: "A Man Doesn't Know"), Applegate and
Lola appear. Applegate tries to convince Joe to come back and lead the
team to win the World Series. Joe ignores him, to Lola's delight.