Damn Yankees opens in 1956 Washington, DC, where Meg Boyd and other "baseball widows" around the nation's capital lament about losing their husbands, who can be found doing nothing but watching TV or going to Griffith Stadium, all to cheer their beloved Washington Senators to victory over the New York Yankees Six Months Out of Every Year. Disheartened by another loss for the Senators, Meg's husband, Joe, mutters that he would sell his soul to the devil for "one long ball hitter" on the Senators. As soon as the words come out of his mouth, he is greeted by Satan himself in the form of the charismatic conman Mr. Applegate. Applegate claims he can make not only Joe's wish come true but he can also make Joe that ballplayer to fulfill his one lifelong dream. Using his real-estate business tactics, Joe talks Applegate into giving him an escape clause should he not like being a ballplayer. Applegate agrees to give Joe until the day before the season ends, September 24th at 9:00 PM, to get out of the deal at any time. Should Joe decide to play in the final game on the 25th, he will belong to Applegate. Joe says his final farewells to Meg while she is sleeping (Goodbye, Old Girl) and is magically transformed into 22-year-old Joe Hardy, the greatest ballplayer in history.
The next day, after a discouraging practice with many errors (Blooper Ballet), Benny Van Buren, the team manager, gives his team a pep talk, saying the thing that they really need against the Yankees is Heart. During the practice, Applegate has arrived and tries to demonstrate Joe Hardy's talents before Van Buren. His impressive hitting and fielding give Van Buren and the Senators no choice but to accept him on the team. While Joe Hardy is taken up to meet the commissioner, Gloria Thorpe, a reporter from the Washington Post, conspires with the team on how to make Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO well-known to the public.
After the first game with Joe At Bat, Joe Hardy becomes an instant idol and hero. The Senators' record dramatically improves over one month, with a chance at the Senators even winning the pennant. However, Joe is miserable without his wife Meg and is caught by Applegate sneaking back to his old neighborhood every now and then. To keep Joe Hardy's mind off Meg and perhaps increase the chances of him not using the escape clause, Applegate summons his seductive right-hand girl from hell, Lola. Once the ugliest woman in 18th-century Rhode Island, Lola sold her soul to Applegate for eternal youth and beauty. Lola boasts that with A Little Brains--A Little Talent, she can make Joe Hardy forget all about Meg.
Meanwhile, Joe Hardy finally gets the nerve to ask Meg if he can rent a room and live with her on the weekends where he doesn't travel for games. Meg agrees, noticing that he seems to miss someone he loves dearly, just like she misses her Joe (A Man Doesn't Know). Meg's best friends, Sister and Doris Miller, are anxious to meet Meg's new boarder and grow wild with excitement that Meg has taken in baseball legend Joe Hardy. Applegate tries to put a damper on Joe Hardy's plans to live with Meg and comes to the door dressed as a city official passing a new zoning law prohibiting renters. Joe Hardy shoos away Applegate and returns to the house to find Sister and Doris decorating his new room with some of Joe Boyd's old baseball memorabilia.
After a tiring baseball game a week later, Joe Hardy is alone in the locker room getting undressed when Applegate comes in with Lola, dressed in her voluptuous Miss-Banana-from-South-America outfit. Lola tries every trick she has to seduce Joe Hardy (Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets)). However, Joe Hardy's love for Meg is too strong and he leaves without giving in to Lola. An angered Applegate sends Lola back to hell temporarily and decides to get Joe Hardy out of Meg's house by spreading a scandalous rumor about Joe Hardy and Meg which forces Joe Hardy to live in Applegate's apartment.
A month later, Mr. Welch, the team owner, decides to throw a party in Joe's honor. The Senators have had their best season yet and need to win one of the next two games for the pennant. Lola arrives at the party, wishing Joe Hardy good luck and stating her intentions to be his friend despite other orders from Applegate. She prepares a fan club to create a comical song-and-dance for Joe called Who's Got the Pain? While Joe Hardy is enjoying the party and some of the fan club acts (Heart (Reprise)), Gloria Thorpe comes up to Applegate, saying that she found no records of Joe Hardy in Hannibal, MO. Applegate spreads the rumor that Joe Hardy is really Shifty McCoy. When Gloria learns that Shifty McCoy threw baseball games in the Mexican league a few years back, she sends a paper on the street with the information. Upon hearing the information, the commissioner calls a hearing for the next day, September 24th. An outraged Joe Hardy tells the public that he will clear his name and win the final game as the curtain closes to end Act One.
Act Two opens on the discouraged Senators, the next day, who think that they will lose the game without Joe Hardy. Finally, they pull themselves together, saying they will win as long as they keep their minds on The Game.
Meanwhile, Joe has agreed to meet Meg in the park before the hearing. Meg tries to comfort Joe about the upcoming hearing but at the same time realizes her confusion and bewilderment about the strange resemblance between her Joe and Joe Hardy. As Joe Hardy tries to cheer her up with the idea that Joe Boyd will come back again someday, Meg tries to imagine being in the arms of her own Joe (Near to You).
Back at his apartment, Applegate gloats to Lola about how he is so close to owning Joe. However, witnessing her sympathy towards Joe Hardy, Applegate begins to wonder what is wrong with his right-hand girl. Joe Hardy shows up after his rendezvous with Meg and decides that he wants out. There are more important things to him than being a baseball star. Applegate agrees to change him back at 9:00. If the hearing is still going on, he will pull Joe into another room and make the transformation. While getting dressed for the hearing, Applegate reminisces about fond memories of world disasters he caused (Those Were the Good Old Days).
During the hearing, which drags on for hours, no evidence is found proving that Joe Hardy is who he says he is. However, no evidence is found against Joe Hardy neither as a testimony from Senora McCoy (Lola in disguise under Applegate's orders) is dismissed. Finally, Sister, Doris, and Meg come in to save the day and testify that they are from Hannibal and Joe Hardy grew up with them. Although the hearing tries to find more evidence from a stalling Applegate, Joe Hardy asks Applegate not to stall so he can help the Senators win the game before he becomes Joe Boyd again at 9:00. Suddenly, Applegate spirits him away into Limbo far from The Trial.
Lola finds Joe Hardy in Limbo and guides him to the stadium where the Senators are losing 4-0 to the Yankees. She stalls a fanatic Applegate in limbo by putting on a pseudo-romantic routine for which he almost falls (Two Lost Souls). Suddenly, Applegate returns to his senses and realizes he has a game to throw. Not only will he have Joe Hardy for keeps but also the forty thousand Senators fans who would die to see Washington win the pennant. Lola tries to escape, not wanting to be there when Applegate throws the game. However, Applegate takes her to the game, furious at her betrayal.
When they get there, Washington is winning 5-4 at the top of the ninth. Applegate swears Washington will lose even if he has to change Joe Hardy back into Joe Boyd on the field. After two outs for the Yankees, Mickey Mantle hits a long fly to Joe Hardy in right field. While Joe Hardy runs for the ball, Applegate transforms him back into Joe Boyd just as the clock strikes nine. Joe Boyd gives one last lunge and catches the ball, winning the pennant for the Senators!
Before anyone can catch him, Joe Boyd runs out of Griffith Stadium. Just as the news bulletin about the mysterious disappearance of Joe Hardy comes on, Joe Boyd walks through the door into the loving arms of his Meg, happy upon his return. However, Applegate, who has just realized his mistake, is also waiting for Joe Boyd. As Meg holds Joe Boyd tight with enduring love (A Man Doesn't Know (Reprise)), Applegate tries to entice Joe Boyd back into his clutches with promises of having him win the World Series for the Senators as Joe Hardy. But Joe Boyd is no longer under Applegate's power, finally realizing the deep, true love he held for Meg. He kisses Meg as an oblivious Applegate throws a tantrum and screams, "You robbed me, you robbed me!"
- Eric Field (TrplThrt17@aol.com)