Randy Newman hasn't, it has to be said, started many film scoring trends, however The Natural is one score that is now readily associated with all American sports. It gets played at big sporting occasions during intermissions, beforehand, indeed as many times as possible. Newman himself admitted that he doesn't often write big heroic themes, but The Natural is one film that needed a bit heroic theme, using great big, very Copland-esque intervals it is a very expansive and uplifting melody, usually played on horns and accompanied by twinkling percussion, some possibly synthesised (but that's a rather un-Newman thing to do).
There are of course other moments such as the somewhat infectious ragtime rhythmns used after the rather opressive opening to The Whammer Strikes Out. Similar, but more jazzy music accompanies The Majors and this makes for an enjoyable antidote to the drama of the rest of the score. While the big theme appears quite often (and in somewhat similar guises each time, it has to be said), there are some very introspective moments. Newman of course is a master of this kind of drama score and always writes subdued, yet imaginative quieter interludes and is certainly up there with the greats at this kind of thing, most notably Elmer Bernstein.
This is a very typical Newman score, containing his charming Americana personal style that echoes Copland (although more closely in this than most) and effortlessly mixes drama, heroism with more lightweight interludes. It is the original ball game score, and while other efforts such as Field of Dreams and the rather similar The Babe by James Horner and Elmer Bernstein respectively have been excellent since, this is the original benchmark. Aside from the pop version of the main theme, this is a classic score, bathed in nostalgia and all American values showing that Newman had the scoring touch from the word go.
Read other recent reviews by Tom Daish: The Snow Files: The Film Music of Mark Snow
, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad