"Bang the Drum Slowly" is a line taken from the cowboy dirge "The Steets of Laredo" which is about a cowboy dying young."Bang the Drum Slowly" which is based on a novel by the same name, is about a dying dim-witted, country boy catcher and a sophisticated, star pitcher. The catcher (Pearson), played by Robert DeNiro, is dying from Hogkin's disease and the only one who knows about it is the Michael Moriarty character (Arthur). The story goes on how Arthur is suddenly nice to Pearson. No one knows why and everyone becomes more resentful of Pearson. Slowly everyone learns that Pearson is dying and starts to treat Pearson nicer. In addition, the team, a talented but bickering group of ballplayers, are finally united because of Pearson's condition and go on to win the series. The continued subtle references to the business side of baseball pulls us back to the harsh reality of life and prevents the movie from being too corny. The movie is superb, but the DVD would have been better if some extras were included especially if there were something about history of free agency in baseball. $124,000 is not even the the base pay of today's rookie major leaguer, but in 1974 (when the movie was made) this was a huge amount of money. 1974 was also significant because this was the year that Andy Messersmith of the Dodger's challenged the reserve clause and became the first free agent.