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Worshipping at the Church of Baseball
July 09, 2012
The cast and crew of Bull Durham try to wrap their minds around how, 24 years ago, a minor league baseball movie became such a major league Hollywood hit
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July 09, 2012

Worshipping At The Church Of Baseball

The cast and crew of Bull Durham try to wrap their minds around how, 24 years ago, a minor league baseball movie became such a major league Hollywood hit

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III. "So is somebody going to go to bed with somebody or what?"

MOUNT: I told Ron that I'd love to shoot the movie in Durham because we owned the club. But he had to make the decision. You can't jam him. He's kind of a curmudgeon. So is Crash Davis. And Ron Shelton is Crash Davis. So Ron went on a tour to look at different parks. When he came back, he said, "I love Durham."

SHELTON: We had five weeks to prep. This was September and the minor league season was just ending. I hired Grady Little, who had just managed the Durham Bulls, to head up a baseball boot camp for the guys. I love Grady Little. I think he's taken so much s---. He averaged 94 wins a year in four seasons in the majors [editor's note: 89.5, but close], and he can't get a job. Unbelievable.

COSTNER: Boot camp was fun. I was nervous at first because Ron made sure that the guys we were playing against were real Double A and Triple A players. I don't want to say that I was intimidated, but the first time I had to take batting practice, I was doing everything I could to not have to bat. This was in a giant minor league park, and no one had hit one out. And when I finally stepped in, guys started paying attention: "Let's see the Hollywood sissy hit!" The first pitch I fouled off, and I was relieved. I remember stepping out of the box and thinking, What are you so nervous about? You have the job. The next pitch I hit over the fence—about 365 feet. Playing a catcher in that movie I tore both muscles in my quads. Afterward, when I went back to the house I was living in, I had to go up the stairs on my knees.

ROBBINS: Nuke's pitching style is mostly borrowed from [six-time All-Star] Fernando Valenzuela, including the eye roll. There were a couple of shots in the movie where I had to cook it up, get my fastball up to a respectable speed. One of the coaches told me I got it up to 82 or something—but I never knew where it was going to go.

SHELTON: Tim's motion was goofy like Dean Chance's, but that kind of goes along with his goofy character. Is he as good a ballplayer as Kevin? No. Does he work in the movie? Yes.

COSTNER: Tim could throw. You could see that it wasn't his chosen sport, but he's fearless.

SHELTON: I had seen the name Crash Davis in an old Carolina League record book. So I used that name in the script, thinking that the real Crash Davis was long gone because he had played in the '40s. On the first day of shooting, my assistant comes into the office and says, "Crash Davis is on the phone." I didn't believe it, so I said, "Ask him how many doubles he hit in 1948." And my assistant comes back and says, "Fifty." I was like, Holy s---! The next day, Crash came to the set. He asked what the story was about. And he asked, "Do I get the girl?" And I said, "Yes! In fact, I'll introduce you to the girl." Of course, Susan charmed the heck out of him.

SARANDON: I was nervous about doing a film with a bunch of jocks. I thought it would be a nightmare. But I was treated with so much respect on that film and grew to love those guys so much that I was inviting everyone over for barbecue chicken. We had Thanksgiving at my house.

BURG: Everybody knew there was something [romantic] happening between Tim and Susan. It was obvious. You'd be sitting in the bar of the hotel, where most everyone was staying except Susan, and Tim would be drinking with us and then say he was turning in and walk out to the parking lot and get in his rental car and head to Susan's house.

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