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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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COSTNER: Ron understands that in sports people don't want to talk about records, but he also understands that they're important. And Crash, at the end of his career, was willing to mentor a kid so that he could hit a home run that set an obscure minor league record because it was important to him. Crash had a certain dignity and lonely heroism. He's never going to make it to the bigs, but he has to cross that one threshold. Ron understood that better than anybody.

MOUNT: We packaged the movie with Kevin, Ron as a first-time director, me, and no money. Just what you always wanted!

SHELTON: Every studio turned us down twice. They thought that sports movies were box office poison and that Costner hadn't really proved yet that he was a star. Orion [Pictures] got it. Kevin had another movie there that hadn't come out yet that they were high on.

MIKE MEDAVOY (COFOUNDER OF ORION PICTURES): We had just done No Way Out [a naval thriller with Gene Hackman and Sean Young] with Kevin. I felt that Costner was going to make it.

COSTNER: We took Bull Durham around to everybody. Ron said that he felt like we were a couple of hookers trying to sell ourselves on the street. I had a relationship with Orion, but they had another baseball movie, Eight Men Out. I didn't think they'd go for a second baseball movie, but I felt like this had the potential to be more commercial. It smelled like money.

II. "Why's he always calling me Meat? I'm the guy driving a Porsche."

BURG: The next thing was to find the pitcher—the kid. We wanted Charlie Sheen to play Nuke LaLoosh, but he had already committed to Eight Men Out. The other person Orion was pushing was Anthony Michael Hall. I went to New York with Ron to meet him. [Hall] walked in half an hour late and hadn't read the script. I thought Ron was going to shoot him. But we gave him the script and said, "Why don't you go read it, and we'll meet again tomorrow." So he comes in the following day and says, "I'm about halfway through it." And Shelton gets up and leaves. Then Tim came in and auditioned.

TIM ROBBINS (COCKY PITCHER EBBY CALVIN "NUKE" LALOOSH): I was a Mets fan growing up. I saw them win the World Series in 1969. I was 11 years old, and it was my birthday. I was with my grandma. We lived in Manhattan, and she got up early and took the train out to Flushing and bought tickets [to Game 5]. It was the greatest birthday gift a kid ever got. Later, I was offered a part in Eight Men Out, and I had to choose between baseball movies. I remember I had to play catch with Ron at my audition. He wanted to make sure I could throw.

MEDAVOY: I had a big question about Tim, and I was wrong. I didn't realize how funny he was.

ROBBINS: Nuke was a great character. I always loved the eccentric players—Bill Lee, Jimmy Piersall.... When the knuckleball pitcher with the crazy long hair and the attitude comes along, or Bobby Valentine dresses up as Groucho Marx in a fake mustache, those guys are delightful to watch.

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