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Friday, June 30, 2017

An oral history of “League of Their Own” on the 25th anniversary

Candaele: Geena Davis (Dottie) was very clearly a talented athlete. She could throw and swing the bat. Then all of the other women they found to fill out the teams were great athletes. So it just reinforced this idea that there are great women athletes out there that are tremendous baseball players. They brought those skills to the tryouts, then, of course, the movie.

Greenhut: We went through a lot tryouts. We had Demi Moore out there in a batting cage. (Moore eventually couldn’t do the film after she became pregnant.) We even had Debra Winger, but that didn’t work out. However, I had worked with Geena Davis before [on “Quick Change,” which came out in 1990]. And then Madonna came into play. So Columbia/Sony wanted to do this whole package thing, which we could market. And Madonna wanted to do it. She was hot stuff at the time, and she was athletic enough.

Madonna just really wanted to do this film. And I told her, “You know, it’s very little money.” She explained that she wanted to be diverse in her career. And she took it seriously. She might have come in late a few times, and maybe I had to bring her to the principal’s office kind of thing. But ultimately, she was a sweetheart. She was just so enthusiastic about doing a good job….

Anyway, the hardest thing Madonna had to do baseball-wise was sliding into third or home, and that took a while to get right.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

BULL DURHAM AT 29: A TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY

I had played baseball at UNC and was just finishing up my course work to get my degree.
Someone called UNC and gave them my name. I showed up and did what I always did, I just
played ball.

The first scene I was in, called for me to hit a double as a right-handed hitter. Tim Robbins,
who played “Nuke LaLoosh” actually had to throw it to me because the camera was behind
him filming the scene. He was the worst athlete any actor could possibly be. The guy was all
over the place.  Crash Davis was right when he said Nuke couldn’t hit water if he fell out of
a boat. Before the scene, Ron Shelton, who wrote and directed the movie, told me to try to
hit a line-drive betwee shortstop and third base. I said to myself, “If I could do that, I’d probably
be playing in the big leagues.”


What made that even harder was the fact that Robbins couldn’t throw the ball over the plate, or
within a mile of it. He was throwing it behind me, over my head, five feet in front of the plate,
and he hit me twice in the back. It took 17 takes to get the scene right. When I finally hit one,
I was so stunned that I didn’t even move. Costner got up and yelled at me, “Run!”. In the
movie, the radio man back in Durham hits a piece of wood and says, “there’s a line drive to
left-center field.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 28, 2017 at 11:59 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball in movies, bull durham, hollywood

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Fantasy Draft Rankings for Imaginary Players

Roy Hobbs—The Natural
A 35-year-old rookie with a nebulous past and no minor-league track record to speak of? Sign me up! A shooting in a hotel room, an outfielder dying after crashing through a fence, and a bribe potentially influencing a top player’s effort all illustrate the challenges fantasy managers would have had in the 1930s had our game existed back then. Pick up Hobbs? Whatever. Life in Roger Towne and Phil Dusenberry’s scripted version of the 1952 Bernard Malamud novel is a depressing menagerie of horrific events, and there is a good chance you are going to die long before the season ends and you win your fantasy league. If you can survive this hellscape until 1964, eat at Arby’s in its founding year. Hobbs is the kind of player the worst owner in your league would spend all of his FAAB on. Don’t worry. That guy never pays attention and will finish fifth instead of 10th this year.

Fantasy take: Bid all of your remaining FAAB in mid-July.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 27, 2017 at 01:54 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball in film, fantasy baseball, hollywood, roy hobbs

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Where Did the Great Hollywood Baseball Movie Go?

The silent spaces in baseball used to be filled in by novelists and filmmakers. They supplied quick-witted, slang-driven repartee that felt both revelatory and reassuring for dugout conversations and meetings on the mound. The makers of films like 1989’s “Major League” and 1988’s “Eight Men Out” gave us the thoughts of the batters as they dug into the box, the catcher’s mantras and occasional trash talk, the umpire’s endless exasperation. And while all that may have been fantasy, it convinced you that what you couldn’t hear or see while watching a baseball game could be translated directly into cornfed American English.

Some mix of skyrocketing salaries, the steroid-era hangover and camera technology has rubbed away that implicit charm. Relatable baseball heroes are in retreat — and Hollywood seems to have lost interest in creating them. Over the past decade, there have been only four major studio baseball releases. Compare that with the late ’80s and early ’90s, when a handful of baseball movies came out nearly every year, including classics like “Bull Durham,” “Major League,” “Field of Dreams” and “A League of Their Own.”

Phil Alden Robinson, the director of 1989’s “Field of Dreams,” attributes the decline in the number of baseball movies to Hollywood’s need to court foreign audiences and financing — despite increasing numbers of international players in the majors. He also acknowledges a cultural shift. Two decades ago, baseball and its sepia-toned past could stand in for any number of sentimental ideas about the country. No longer. Robinson says football might better fit the American psyche, “a reflection of more violent times.” He believes he could probably scrape together the money to make “Field of Dreams” today, but, he told me, “it would have been a lot less money.”

Baseball’s visual clock, which once kept time for a changing country, now seems frozen.


 

 

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