The Best Movies: “Bull Durham” Captures the Essence of Baseball

I just watched "Bull Durham" for the first time in a few years the other day and now remember just how great a movie it is. It has great characters, some brilliant scenes, and gives that feeling of just how special, and hard, baseball is on the field and off. If you haven't seen it in a few years, I suggest checking it out a gain. It gets better with age.

Don't just take my word for it. The Baseball Almanac listed the top 10 baseball movies, and "Bull Durham" is number 1:

And It's not even that close. First, "Bull Durham" is far and away the most authentic portrayal of the game, both on and off the field. Baseball is treated with casual reverence: It's a great game, and we love it, but it is a game. Costner is at his best, and Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon are perfect complements. The romance between Costner and Sarandon is also just right. It's all thanks to writer and director Ron Shelton, who spent five years in the minor leagues and cared about doing things right. He avoids the usual sports movie clichés – he filmed Costner catching a foul pop just because he said movies never show the routine plays and creates characters that we like and a world that we Don't want to leave.

Here's a review from when it first came out in 1988 in the Washington Post. This is a great summary:

Movies that take an inflated view of baseball usually have no feel for the everyday details of the game, for what it's like to be in the locker room or the dugout and smell the dirt and the liniment and the tobacco juice. "Bull Durham" sees the game in its larger dimensions without losing those details.
 
What it has is flavor, reality, a sense that the game is played by actual people, boys mostly, and not heroes. The people associated with "Bull Durham" know the game — Shelton spent five years in the minors with the Orioles organization — and the firsthand experience shows in their easy command of the ballplayer's vernacular, in their feel for what goes through a batter's head when he digs in at the plate and in their knowledge of the secret ceremonies that take place on the mound.
 
But as smart as "Bull Durham" is about baseball, it's even smarter about people. And when we watch Crash effortlessly unsnap the catch in Annie's garter — the catch that Nuke fumbled over earlier — we see that in a sense, the movie is a celebration of experience over raw youth. What it tells us is that though youth and talent are valued, there are greater glories in age.

 

The Trailer and The Meeting on the Mound Scene

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when they have a big meeting on the mound to sort things out. Here it is:

And here's the original trailer. Not the greatest quality, but you get the idea:

Comments

comments

×