Eight facts about 'Bull Durham'

The 1988 film has become a baseball classic, but did you know ...

(AP)

By Lisa Winston / MLB.com | May 4, 2007 4:00 AM

1. The flim was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, losing to Rain Man. However, it did win that award, or its equivalent, from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Society for Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Writers Guild of America.

2. The character of Crash Davis, portrayed by Kevin Costner, was gleaned from Minor League history. Director Ron Shelton came across the name Lawrence "Crash" Davis while doing some research on the Carolina League. A former second baseman for the Durham Bulls in the 1940s, Davis allowed Shelton to borrow his catchy name for the film -- but not before confirming that his character would "get the girl."

3. Actor Kurt Russell, himself a former Minor Leaguer, helped Shelton develop the script and was originally penciled in to play Davis. Russell had already appeared in Shelton's 1986 film, The Best of Times.

4. In the commentary section of the DVD release, Shelton tells the story of being in a restaurant where his waiter's name was Ebby Calvin "Nook" LaRoosh. He took liberties with the last name and nickname and "borrowed" them for what would be one of his most memorable characters in the film.

5. One of the most memorable aspects of the film may be the Durham Bull itself -- the smoke-snorting, tail-waving cardboard target atop the right-field fence (replete with the slogan "Hit Bull, Win Steak"). Back in the '40s and '50s, the bull -- a logo of the Bull Durham Tobacco Company -- was a common sight at Minor League ballparks around the country. But ironically, Durham Athletic Park didn't have one, so set designers built one for the film. When the production was complete, the DAP kept the bull, though it was placed in foul territory.

When the team relocated in 1995, it brought the bull along and placed it in fair territory. Now, if a batter hits the bull, he does indeed win a steak (if he hits the grass in front of the bull, he wins a salad). The original bull, however, was retired to the first-base concourse and replaced by a new bull. That turned out to be a good move -- this past April 16, high winds tore off a piece of the new bull's head. It's in the process of being repaired.

6. Actor Trey Wilson, who played Bulls manager Joe Riggins, passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage in January 1989, just months after the film's release. He was 41 years old.

7. In the scene where groupie-in-training Millie and Minor Leaguer Jimmy get married, the extra hired to play the preacher was a no-show. Instead, former Durham general manager Pete Bock was hastily recruited to play the part because, according to Rod Meadows, the radio voice of the Bulls from 1989-97, "he looked like a southern preacher." Bock still worked with then-owner Miles Wolff and was one of the baseball advisors on the film.

8. Davis' uniform number, 8, was not a random assignment. It was the last uniform number Ron Shelton wore in the Minors.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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