Bull Durham – a baseball movie which is more about life

I was commenting last weekend on An Exacting Life’s blog about being superstitious  and was reminded of the movie “Bull Durham” starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.* While the movie, written and directed by Ron Shelton, is around the subject of minor league baseball, it is more about life and life’s wisdom that is imparted by the two wise seasoned characters – Costner’s Crash Davis and Sarandon’s Annie Savoy – to a budding baseball star who does not think deep thoughts, Robbins’ Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh. You need not be a baseball fan to enjoy this movie.

The movie has some of the best quotes this side of “Casablanca,” which I will share from memory, meaning I will likely be paraphrasing more than quoting. The one I shared about being superstitious is in the climactic scene (I must use this word cautiously as the movie has some scintillating scenes between Costner and Sarandon during the denouement), when Savoy enters Davis’ apartment without knocking to accuse him of telling LaLoosh to stay out of her bed, an idea she started, to channel LaLoosh’s energy into his pitching several weeks earlier. The team began a long winning streak thereafter.

Davis responded by saying he did not tell him that and said “You don’t mess with a streak as they don’t come along often.” He added “If you are winning because you think it is due to your not getting laid, then you are. And, you should know that.” Savoy realizes he is right and professes her desire for Davis, which had been smoldering all season. The irony of all ironies is while Savoy ends up with Davis, in real life, Sarandon falls in love with Robbins after meeting during the filming of the movie which led to a long marriage.

Some of my other favorite lines of the movie, include:

– Davis (who is the catcher) telling LaLoosh (the pitcher) on the mound to “Don’t try to strike out everyone. Strikeouts are fascist. Throw more ground balls, they are more democratic.”

– Savoy notes about LaLoosh “The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self-awareness.”

– Davis, after being challenged to a bar fight by Laloosh, who did not know Davis was his new catcher, diffused the situation by tossing a baseball to the wild pitcher, saying hit me with this. The pitcher noted he would kill him if he hit him, to which Davis retorted, “From what I hear, you couldn’t hit water if you fell out of boat.”

– Davis telling LaLoosh after one of his pitches was hit for a long home run, “Man, that ball went so far it needed a stewardess.” This was after Davis told the batter what pitch was coming after LaLoosh kept shaking of the signal.

– Davis picking up LaLoosh’s shower flip-flops which had fungus growing on it. “If you get to the Show (the major leagues), people will think you are colorful (with the fungus). Until then, people will think you are a slob.”

– Savoy telling LaLoosh who needed to think less on the pitcher’s mound, “To breathe through your eyelids like the lava lizards.”

– Savoy telling LaLoosh to slow down when he rips off all his shirt the first time they are alone foregoing the romantic theater. She adds, “Put your shirt back on. I want to watch.”

The most memorable scene, though, occurs when he Davis responds to Savoy’s question when she tells the two ballplayers she will choose one of them to be in a monogamous relationship with during the season. Davis asked why does she get to make the choice and why not one of them? When he later add he does not believe in choice like that in “matters of the heart,” she asks him what do you believe in. Davis characters lays on a diatribe that tells her more than she ever wanted to know about what he believed in such as “I believe Christmas presents should be opened Christmas morning” and “I believe in slow wet kisses that last for three days.” After which she is obviously smitten with him saying, “Oh, my.”

I recognize these quotes don’t do the movie justice, as there are so many well crafted scenes and lines offered by a terrific cast. The dugout banter between the manager and pitching coach is priceless.  If you like the movie, tell me your favorite scenes. If you do not, I would love to hear your comments as to why. And, if you have not seen it, please do check it out.

* Here is a link her to her post: http://anexactinglife.com/2014/10/11/very-superstitious

11 thoughts on “Bull Durham – a baseball movie which is more about life

  1. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this movie, but I loved it! One scene that stands out in my memory is Susan Sarandon reading Latin poetry to Kevin Kostner–while he is tied up in bed. 🙂

  2. Two favorites that come quickly to mind are Kevin’s making it a “rain day.” The other is the ending, on the porch swing, when he says he wants to hear everyone one of her theories, but right now he just wants quiet.

    BTW: If you are a Costner fan, you already likely know that somewhere in the film will be the mention of “Visalia.” In Bull Durham, it was that they “might be looking for a coach.” Visalia is Costner’s home town, as I understand it.

    Great post

    • Thanks Barney. That ending is great. I love the rain day fun as well. Being a former baseball player through high school, the movie catches the rhythm of baseball with its down time. I also liked the advice he gives the manager to get the kids to play better – “Scare them.” Throwing the bats in the shower got their attention. Did not know that about Visalia. BTG

      • Visalia is mentioned in almost all of his films. Ironically, it is about one hour’s drive down the road. Very pretty town.

  3. I’ve never seen this movie, but I just wrote a post (to appear soon) about the old movies we’ve been watching at my house. Maybe this one needs to make the list. We also recently watched Casablanca. So great!

    • Emily, do watch this one. Casablanca is on a short list of favorites. If you like black and whites, watch “Witness for the Prosecution” and “Gaslight.” On the latter, my daughter informed there is a term called “gaslighting” someone which came from this movie. Take care, BTG

  4. Note to Readers: One of my favorite scenes from the movie requires a lot of set-up, so I left it out of the above. But, toward the end of the movie, Davis approaches the mound where LaLoosh is having difficulty concentrating with his father in the stands. Next, each infielder approaches the mound with their own problems, one of which is what to do buy as a wedding present for one of the ballplayers and Savoy’s friend Millie. The manager pushes the pitching coach to go find out what’s going and he proceeds to offer input before proceeding with the game.

    It reminded me of an old coach who would go settle his pitcher down by asking about his girlfriend when he approached the mound. Sometimes, he would never talk about the game.

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