Monday, June 1, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 218: Watch “Bull Durham” (1988)

About the only thing close to being as good as baseball, is a movie about baseball, and “Bull Durham” is considered to be one of the greatest baseball movies of all time. You’ll find it on all sorts of best-of-lists, but despite its popularity, I couldn’t honestly say that I’d ever seen this move from start to finish. For that reason, I added it to my “bucket list” a few years ago and finally finished watching it in its entirety on Monday of last week.

Directed by Ron Shelton, “Bull Durham” was released on June 15, 1988. Members of the cast included Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Trey Wilson and Max Patkin. Shot on a budget of around $7 million, this classic baseball film raked in nearly $51 million at the box office.

For those of you who haven’t seen this movie, it’s about players on a North Carolina minor league baseball team called the Durham Bulls. The two main characters are a talented, young (but not too smart) pitcher and a veteran catcher who has been called in to hone the young hurler’s skills. Sarandon plays the love interest, a baseball groupie who likes the young pitcher, but ends up falling for the veteran catcher.

“Bull Durham” is Rated R and it came out when I was 12 years old, which probably explains why I’d never seen the theatrical release of this film. Over the years, I’d seen bits and pieces of the made-for-TV version of the movie, but never the whole thing from start to finish. Despite the fact that “Bull Durham” is around 27 years old, I still enjoyed it even though it’s now a bit dated.

As mentioned, you’ll find this baseball film on a lot of “best of” lists. In August 2003, the editors at “Sports Illustrated” ranked “Bull Durham” No. 1 on its list of 50 “Greatest Sports Movies.” In 1999, it received an honorable mention on Entertainment Weekly’s list of “100 Greatest Movies of All Time.”

In May 2012, the Art of Manliness Web site included “Bull Durham” on its list of “15 Best Baseball Movies.” The Art of Manliness also included “Bull Durham” on a “best of” list called “The Essential Men’s Movie Library.” Also, Bravo ranked the movie No. 55 on its list of “100 Funniest Movies.”

Before I close this thing out I do want to mention that I’ve got another “bucket list” item somewhat related to this movie – I want to go watch a real Durham Bulls minor league baseball game. The real-life Durham Bulls are a Triple A team in Durham, N.C. affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays. Founded in 1902, they currently play in the International League, and play their home games at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

According to Google Maps, I live about 650 miles from Durham, so it would only take me about nine hours to drive there. Maybe one day I’ll find myself in the vicinity of Durham and find the time to scratch one of their games off my bucket list. In the meantime, if anyone out there has any Durham Bulls tickets they want to give away, I do accept donations.

In the end, how many of you have seen “Bull Durham”? What did you think about it? Did you like it or not? What other baseball films would you recommend watching? Let us know in the comments section below.

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