FOR LOVE OF THE GAME
But then again, it isn't
Shot on location in New York (including Yankee Stadium just days
after the real Yankees completed their World Series sweep of the
Padres) and Los Angeles, For Love of the Game was finally
winding down as Christmas approached. Only a few more scenes (including
the batting practice session) remained before production would
break for the holidays.
Having been at it since October, an air of relaxed familiarity
marked the set at the start of the day as cast and crew prepared
to tie up the final loose ends and save at least one full day
for last-minute Christmas shopping. The morning was bright and
crystal clear, but also crisp, with Southern California caught
in the midst of a record-setting cold snap.
Dedeaux Field on the USC campus, home of the 1998 College World
Series Champions, had been cast as Detroit's Florida spring training
site and was resplendent in the morning sun. The freshly repainted
outfield scoreboard proudly proclaimed, "Joker Marchant Stadium.
Home of the Tigers." Down on the field, Technical Consultant
(and preeminent college baseball coach) Augie Garrido warmed up
nearly two dozen ballplayer/extras with calisthenics, ground balls
and that incessant chatter so characteristic of baseball.
Off by the bullpen, studio publicity reps were setting up to videotape
interviews for use in promotional campaigns further down the road.
And up in the pressbox, Costner, director Sam Raimi, producers
Armyan Bernstein and Amy Robinson, and executive producer Ron
Bozman huddled to go over what remained to be done.
Loose ends and bits of things would consume this last day on a
Back on the diamond, at least partly in an effort to keep warm,
Garrido continued the Big League workout: infield grounders, double
play drills, outfield drills.
The play was sharp...and with good reason. Great care had been
taken throughout the filming to ensure the quality. One of the
ground rules set by Yankees managing partner George Steinbrenner
when the production was filming in New York, was that anyone appearing
in a Yankees uniform had to either be an actor, a current or past
major league or minor league player. The same standard was applied
to the Tigers players.
And even though it was the last day, Garrido still insisted on
the same high standards that enabled him to win two College World
Series' as coach at Cal State Fullerton. "It was important
that we kept a high level of quality, and I have a different sense
of authenticities than most people," Garrido added with a
Periodically, one of the drills was filmed; more baseball flavoring
for the story. All very efficient, all very workmanlike; because
by now everyone, ballplayers and crew alike, had been through
the drill so many times it was second nature.
The publicity machine had also kicked into gear, trolling the
set for interviews and quickly landing the two main supporting
actors: John C. Reilly, who plays "Gus Osinski," Billy's
longtime catcher and friend; and Bill Rogers, who portrays "Davis
Birch," another friend, former teammate and now the superstar
slugger with the Yankees. With video camera rolling, Rogers noted,
"It's funny, but even though Davis Birch is a millionaire
free agent slugger, it's just as important to the story that he's
a family man. Billy's the mature star still living the freewheeling
life of a single celebrity athlete, and Davis is the star in his
prime with the wife and children that Billy doesn't have. It's
a great role, and I feel fortunate that as an unknown I got to
work with a megastar like Kevin."
Reilly was also enjoying the day, particularly the relative calm
of Dedeaux Field and Los Angeles. Looking back on Yankee Stadium
a month or so earli
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