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|Jim on the mound at historic Durham Athletic Park.|
But if you stand on the mound, turn toward the old grandstand, squint your eyes and listen real hard, you can almost see the boys and hear the most stirring movie lines since Bogie told Ingrid Bergman to get on the planeCrash: Nuke's scared because his eyelids are jammed and his old man is here. We need a live rooster -- was it a live rooster? We need a live rooster to take the curse off Jose's glove and nobody seems to know what to get Millie or Jimmy for their wedding present. [To the players.] Is that about right? [The players nod.] Crash: We're dealing with a lot of s--t. Larry: OK, well, uh candlesticks always make a nice gift, and uh, maybe you could find out where she's registered and maybe a place-setting or maybe a silverware pattern is good. OK, let's get two! Go get 'em.
|Plan Your Baseball Trip|
ESPN's SportsTravel section recently put together 10 sample Baseball Road Trips across the country which visit some of the best ballparks in both the majors and the minors.
Jim Caple is currently on a modified version of the South Atlantic Circuit trip.
• Day 1: A lifestyle of love
• Day 2: Baseball's first (fun) family Check out the ESPN Travel section for more travel guides and information.
Miller was the head groundskeeper for the Bulls when the movie was filmed, which provided him with an honor shared by Costner, Brad Pitt and Burt Lancaster -- he appears in a movie scene with Susan Sarandon. That's him raking the infield in the background of an early scene when Annie walks into the ballpark, his one and only role. "I think I've been typecast," he says. "My range is much better than I've been allowed to show."
Eighteen years is a long time, but it's surprising how many of the film sites you can find in Durham when you're not busy looking for the Duke lacrosse house.
|More Jim Caple|
|Jim Caple's trip is nothing compared to Cass Sapir's: He's visiting all 189 major and minor league stadiums in 175 days.|
And not only is Annie's house a couple blocks from the stadium, the bathtub she and Crash "soaked in" is there as well.
"It's cool because everyone in town knows where you live," Trudy Burdette says. "You call to have the gas turned on and they say, 'Oh, you're in the 'Bull Durham' house.'
|Jim couldn't resist playing a little 9-ball at the Green Room.|
Burdette's hospitality is impressive. She not only lets me in, she lets me sit on the famous bathtub. I'm tempted to fill the tub, put "Sixty-Minute Man" on the stereo and call up my wife but I think that would be pushing it.
It's not a completely successful visit, though. I simply thank Burdette and tell her good-bye when we leave, completely blowing the opportunity to stand in the entrance and deliver a more fitting farewell
I believe in the soul, the (you know what), the (you also know what), the small of a woman's back, the hanging curveball, high fiber, good Scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, I believe that there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing AstroTurf and the designated hitter, I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents on Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve, and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last for three days. [Pause.] Good night.
|For a "Bull Durham" fanatic, it's quite a treat to get to check out the dugout.|
"I think it's real close to what life in the low levels of the minors is really like," says current Durham Bulls infielder Brent Butler. "You had all the different types of players you find on a real team. You've got the big Christian guy and you've got the guy who is just the opposite.
"And the scene where Crash is talking to himself during the at-bat is right on. As a hitter, you're definitely thinking things like that."
|What to do in Durham|
Think Durham is a tobacco town? Consider this plaque on the exterior of the old Liggettt & Myers Tobacco Company headquarters:|
"Dedicated to the Millions That Enjoyed the Cigarette That Satisfies: Chesterfield."
And people say the tobacco companies don't care about their customers.
Actually, most of the old tobacco warehouses are being converted into condos and offices, including the old American Tobacco Company. It's been turned into a great restaurant mall next to the new Durham Athletic Park and is well worth a visit before or after a Bulls game.
Another must stop is King's Sandwich Shop, a classic hamburger and hot dog stand, just beyond the outfield of the Bulls' old stadium. You can picture Crash stopping by for a dog on his way home from a day game.
You also should tour Duke University and its gorgeous campus. When you finish, you'll either hate Duke more than ever or head straight to the registrar's office to enroll.
Robbins, on the other hand
"Tim needed a little more work," Miller says. "I don't know you would waste a first-round draft pick on him. But he pulled it off and when they filmed that scene with him where's he's having a nightmare and pitching in nothing but a garter belt and a jockstrap, it was 35 or 40 degrees out. He was a tough guy to do that."
The rose goes in front, big guy.
Even when the old park was in good shape it had problems. The clubhouses were so cramped and cruddy that they were deemed substandard for depicting a clubhouse in the low minors (the producers built their own for those scenes). Jon, who spent hundreds of evenings here when he lived in Durham, shows me a crusty old bathroom with a single toilet at the end of the grandstand. "That was the women's bathroom," he says. You mean a women's bathroom, I respond. "No, I mean the women's bathroom."
In no small way, the film that immortalized the old park also killed it off. "The movie came out in 1988 and from that point on it was wall-to-wall people here," Miller says. "We said capacity was 5,000 but we could only comfortably seat 3,500 and we were drawing twice that many. The lines at the restrooms and the beer stand just overwhelmed the facility."
|The team has moved to a new stadium, but the bull is omnipresent.|
"The biggest thing is when we're on the road," Butler says. "The pitching coach will come out to the mound and they'll show the candlestick scene on the scoreboard." And why not? That scene is so good, Robert Wuhl makes up for "Arli$$." Well, almost.
Losing a team to a new stadium with luxury suites and a gift shop might seem like a bad trade, but bad trades are part of baseball (who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas for God's sake?). Besides, the old park is getting new life breathed into it as well. Miller is in the process of getting the field back in playing shape for North Carolina Central to use in a couple years. That's very good news. The unofficial Church of Baseball always should be ready for its close-up, with freshly mowed grass, brilliant white chalk lines and an infield so neatly groomed you could hold a wedding on the diamond.
Or at least a live rooster sacrifice.Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. You can reach Jim at jimcaple.com. Sound off to Page 2 here.