This week is the 30th anniversary of one of my favorite films, Bull Durham. It’s considered to be one of the best sports movies of all time. I think it’s more than that. Granted, it’s a fantastic sports movie, and even if you aren’t someone that likes sports, there is a lot to love about Bull Durham. I’ve seen it I don’t know how many times and I find something new to love with each viewing. You don’t follow a losing team struggling to make an underdog championship run. You follow a team of people eking out a living, chasing a dream of being in the majors. We don’t even know how the Durham Bulls’ season ends in the film. We know that it ends, and the cycle begins anew next spring. Written and directed by a former minor league player, the film is a love letter to baseball and all its pain and wonder.
I was lucky enough to go to Durham this April. My company needed to finish principle photography on a documentary. The film is about the 50th Season of the Omaha Storm Chasers as the AAA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. This is the longest affiliation in baseball. I was able to attend the trip to Durham to interview baseball legend “Trader” Jack McKeon. Jack was the first manager for the Omaha Royals in 1969. And while we were there, we worked with the Durham Bulls organization.
The Bulls moved from the park in the film shortly after it released. This was the end of a 10 year run as the team figured out how to make minor league baseball into a successful business. The Bulls had grown so popular that it moved from A ball to AAA. A new ballpark was built in 1995 about a mile from the original, which they still own and maintain. When we were there shooting drone footage, a high school game was getting ready to start. Walking on the field gave me goosebumps.
On Friday night of that week, we received press passes and were able to shoot around the new ballpark during a game. I actually made a comic about the experience for Seven Days, an alternative newspaper in Vermont. The comic was published last week. Here it is. Enjoy, and do yourself a favor: watch Bull Durham. It’s available for streaming right now. And enjoy these post from The Ringer and Deadspin commemorating the 30th anniversary of the film.