Results tagged ‘ The Natural ’

A different kind of hit record

By Samantha Carr

Baseball and music have a rich history together. The Hall of Fame honored that history at the 2010 Induction Ceremony by celebrating John Fogerty’s classic baseball song “Centerfield.”

That tradition will continue this year when Terry Cashman’s hit “Talkin’ Baseball (Willie, Mickey and the Duke)” will be honored during Hall of Fame Weekend 2011. On Friday, a musical group a little newer to the scene got their first taste of Cooperstown.

The Baseball Project is a musical group that formed in 2007 to perform songs about baseball. The group is made up of Steve Wynn (also of Dream Syndicate), his wife Linda Pitmon, Scott McCaughey (also of The Minus 5) and Mike Mills of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee R.E.M.

“The song ideas are flowing,” said Wynn during their visit to the Hall of Fame.

The Baseball Project will be performing tonight at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown and had to make a stop at baseball heaven as part of the trip. The group and some of their crew received a “backstage” tour of the Hall of Fame and were able to go into the Museum’s collections storage to see some artifacts not currently on display.

“I feel like I could really hit something with this,” said Mills when he felt the weight of the bat Ted Williams used to record his last hit.

The group got to see the trombone case from the baseball classic, “The Natural,” as well as items like a ball signed by astronauts.

“Baseball is all weaved in with American culture, so there are all kinds of items that relate,” said Mills.

McCoughey’s favorite artifact was a Babe Ruth jersey he got to hold and be photographed with.

“My dad’s favorite player was Ruth, so this is pretty cool,” he said.

The group, who released their second album Volume 2: High and Inside in March, checked out artifacts like a jersey worn by the Braves manager Billy Southworth made of satin to show up better under lighting during night games and even some snare drums used by the Brooklyn Dodgers Symphony Band.

One thing is for sure – the band finally got the official answer to a lyrical question they have had for years about the baseball classic “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” when they got to view the original sheet music in the Hall of Fame’s collection.

“Now we know the real lyrics – it’s never get back, not ever.”

Don’t be surprised if the group is inspired by their trip to Cooperstown to write a hit that is honored at a Hall of Fame Weekend in the near future.

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Legendary visit

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

As founder, chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures, Thomas Tull has been responsible for some of the most popular films of the past half dozen years. So maybe it’s appropriate that the first movie produced by this baseball fan’s company was Batman Begins.

Tull, born and raised in Binghamton, N.Y., less than 70 miles from Cooperstown, visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Friday afternoon with his wife Alba and stepson Bret. During a break in the family’s tour, Tull talked about what brought him to the home of the National Pastime.

04-23-10-Francis_Tull.jpg“I haven’t been here in over a decade, which is a travesty,” Tull said. “Living in Los Angeles it’s a little tougher, but I was in New York on business and just thought with the start of the season and everything that I had to get over here.

“For me, it’s the connective fabric between the past, today and the fact that you guys are such amazing custodians of the game. Baseball, I think more than any other sport, has a reverence for the past – records, statistics – and it’s all here under one roof.”

Tull, 39, estimates that he has been to the Hall of Fame 10 times over the years, the first when he was brought by an uncle at the age of nine.

“I remember being excited to see everything but not quite having an appreciation for the plaques and the older players,” he said. “I’ve always been in awe of the Hall of Fame. This place is absolute hallowed ground for me.”

A multi-sport athlete at Maine-Endwell High School, Tull had the rare opportunity to play baseball a few times on Cooperstown’s historic Doubleday Field. An outfielder, he continued his ball playing at nearby Hamilton College, eventually getting a tryout with the Atlanta Braves where, he joked, he was “not quite good enough to get a paycheck for it, so that’s why I keep on hanging around places like these.”

Besides Batman Begins (2005), other Legendary Pictures productions include Superman Returns (2006), 300 (2007), The Dark Knight (2008), Watchmen (2009), The Hangover (2009) and the recently released Clash of the Titans (2010).

“Since I was a little boy I’ve been a total movie geek, so it’s a real privilege to do it. We make movies that I want to see, and when that stops working that I’ll be done with that,” Tull said. “Sometimes it’s a lot of pressure, but at the same time I get to work with some amazing directors like Chris Nolan and Zack Snyder.”

04-23-10-Francis_Nettles.jpgAccording to Tull, who counts The Natural as one of has favorite all-time films, he can see one day making a baseball movie.

“As far as baseball, I would love to do that if I could find the right story. Jackie Robinson is a story I think needs to be told,” he said. “I would love to make a baseball movie if we could find the right story just because I’m so passionate about the game.”

A Yankee rooter since childhood, with third baseman Graig Nettles a favorite, Tull is also a football fan and part-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I love sports and I’m unbelievably fortunate,” Tull said. “I sometimes feel like I’m Forrest Gump, like I just kind of wander in. It’s pretty great.”

Though his allegiance lies with the Bronx Bombers, and he makes it to as many Yankee games as possible, he does have season tickets for the Los Angeles Dodgers “just because it’s baseball and it’s in town.”

As for why baseball still has this pull on him after all these years, Tull explained that “every spring I walk near a field and you can smell the dirt in the air. There’s something unbelievably poetic about it in a way.”

Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Baseball Film Festival Returns this October

Light_90.jpgBy Stephen Light

“Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die; follow your heart kid, and you’ll never go wrong.”

The Babe gave this advice to young Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez, who was trying to help his friend Scotty Smalls out of a big pickle after losing his step father’s autographed Ruth ball. The Sandlot easily ranks among my top baseball movies of all time, but what are yours?

7-9-09-Light_FilmFestival.jpgAs manager of museum programs here at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I have some pretty unique opportunities from time to time. But one of my favorite events is our annual Baseball Film Festival, held each fall. The action and suspense of the game have always translated well on the big screen. Think of the list: Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, The Natural, Major League, Pride of the Yankees, Rookie of the Year and I could keep going.

The diversity of entries at our annual film festival makes this event so unique. Take, for example, the 2008 Film Festival: The Best Film Award went to Dreaming in Blue (Fuera de Liga), a documentary on the Cuban team Industriales; The Award for Baseball Excellence went to a film focused on the game’s English origins entitled Base Ball Discovered; and the Award for Filmmaking Excellence went to a humorous short film entitled Gandhi at the Bat, a fictitious account of Gandhi’s one and only plate appearance at Yankee Stadium.

7-9-09-Light_Awards.jpgIn addition to these excellent films, we screened a film about Dummy Hoy, the first successful deaf major leaguer, as well as parts of a miniseries about the New England Collegiate Baseball League. We even had a documentary called Cobb Field: A Day at the Ballpark, which brought to life a full day at the Billings Mustangs old ballpark.

This year’s festival will take place October 2-4, and we recently started accepting submissions. Who knows what great movies are in store?

To be considered for entry into the festival, films must have been released in the last five years and baseball must be a primary or secondary theme of the film. Films may be of any length and genre. If you have a film that meets these criteria, or you know of someone who does, all you need to do to submit your film for consideration is mail two copies to the following address (along with any promotional materials you may have):

Manager of Museum Programs
25 Main Street
Cooperstown, NY 13326

If, like me, you just enjoy watching baseball films, be sure to mark down October 2-4 on your calendar. Tickets to the screenings of each film are free (with the price of Museum admission), and with the fall colors and crisp air, it’s a great time to be in Cooperstown.

Check out these trailers from last year’s films:
Base Ball Discovered
Cobb Field: A Minor League Day at the Ballpark
Dummy Hoy: A Deaf Hero
Eye on the Dream
Gandhi at the Bat
Mathematically Alive: A Story of Fandom

Stephen Light is manager of museum programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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