The Church of Baseball: The Making of Bull Durham

Written by Ron Shelton

From Knopf:

From the award-winning screenwriter and director of cult classic Bull Durham, the extremely entertaining behind-the-scenes story of the making of the film, and an insightful primer on the art and business of moviemaking.

“This book tells you how to make a movie—the whole nine innings of it—out of nothing but sheer will.” —Tony Gilroy, writer/director of Michael Clayton and The Bourne Legacy

“The only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the church of baseball.” —Annie in Bull Durham

Bull Durham, the breakthrough 1988 film about a minor league baseball team, is widely revered as the best sports movie of all time. But back in 1987, Ron Shelton was a first-time director and no one was willing to finance a movie about baseball—especially a story set in the minors. The jury was still out on Kevin Costner’s leading-man potential, while Susan Sarandon was already a has-been. There were doubts. But something miraculous happened, and The Church of Baseball attempts to capture why.

From organizing a baseball camp for the actors and rewriting key scenes while on set, to dealing with a short production schedule and overcoming the challenge of filming the sport, Shelton brings to life the making of this beloved American movie. Shelton explains the rarely revealed ins and outs of moviemaking, from a film’s inception and financing, screenwriting, casting, the nuts and bolts of directing, the postproduction process, and even through its release. But this is also a book about baseball and its singular romance in the world of sports. Shelton spent six years in the minor leagues before making this film, and his experiences resonate throughout this book.

Full of wry humor and insight, The Church of Baseball tells the remarkable story behind an iconic film.

“If you loved Bull Durham, you obviously must read Ron Shelton’s book about how it was made. Less obvious, but equally true: if you simply love movies, you must read it. No insider has ever written so well, and so revealingly, about the script-rewriting, the studio-fighting, the actor-coddling, the entire sausage-making process of any movie.” –Daniel Okrent; author of Last Call, The Guarded Gate, and Nine Innings

“I am among the legion of fans who loved the romantic comedy (and semi-autobiographical) movie Bull Durham, written and directed by Ron Shelton. His new book, The Church of Baseball: The Making of Bull Durham, is an enchanting education on how Crash and Nuke and Annie — and Shelton — and their madcap medley of co-characters overcame real and fictionalized obstacles to populate a variety of ballparks and bedrooms and, in dramatic fact, triumph over the snooty `suits’ in Hollywood suites.” –Ira Berkow, Pulitzer Prize-winning sports columnist and author of Baseball’s Best Ever: A Half-Century of Covering Hall-of-Famers

“The Church of Baseball is a heart pumping ride, from pitch to script to screen to the Oscars, as Ron Shelton turns his minor league love triangle into the greatest sports movie of our time. No filmmaker has given such an unfiltered glimpse into the storytelling process. Shelton has a mutual love for filmmakers and ballplayers—the grunts who take field and the management that controls their dreams. While chasing through the white knuckle pace of movie production, Ron Shelton somehow finds that strand of DNA in all of us that roots for the man at the plate as he chases love, success, good scotch, high fiber, and the hanging curveball.” –Jason Reitman, writer-director of Thank You for Smoking; Juno; Up in The Air; and Young Adult

“In 1988, Ron Shelton wrote and directed Bull Durham, maybe the best baseball movie ever. Now he tells the story of how that classic was made and the book is as funny, tough and touching as the picture. Home run.” –David Thomson, author of The Biographical Dictionary of Film