Costner takes batting practice with Indians
CLEVELAND — Draft Day took a break for Crash Davis on Sunday.
Actor Kevin Costner visited with the Indians before Sunday’s game against the Twins, then took batting practice with Nick Swisher, Ryan Raburn and Mark Reynolds — and coach Kevin Cash throwing the pitches.
A former high school baseball player and the star of two of the better baseball movies ever — “Bull Durham” and “Field of Dreams” — Costner hit the ball well for a 58-year-old.
“I was actually glad I made contact because I haven’t swung in a couple years,” Costner said. “I thought my chances of swinging through the ball were just as good as fouling it off.”
Costner, in town to film a movie about the NFL Draft, chatted up several Indians player on the field and in the clubhouse, including Swisher (no doubt the two shared acting tales, Swisher about his appearance on “How I Met Your Mother”, Costner on “Waterworld”).
Then he went to the cage, and hit a few balls to the outfield. One carried about two-thirds of the way to the wall.
Costner said he has taken BP about eight or nine times with major league teams, and even played in a spring training game or two at shortstop. He even pitched to one batter — and when he told the tale it was right out of “Bull Durham.”
Costner was playing shortstop for a college team, and with two outs in the ninth the manager came to the mound.
“I figured somebody wanted to pitch,” he said.
The manager pointed to him.
“At that point about 25,000 people go ‘Whooooaaa,’” he said, “but nobody was saying ‘Whoa’ more than me.”
Costner had glasses on, and asked the home plate umpire to hold them for him. After warming up, the catcher put down one finger for the fastball but without his glasses Costner could not see the sign.
“I’m thinking, ‘This guy knows I’m gonna throw a fastball; he just knows I’m gonna try to get one over. I can’t do that,” Costner said.
So he threw a curve, or what passed for one. Which of course brought the catcher to the mound to ask what was going on. When Costner said he couldn’t see the signs, the catcher said he’d tap his right leg for a fastball, the left for a curve.
“I work the count to 2-2 and he takes a third strike,” Costner said. “I’m not sure it was the third strike or not. It was too close to take.”
That’s his line and he’s sticking to it — too close to take.
“That poor guy,” Costner said. “He really got it.”
From teammates. It’s the kind of interaction Costner likes about the game, the kind he included throughout “Bull Durham” (“Hit bull, win steak”). Costner said he grew up playing baseball in the backyard and on the street, and he played any position needed when he attended four different high schools.
He said that the key to success in any sports movie is to “avoid” the sports.
“It still has to be a boy-girl movie or it’s not a movie,” he said. “It still has to be about people and the backdrop of either baseball or football is what you play.”
Costner has become bullish on Cleveland. He has four friends who grew up in the city, believes Brandon Weeden can play quarterback (he will play the GM of the Browns in the movie) and thinks the Indians have the “right amount of athletic arrogance” to catch Detroit.
“Cleveland’s been great to me,” he said. “I like the town. I told my wife how fun it is to walk around.
“I’m not a drinker. I think you have to drink to fit in here. I swear to God. There’s so many women who would drink me under the table. Unbelievable.”
Start the debate now whether the Chamber of Commerce is smiling.