This post is for Girasoli (world’s biggest Red Sox fan!). A while back, we were talking about baseball movies on her blog and of course, “Bull Durham” came up. Girasoli didn’t know that the Durham Bulls (the minor league team in the movie) were a real-life team, so I told her that I’d go by the ballpark and take some photos.
This ballpark (the Durham Athletic Park or the DAP) was built in 1939 and is where they filmed the movie in 1988. There have been a number of events to celebrate the movie’s 20th anniversary this year; the biggest was when Kevin Costner brought his rock-n-roll band to play at the city’s Fourth of July party this summer. That concert took place at the new ballpark (built in the mid-1990’s), not this old historic one. The Durham Bulls always had decent attendance at games, but the crowds grew even larger because of the movie and also because of the early 1990’s success of the Atlanta Braves (at that time, the Durham Bulls were a minor league team for the Braves). The old ballpark just couldn’t handle the crowds ( I remember one game where I missed three innings waiting in line for the ladies’ room!) so they built a new and larger stadium. It’s a very nice place but I kinda miss the old park.
Since the team moved, the old ballpark has been used for the annual Bull Durham Blues Festival and various other community events. It’s currently undergoing a major renovation and then it will be used for an umpire training college, a baseball museum, and for college games. I’m glad that they will be playing ball there again! But the field is kind of a mess right now:
“Bull Durham” is ranked Number One on the Sports Illustrated “Greatest Sports Movies of all Time” list. Such a great film! This speech from Annie Savoy (played by Susan Sarandon) always cracks me up -
"I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshiped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance."
Here’s a good interview with writer/director Ron Shelton about the movie’s 20th anniversary.
“The film has held up remarkably well since hitting theaters in June 1988, and so have the Bulls. Now Tampa Bay's Triple-A affiliate, the Bulls have been one of the most popular teams in the minors, attracting a club-record 520,952 fans last season and annually ranking near the top of minor league baseball in merchandise sales. Mementos from the film are sprinkled throughout the new stadium, with a movie poster greeting visitors entering club offices and an enlarged replica of the "Hit bull, win steak" sign enticing hitters from atop the left-field wall. “
Oh and I can’t leave out the mascot, a fellow named Wool E. Bull. Here he is on a mural at the old ballpark:
And here’s an old photo of my nephews with Wool E. Bull at the new ballpark.
This is the old historic fire tower across the street from the ballpark:
I'll go by and take some more photos when they finish the renovation.