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.
Shelton’s new memoir, The Church of Baseball, does for filmmaking what Bull Durham did for the national pastime: it demystifies the craft, pillories the business, and celebrates the calling with wit and passion ... Shelton’s prose is as natural as his dialogue, and he conjures characters with casual mastery ... In The Church of Baseball, as in Bull Durham, Shelton riffs on life in the American grain, and scales the heights of the homegrown surreal. Like Mark Twain, he reveals an unsentimental education that reads like a robust and impudent yarn.
Eminently readable ... A down-and-dirty account of how the unlikely 1988 classic was conceived, made and sold, soup to nuts, from idealistic plans to corporate reality. Its ground-level tone and attention to detail strip away the romance of moviemaking, with only minimal rancor. In contemporary parlance, Shelton keeps it real.
... a peek behind the curtain, to be sure; Shelton is upfront and honest about the process, both with regard to what worked and what didn’t … and how much fun everyone had along the way ... a delight, a combination of insider observation and shaggy memoir. Shelton’s memories of this time are vivid and razor-sharp, resulting in a detailed picture of the realities behind getting this movie made. The disconnect between the film’s canonical status today and the uncertainty that surrounded it in the moment makes the story of its making all the more fascinating. Talk about inside baseball, you know? ... offers equal appeal to lovers of baseball and movies, a book that breaks down an iconic work of great importance to both realms. Smart, funny and charmingly self-deprecating, it’s an absolute home run of a read.