It’s no secret that Kevin Costner loves baseball. The actor has starred in several major motion pictures dedicated to the traditional American past time out of love for the game. That’s not the only way Costner indulges in his favorite sport.
Costner’s love of baseball is a recurring theme when looking through the actor’s movies over the years. From Bull Durham, Field Of Dreams, and Fastball, to The Upside Of Anger and For Love Of The Game, Costner has racked up quite a number of baseball movies under his belt. The latter film was especially poignant for the actor since he saw so much of himself reflected in the character of Billy Chapel.
He told the Baltimore Sun that Chapel was the most autobiographical of all the characters he’d played before. Chapel was facing a struggle in his own love affairs at the time, having divorced from his wife of almost 20 years just four years earlier. “I'll just talk for men,” he says. “We have an ability to give everything to our work—our thinking, our time—and we don't give the same energy to our partners.” His films aren’t the only way he loses himself in baseball.
Garrido spoke glowingly of his former student, telling the LA Times in 1995, “He can serve as an inspiration to any Cal State Fullerton student that they can get the kind of education at the university to be anything they want in life. Kevin is just one of the most visible examples of that.” Though Costner never played baseball while attending college, that didn’t stop the actor from pursuing the sport as a lifelong hobby in other ways. While he clearly loves making these movies, they sometimes exact an excruciating toll on him.
The Man Of Steel actor, who attended California State in Fullerton, sometimes journeyed back to his alma mater to take in a game and as a result, he developed a friendship with Titan coach Augie Garrido, who had taught a baseball class Costner had taken years earlier as a student. The actor was even invited to the campus in 1992 to throw the first pitch at the dedication of Titan Field.
While filming For Love Of The Game, Costner admitted that all the physical work of pitching over and over again wore his body down and caused incredible pain. Costner admitted during a visit to The Bill Simmons Podcast,
I was in pain. I finally just vomited, the pain was so great,
before adding, “We ended up getting the actual trainer for the [New York] Yankees – and I hope I'm not talking out of school here, but the reality was, this guy came to my rescue.” Even still, Costner had to “juice” just to keep himself going. “I started having to take a little bit of stuff,” Costner revealed,
I had to take a lot of stuff, just to get through the day. I was throwing that many pitches, and I was also getting kind of juiced up, too.
That dedication proved to have a bit of a downside, since taking those sorts of performance enhancers also come with side-effects, which include aggression. There’s a scene in the film where Costner’s character nearly hits a batter with a pitch, which was scripted, then Costner jumps off the mound, which was decidedly not scripted. “I came off that mound,” the actor recalled.
Something snapped in me. I came about 10 yards down the mound.
Costner suggested that the medication was to blame for the slightly off-script moment. Though this favored pastime of Kevin Costner’s has brought him literal pain at times, it’s still a great source of relaxation and fun for the actor when he’s not on camera.
Costner built a real baseball diamond on his property in Aspen and the actor admitted, “It’s not uncommon for us to have 40 or 50 people out on the ranch. We play softball when the kids are out, but when the men are out there we play hardball. I have a pitching machine that we like to hit off of.” It makes sense that Costner would have his own baseball field, given his history with the sport.
The sport was a strong reminder of his bond with his father, the actor explained, “I have loved baseball as long as I can remember. My dad (Bill) played hardball, and when I was a kid I loved going to the ballpark with him.” Costner added, “I would ask him to wear his spikes so I could hear them click on the concrete.” Naturally, where Costner spent his childhood had a large influence on why he loved the sport.
I grew up in California, so I was a Dodgers fans. I loved Willie Davis and Maury Wills.
Of course, with all this passion, it seems like it might be hard for Costner to just up and stop making baseball movies. The actor has hinted that there might be another coming.
Costner is definitely aware of his status as the go-to guy for baseball movies, so he knows that there’s always going to be speculation about when the next one is coming. The actor sat down with Larry King back in 2016 and said he does have the next one in mind, though he intimated that it might be his last one. “I think I have one more in me,” Costner told King. “It has to do with the Cubs.” At the time, it still needed to be written, but since the Cubs managed to break their infamous “curse” and win the World Series, there’s likely a plethora of inspiration to work with.
How wonderful that Kevin Costner is able to mix a hobby he’s passionate about with his work. Costner’s very lucky to be able to keep up with his favorite pastime while at his day job. He’s already left us with so many memorable movies, and once the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is over, who knows? Maybe Costner will get to work on that Cubs movie.