SURPRISE – In the 1988 romantic comedy film “Bull Durham”, pitcher “Nuke” Laloosh and catcher “Crash” Davis share an iconic exchange that has entertained audiences for decades and resonates with players even today.
The exchange features Davis, played by Kevin Costner, trying to get his hot-shot battery mate, played by Tim Robbins, to throw a curveball. After several shaken off signs and a spirited exchange at the mound (“I want to bring my heater to announce my presence with authority”), the experienced catcher decides to teach his defiant pitcher a lesson. Davis tells the batter a fastball is coming and the slugger promptly hammers the pitch for a home run.
The relationship between Nuke and Crash developed throughout the movie and was a primary and popular focus of the film.
Rangers catcher Brett Nicholas and pitcher Connor Sadzeck feel they share a similar relationship.
“He’ll come out and say things Crash would say to calm me down or joke around on the mound and kind of talk me out of my own head,” Sadzeck said.
Nicholas has never told a hitter what Sadzeck is going to throw next, but Sadzeck does think it is something his friend could do in the future to get his point across.
“I always feel a little bit like I am Crash Davis,” Nicholas said. “Not as much anymore, but I (spent) 7-8 years in the minor leagues, and as the catcher, (I’m) teaching some of the younger guys coming up through Triple-A.”
“I always felt like I was trying to give them life lessons and telling them to keep the mold off their sandals,” Nicholas added, referencing the scene where Crash calls Nuke a slob for having fungus on his shower shoes.
The Nuke Laloosh comparisons are something Sadzeck he has grown used to and embraced.
On his Double-A team, the team had a promotion to put player nicknames on the back of their jerseys.
Sadzeck obviously chose “Nuke”.
Sadzeck and Nicholas have never played on the same team on the same time, but they work out together in the offseason in Phoenix, and during spring training, which has helped them build their current relationship.
Nicholas and Sadzeck aren’t the only players who enjoy baseball movies.
Growing up, pitcher Matt Bush’s favorite movie was “Rookie of the Year”, where Henry Rowengartner, played by Thomas Ian Nicholas, turned into a 12-year-old pitching phenom for the Chicago Cubs.
Bush loved everything about the moving, especially the relatability, because Bush was the same age as Rowengartner when he saw the movie.
The relatability of baseball movies hits home for Bush.
Early in Bush’s career he had multiple off-field issues, leading to him being out of baseball for multiple years.
He sees some similarities between him and former pitcher Jim Morris, the subject of Disney’s “The Rookie”.
As the movie details, baseball was taken away from Morris and he was able to work his way back into the game and make it to the major leagues.
At one point, it was the same for Bush, and to watch the movie and see someone else climb to the top was “touching to (me).”
Baseball movies have an uncanny ability to reach audiences in ways other movies cannot.
Nicholas thinks he knows why.
“There is a lot more downtime in the game of baseball, a lot more time to have a little bit more humor where maybe a football movie or basketball movie is more based off the games,” Nicholas said.
“Bull Durham” is considered a great movie because of the comedy, romance and the relatability to other people.
Many people relate to the young hot-shot, full of dreams and potential, while some relate to the old, stubborn mentor struggling to accept the fact that his potential was never reached.
“Rookie of the Year” is relatable because just about every little kid would do anything to pitch in the major leagues.
“You understand how hard it is to succeed in a professional sport or just the struggles on and off the field and (how) to overcome it,” Bush said.