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For Love of the Game is a 1999 American sports drama film directed by Sam Raimi and written by Dana Stevens based on Michael Shaara s 1991 novel of the same title. Starring Kevin Costner and Kelly Preston, it follows the perfect game performance of an aging star baseball pitcher, Billy Chapel as he deals with the pressures of pitching in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx in his final outing by calming himself with memories about a long-term relationship with Jane Aubrey.
The play-by-play of the game is announced by longtime Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers baseball broadcaster Vin Scully, who himself called four perfect games in his career, and Steve Lyons.
The film received mixed reviews from critics and was a box office disappointment, grossing $46.1 million against a $50 million production budget. Costner received a nomination for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor.
The Detroit Tigers travel to New York to play a season-ending series against the New York Yankees. At 63–97, the team has long since been eliminated from playoff contention and are playing for nothing but pride against the Yankees, who have a chance to clinch the American League East with a win.
In his Manhattan hotel suite, 40-year-old pitcher Billy Chapel awaits his girlfriend Jane Aubrey, but she doesn t show. Jane is a single mother with a teenage daughter Heather whom Billy got to know. The next morning, Billy is told by Tigers owner Gary Wheeler that the team has been sold and that the new owners first move will be to end Billy s 19-year tenure with the Tigers by trading him to the San Francisco Giants. Billy learns from Jane that she is leaving that same day to accept a job offer in London.
Billy is a famous, accomplished pitcher, but has a losing record this season, is near the end of his career, and is recovering from a hand injury. Wheeler hints that Billy should consider retiring rather than join another team. As he goes to Yankee Stadium to make his last start of the year, Billy reflects about Jane, detailing how they met five years prior. These flashbacks are interspersed within the game, along with glimpses of Jane watching the game on a television at the airport.
As the game progresses, Billy dominates the Yankees batters, often talking to himself on how to pitch each one. While in the dugout resting between innings, Billy reflects how he shut Jane out of his life after he suffered a career-threatening injury in the off-season. The pain of pitching gets worse as the game goes on.
Billy is so caught up in his thoughts that he does not realize he is pitching a perfect game until he looks at the scoreboard in the bottom of the eighth inning. Friend and catcher Gus Sinski confirms that no one has reached base, and that the whole team is rallying behind Billy to do whatever it takes to keep the perfect game bid alive. Billy s shoulder pain has become intense, and after he throws his first two pitches of the inning well out of the strike zone, Tigers manager Frank Perry makes the call to warm up two relief pitchers in the bullpen. The count goes to 3–0 before Billy recalls pitching to his father (now deceased) in the back yard. He rallies and throws a strike, then gets the batter out on the next pitch.
Before the Tigers take the field for the bottom of the ninth inning, Billy has final ruminations about his career and his love for Jane. He autographs a baseball for Wheeler, who has been like a father to him for many years. Along with a signature, Billy inscribes the ball with Tell them I m through. For love of the game. Ken Strout comes up representing the last chance for New York. Strout chops up the middle just out of the reach of Chapel, heading towards center field. The Tigers shortstop dives and throws to first in time to retire Strout, giving Chapel his perfect game.
Billy sits alone in his hotel room as the realization sinks in that everything he has been and done for the past 19 years is over. Despite his amazing accomplishment, Billy weeps not only for the loss of baseball, but for the other love of his life, Jane.
The next morning, Billy goes to the airport to inquire about a flight for London. Jane had missed her flight the night before so she could watch the end of his perfect game. He finds her there waiting for her plane and they embrace and reconcile.
- Kevin Costner as Billy Chapel
- Kelly Preston as Jane Aubrey
- John C. Reilly as Gus Sinski
- Jena Malone as Heather Aubrey
- Vin Scully as himself
- Steve Lyons as himself
- Brian Cox as Gary Wheeler
- J. K. Simmons as Frank Perry
- Rick Reed as Home Plate Umpire Bill Murdy
- Michael Papajohn as Sam Tuttle
- William Newman as Fitch
- Bill E. Rogers as Davis Burch
- Bob Sheppard as himself
- Daniel Dae Kim as E.R. Doctor
- Greer Barnes as Mickey Hart
- Larry Joshua as Yankee fan in bar
- Gerald Friedman as Yelling fan
The pitching coach who prepared Costner for this role was former New York Yankees/Milwaukee Brewers middle reliever, Mike Buddie. Buddie also had a small speaking role in the film as the character Jack Spellman, the starting pitcher for the Yankees.
The Yankees manager is played by Augie Garrido, then head coach of the University of Texas Longhorns. Garrido was previously head baseball coach of California State University Fullerton, which is Costner s alma mater.
Sydney Pollack was originally slated as the director, with Tom Cruise cast in the part of Billy Chapel. Armyan Bernstein, chief of Beacon Pictures, got Kevin Costner interested in the film. The studio wanted to keep the film s budget to $50 million, so Costner helped out by waiving his usual $20 million salary in exchange for a bigger percentage of the film s gross; Costner was also given the generous rights of final cut privilege (normally only given to the producer or director, if anyone) and director approval.
Director Sam Raimi, who had previously only done low-budget films, later explained why he agreed to take on the big budget project: I was simply moved by the screenplay. It was moving and simple and I love baseball. I love baseball and I thought it hadn t really been put on film and I wanted to see it on the wide screen format. I thought that would be exciting for the audience, like being at a game. I get so excited by some baseball games I wanted to see if I could put some of that into the picture. And I simply liked it and wanted to try something different.
The actor playing Billy Chapel as a child in the opening credits is also Costner; the footage is actually old home movies of Costner and his father. J.K. Simmons later joked about the fact that he was only nine days older than Costner, despite being cast as a 63 year old.
During post-production, a handful of lines (amounting to roughly 10 seconds of film) were edited or cut in order to prevent the film being given an R rating under the Motion Picture Association of America film rating system. Costner objected to the edits but was overruled by Universal Pictures, and his contract specified that he only had final cut privilege so long as the film was rated PG-13 and had a running time of less than 2 hours, 10 minutes. A week before the film was to hit theatres, he voiced his complaints in a Newsweek interview, a breach of professional etiquette when speaking about a current film that one appears in. Universal Pictures co-chairman Stacey Snider, while agreeing with Costner that the cuts the Motion Picture Association demanded were unjust, stated, Kevin s not the director and it s not fair for him to hijack a $50-million asset. I realize this is very much about principle for Kevin, but principle doesn’t mean that you never compromise. Our feeling is that we have backed the filmmaker and his name is Sam Raimi, not Kevin Costner. Raimi, while supporting Universal s decision and agreeing that a PG-13 rating was a necessity, said he sympathized with Costner s feelings and wished the lines could have been kept in without losing the PG-13 rating. Universal compromised with Costner on the length, allowing a final cut of 2 hours, 17 minutes. Recognizing that he might nonetheless feel betrayed after he had waived his usual fee, Universal offered to pay him the full $20 million fee, but Costner declined.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. For Love of the Game has a 46% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 94 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10. The site s consensus states: Baseball wins, romance loses. On Metacritic, it has a score of 43% based on reviews from 31 critics, indicating mixed or average reviews. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of B+ on an A+ to F scale.
In Roger Ebert s review, he gave the film one and a half stars out of four, calling it the most lugubrious and soppy love story in many a moon, a step backward for director Sam Raimi after A Simple Plan, and yet another movie in which Kevin Costner plays a character who has all the right window dressing but is neither juicy nor interesting.
The film opened at No. 2 with a weekend gross of $13,041,685 from 2,829 theaters for a per venue average of $7,023. Ultimately, For Love of the Game grossed only $35,188,640 domestically and an additional $10,924,000 in other territories to a total of $46,112,640 worldwide. Based on an estimated $50 million budget, the film lost money.
|Blockbuster Entertainment Awards||May 9, 2000||Favorite Supporting Actress – Drama/Romance||Jena Malone||Nominated|
|Motion Picture Sound Editors||March 25, 2000||Best Sound Editing – Dialogue & ADR||Kelly Cabral, Wylie Stateman, Jennifer L. Mann, Lauren Stephens, Richard Dwan Jr., Elizabeth Kenton, Chris Hogan, Dan Hegeman, Constance A. Kazmer||Nominated|
|Razzie Awards||March 25, 2000||Worst Actor||Kevin Costner||Nominated|
|Young Artist Awards||March 19, 2000||Best Family Feature Film – Drama||Nominated|
|Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Young Actress||Jena Malone||Nominated|
|YoungStar Awards||November 19, 2000||Best Young Actress/Performance in a Motion Picture Drama||Jena Malone||Nominated|
|Plot||After 19 years of playing the game he’s loved his whole life, Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel has to decide if he’s going to risk everything and put everything out there.|
|Awards||Awards, 7 nominations|
|Writers||Michael Shaara, Dana Stevens|
|Stars||Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly|
|Produced by||Marc Abraham,Armyan Bernstein,Ron Bozman,Amy Robinson|
|Music by||Basil Poledouris|
|Cinematography by||John Bailey|
|Film Editing by||Eric L. Beason,Arthur Coburn|
|Casting By||Lynn Kressel|
|Production Design by||Neil Spisak|
|Art Direction by||Steve Arnold,James C. Feng|
|Set Decoration by||Carolyn Cartwright,Karen O Hara|
|Costume Design by||Judianna Makovsky|
|Makeup Department||Elle Elliott,Kris Evans,Bernadette Mazur,Francisco X. Pérez|
|Production Management||Debbi Bossi,Harvey Waldman|
|Second Unit Director or Assistant Director||Stacey Beneville,Anne Carroll,Bac DeLorme,T. Sean Ferguson,Louis Guerra,Eric Heffron,Richard Oswald,Alexandra E. Perce,David K. Riebel,David Stephan,Basti Van Der Woude,Eric Yellin|
|Art Department||Yarek Alfer,Julie Aquino,JoAnn Atwood,Bruce Bellamy,Shane Buckallew,John Bullard,Nelson Bush,Philip Canfield,Scott Canfield,Teresa Kelly Canfield,Kyung W. Chang,David B. Clark,Peter C. Clarke,Marc Martin Del Campo,John David Diersing,Lauren Doner,Jennifer Engel,Louie Esparza,Mark Gantt,Hank Giardina,William Gideon,Jonathan Graham,Ryan Handt,Mark Harrington,Laura Iler,Greg Izzo,Jacqueline Jacobson Scarfo,Steven Kerlagon,Martin Lasowitz,Jeffrey Lynch,P.K. MacCarthy,Andrew Menzies,Eric M. Metzger,Nick Miller,Michael O Donnell,Michael Parmelee,Addison Pettit,Wendy Richardson,Jeff Shewbert,Craig T. Shordon,Chris Snyder,Dale Snyder,Keith Stalker,Sally Thornton,Jorge A. Yazji,David Brace|
|Sound Department||Victoria Bowes,Kelly Cabral,Richard Dwan Jr.,Frank Fleming,Keith Gardner,Nerses Gezalyan,Fred Johnston,Gregg Landaker,Jennifer L. Mann,Steve Maslow,Glenn T. Morgan,Ed Novick,Christopher O Donnell,Mark Ormandy,Perry Robertson,Peter Schneider,Wylie Stateman,Lauren Stephens,Jon Title,Karl Wasserman,Mark Weingarten,Jeffrey Wilhoit,Greg Zimmerman,Daniel R. Kerr|
|Special Effects by||Mark Bero,Al Di Sarro,Matthew Giaquinto,Thomas Rasada|
|Visual Effects by||Jonathan Alvord,Jeffrey Edward Baksinski,John Bozzalla,Constance Bracewell,Shawn Broes,Kelly Bumbarger,John Cassella,Gregory Creaser,Erin M. Cullen,Tim T. Cunningham,Matt Dessero,Peter Donen,Miller Drake,Fortunato Frattasio,Tim Gibbons,Brian Hanable,Rob Hodgson,Christopher Ivins,Joanne Ladolcetta,Vincent Lavares,Gregory D. Liegey,Ariana Lingenfelser,Anthony Mabin,Matt Magnolia,Sarah Moore,Jason Piccioni,Janet Quen,Sheldon Ramones,Linda Schubell-Sundlin,Jerry Sells,Thomas J. Smith,Tomme B. Stanley,David Stephan,Jonathan F. Styrlund,Jon Tanimoto,Doug Tubach,Patrick Tubach,Jeff Wells,Bob Wiatr,Ian Wosiski,Christopher Dusendschon,Steven Emmert,Matt Linder,Kama Moiha,Kenny Roy,Andy Tamandl,Cesar Velazquez|
|Stunts||Michael Borzello,Christopher Doyle,John Escobar,Spice Williams-Crosby|
|Camera and Electrical Department||Phil Abraham,Ken W. Ballantine,Noah Behar,Mike Bonnaud,Brian Carmichael,Paul Caven,Meredith Collins,Lew Comenetz,Gary Dagg,Craig DiBona,James J. Ferris,Samuel G. Friedman,Ben Glass,Fred Goodich,Roger Kimpton,Sal Lanza,Vincent Lanza,Lorna Leslie,Patrick J. McIntyre,Matthew Moriarty,Mike Moyer,David W. Nims,David Norris,David A. Parks,John Pedone,TaMarah Philpot,Chris Rosen,Monty Rowan,Brooke Stanford,Larissa Supplitt,Chris Thornton,Giovanni Zelko|
|Casting Department||Susie Farris,Barbara Harris,Kari Wells|
|Costume and Wardrobe Department||Pattie J. Barbosa,Cynthia Black,Sarah Edwards,Marta Font,Anne Gorman,Estella Marie,Roseann Milano,Marcia Patten,Roland Sanchez,Barnaby Smith,Tom Soluri|
|Editorial Department||James Gavin Bedford,Daniel Craven,Patrick Gallagher,Dave Lee,Nancy Novack,Michael Rafferty,Javier Salinas,Adrianna Valencia,Sean Valla|
|Location Management||Tyson Bidner,Maria T. Bierniak,Nathaniel Bonini,Denise Collins,Douglas Dresser,Albert Epps,John Fedynich,Stuart Nicolai,Demian Resnick,Paul Schreiber,Joshua Silverman|
|Music Department||Michael K. Bauer,Dick Bernstein,Tim Boyle,James Burt,Johnny Caruso,Sandy DeCrescent,George Doering,Jim Dunbar,Thomas Golubic,Sean M. Hickey,Danny Holloway,Norman Ludwin,Yvonne McDonald,Christopher S. Parker,Basil Poledouris,G. Marq Roswell,Curtis Roush,Bob Sanders,Steven Scott Smalley,James Thatcher,Adrienne Zi,Orion Crawford,J.C. Crowley,Steve Forman,Alan Kaplan,Gayle Levant,James Walker|
|Transportation Department||Ken Farnell,Keith D. Fisher,Charles Montgomery,Ian Overson,Terry R. Owens,Tony Peralta,Thomas Reilly,Aaron Skalka,Jay Thompson,Richard Vincent,Michael Young,Alberto Coto|
|Additional Crew||Tamsin Anstey,Tamara Bally,Felicia Brokaw,Maurice Cabrera,Candice Campos,Al Cerullo,Grant Curtis,Eric M. Cyphers,Shirley Davis,Louie Esparza,Dina Farnell,Pablo Ferro,Courtney Henley-Anderson,Andy Hernandez,Ryan Hintz,Claudio Jacobellis,Timothy S. Kane,Richie Kawamoto,Michael G. Kehoe,Tony Kerum,Rob Koehn,Meaghan F. McLaughlin,Shelby Miller,Julia Morgan,Liz Newman,Chris Perkel,Wayne Petrucelli,Jimmie Pinckney,Judy Pursley,Alexis Radogost-Givens,Olimpia T. Rinaldi,Matt Smith,Jeffrey D. Stevens,Joni Tackette,Mark Thomason,Melinka Thompson-Godoy,Ajamu Walker,Troy Waters,Amy L. Weinblum,Adam T. Weisinger,Debi West,Jenni Wieland,Marc Davies,Michael Espinosa,Randee Lynne Jensen,Steve Lee,Kevin McKeever,Kevin McNamara,George A. Parker,Nelson Pereyra|
|Genres||Drama, Romance, Sport|
|Companies||Universal Pictures, Beacon Pictures, Tig Productions|
|Keywords||throwing a ball,pantyhose,new york city,autograph,teenage girl|