Bull Durham is a 1988 American romantic comedy sports film. It is partly based upon the minor league experiences of writer/director Ron Shelton and depicts the players and fans of the Durham Bulls, a minor league baseball team in Durham, North Carolina.
The film stars Kevin Costner as "Crash" Davis, a veteran catcher brought in to teach rookie pitcher Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) about the game in preparation for reaching the Major Leagues. Baseball groupie Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) romances Nuke but finds herself increasingly attracted to Crash. Also featured are Robert Wuhl and Trey Wilson, as well as popular baseball "clown" Max Patkin.
Baseball movies were not considered a viable commercial prospect at the time and every studio passed except for Orion Pictures, which gave Shelton a USD $9 million budget, an eight-week shooting schedule, and creative freedom. Even so, many cast members accepted salaries lower than their usual due to their enthusiasm for the material. Costner was cast because of the actor's natural athletic ability. During filming, Costner was able to hit two home runs while the cameras were rolling.
Bull Durham was a commercial success, grossing over $50 million in North America, well above its estimated budget, and was a critical success as well. Sports Illustrated ranked it the #1 Greatest Sports Movie of all time. The Moving Arts Film Journal ranked it #3 on its list of the 25 Greatest Sports Movies of All-Time. In addition, the film is ranked #55 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies." It is also ranked #97 on the American Film Institute's "100 Years...100 Laughs" list, and #1 on Rotten Tomatoes' list of the 53 best reviewed sports movies of all time.
"Crash" Davis (Costner), a veteran of 12 years in minor league baseball, is sent down to the single-A (advanced) Durham Bulls for a specific purpose: to educate hotshot rookie pitcher Ebby LaLoosh (Robbins, playing a character loosely based on Steve Dalkowski) about becoming a major-league talent, and to control Ebby's haphazard pitching. Crash immediately begins calling Ebby by the degrading nickname of "Meat", and they get off to a rocky start.