• The Church of Baseball

  • The Making of Bull Durham: Home Runs, Bad Calls, Crazy Fights, Big Swings, and a Hit
  • By: Ron Shelton
  • Narrated by: Ron Shelton
  • Length: 8 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (159 ratings)

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The Church of Baseball

By: Ron Shelton
Narrated by: Ron Shelton
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Publisher's Summary

From the award-winning screenwriter and director of cult classic Bull Durham, the extremely entertaining behind-the-scenes story of the making of the film, and an insightful primer on the art and business of moviemaking.

“This book tells you how to make a movie—the whole nine innings of it—out of nothing but sheer will.”—Tony Gilroy, writer/director of Michael Clayton and The Bourne Legacy

The only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the church of baseball.”—Annie in Bull Durham

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.

From organizing a baseball camp for the actors and rewriting key scenes while on set, to dealing with a short production schedule and overcoming the challenge of filming the sport, Shelton brings to life the making of this beloved American movie. Shelton explains the rarely revealed ins and outs of moviemaking, from a film’s inception and financing, screenwriting, casting, the nuts and bolts of directing, the postproduction process, and even through its release. But this is also a book about baseball and its singular romance in the world of sports. Shelton spent six years in the minor leagues before making this film, and his experiences resonate throughout this book.

Full of wry humor and insight, The Church of Baseball tells the remarkable story behind an iconic film.

©2022 Ron Shelton (P)2022 Random House Audio

What listeners say about The Church of Baseball

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great movie, great story

Bull Durham is probably the best baseball movie ever made, certainly top 3, and to read the story of its making is fascinating and informative. I certainly now know more about the movie making process than I ever imagined. The book made me want to see the film again, even though I have seen it a couple dozen times.

3 people found this helpful

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Great book, great filmmaker....

Ron Shelton has written the best book by an American director since Elia Kazan's A LIFE and Richard Fleischer's JUST TELL ME WHEN TO CRY. He gets inside the entire process. A primer for screenwriters and the battles a first-time director faces in the studio system. The book is full of insight and humor, just like the man's films. His sharp sensibility eludes the Hollywood of today and boy are we missing out. Thank you, Ron Shelton, for this fine book. I will read over-and-over again. I'm always wary when the author reads his own book but Shelton does a great job. Read, listen, enjoy....

2 people found this helpful

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A love letter to the film

I worked for the Durham Bulls for 13 years. Those were the best years of my life. Ron's stories took me back to Durham and working those 1000+ games. But you don't have to work for the team or live in the area to appreciate this book. It's a tale about baseball, movie-making, relationships and fighting for things you believe in. Ron hit for the cycle. I learned a ton. A+ work!

2 people found this helpful

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A Must For Bull Durham Fans

This one was about the writing of Bull Durham and the making of the movie by the man who wrote the script and directed the movie. He also cast the roles as well. The movie is a favorite of mine. It’s a great movie and was filmed in the Triangle during my junior year at NC State. I still regret not being an extra at the park when they were practically begging students to come be part of the crowd scenes. Shelton was a minor league player himself and that’s why the movie, although a comedy feels so authentic. Some of the interesting tidbits about the making of the movie are that Costner was the first person cast. Without him being attached and without No Way Out being a surprise hit while they were shopping Bull Durham to studios, then the movie doesn’t get made. The studio was really against Susan Sarandon in the role of Annie. She was not on the studio’s approved list of actresses who were bankable in a leading role. She lobbied very hard for the role and finally won out. Also, the studio really wanted Anthony Michael Hall to be Nuke and in fact even after shooting began wanted the role to be recast with him and Tim Robbins’ scenes to be reshot. Even after the movie was complete it was a surprise hit because test audiences were not that impressed. Test audiences routinely graded it at about a C.

Shelton did a really good job describing the movie making process, giving enough details to educate the reader, but not so many to bore those of us not in the industry. If you are a big fan of the movie Bull Durham, you’d love it. If not, it’s not for you. I’ve seen the movie 10-15 times easy, but it definitely made me want to want to watch it again soon to see some of the things he pointed out.

Shelton reads it himself. He’s not the best reader, but you can tell he’s earnest and the movie still means a lot to him. It was his first movie and the start of an ex excellent career in the industry. So in the end he’s a good reader for THIS book.

1 person found this helpful

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Couldn't Stop Listening

I have always loved the movie Bull Durham, but in the past, I have been disappointed in books about movie making so I was a little skeptical when I started listening despite the good reviews, I read about the print version. At first, I was not really a fan of the author's voice, but that changed quickly after he got into the story. The author was exactly the right choice to read his own book. I listened to the whole book over two days, usually I pace myself, but I was so engrossed in the story that I had to keep listening. In short, best audio book I have listened to in a long time.

1 person found this helpful

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If you liked Bull Durham, you'll love this book!

A detailed play by play of the life of Bull Durham, from concept to release. I loved hearing how the script was written, and how that eventually led to the movie I saw.

Obviously the perspective is one sided since the book was written by the movie's writer and director, but that didn't make it any less fun!

1 person found this helpful

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Dave prob liked it a touch more than me

Interesting facts learned, including Annie’s back story and that Anthony Michael Hall was an option for Nike. This is one of our favorite movies so overall good. Read by the author.

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Honest

Great audio book. For fans of moviemaking, storytelling, baseball and honesty. Ron is real. Your best friend, grandfather and bartender weaving pieces of great story together.

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Shelton Hits One Out of the Park

This grand-slam history of the making of Bull Durham is enlightening for film buffs and baseball fanatics alike. Anyone with even a passing interest in baseball, the movie, or Hollywood will be engrossed,

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Miscast

You would’ve thought that an established film director would know how to cast a picture and that after a bad reading, he would not cast that actor.
Shelton should not have cast himself.
His reading is terrible.
Really terrible.
He should stay behind the camera.