Like many kids, Jim Cryns dreamed of playing in the major leagues. He never made it to the pros, but he did spend about 20 years wandering in and out of the Brewers’ clubhouse – as a freelance writer covering the team’s triumphs and tragedies.
Eventually, he convinced Ron Shelton, the creative force behind some of the greatest sports films ever made, to let Cryns write about his life. This month, Cryns’ book The Church of Baseball: Making Bull Durham hits store shelves, just in time for the 30th anniversary of Bull Durham.
What’s the most interesting thing about Ron Shelton?
Ron is now 72 years old but he writes with more consistency than just about anyone I’ve heard about. If he’s not polishing a script, he’s looking for financing for another project. I’m also interested in how a professional ballplayer [Shelton played in the minors for a time] can be such an incredible poet.
You interviewed the stars of the film, too. What were they like?
I admit to being a bit trepidatious about Susan [Sarandon]. She’s so intelligent and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Tim Robbins was extremely warm and funny to talk with. I interviewed him a second time and we talked about a lot of stuff that didn’t even have to do with Bull Durham. Kevin [Costner] is extremely direct and honest.
What are your top three favorite sports films?
Slap Shot, Bull Durham and Hoosiers.