Why Crash Davis is best name, other ‘Bull Durham’ tales

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Carolina Living - BY ALEX LEWONTIN ale­won­[email protected]­sob­server.com Alex Lewontin: @alex­cle­won­tin

When Ron Shel­ton, writer and di­rec­tor of “Bull Durham,” threw out the first pitch at the Durham Bulls’ game last month against the Gwin­nett Stripers, it was a strike, hard and fast down the mid­dle.

Shel­ton is an old ball player. He’s swung a bat for the Blue­field Ori­oles (now the Blue Jays) of the Ap­palachian League, the Stock­ton Ports of the Cal­i­for­nia League, the Dal­lasFort Worth Spurs of the Texas League, and the Rochester Red Wings of the In­ter­na­tional League.

Over his years in the mi­nors, and over the course of mak­ing “Bull Durham,” he has ac­cu­mu­lated a wealth of sto­ries.

Shel­ton re­turned to Durham in mid-June to cel­e­brate the the iconic base­ball movie — 30 years to the day the film was re­leased. The leg­endary sports movie was filmed around Durham and Raleigh, in­clud­ing some spots still stand­ing.

The film stars Kevin Cost­ner, Tim Robbins and Su­san Saran­don, el­e­vat­ing the Bulls to their sta­tus as per­haps the most fa­mous mi­nor league base­ball team.

Be­fore the first pitch, Shel­ton shared some of his fa­vorite sto­ries at a press con­fer­ence. Here are some of them.


“There’s about 500 re­views you get na­tion­ally, lo­cal pa­pers, tele­vi­sion sta­tions, ma­jor mag­a­zines. The only bad re­view the movie got was from the Durham pa­per. You never for­get a bad re­view.”


“I hate movies about base­ball and writ­ings about base­ball that are so lyri­cal and po­etic that they’re not re­ally what it’s like to play. What it’s like to play is: You’re try­ing to get a hit; you’re try­ing to make the play; you don’t want to make any er­rors; you’re try­ing to get two hits if you’ve got one; you don’t want to go 0-for-5; you’re in AA, there’s a guy in A ball hit­ting .350 and you’re hit­ting .250, you gotta fig­ure out how he’s not gonna take your job; there’s a guy in AAA who may get traded and open up a spot for you.

“That’s what the life of a ballplayer is like. ... So I think most sports movies are from a fan’s point of view, and I try to make movies from a player’s point of view.”


“I got Crash Davis’ name out of a Carolina record book. I like look­ing at stuff like that. And I saw ‘1946 — ‘Crash’ Davis — hit 56 dou­bles for the Durham Bulls,’ so that was my name of my char­ac­ter. It was gonna be Crash Davis. Best name ever.

“I as­sumed he was long gone, and he cer­tainly wouldn’t be in Durham, be­cause no­body lives where you played mi­nor league ball.

“The night be­fore my first day as a di­rec­tor, we were in the Sher­a­ton, and we had set up lit­tle of­fices, and a young lady came in, she was a pro­duc­tion as-

Avery Farr Har­ri­son and Samuel Wood Megin­nis were mar­ried Satur­day, May 12, 2018 on the 18th tee box at Moun­tain­top Golf and Lake Club in Cashiers, North Carolina. Dr. Darr Con­rad­son of­fi­ci­ated. A re­cep­tion fol­lowed.

The bride is the daugh­ter of Mr. and Mrs. Don­ald Lee Har­ri­son, ju­nior of Char­lotte, North Carolina. She is the grand­daugh­ter of Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Eu­gene Bud­den­dorf of Santa Fe, New Mex­ico, and the late Mrs. Nita Fraser Bud­den­dorf of Dal­las, Texas, and Mr. Don­ald Lee Har­ri­son and the late Mrs. Bar­bara Farr Har­ri­son of Greenville, South Carolina. She grad­u­ated from Char­lotte Coun­try Day School and earned her BA from South­ern Methodist Univer­sity’s Te­mer­lin Ad­ver­tis­ing In­sti­tute. She is a Brand Lead for Slant Part­ners in Dal­las, Texas.

The groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Wood Megin­nis of Lin­coln, Ne­braska. He is the grand­son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lewis Bab­cock of Omaha, Ne­braska, Mrs. Jane Bekins Megin­nis of Ivins, Utah, and the late Mr. Harry Wright Megin­nis of Lin­coln, Ne­braska. sis­tant, and she said, ‘Mr. Shel­ton, there’s a Crash Davis on the phone.’ And I think it’s Kevin Cost­ner, want­ing to have a beer or some­thing, and go over the work. So I said, ‘Tell Kevin I’ll call him back.’ Univer­sity of Ne­braska, Lin­coln. He is a Senior As­so­ci­ate at Altschuler and Com­pany in Dal­las, Texas.

The bride was es­corted by her fa­ther and given in mar­riage by her par­ents. Re­becca Rut­ledge Adams of Char­lotte, North Carolina, served as maid of honor. Also at­tend­ing were cousins of the bride Ellen Marsau Burger, Chloe Rose Car­lock and Eleanor Su­san Vig, all of Dal­las, Texas.

Peter Eu­gene Megin­nis, brother of the groom, of Omaha, Ne­braska, served as the best man. At­tend­ing grooms­men were brother of the groom Matthew Richard Megin­nis of Lin­coln, Ne­braska, brother of the bride Don­ald Lee Har­ri­son III of Char­lotte, North Carolina, and cousin of the bride Henry Dial Vig of Dal­las, Texas.

Robert Bren­dan Baker and Mar­garet Har­ri­son Mered­ith served as read­ers. John Fraser Marsau and Michael David Marsau served as ush­ers.

Par­ents of the groom hosted a re­hearsal din­ner at The Lake Club at Moun­tain­top, lo­cated on Lake Glenville in Cul­lowhee, NC Fri­day evening.

The cou­ple en­joyed

“‘No, no, no, it’s not Kevin, he says he’s re­ally Crash Davis.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean he’s re­ally Crash Davis, Crash Davis wouldn’t be still in Durham, hav­ing played ball here in 1946. Ask him how many dou­bles he hit in 1946.’ And she comes back and says, ‘56,’ and I go, ‘Holy cow, it’s re­ally Crash Davis!’ So I say, ‘Tell him to come to the set to­mor­row.’ ”

“We’re shoot­ing in An­nie’s back­yard, the very first scene, and half­way through the morn­ing, I’m shoot­ing, and I look over and there’s this el­e­gant gen­tle­man, ev­ery­body there later found out who he was, but he has a blazer with trim, and I think ‘Oh my God,’ and I go over there, and it’s Lawrence ‘Crash’ Davis, the el­e­gant gen­tle­man.

“It turned out, he had grad­u­ated from Duke in the late ’30s. No­body from the Ma­jor Leagues in the ’30s went to col­lege, and for sure no­body went to Duke. He had gone from Duke, pretty quickly to the ma­jor leagues, and played four years with the Philadel­phia (now Oak­land) Athletics, with Con- a nie Mack. (In 1942, dur­ing World War II, Davis was drafted into the Navy) and then (in 1946) he’d got out, be­cause the war was over.

“By that time, he was 30, be­cause he was a col­lege grad, and did two years in the mi­nors, and he was start­ing a fam­ily, so he de­cided to play a cou­ple more years with the Durham Bulls, and that’s where he hit 56 (dou­bles). Then for the last 30 years, be­fore he’d called me, he’d been the head of hu­man re­sources at Burling­ton Mill. So he’d gone on to this fab­u­lous ca­reer.

“So any­way, we be­came friends, and I put him in an­other movie I made, about Ty Cobb, he played ‘Wa­hoo’ Sam (Craw­ford, a team­mate and ri­val of Cobb), and then he went on the lec­ture cir­cuit with a sec­ond ca­reer as the real Crash Davis.”

Davis died in 2001, at age 82.

(Ed­i­tor’s note: In 1946, Crash Davis played for the Lawrence Mil­lion­aires of the New Eng­land League. He played for the Bulls in 1948, hit­ting a league lead­ing 50 dou­bles, one shy of the record 51 hit by Woody Fair for the Bulls in 1946.)


“We used to flood the field to get the day off. I played in the Texas League, and one year there were no sched­uled days off. In the mid­dle of the year, no­body wanted to make the All Star team be­cause you had to fly to Al­bu­querque. This is true, be­cause if you weren’t on the All Star team you got three days off.

“So some­body had the bright idea, while we’re in Lit­tle Rock, (Ark.,) and it was rain­ing, it’s about 3 in the morn­ing and we’re play­ing cards, and we’re say­ing, ‘You know, by game time, the rain’s gonna be gone, and they prob­a­bly put a tarp on the field.’ So we got the bright idea to get a cab and go out there and pull the tarp off.

“Of course, there’s a

Cather­ine Tay­lor Haley and Charles Ben­nett Younts were mar­ried on Satur­day, June 30, 2018 at half past five in the evening in Grace Church Cathe­dral in Charles­ton, SC. The cer­e­mony was of­fi­ci­ated by the Rev­erend Canon Caleb J. Lee. Mu­sic was pro­vided by Nigel Potts, Or­gan­ist, Su­san Messer­smith, Trum­peter, and The Grace Church St. Gre­gory Choir. Mar­garet Lynn Stan­ley, cousin of the bride, was cru­cifer. Fol­low­ing the cer­e­mony, the par­ents of the bride hosted a re­cep­tion at Lown­des Grove Plan­ta­tion.

The bride is the daugh­ter of Mr. and Mrs. John Wil­liam Hughes, III of Chapel Hill, NC and Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Win­der Haley, Jr. of Greens­boro, NC. She is the grand­daugh­ter of the late Mr. and Mrs. John Richard Det­gen of Greens­boro, NC and Mrs. Daniel Win­der Haley of Greens­boro, NC and the late Mr. Haley. Tay­lor is a grad­u­ate of Greens­boro Day School and North Carolina State Univer­sity where she earned a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence de­gree in Fash­ion and Tex­tile Man­age­ment and a mas­ter’s de­gree in Global Lux­ury Man­age­ment. She was pre­sented by the Terp­si­chorean Club of Raleigh, NC and the Debu­tante Club of Greens­boro. Tay­lor is self-em­ployed as the owner of Sur­cie, a sta­tionery and gift com­pany.

The groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jef­frey Richard Younts of Gas­to­nia, North Carolina. He is the grand­son of Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Roy Short, Jr. of Gas­to­nia, NC and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Richard Younts of Wilm­ing­ton, NC. The groom is a grad­u­ate of Forestview High School and North Carolina State Univer­sity where he earned a Bach­e­lor of Arts de­gree in English. He is em­ployed by Cap­ti­vate as a re­gional ac­count ex­ec­u­tive.

The bride was es­corted by her fa­ther and given in mar­riage by rea­son it takes 60 guys to move a tarp: they weigh about a hun­dred tons! So we couldn’t move any­thing. We had told the cab­bie to wait right there, but the ball­park in Lit­tle Rock was in a hor­ri­ble neigh­bor­hood. So we climbed back over the fence, and the cab­bie is gone, and it’s pour­ing rain and we have to walk about five miles back to the ho­tel. And the next day we played.

“Now we get to Amar­illo, (Texas,) and we’re much smarter now. So we go out to the park, and we turn on all the sprin­klers, and we just flood the hell out of the place. And we come back, again show­ing you what a col­lege de­gree is worth, and now we have pos­si­bly the worst thing you could wish on a per­son: an off night in Amar­illo. We could have picked San An­to­nio, or Mem­phis, where there’s things to do at night. But no, we had an off night in Amar­illo, and we’re all wish­ing we’re out there play­ing base­ball.”

“We tried it one more time, at the end of the sea­son, be­cause we were in fifth place and the Amar­illo Gi­ants were in fifth, we were tied for fifth and weren’t gonna make the play­offs. (The Gi­ants) say, ‘Hey, we hear you guys are the guys who flooded the field last time. Why don’t we meet you here tonight?’ Be­cause who wants to play that last dou­ble-header at the end of the sea­son when it won’t mat­ter? So both teams went out there and flooded the field.”

“Now, man­age­ment was re­ally an­gry, be­cause they had a big pro­mo­tion. So we play in mud (a foot deep,) for two games. They brought in saw­dust, and then they lit the saw­dust on fire, and then they brought in a he­li­copter from the Air Force base to dry it out, and it looked like a scene from ‘Apoca­lypse Now.’ We played in pos­si­bly the worst con­di­tions ever.” her par­ents. The bride’s sis­ter, Mary deRos­set Haley served as the maid of honor. Flower girls were Mary El­lis Kolb and Anne Clyde Kolb, cousins of the bride of New Or­leans, LA.

The groom’s fa­ther served as best man. Grooms­men were Wil­liam McCall Younts, Sa­mual Roy Younts, broth­ers of the groom and Pa­trick Det­gen Haley, brother of the bride.

On Fri­day evening, a re­hearsal din­ner was hosted by pa the groom at Can­non G Charles­ton, SC. A w party hosted by fami friends of the bride and im­me­di­ately fol­lowed. A lun­cheon was hosted on by rel­a­tives of the bride Gov­er­nor Thomas House in Charles­ton, SC.

Af­ter a wed­ding t Thai­land, the cou­ple wi their home in Raleigh, NC

Tim Robbins (pitcher “Nuke” LaLoosh), left, and Kevin Cost­ner (catcher Crash Davis) star in the movie “Bull Durham.”


Ron Shel­ton wrote and di­rected “Bull Durham,” which was filmed in Durham, N.C., 30 years ago.

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