IT'S BEEN 20 years since the release of Bull Durham, that lubricious laugh-riot of a loop through the Carolina League. That's a lot of water under the bridge, and a lot of fungus on our shower shoes. Whatever became of the characters? Here's how we imagine the intervening two decades played out for some of those memorable Bulls.
• José, the chicken-bone-wielding, Santeria-practicing first baseman, made it to the Show in 1990 and lasted 11 seasons. His sophomore slump in Milwaukee was made worse by the local PETA chapter, which made his life miserable when it was reported that he really did cut the head off a live rooster to take a curse off his glove.
• Coach Larry Hockett crossed over to the dark side and became an agent. The week he got certified he poached pitching phenom Ebby Calvin (Nuke) LaLoosh from Scott Boras. Rumor has it that Arli$$, the "superagent" of HBO fame, was based in part on Hockett.
• Leftfielder and born-again Christian Jimmy remains married to Millie. While he never made it to the majors, Jimmy came to regard his final release by the Bulls as a blessing, because it freed him to follow his life's work. He's now the pastor of a megachurch in Sugar Land, Texas. He and Millie have four daughters, the oldest of whom—17-year-old Chastity—"has a bit of a wild streak," her father confided, with a slightly forced laugh, during a recent 700 Club appearance.
July 13, 2008
• Nuke LaLoosh rapidly gained renown in the majors for his impressive totals in wins, strikeouts, bases on balls and hit batsmen, and his absurdly contorted, back-to-the-plate, eyes-to-the-heavens delivery. As a rookie he kept the beat writers scribbling with frequent, unprompted soliloquies on the state of his various chakras. He won 15 games that first season—finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting—as a cross between Mark (The Bird) Fidrych and Mitch (Wild Thing) Williams.
LaLoosh's celebrity was such that he appeared as a special guest on Home Improvement, where he met 24-year-old Pamela Anderson. The pair kept up a long-distance romance for nearly a year. Then, on a road trip to L.A., the same night he went eight innings in a four-hit shutout of the Dodgers, Nuke introduced Anderson to the members of M√∂tley Cr√ºe, whom he'd befriended. Within a month Anderson had dumped him for Tommy Lee. Nuke still sounded bereft nearly a decade later, recalling their courtship. "I helped build her confidence. I told her how much I respected her work on Baywatch and how much more convincing she was as a lifeguard than Carmen Electra."
• Crash Davis settled in with Annie Savoy, who accompanied him to his first managerial job, with the Single A Oaks of Visalia, Calif. On the drive out in his dinged-up convertible, they stopped in Vegas and tied the knot at the Little White Wedding Chapel, where they chose the Romantic's Package over the Lover's Package in part because the former included a garter for the bride.
In Visalia, Davis inherited a youthful roster: a mix of postadolescents barely out of high school and Latin American players of indeterminate age. Only once, at the end of a five-game losing streak in June, did he lose his cool, scattering bats all over the floor of the clubhouse and herding the team into the shower before delivering a fiery oration, during which he used the word lollygaggers, or some variant of it, half a dozen times. The team responded by sweeping a weekend set against the Stockton Ports.
After two years in Visalia, Crash was named roving hitting instructor for the L.A. Dodgers. Thanks to his keen baseball mind, natural leadership and knack for getting through to younger players ("Don't think. It can only hurt the ball club"; "When you get in a fight with a drunk, don't hit him with your pitching hand") his name arose frequently as a managerial candidate.
Annie, meanwhile, went back to school, taking online courses from the World University in Ojai, Calif., and dragging her husband to seminars at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. Whereas the players' wives in Durham had viewed Annie as something of a threat, the Dodgers' spouses found her enlightening and progressive. They listened with interest to her discussions of the "chakra connections" and the need, when an athlete is stuck in the wrong side of his brain, to "breathe through his eyelids." When Annie spoke to them of the superb results she'd witnessed, firsthand, when a man "rechanneled" his libidinal energy into baseball or experimented with women's underwear, she had their full attention.
Word got around, and before long Annie was being handsomely paid to give talks to players' wives associations—and not just baseball wives—all over the country. But then, a few years back, a new condition curtailed her travel. She was pregnant. After multiple consultations she and Crash had been told that conception wasn't in the cards for them. They'd accepted it and moved on, which only magnified their joy when their son was born. They named the boy Thurman.
Major leaguers reveal their Bull Durham moments, at SI.com/WATN.