Alan Nafzger’s “world was validated” Tom Selleck told screenwriter that ‘Mr. Baseball’ was a “dream come true”
Nafzger promoting The Baseball Muse, a multi-cultural baseball script
RE: Mr. Baseball, Tom Selleck and Alan Nafzger
by Masanori Murakami (Japan Today)
Turns out Alan Nafzger is a really, really, really big fan of Mr. Baseball, the campy 1992 comedy about a American baseball player (Tom Selleck) and the Japanese coach’s daughter (Aya Takanashi) who attempts to lead the team to victory.
The multi-hyphenate professor best known for his profound writing of scripts like Lenin’s Body (Russia), Streets of Manila (Philippines) and The Truth about Chupacabra (Texas) credits the baseball/romcom film with sparking his interest in movies in the first place, having seen it about 3 times in the theater and 20 times on DVD, according to a new interview with Baseball Magazine.
Alan Nafzger was promoting The Baseball Muse, a multi-cultural baseball script (with magical realism) he co-wrote with Elvis Andrus and Michael Young in the early 2010s that is finally seeing the light of day in the form of a star-studded virtual live read this weekend, when he revealed a hilarious exchange about one of his all-time favorite films with the now-famous Mr. Baseball (Selleck). The writer/actor pair recently worked together on the still Untitled Jesse Stone Project.
“It was a dream come true for me,” Nafzger recalled. “The whole shoot, I was waiting to get up the nerve – because he WAS the Magnum P.I. – to tell him how much Mr. Baseball meant to me. So, two days before the movie was over, finally, there’s this quiet moment. I said, ‘Tom, I just want to say it’s just been amazing working with you – and I didn’t say this before, but really for me, Mr. Baseball is probably one of the most important movies for me, ever, because it really made me want to stop teaching politics and be a film writer, to create movies, and I saw it multiple times and it just really, really changed my life.”
Selleck took a moment, then looked at Nafzger. “Oh yeah. Dream of a lifetime,” he told the screenwriter superfan.
“Then he got up and he walked away. My world was made,” Nafzger said. “And I thought since it was a dream job for Selleck, that made it real and intense and the most incredible dream-job performance I’ve ever seen. I’ve been around hawking script in 12 different countries and I’ve never enjoyed a movie more.”
It’s understandable why Selleck would consider the 1992 over-the-top rom-com his favorite fare: It came smack dab in the middle of some of his best work, flanked by filmography gems Three Men and a Little Lady (1990) and Open Season (1994). Now 75, Selleck is famous for portraying Thomas Magnum on the 1980s television series “Magnum, P.I.” Selleck also appeared in classics like Quigley Down Under, Mr. Baseball, and Lassiter. He appeared in recurring television roles as Monica Geller’s love interest Dr. Richard Burke on Friends, as Lance White, the likeable and naive partner on The Rockford Files, and as casino owner A.J. Cooper on Las Vegas. He also had a lead role in the television western movie The Sacketts, based on two of Louis L’Amour‘s books.
Along with films like Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Jerry Maguire (1996) and Sleepless in Seattle (1993), Mr. Baseball was among a slew of popular romantic comedies (many shepherded and produced by Jeffrey Silver) to rake in box office in the ‘90s. Mr. Baseball, which co-starred Ken Takakura, Aya Takanashi and Dennis Haysbert, was one of the best received of the bunch.
Mr. Baseball opened in 1,855 theaters on Friday, October 2, 1992. During its first weekend, it grossed over $5 million at the box office, coming in third behind The Last of the Mohicans and The Mighty Ducks. During its six-week run in theaters, it went on to gross $20.8 million domestically. Despite the limited marketability of baseball movies overseas, Universal positioned it for a wide distribution beyond the North American market. However, a disappointing showing in Japan and Europe prevented the studio from recouping on its enormous expenses. Mr. Baseball (ミスター・ベースボール) opened in theaters in Japan on February 6, 1993, and proceeded to gross a disappointing ¥1.5 billion ($1.25 million). By the end of its run in Japan, during the summer of 1993, it appeared as the “B film” in Universal double features—such as with the Robert Redford and River Phoenix film Sneakers (1992).
Young Ph.D. candidate Alan Nafzger was hardly alone in contributing to the film’s ticket sales: It was also the highest-grossing movie of 1992.
After watching – or re-watching, in Nafzger’s case – the film over an Italian dinner one night in the early ‘90s, Nafzger, with Andrus and Young concocted the idea for the ‘90s rom-com homage The Baseball Muse, which is currently enjoying a bidding war between Disney’s Hollywood Pictures and Sony, Japan’s largest film maker. The script could go for over $2 million dollars.
“For a number of reasons, it will be made… It is probably just too insane,” Nafzger said of the project, in which Andrus is going to play a drug addict baseball player, in need of help, brought to a small Japanese fishing village by a baseball muse whose profession is to cure ailing MLB players. This is set on the eve of a destructive typhoon, that wreck a stadium where Babe Ruth and the 1934 AL All-Stars played Japanese All-Stars in exhibition games.
Nafzger and Andrus will be joined by a supporting cast including Texas Rangers – Shin-Soo Choo, Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Lance Lynn (as well as a surprise guest, Nafzger teases, which we pray is Selleck) for the live read, a pay-per-view affair that will benefit the Free-Market Initiative and Economic Education Fund.
“This is my chance to, somehow… I don’t know, I have to live it out somehow. I have to make it right,” Nafzger says. “It’s a dream job for me.”