Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Talkin' baseball with that other Giamatti

Actor Paul Giamatti stars in baseball-themed drama The Phenom.

New York Times

Actor Paul Giamatti stars in baseball-themed drama The Phenom.

You might think that as the son of the former Major League Baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti and as a star of the new national-pastime-theme drama The Phenom (which hit theaters and on video on demand Friday), Paul Giamatti would be a baseball aficionado. But Giamatti, who plays a sports psychologist trying to help a tormented pitching prospect (Johnny Simmons) work through a mental block, said that was not the case.

"I'm not a big sports fan, but I like sports movies," he said.

Still, he took a swing at some baseball questions during a recent interview in New York. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Q: What interested you about The Phenom?

A: I was fascinated by the story of Chuck Knoblauch, the Yankees second baseman, when he had trouble throwing the ball to first base. As a kid, I loved Mark Fidrych. He was an amazing pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, but he blew himself out after only one season. He had a very tragic life and death after that. I've always been interested in this disconnect between the mind and body.

What are your favorite baseball movies?

The first one I remember seeing was Bang the Drum Slowly. It's about so much more than just baseball. That was a big movie for me when I was a kid. It was so sad, and Robert De Niro and Michael Moriarty are so great in it. I also really liked Eight Men Out, and Bull Durham and Field of Dreams are good movies.

But you don't consider yourself a big baseball fan, despite your dad's tenure as the game's commissioner?

No, my brother, Marcus, is a bigger baseball fan than I am. My dad did a lot of different things. He also loved movies, so I'd go see them with him.

Growing up in New Haven, Conn., did you root for the Red Sox?

I had to, but I was also a Tigers fan. They had a player named Ron LeFlore, who was my hero. I was obsessed with that guy. He had been in prison. I remember I got his autograph when my father took my brother and me to spring training. He was a good player, but part of the appeal was that I thought his story was so cool.

What do you recall about the 1986 World Series, when the Mets beat the Red Sox?

I was in college at Yale, and I was watching the game when the ball went through Bill Buckner's legs in a room full of Mets fans. Bob Stanley was pitching to Mookie Wilson, and I remember when they brought him in, thinking, "The Red Sox are going to lose." He was a good relief pitcher, but he screwed up a lot. I never blamed Bill Buckner. I always blamed Bob Stanley. So as much as I'm not a sports fan, certain things like that still rankle.

When the Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004, was that a big moment?

Oh sure, but in a funny way, it was kind of a letdown. They weren't supposed to win. Now what?

Talkin' baseball with that other Giamatti 07/03/16 [Last modified: Sunday, July 3, 2016 7:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mikhail Sergachev said he felt comfortable and welcomed in his first day in a Lightning uniform.
  2. Lightning re-signs Cory Conacher to two-year deal


    Cory Conacher said he wanted another shot in the NHL, and hoped it would be with the Lightning.

    Cory Conacher on Wednesday signed a two-year deal with Tampa Bay.
  3. For starters: Rays at Pirates, with Blake Snell on the mound


    LHP Blake Snell returns to the majors for the Rays tonight after a six-week stint at Triple-A Durham, confident changes to his mechanics will lead to more strike-throwing and an increase in confidence will make him more successful.

  4. Lightning's Mathieu Joseph on the rise at development camp


    BRANDON — The last 12 months have been quite the ride for Mathieu Joseph.

    Mathieu Joseph checks Carolina's Jake Bean during a preseason game in September in Tampa.
  5. What’s wrong with Blake Snell’s fastball?


    Blake Snell's MLB tenure to this point has been inconsistent, to say the least. As a rookie in 2016, he posted a 3.54 ERA, but his Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell will start tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates. His performance will depend on his four-seam fastball.