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Hollywood comes to Al Lang

Published Mar. 21, 1992|Updated Oct. 11, 2005

As batting practice wound down, the squeals rose to a crescendo.

"Keviiiiiiiiin!"

"Tommmmmmmmm!"

The fans swarmed toward the railings alongside the dugouts and down the lines, clutching pens and just about anything that could be written on _ baseballs and programs, of course, and pads and caps and bats and gloves and They howled every time Kevin Costner and Tom Selleck took so much as a step toward the stands, even glanced in their direction.

Baseball? The fans can see that anytime these days, million-dollar major-leaguers and future Hall of Famers getting ready for the 1992 season.

True, the Legends of Baseball game Friday night at soldout Al Lang Stadium was fun _ Brooks Robinson still gobbling them up at third base, Al Hrabosky doing his "mad Hungarian" act on the mound, Selleck scooping up the low throws to first, Costner tracking down the fly balls in left.

And Costner fielding Frank White's single and nailing Brooksie at third for the game's final out.

But baseball's baseball. How often does Hollywood come to the Suncoast?

Joyce Tullgren of St. Petersburg was standing at the rail down the leftfield line when Costner ambled over. She almost hyperventilated. "Oh, I was so thrilled," she exclaimed later. "My friends are going to be so-o-o excited that he talked to me. Oh, yes, yes!" She was pounding the bench where she stood. "He talked to me."

They do not fear not looking like the genuine article in their movies (as opposed to, say, Anthony Perkins in Fear Strikes Out).

"Never," said Costner, the National League catcher in the first inning Friday night (as well as in Field of Dreams) and later the shortstop and leftfielder. "Now, if it was an ice-skating movie, I know it wouldn't work."

"I'm a good ballplayer; I'm just not a major-league ballplayer," said Selleck, who played first base for the American Leaguers. "I didn't like those movies, either. I don't like it when the actor can't fool the public. It destroys the whole credibility of the film."

Selleck and Costner signed autographs for some fans, and for a few players, too.

"I made sure I got autographs for my daughter," pitcher Jim Perry said. "Basically what she told me was, "Don't come home without 'em, dad.' "

A few feet away stood Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller, who has been selling his autograph for decades. Did he ask Costner or Selleck for one?

"I've got autographs on baseballs from presidents Bush and Reagan and Richard Nixon," Feller said. "I don't get autographs from people in the baseball business or movie business."

Selleck and Costner shook hands with the fans, chatted briefly with some of them and, when they could, played this little boys game.

"This never gets to be old hat," said Selleck, whose trademark as Magnum, P.I. was a Tigers cap, who can often be found around batting cages and who recently completed the film Mr. Baseball. "Playing baseball was always a fantasy for me as a kid (he gave it up after Little League). I'm okay, but these guys are the real thing."

For those of you scoring at home, the National Leaguers won 4-3 in seven innings, the big hit Wayne Garrett's two-run single off Casey Cox in the second.

Neither Costner nor Selleck came close to hitting one out in the pregame home-run contest. Rico Carty and Dave Kingman hit one apiece.

And neither Costner nor Selleck hit safely during the game. With Feller on the mound, Costner flied out in the first inning ("I pitched to Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. Compared to that, this is nothing," Feller said), then he fouled out in the third (the crowd booed Robinson for that catch) and lined out to left in the fourth.

Selleck grounded to second in the second and, after being "decked" by a Hrabosky pitch that sailed 20 feet behind him (and that he knew was coming), flied to right in the fourth, and again off Tug McGraw in the seventh.

Maybe the best hit of the night was Costner's on Paul Pryor. He bowled over the home plate umpire chasing a passed ball in the first inning. Costner helped him to his feet and apologized profusely.

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