Bull Durham has been my favorite baseball movie for pretty much forever (receipts!), so this particular promotion just makes me incredibly happy. It refers to one of the movie’s many “real-life of a minor-leaguer” jokes, in which our hero, eternal minor-league catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), having been demoted in the minors so he can tutor Nuke LaLoosh, a young hotshot pitcher with tremendous talent who is also a slovenly doofus (Tim Robbins), looks with disdain on Nuke’s shower shoes (flip-flops one wears in the locker room showers):
Your shower shoes have fungus growing on them. You’ll never make it to The Show if you’ve got fungus growing on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. When you win twenty in The Show, you can let the fungus grow back all over your shower shoes and the press will think you’re colorful. Until you win twenty in The Show, however, it means you’re a slob.
This scene comes in the first act:
In the film’s last act, Nuke gets his inevitable call-up to the Majors after a whole season of learning and getting his ass kicked by Crash. There’s one last scene between the two of them, where Crash is giving Nuke a few last lessons before Nuke goes off to the big leagues and probably out of Crash’s life for good. Unfortunately, I can’t find this scene on YouTube, but it really is one of the best scenes in the movie as it shows that Nuke has grown over the course of this one minor-league season. You can watch a part of it here.
What makes this so great is that this scene has a purely visual call-back to the shower-shoes speech that flashes by; you might not even notice it. I didn’t until something like my eighth or ninth time watching the movie. You’re listening to Crash and Nuke talk while Nuke finishes packing, and you might not even notice that at one point Nuke takes his shower shoes out of his locker and puts them in his bag. You might not even notice that they’re clean. I just love that writer-director Red Shelton had enough confidence in his story and his script and his actors that he didn’t feel the need to underline this in any way. He left it purely as an Easter egg to be found by people who are willing to pay close attention to his movie.
And now it’s a promotion for the real-life Durham Bulls!
I’m not gonna lie: I’m not a ballcap guy, I never have been. I only ever wear one at work when I’m in a department that requires it, and it’s the one with The Store’s logo on it. But I can’t say I haven’t thought about buying one of the gross-shower-shoe caps when they hit the market. That’s a degree of next-level geekiness that I can respect!