For Love of the Game

USA 1999

Reviewed by Andy Richards


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Detroit, the present. Billy Chapel is the star pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. The night before he's due to pitch the last game of the season (against the Yankees), Mr Wheeler, the owner of the Tigers, tells Billy that he's selling the team. Wheeler has an option of trading Billy to the Giants, but suggests that he might want to retire. Billy's girlfriend Jane tells him that she is leaving him for a job in London.

Next day, waiting his turn to pitch, Billy reminisces about his five-year relationship with Jane. They first met when he helped her with her broken-down car, and began dating soon after. She overcame her fears that she was perceived as a team groupie. When she came to visit him in Florida, Jane found him sleeping with his masseuse. Later, she asked him to help recover her runaway teenage daughter Heather. They spent more time together. Billy injured his hand, and took his anger out on Jane. Jane began dating her editor.

When pitching on the mound, Billy is ruthlessly focused. Jane, meanwhile, is bombarded with match coverage while waiting for her flight. Billy goes on to pitch a perfect game, before telling Wheeler that he is retiring. Billy goes to the airport, intending to fly to England, but Jane is still there waiting for him.


Baseball films have always been a favourite locus for explorations of American masculinity and they usually treat the game with quasi-mystical awe. The magic diamond is repeatedly envisioned in such films as The Natural and Field of Dreams (Kevin Costner's breakthrough film) as a place where fallen men can be redeemed, where fathers and sons can bond in a shared tradition and where the American Dream can find its purest expression. For Love of the Game, however, leaves you feeling that the genre has perhaps already touched all its bases. So much so that, in the film's final act, you realise that 40-year-old Billy Chapel's mission to pitch the legendary "perfect game" - an entire line of zeroes on the board - to pitch, in the words of the commentator, "against time, against age, against ending," can only end by embracing well-worn clichés.

For the Love of the Game's complacency is revealed most clearly through its central romance, where the decks are stacked entirely in Chapel's favour. As Billy waits for his turn at the mound, he reflects on his relationship with Jane through a series of crudely cued flashbacks (he fingers a scar on his hand, or smells the leather of his glove). But any feelings he may have about his habitually selfish treatment of Jane are rigorously excluded on the pitch. Billy might be pitching his last game for the Tigers in the full knowledge that the club's owner wants to trade him to the Giants; but even here there's nothing at stake in the idea he should compromise his baseball career to concentrate on his relationship with Jane. Now in his forties, his decision to give up the game stems as much from a desire to retire gracefully and enshrine himself as one of the golden greats, as from a willingness to devote himself more fully to Jane.

Jane meanwhile is constantly asked by Billy to accept him as a baseball player before anything else; her own career ambitions are given short shrift (particularly in a scene which contrasts the pretensions of the New York arts scene with Billy's easy-going naturalism). Their relationship is characterised by condescension on his part, and a nauseating deference on hers (she is shocked when he actually suggests spending time together with her and her teenage daughter).

Unsurprisingly, director Sam Raimi struggles to make much of such shallow material. Having made successful departures from the horror genre in which he made his name with the more mainstream films The Quick and the Dead and A Simple Plan, his involvement in this grating star vehicle is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of For the Love of the Game: the Evil Dead are, presumably, turning in their grave.


Sam Raimi
Armyan Bernstein
Amy Robinson
Dana Stevens
Based on the novel by
Michael Shaara
Director of Photography
John Bailey
Eric L. Beason
Arthur Coburn
Production Designer
Neil Spisak
Basil Poledouris
©Universal Studios
Production Companies
Universal Pictures presents a Beacon Pictures/TIG Productions/Mirage
Enterprises production
Executive Producers
Ron Bozman
Marc Abraham
Production Supervisor
Kris Nielsen
Production Co-ordinators
Liz Newman
Dina Brendlinger-Farnell
Unit Production Manager
Harvey Waldman
Location Managers
Maria Bierniak
Josh L. Silverman
John P. Fedynich
Jillian Livingston
Post-production Supervisor
Debbi Bossi
2nd Unit Director
David Stephan
Assistant Directors
Eric Heffron
Richard Oswald
T. Sean Ferguson
Basti Van Der Woude
David Riebel
Bac Delorme
Stacy Beneville
Eric Yellin
2nd Unit:
Alexandra Perce
T. Sean Ferguson
Script Supervisor
Lynne Twentyman
Lynn Kressel
Susan Farris
ADR Voice:
Barbara Harris
2nd Unit Directors of Photography
Frederic Goodich
Phil Abraham
Aerial Director of Photography
David B. Nowell
Camera Operators
Monty Rowan
Craig DiBona
Wescam Operator
David Norris
Visual Effects Supervisor
Peter Donen
Visual Effects Co-supervisor
Miller Drake
Visual Effects
Hammerhead Productions
Special Visual Effects
Additional Digital Effects
POP Film
Pacific Title
Special Effects
Mark Bero
Al Di Sarro
Fred Kramer Jr
Graphic Artist
Addison Foster Pettit
Art Directors
Jim Feng
Steve Arnold
Set Designers
Andrew Menzies
Sally Thornton
Set Decorators
Carolyn Cartwright
Karen O'Hara
Costume Designer
Judianna Makovsky
Costume Supervisor
Margo Baxley
Additional Wardrobe
Denise Andres
Pattie Barbosa
Mildred Del Rio
Anne Gorman
Estella Marie
Cheryl Kilbourne-Kimpton
Roseann Milano
Marsha Patten
Tom Soluri
Missy West
Susan J. Wright
Make-up Department Heads
Bernadette Mazur
Kris Evans
Key Hair Stylist
Jasen Joseph Sica
Main Title Sequence
Pablo Ferro
Title House
James Gavin Bedford
Pacific Title
Steven Scott Smalley
Basil Poledouris
Music Supervisor
G. Marq Roswell
Music Co-ordination
Yvonne McDonald
Thomas Golubic
Music Editors
Dick Bernstein
Curtis Roush
Music Recordist/Mixer
Tim Boyle
Music Consultant
Danny Holloway
Sound Mixers
Ed Novick
Steve Maslow
Gregg Landaker
Additional Audios
Mark Ormandy
Glenn T. Morgan
Burtis Bills
Brion Paccassi
Frank Fleming
Supervising Sound Editors
Kelly Cabral
Wylie Stateman
Dialogue Editors
Lauren Stephens
Richard Dwan
Elizabeth Kenton
Christopher Hogan
Dan Hegeman
Sound Effects Design
Jon Title
Sound Effects Editors
Perry Robertson
Randy Kelley
Scott Sanders
Jennifer Mann
Diana Flores
Alan Holly
Constance A. Kazmer
Foley Editors
Craig Jaeger
Hector Gika
Aerial Co-ordinator
David Paris
Baseball Co-ordinator
Augie Garrido
Baseball Technical Consultants
Leigh Steinberg
Jeff Moorad
Broadcast Technical Adviser
Brent A. Shyer
Stunt Co-ordinator
Christopher Doyle
Animal Trainer
Cheryl Harris
Helicopter Pilots
Al Cerullo
Jim Dirker
Kevin Costner
Billy Chapel
Kelly Preston
Jane Aubrey
John C. Reilly
Gus Sinski
Jena Malone
Brian Cox
Gary Wheeler
J.K. Simmons
Frank Perry
Vin Scully
Steve Lyons
Carmine D. Giovinazzo
Ken Strout
Bill Rogers
Davis Birch
Hugh Ross
Mike Udall
Domenick Lombardozzi
tow truck dealer
Arnetia Walker
airport bartender
Larry Joshua
Yankee fan in bar
Detroit Tigers
Greer Barnes
Mickey Hart
Scott Bream
Brian Whitt
Jose Mota
Jose Garcia
Earl Johnson
Marcus Ransom
Chris Lemonis
Leo Giordano
Jesse Ibarra
Dennis Skinner
Pedro Swann
Juan Vasquez
Michael Rivera
Jimmy Pena
David Eiland
relief pitcher
Joe Lisi
Jim Colborn
3rd base coach
Michael Borzello
catcher double
Paul Bradshaw
Tiger pitching coach
Gene Kirley
Tiger bench coach
Chris Fischer
Jonathan Marc McDonnell
Barry Bradford
Kevin Craig West
Wes Said Drake
Luis Moro
Tiger bench
New York Yankees
Michael Papajohn
Sam Tuttle
John Darjean Jr
Jonathan Warble
Donzell McDonald
Lenny Howell
Scott Pose
Matt Crane
Vick Brown
Jesus Cabrillo
Chris Ashby
Bill Masse
Mike Robinson
Mike Buddie
Jack Spellman
Eric Knowles
Ted Franklin
Ricky Ledee
Juan Nieves
Francisco Delgado
Augie Garrido
Yankee manager
Rick Reed
home plate umpire
Rich Garcia
1st base umpire
Jerry Crawford
2nd base umpire
Robert Leo Shepard
Yankee Stadium announcer
Eddie Layton
Yankee Stadium organist
Robinson Frank Adu
locker room attendant
T. Sean Ferguson
Victor Colicchio
David Mucci
Jacob Reynolds
Wheeler's nephew
Maurice Shrog
Yankee Stadium usher
Karen Williams
Kisha Birch
Tracy Middendorf
blonde player's wife
William Newman
P.J. Barry
Waldorf doorman
Frank Girardeau
Waldorf bellhop
Caterina Zapponi
Waldorf singer
Monty Alexander
Waldorf pianist
Daniel Dae Kim
ER doctor
Judith Drake
ER nurse
Bill Vincent
X-ray technician
Billy V. Costner
Billy's father
Sharon Rae Costner
Billy's mother
Mark Thomason
Billy's father, early years
Laura Cayouette
Christopher Cousins
Ted Raimi
Michael Emerson
gallery doormen
Shelly Desai
taxi driver
Lucinda Faraldo
airline ticket agent
Ed Morgan
man at café
Brian Donald Hickey
Tracy Perry
autograph seekers
United International Pictures (UK) Ltd
12,423 feet
138 minutes 3 seconds
Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS
Colour by
Super 35 [2.35:1]
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011