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Tags: steinbrenner | martin | giordano | markowitz

Baseball Film Truly Mirrors the Great Game

ray negron and joe mangienello

Ray Negron and Joe Manganiello (Photo Credit, Ray Negron) 

By    |   Wednesday, 14 August 2019 11:12 AM EDT

Next to being at Yankee Stadium, my favorite thing in the world is being on a movie set.

I've been blessed to have done approximately a dozen films, four of which were baseball-oriented.

The most recent being "Bottom of the 9th," a film starring Joe Manganiello and Sofia Vergara.

"Bottom of the 9th," has shocked the movie industry because even though it wasn’t a large budget film, the quality of the progress in making the film would tell you otherwise.

Bronx native Robert Bruzio authored an excellent script, and the underlying story reveals that it was very personal. When Anthony Rinaldo, an early in the process film consultant, came to me about getting involved in the movie because of my life of redemption in baseball, I told him that I had to think it over.

It wasn’t until Anthony showed up at Yankee Stadium with "Rocky and Creed" producer Bill Chartoff, that I agreed to do it. I must add that it also helped that Bruzio actually had me spend an afternoon with the original director of the film, Academy Award winner John Avildsen.

The three of us drove around the Bronx. During that entire time, John asked me about my life with the great George Steinbrenner. Avidlsen was so intrigued with such a wonderful and unusual relationship. He'd read my book and said that it had the potential for being a great film, a work that he would want to do.

I have to admit that I was extremely flattered.

What was shocking to me was that John actually filmed our whole time together with a secret camera that Bruzio knew was on, yet I wasn't told.

Avildsen later made a little documentary from this swcret filming. out of it.

Four months later, I was extremely saddened when John passed away at the age of 81.

The terrific director Raymond Defelitta took over the reins and did a wonderful job with "Bottonm of the 9th."

Bill Chartoff and his partner Lynn Hendee asked me to become the associate producer.

Bruzio was insistent that, with my experience as a baseball man and as an actor, that I perform as coach Negrón in the film.

As the associate producer, I had the opportunity to hire a lot of ex-players to perform the roles of Manganiello’s teammates and opponents.

I even got to slip in some friends who looked like players but who also had no idea how to put on a glove.

The time on the set was wonderful. I was able to bring on Robert Molloy, Mr. Steinbrenner’s grandson and a producer of several films.

He helped me with all baseball scenarios. He was also served as associate producer.

Gene Michael and Tom "T-Bone" Giordano, two of the greatest scouts in the history of the game, were also supposed to have been in the film but they passed away during the shooting.

If you noticed during the scouting scene a couple of seats were left empty in honor of these two great men. Raymond Defelitta actually played the part of the scout.

Michael Rispoli was terrific as the Empire manager.

You actually get to see a lot of Billy Martin in Rispoli.

Former Mets coach Rob Dromerhauser schooled the heck out of Rispoli.

Former Yanks bullpen coach and Adelphi University head coach Dom Scala was very funny on the set because I had to continuously explain that this is Hollywood — not real life.

He kept scolding the actors for not making certain plays.

I think Dom’s insistence on perfection may have made the actors overachieve as players.

One of my big thrills was to work with one of Hollywood’s greatest cinematographers Barry Markowitz.

There isn’t an angle this man wouldn’t shoot from.

I also love the fact that he is now a lifelong friend.

The same can be said about make up head Scott Hersh, who has been there for me during the productions of my play "Batboy."

I want to thank all the actors/players who made my job very easy during production:

Pat Stoffer, Bryan Dromerhauser, Bryan and Jimi Giles, Jon-Erik Negron, and Cesar Presbott. There are just too many to mention all of them.

I must add that Larry "Travolta" Davis did a fine job as the opposing manager.

All in all, it was a great film to work on. The people on the set were fantastic.

One of the highlights of the film occurred when Brian Cashman and Bernie Williams made their cameo appearances. Truly was a "Wow!" moment.

Kudos also to former big leaguer Brian Wilson who was extremely convincing in portraying himself.

Exactly what that is you will have to discover for yourself.

After writing this article I now understand why this film has been number one for three weeks. It really is a fun film to watch.

Special thanks to the Manganiello brothers for believing in this project, and to Robert Bruzio because your dream helped put a lot of people to work including me.

Ray Negron is a sports executive with over 40 years of experience in baseball. His first job came from a chance encounter with George Steinbrenner as a youth. He has become an American film producer, a best-selling author, and a philanthropist. His memoir is entitled, "Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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"Bottom of the 9th," has shocked the movie industry because even though it wasn’t a large budget film, the quality of the progress in making the film would tell you otherwise.
steinbrenner, martin, giordano, markowitz
Wednesday, 14 August 2019 11:12 AM
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