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By Paul Michael Mullen

GENRE: Sports
LOGLINE: Not since Shelton's 80 million-dollar Bull Durham has another sports writer been granted the opportunity to develop a camera ready script of the Durham Bulls.


Finding Bull Durham Synopsis In 1931, female ballplayer Jackie Mitchell struck out Babe Ruth at an exhibition game in Chattanooga. When asked if women should be allowed to play baseball alongside the guys, Ruth told a local reporter: “I don’t know what’s going to happen if they begin to let women in baseball. Of course, they will never make good. Why? Because they are too delicate.” Shortly after that, the baseball commissioner banned Jackie Mitchell—and all women—from playing professional baseball. That ban remained in effect for sixty-one years, until 1992. Today, Erin Priestly stands on the pitching rubber at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. It’s the North Carolina junior high state championship game, and Erin mows down twenty-one batters for a perfect game, proving that female athletes can compete on the same field as the boys despite the Babe’s dire predictions. But Erin isn’t out to make a statement on behalf of female athletes. She plays baseball for the love of the game—and for her father, Jack Priestly, who was the starting catcher for the Duke Blue Devils before an injury sidelined him from the game. Erin’s remarkable athletic feat catches the attention of Lakeland High School’s CFO, Reginald Stokes, who convinces his boss, Chief Principal Hartley, to offer her a full scholarship at the exclusive all-male private school. Stokes is a numbers guy, sports agent Bruce Pollis has told him that if Erin makes it to the pros, she could rack up a billion dollars in endorsements. If Stokes can befriend Erin and her parents and get her into Lakeland, he might become her manager and earn the riches that have always eluded him. At first Jack Priestly is excited when his daughter tells him of the scholarship offer. To celebrate, Jack and Erin attend a Bulls game. While at the game, Jack tells the story of 'finding Bull Durham' and that love for Erin and her mother is what motivates him. “That love,” he says, “will never go away, never. No matter how far apart we are, no matter the circumstance that separates us, I’ll always be close by, watching over you.” However, at the Lakeland sports banquet held for new recruits, he discovers that the school is broke and that Erin will be nothing more than a revenue generator—a sports oddity for publicity gains, not a pioneer in the game of baseball. Jack talks it over with his wife and daughter, and they decline the cynical offer. In Lakeland’s history, no parent has ever turned down an athletic scholarship, and Chief Principal Hartley vows that Jack Priestly won’t be the first. He convinces his CFO to have his head of security, Randolph Stone, squeeze a signature out of Priestly. On Grandfather Mountain, Jack Priestly’s fuel-oil service tanker explodes in a horrific fireball, and the charred remains found in the cab are laid to rest in Oakwood cemetery. Newly widowed Jessie Priestly tries to hold on to the family’s lakeside home, but she isn’t bringing in enough money to pay the bills. Then her boss lets her go from her administrative assistant position at his real estate office. Upon hearing of the accident, Reginald Stokes is riddled with guilt. He desperately wants to help Jessie and Erin. So when the call comes into his office and it’s Jessie, asking him for a job, he hires her as his personal assistant. Erin gets her scholarship, and she and her mother stay in the temporary living quarters at Lakeland. Erin’s remarkable pitching talent shines through. She adjusts well at Lakeland and earns a starting position pitching for the junior varsity baseball team. And yet, without her father in the dugout coaching her, the game isn’t the same. Only Jack Priestly, billionaire benefactor Jerry Landis, and the burn care physician know that the body buried in Jack’s grave isn’t his. Jack got out of the truck and was running when the fire overtook him. After six months of corrective surgeries with revolutionary skin-growth biotechnology at Seattle’s Harborview Burn Center, Jack leaves the hospital with a new face. Landis flies him back to Charlotte, and while they watch a Durham Bulls game in Landis’s skybox, the multimillionaire tells Jack he has located the driver of the truck that pushed his fuel tanker over the side of the mountain. Jack is determined to get his life back and avenge Jaunic, the hiker buried in what was intended to be Jack’s grave. Once again in mortal danger, Jack must fight against an elite institution bent on hunting him down. All clues eventually lead to Stokes and Hartley. A private meeting is scheduled in Stokes’s office, and it’s up to Jack to get Stokes and Hartley to incriminate themselves in the murder plot. After agreeing with the DA to wear a wire at the meeting, Jack attends Lakeland’s opening game. Much to his surprise, his daughter is on the mound—pitching not the junior varsity but the varsity game. And even more amazing, she has pitched a shutout through six innings of play. If she can get just three more outs, the Lakeland Rams will win their first game of the season. Erin is tiring, though, and the other team’s first batter slams a double off the wall. Jack knows that the coaches should pull his daughter, but they don’t even have another pitcher warming up in the bullpen. It’s obvious to Jack that Hartley wants Erin to fail, which will prove that girls don’t belong on the same field with the boys. Jack yells out from the sidelines, “Slow down!” Erin turns toward the familiar voice and sees a stranger. Adding to her astonishment, he is using the same hand and voice signals her father always used when coaching her from the dugout. She digs deep and finds the strength to get the next two batters out. Then the runner at second steals third and rounds the base. He is halfway to home plate and closing fast as Erin races toward him. Just as she tags him, he dips his shoulder and collides with her, flipping her over his back. The two teams rush the field, and a brawl ensues. Jack runs to his daughter’s aid and finds her groggy but awake. He tells her she must get to her feet, that it is up to her to end the fight. She struggles to regain her balance and then shows the umpire that she held on to the ball. “The runner’s out! Game over!” Jack disappears in the crowd. He must rendezvous with Detective Ryder, who has positioned a panel truck with electronic listening devices near the Colonies corporate offices. Jack is wired, and after eluding the security guards, bursts into the meeting and cleverly draws Hartley and Stokes into a damning confession. Now that Erin has found her Bull Durham again, not Stokes, not Hartley—not even major league baseball—is going to keep her from playing America’s game, and on her own terms.


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