Kevin Costner was there for some big swings at the Green Monster. So was Mark Harmon. The two beloved stars, along with Matt Damon and Doug Flutie, enjoyed the high honor of participating in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game Celebrity Hitting Challenge.
This was back in 1999. The All Star Game is an annual, mid-summer affair that rotates between cities. And the fun part of the festivities are the events that lead up to the actual game. In 1999, the city of Boston played host to the game, which meant Fenway Park, with its infamous Green Monster wall in left field, would be chock full of the best players in the game.
“It’s a good pick of the four guys, at least representing the sissy part of the contest,” Kevin Costner, the Yellowstone star, said of the celebrity contestants during a pre-challenge press conference.
“Except for maybe Doug (Flutie), well, Mark (Harmon) was a football player,” Costner said.
In 1999, Kevin Costner Was Promoting His Own Baseball Movie
In 1999, Kevin Costner was doing publicity for his new movie For the Love of the Game. Costner, has given movie fans some of the best baseball films, ever. If you don’t adore Field of Dreams you probably love Bull Durham. Kevin Costner tried out for the baseball team at Cal State Fullerton. He stayed a fan of the team and even threw out the first pitch for the program’s new stadium. Costner cast Augie Garrido, his friend and coach of the Texas Longhorn baseball team, in For the Love of the Game.
While Kevin Costner had this own thoughts about the hitting contest, Mark Harmon was able to tap into some of his baseball magic. He was an excellent athlete when he was younger. Harmon was a terrific Wishbone quarterback at UCLA in his two seasons as a starter. But his favorite sport probably was baseball. He played catcher on his high school team.
As Kevin Costner promoted his movie, Harmon was a TV star. He still was four years away from NCIS. However, in 1999, he starred as Dr. Jack McNeil on Chicago Hope.
Here’s how the celebrity-hitting challenge worked. Kevin Costner, Mark Harmon, and the two other celebrities each played on a team. Each was joined by a former All-Star player and a former great from the Boston Red Sox. Each member of the team received seven swings. And each swing received points, based on how far the participants hit the ball.
Harmon’s Favorite Sport Probably Was Baseball. He Was a Catcher in High School
Like Kevin Costner, Harmon was loving his time at the baseball park.
“I mean, what’s not to like about standing in centerfield at Fenway with a baseball bat in your hand, ” Harmon told reporters. “It’s a complete no-brainer when you’re asked to do this. And I feel lucky to be here. I’ve been a fan of Doug’s (Flutie) so it’s nice to meet him. I hope I don’t mess up.”
Of course, Kevin Costner needed to explain baseball on a grander scale. He tapped into his character in Field of Dreams to answer a question from a reporter.
“Everyone has a genuine love of the game,” Costner said. “I think it is a good group, and I think they are people representative of people who like sports. And it transcends all our lives at certain levels. We remember where we were at certain places and certain things that happened. And I think it’s fun for us to come out and brush shoulders with the current players, and players that we watched when we were kids.
“Somehow I remember being a real fan as a kid,” Kevin Costner continued. “I’m not a fan anymore, in the sense that I don’t know all the players of every team, I don’t watch every team, my walls are not adorned with Sports Illustrated pictures as they once were. “
But Kevin Costner did get that silly, boyhood giddiness when he saw one former player, Lou Brock. Costner found himself tongue-tied as he saw the former St. Louis Cardinals great.
“We had this complete dialogue where we didn’t say anything,” Kevin Costner said. That’s the beauty of baseball.