by David Krival (with "Flip” Arns, Albuquerque MSBL)
(This article appeared in the Winter 1993-1994 issue of HardBall)
Knowing that actor Kevin Costner was working in the area, members of the Albuquerque MSBL waged a concerted campaign to attract him to their 1993 All-Star Game. They wrote letters, which he never got. One member, Southwest Airlines pilot Art Jarvis, chatted with him on several flights and extended a personal invitation.
But his eventual appearance was a matter of pure happenstance.
On July 11, 1993, as Albuquerque played its first All-Star Game at Fort Marcy Park in Santa Fe, Costner chanced to be driving by. "He told me he saw some grown men playing real baseball in nice uniforms on a nice field,” said Joe Becker of the Albuquerque A's. "He just pulled over and sat down in the stands to watch."
Jarvis spotted Costner almost immediately and, assuming Kevin had come in response to his invitation, approached and asked him if he wanted to play. Costner seemed somewhat taken aback, but accepted. At the end of the 30+ game, he took the field.
With borrowed shoes and glove, he played shortstop in the 40+ All-Star game, committing an error in the early going and making up for it with a diving stab and a backhanded flip to second to start and double play. Costner blooped a Texas League single in his first at-bat and a solid double to the gap in his second. "The guy can really play!” said League Commissioner "Flip” Arns.
"I can't remember the last time I had this much fun,” Costner confided to Arns.
Between innings, as movie fans pressed the actor for autographs, League President Gerhardt Horstman and several other ballplayers tactfully intervened. "We wanted him to be able to relax and enjoy himself,” said Gerhardt. "We felt protective of the guy.”
Days later, Costner, filming nearby, called Jimmy Seana of the Santa Fe White Sox expressing an interest in playing on a more regular basis. Seana's teammate, horseman Joe Downey, was working on Costner's set as a wrangler-stuntman.
In Field of Dreams, Kevin played a man compelled by a mysterious voice to build a beautiful baseball diamond in an Iowa cornfield. "If you build it, he will come,” the voice said.
(On learning of Mr. Costner's participation in the Albuquerque All-Star Game, we mailed him a packet of back issues and a letter welcoming him to the MSBL on behalf of Steve Sigler and the entire organization. Costner graciously consented to let us run this story and photos. We hope "Crash” is able to join us. His work has already earned him a place in our hearts.—DK, Ed.)