In the first two installments, we looked at how Billy Bob began his career, his current and planned activities, including the upcoming Paramount movie, The Bad News Bears, which opens July 22, how he became a Cardinals fan, which Cardinals from the past he'd like to meet and why, and how he would make Three Nights in August into a movie.
Here in part three, Thornton shares his view of the 2004 World Series, his 2005 outlook, his experiences at the All-Star Game including a hilarious meeting with Ozzie Smith, his workout with Jeff Suppan during Bad News Bears filming and names his Cardinals idols.
Did your schedule allow you to watch the 2004 World Series?
Oh yeah, I watched. (He sort of laughed sadly.) You know, it's funny. When I saw the guys in the dugout after the first or second game, I thought, "You know what? It's just not in their eyes right now." Maybe they didn't peak right then like the Red Sox did. I think they were so high off that series with the Yankees, you know?
Yes, I agree…
I think the Red Sox win in that Series was more of an emotional, spiritual thing more than anything else, because I think the Cardinals had the better talent – a better team. And, I think it is the same way this year, too. I think the Cardinals are the most talented team in baseball. I hope they get there again and the results are different.
You just came from the All-Star Game in Detroit. Tell me about your Cardinals experiences there.
I got to meet a lot of Cardinals – some I already knew. Jim Edmonds I met, even back when he was with the Angels. I am friends with some of them – Tony La Russa and Jeff Suppan. It was a great thing to be around those Cardinals. There were a couple that I hadn't met before – Eckstein, Isringhausen and Carpenter, I hadn't met. So, that was a real pleasure.
You were part of the All-Star events, weren't you?
I also got to play in the Pro-Celebrity Softball Game, of course, with a bunch of my heroes. I played second base and I got two hits, two singles. The shortstop was Lovey Jung, the softball player. And she and I teamed up to get Ozzie Smith out at second. He was playing on the Pro team. And, I apologized to Ozzie for that.
You apologized to him for getting him out?
Yes. I actually apologized right at the moment. Right as soon as I tagged the base. I turned around and said, "Oh, gosh. I am so sorry. I wish I didn't have to get you out. I wish it had been someone else." (Thornton laughed at his actions, as did I.)
You mentioned Jeff Suppan. He told me all about your meeting during filming of The Bad News Bears. How did that come about?
We were shooting The Bad News Bears out at a place called Balboa Park, which has a series of training fields, Little League fields and stuff. They have a training camp there for kids and one of the guys who runs the place knows Jeff. He said, "Would you like to meet him?" I said, "Absolutely!"
So, Jeff came by. He met my girlfriend and my little daughter, who was only about three months old at the time. He signed me a baseball bat and everything. And then, he and I went down and I threw some to him.
How did it go?
You know, I had been a pitcher. Jeff said that I threw some pretty good sliders. He said I might have gotten some guys out in the major leagues with a couple of them.
Jeff's great. He did come back another time after our first meeting. We took some pictures and he'd made some and brought me copies.
Sounds like it was exciting for both of you. Based on his comments to me, I know it was for Jeff.
Yes, it was great. I think Jeff is a terrific pitcher. I am sure rooting for him this year. I think…I am not positive about this…but I think I am coming down some time in August to Busch to throw out the first pitch in one of the games. Maybe we'll get to hook up again there and talk some.
I'll find out the date and let Jeff know… You have done that first pitch duty before, right?
Yes. The last time I threw out the first pitch it was to Gibson. He was there that day and I was pretty nervous about that. They played the Braves that day. It was in '98, the year that McGwire hit 70 (home runs).
Gibson was my hero growing up. He and Brooks Robinson, because Brooks was from Little Rock, Arkansas. The Orioles were my American League team when I was a kid. But, you know, it is hard to root for an American League team now, when they play each other during the season.
They are calling me for my next interview now, but I hope to see you when I am there to throw out that first pitch.
Same here. Thank you for your time!
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.