Casey Bond hit a home run in his first at-bat when it comes to acting in a major film. Portraying former Major League pitcher Chad Bradford, Bond was among a cast and crew that has been nominated for six Academy Awards for their work on the movie, “Moneyball.”
The Grizzlies first talked to Bond before the movie was released, but with the award season in full throttle, Bond was nice enough to take the time to discuss what is new since the movie debut.
(He also spoke with MiLB.com blogger buddy Ben Hill here.)
Yard Work: We ended the last post wondering what the future may bring for you. So, what is new?
Casey Bond: So far 2012 has had a great start with all these awards. I am auditioning for some small things and working on producing an independent film. Producing is a part of industry that I wanted to dive into as it will allow me to take ownership of the work. I will be able to act and produce in a piece that is pretty close to me.
YW: How did you find out “Moneyball” was nominated for six Oscars?
CB: I knew the day they would be released but not the exact time. So, I woke up to text messages, emails and Twitter messages from all sorts of people telling me about the great news.
We heard all the Oscar buzz and with the momentum from the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, we were eager to learn about the nominations. I can’t even describe, though, how it feels. It’s a great start and I could not be more thankful.
YW: Have you heard from Chad Bradford to see what he thought about your performance acting as him?
CB: I have not met Chad in person, but I did first talk to him a couple of weeks prior to filming. I contacted a mutual friend and said, “You are not going to believe this, but is there any way I can get [Chad Bradford’s] phone number and talk to him?”
He also ended up calling me right after he saw the movie and said, “Man, great job.” I was encouraged to hear him say I did well.
Chad ended up being just a great guy and so willing with his time. I’m representing a real person, and it is very important for me to talk to him. Next time I am in Jackson, Mississippi [Bradford’s hometown], I plan on meeting up with him.
YW:What is going through your head when you watch yourself on the big screen in a baseball movie after growing up dreaming of playing in the big leagues one day?
CB: Anytime you put hard work into something and see the result and others encourage you, it is awesome. We got our first taste of an audience reaction at the Toronto Film Festival. After the film ended, we received a standing ovation, which was phenomenal. Ever since the movie came out, I have talked to people I haven’t heard from in a long time. All the words of encouragement made this process that much more special.
YW: What are some similarities between being a professional baseball player and being an actor?
CB: The biggest thing is the mental preparation. It directly translates from athletics to the acting world. Auditions can be very spur of the moment, like opportunities or plays in baseball. Baseball is a game filled with failures, such as getting one hit in your four at-bats, and acting has its own failures as well. Not succeeding on the baseball field on a given day created a mental strength.
YW: Who has been your biggest influence in your new career?
CB: It comes down to great parents. They have been great supporters. Another important person has been my first college coach, Brian Schoop, at Birmingham-Southern College. First of all, our team was not just a team, but brothers. Coach Schoop established that family-like culture, and it brought another kind of strength to you. We learned how to face adversity together, and I draw upon my experiences from Birmingham-Southern often.
If you would like to learn more about what Casey is up to, check out his website at www.thecaseybond.com (caseybond.com was already taken). Or you can follow him on Twitter (@CaseyBond) and check out his Facebook page.
By: Noah Frank
In the middle of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, the San Francisco Giants selected a pair of players with the same last name in consecutive rounds: Bond. The first Bond— Brock— may be more familiar to Grizzlies fans, and the story of his accidental union with the Giants farm system is chronicled in greater detail here. Until now, Brock’s story had been more relevant to the baseball world than the other player who shares his last name, Casey Bond, a former outfielder out of Lipscomb University, who played just a single game above A-ball in his short minor league career. That may well change today.
In the film Field Of Dreams, Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones seek redemption for a young ballplayer named Archibald Wright “Moonlight” Graham, who appeared in one Major League game for the New York Giants, but never got an at-bat. Casey Bond had a similar experience with the Grizzlies, as that single game above Single-A came with the Fresno club on the road in 2008. He was a fill-in to provide extra depth while the team was in Tucson, near the Spring Training complex in Scottsdale where Bond was awaiting his more permanent assignment for the season. Bond was transferred to the Grizzlies and was on the roster for a few games, but did not get into a game until the top of the tenth on April 21st, 2008.
Unlike Graham, though, Bond did get his at-bat. Pinch-hitting for relief pitcher Alex Hinshaw with two on and two out in a 4-4 game, he grounded out to end the inning. The Grizzlies would go on to score in the 11th, taking a 5-4 victory. Bond would never don the orange and black uniform again, as the Giants would not offer him a contract the following year.
“I 100% thought I had a shot at the big leagues,” says Bond about his time in the minors. “I had— just knowing myself and what the scouts told me— all the tools that it takes. Speed, defense, power, arm and average.”
To those who have read Moneyball, the game-changing book by author Michael Lewis, that may sound awfully familiar. The story centers around Billy Beane, a sculpted athlete of a man whom the scouts drooled over, only to find that the sum of his “tools” did not add up to a successful ballplayer. It is in that vein that Beane then searched out players who were underrated and underappreciated by the existing system, in order to piece together a team that could excel at individual skills well enough to compete with higher payroll teams.
How ironic, then, that Bond himself fit the Billy Beane mold, and is set to make his Major League debut tonight on the big screen, rather than in the actual big leagues. Bond plays the role of athletics pitcher Chad Bradford in the film adaptation of Moneyball, which premieres at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland tonight.
Bradford also hails from Jackson, Mississippi. As Bond was raised primarily in Georgia, he felt at ease playing the role of a character from the same region, allowing his natural soft southern drawl to play through in his lines. Interestingly, though, he was born in San Francisco, and lived in Pacifica for the first year of his life before moving to Washington State, and eventually the south. And while he returns to the Bay Area for the premiere tonight, both his place of birth and home to the team that drafted him, he will be wearing the colors of the team across the bay.Bradford was a submarine-style reliever whose unorthodox delivery helped him pitch parts of 12 seasons in the Major Leagues, including the 2001-2004 campaigns with the Athletics. The transition to a pitching role from his days as an outfielder was not a difficult one for Bond, who was predominantly a pitcher back in high school before a back injury forced him to pursue a career as a hitter.
“I would say it’s a little odd or strange that my ‘Major League debut’ would be in a rival’s jersey,” remarks Bond of his role as an Athletic. “I love the Giants and appreciated that opportunity, but I think anyone would love this opportunity.”
To stay in baseball shape for the role, Bond would go out and throw every day, just as he did in his playing days. Sometimes, if he had no throwing partner, that meant hurling a ball into a chain-link fence at a nearby park in Culver City, where Bond currently lives as he searches for his next part. Even now, after the filming is done, Bond continues to keep his arm strong.
“I stay in baseball shape because my roles require it,” he explains, but admits there is more to it than just that. “I’ll never let that go. Down the line I want to be able to throw a heater to my kid.”
“We had sessions where we would pitch off the mound, do some hitting,” Bond explains. “All I was getting was ground balls, and swings and misses.”He might have some extra motivation to keep his arm in top shape. After learning Bradford’s funky, almost underhand motion upon which his knuckles would sometimes scrape the dirt of the mound, Bond found he was having real success in scrimmage at-bats against other former ballplayers also acting in the film, such as former Giant Royce Clayton.
Might this story, then, come full circle once again? After all, at just 26 Bond is still relatively young, even by baseball’s harsh standards. With less mileage on his arm, he might fit the mold of a pitcher like Matt Yourkin, who did not make the conversion from first base until he was a senior in college, and who only became a starting pitcher for the first time in 2010.
“If someone was interested, I’d be more than happy to go out there and throw for them,” says Bond. “I had other offers from other teams (back in 2009), even to pitch.”
While Bond is focused on his acting career for now, through his own twists of fate he has learned not to rule anything out, to keep his mind open to the different possibilities the future might bring.
“I’m not counting anything out at this point. You never know.”