It is not unusual for professional wrestlers like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dave Bautista and football players like Brian Bosworth and Terry Crews to show up in various movies – mostly action movies involving different levels of physical violence – to show up on the silver screen. It is a bit more unusual for baseball stars to do the same. It is not unheard of, though, even if you’ll rarely catch them playing in the best sports movies today. Some of them have, though – and some of the names below might even surprise you.
Thomas Charles Lasorda started his MLB career at the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954 and, after touching base with the Kansas City Athletics, the New York Yankees, and the Bears, the Dodgers was the team he returned to – first as a player in 1957 then as a manager in 1976, a position he held for two decades.
During his time as a manager, though, he explored his artistic side, too – namely acting. Between 1978 and 1996, he appeared in eight productions, sometimes as himself (Fantasy Island, Police Squad!, and CHiPs) and other times as a voice actor in cartoon series like Life with Louie, and Pink Panther and Sons.
Don Drysdale spent his entire sports career at the Los Angeles Dodgers as a right-handed pitcher – he was one of the most dominant players between the late 1950s and the early 1960s. After retiring in 1969, he became a sports broadcaster for various teams and channels, returning to the Dodgers in 1988 and staying with the team until his passing in 1993.
Drysdale made it to the screen quite often between his first role (playing a Dodger Pitcher in the TV series “The Red Skelton Hour”) and 1992. He either appeared as himself (Leave It to Beaver, Our Man Higgins, The Donna Reed Show) or played various characters in movies like The Joker’s Wild and You Must Remember This or TV series like Cowboy in Africa, The Flying Nun, and Alcoa Premiere.
Last but not least, let us mention one of the most famous baseball players of all time – Sandy Koufax. Koufax was the first major league pitcher to pitch four no-hitters, the first three-time Cy Young winner and the only player to win three times when the award was given out for all major league baseball. His sports career was short due to his health condition.
Upon renegotiating their contracts with Dodgers GM Buzzie Bavasi, both Koufax and Drysdale found that the manager was using both of them as an argument to reduce their pay. They decided to negotiate together, hiring the entertainment lawyer J. William Hayes to represent them in an era when this was unusual, to say the least. Besides, instead of showing up for training in February, both players signed up to appear in Warning Shot, a movie starring David Janssen. Drysdale played a TV commentator, while Koufax played a detective. At this time, Koufax was already an “experienced” actor – he was cast to play small parts in four TV series in 1960.
The two players never appeared in Warning Shot, though, because they managed to negotiate more favorable contracts with the Dodgers.