Mad Men’s Jon Hamm is going from the board room to the baseball diamond in Disney’s Million Dollar Arm. Hamm won’t be on the mound himself, but rather the man behind the talent, playing sports agent J.B. Bernstein. Million Dollar Arm tells the story of how two Indian cricket players, Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh became finalists Bernstein’s titular reality show and landed Major League contracts. Bernstein, burnt out from too many high-stress dealings with top-level talent, watched a cricket game on TV late one night and decided that the pitching motion was similar enough to baseball that there might just be a potential for some cross over. Where could a stunt like this possibly work? Why, with the Pittsburgh Pirates, of course! Hit the jump for more on Million Dollar Arm, a dramatization of this unlikely, but true, story.
Deadline reports that Hamm is the man to play Bernstein, the agent who went to India, established the Million Dollar Arm reality show and auditioned 40,000 hopefuls. While this was undoubtedly a great opportunity for Patel and Singh, Pirates fans* weren’t exactly thrilled with the management’s acquisitions. Sure, the Pirates were the first MLB team to sign Indian players through the non-draft, free agent system, but they were also the first team (not just in the MLB, but in all professional sports) to reach 19 consecutive years without a winning season! It goes without saying that the management was up for something drastic, as exemplified by then (and current) General Manager Neal Huntington, saying that by offering contracts to Patel and Singh, the organization would be:
“not only add[ing] two prospects to our system but also hope to open a pathway to an untapped market.”
I digress. Back to the movie. Disney’s Million Dollar Arm will ultimately dramatize the rags-to-riches story with Hamm’s Bernstein having to teach the 19-year-old prospects as much about American culture and the English language as he did the rules of baseball. What they’ll probably leave out is that Patel was eventually cut by the Pirates in 2010 and Singh still languishes in the minor leagues. And they’ll probably cast Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) just to be cute…:sigh: Thomas McCarthy wrote the script for Million Dollar Arm and plans to shoot this fall.
*Admittedly, I lived in Pittsburgh from 2001-2012, so if I come across as a bit bitter, it’s because I sat through twelve seasons of pathetic Pirates baseball which somehow managed to disappoint its fans more every year. In an odd twist of fate, our own Matt Goldberg is, for once, more optimistic than I am about Million Dollar Arm.