Kevin Costner backs Sarandon in baseball flap. The conservative actor praises their courage for speaking out against the war, which got their ''Bull Durham'' commemoration canceled

By Gary Susman
April 11, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Kevin Costner’s politics may lie at the opposite end of the spectrum from Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon’s, but he supports his ”Bull Durham” costars’ willingness to speak out against the war, and he’s critical of the Baseball Hall of Fame for canceling an event marking the movie’s 15th anniversary because the outspoken couple had been invited. Costner went to bat for his costars, issuing a statement on Thursday that read, ”I think Tim and Susan’s courage is the type of courage that makes our democracy work. Pulling back this ‘invite’ is against the whole principle about what we fight for and profess to be about.”

Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey, a former White House assistant press secretary for Ronald Reagan, wrote a letter to Sarandon and Robbins this week, explaining that the hall had scrapped the April 26-27 ”Bull Durham” festivities because the couple’s antiwar activism ”helps undermine the U.S. position, which ultimately could put our troops in even more danger. As an institution, we stand behind our president and our troops in this conflict.” Robbins wrote back that he didn’t realize baseball had become ”a Republican sport” and added ”I know there are many baseball fans that disagree with you, and even more that will react with disgust to realize baseball is being politicized.”

The 1988 movie’s writer/director, Ron Shelton, who had also planned to attend the ”Bull Durham” weekend at the Cooperstown, N.Y., museum, also stepped up to the plate for Sarandon and Robbins. He said in a statement, ”I can’t believe that this country has come to the point where people of disparate political opinions can’t gather together to celebrate something we can all agree on — baseball and films.”

Also pitching in was sportswriter Roger Kahn (best known for the bestseller ”The Boys of Summer”), who canceled an August appearance at the hall to promote his latest baseball tome, Reuters reports. ”You are choking freedom of dissent,” Kahn wrote to Petroskey. ”How ironic. In theory, at least, we have been fighting this war to give Iraqis freedom of dissent. But here you, through the great institution you head, have moved to rob Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, and Ron Shelton of that very freedom.”

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