Jim Caveziel has played a legendary golfer (Bobby Jones), has traded hoops time with the likes of John Stockton and others (from his time growing up in the state of Washington), spent hours listening to John Wooden (who coached his dad at UCLA), and now plays legendary high school coach Bob Ladoceur in the upcoming film When The Game Stands Tall.
Yet for his wide ranging connections to sport, baseball seemed to be in the distance for the current star of “Person of Interest.” However that could not be further from the truth, as we learned when the veteran actor took the stage in June at, of all places, Yankee Stadium for the Beyond Sport Conference.
Caveziel was joined by ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi to talk about the values that sport played in his life, especially with the roles he has engaged in during a prosperous career, and baseball fit well into the conversation.
“It’s quite amazing to be at Yankee Stadium, when you think about the history and tradition of what this team stands for,” Caveziel said. “Right now I get to play a legendary coach at the high school level in Bob Ladouceur, and when you compare that to the legendary coaches that have worn the pinstripes—Joe Torre, Casey Stengel, Billy Martin, Joe McCarthy—it’s nice to be even associated with such legends by being here and talking about their craft.”
The feature, which comes out in late August nationwide, is about De La Salle High School in Northern California, and tells the story of how the team put together the longest winning streak in sports history under Ladouceur, but then had to find its way back to moral, academic and personal success after a series of tragedies rocked the team. Directed by Thomas Carter, the film is much more about the values of team and the challenges of everyday life than the glitz and glamour associated with elite athletics on every level. Caviezel, along with co-stars like Laura Dern, Michael Chiklis and Clancy Brown, bring the positives and the negatives of those life lessons home.
“It is a film about a high school football team, yes, but the message transcends sports, and I’m sure will resonate with any coach or parent who has had to deal with the issues we have in life,” Caviezel added. “However I think for elite coaches who have had success, the message can be even greater, because maintaining that level of success and the pressure you have placed on yourself and your team can be very daunting. It’s something you see and understand at Yankee Stadium for sure, with all those banners hanging. There are a lot of ghosts looking down on the team, and keeping that tradition alive can be very taxing.”
While growing up a Mariners fan in the Pacific Northwest, Caveziel always admired the Yankees tradition and now as he makes his home in New York, he has come to call the Yankees more of his team, both for their success on the field and the way they carry themselves in the community.
“Just being in the stadium and looking out onto that field brings such a sense of awe, and when you factor in what has gone n on the field, and how a person like Derek Jeter carries himself in his life, it’s pretty inspiring,” he added. “Plus you factor in all the former Mariners who have come to New York and seen success, from Ichiro to Randy Johnson and on and on, and it’s hard not to get caught up in all that the Yankees are about, even for someone who has such deep ties to Seattle.”
So while fans will see Caveziel as a high school coach in the coming weeks, could there be a baseball story in the future as well? “Sports as a theme in entertainment can be very powerful when done right as a metaphor for life,” he added. “I think people will see that in When The Game Stands Tall, and there certainly are any number of baseball stories that fit the mold, so who knows what the future brings. It certainly would be interesting to see what’s out there, and I’d welcome the challenge if the timing and the story fit.”
But for now, Yankee fans can take pride in seeing one of theirs as a star both on TV, and now in an upcoming film on a legendary coach.