Director Robert Lorenz has said of this film: "It was just a matter of finding the right project at the right time," Lorenz states. "I felt the story had broad appeal, a lot of humor, with really great characters and interesting relationships, and I could easily visualize what I would do with it as I read it. The fact that it had a great role for Clint Eastwood and he was interested in playing it was way more than I could have hoped for".
Clint Eastwood said about himself acting in this film about aging in an interview: "You get to a certain age, you're just glad to be there. You have to be a realist so you try to look for roles that are within the age range you are in. It would be kind of ridiculous if I wanted to play a 35-year-old guy. I've enjoyed the journey to this stage and I intend to enjoy the rest of the journey".
Clint Eastwood originally hinted that Gran Torino (2008) would be his final acting role (although he would continue to direct). The filmmakers got him to change his mind and come out of acting retirement to star in this film.
The scenes shot at Atlanta's Ted Turner Field were achieved just ahead of the Atlanta Braves' baseball season home opener. Some of the players were on the field warming up while the cast and crew were shooting in another part of the stadium.
Screenwriter Randy Brown said of the film's central character of Gus Lobel which is played by Clint Eastwood that Gus is "a crotchety old guy who was kind of being phased out by the young blood and the new technology. It's happening every day in our country, and not just in baseball. I wondered how that must make someone feel, being pushed out to make room for someone else climbing the ladder".
Baseball coordinator Aimee McDaniel said of working on this movie: "We worked with Amy Adams for four or five days, and by the end of that time, she looked like she'd been catching baseballs her whole life. To have an actress of that caliber just throw herself into something like that made my job easy. And the rest of the cast was equally devoted".
During the film, Phillip Sanderson (Matthew Lillard) refers to the scouted prospect; Bo Gentry, as having "all five tools". The five tools in baseball refer to a players' ability to hit the ball for average, and for power, be talented defensively, have a good throwing arm, and have a considerable amount of speed. Judging on the few scenes where Bo runs, he's not exceptionally fast, and based on his large round stocky build, it is highly unlikely that he is very fast. Perhaps the writers inserted this quote in order to display Lillard's character of having ignorance to baseball and only basing his facts of a computer without watching him play, especially considering this is actually a very large part of the plot.
In an interview, director Clint Eastwood said of what it was like being directed as an actor by Robert Lorenz): It was horrible, I had to listen to everything he said! Robert and I have worked together for almost 20 years now. We've talked about him directing over the years, so when he showed me this script, I thought it was a perfect opportunity. I had no doubt he'd do a terrific job, and he absolutely did".
According to the production notes, "To ensure a sense of realism on the playing field, Lorenz also hired baseball coordinator Aimee McDaniel to help organize, choreograph and rehearse the athletes, and train the actors to look like players, even Amy Adams". Director Robert Lorenz has said: "Aimee came to Georgia and basically recruited all the different teams and help we needed. She did a great job, so that was one aspect of production I didn't have to worry about. Everybody knew what they were doing and they were all good players...or at least looked like they were".
The fictional Swannanoa High School was located in Dunwoody, just north of Atlanta. Additional "away" games were shot in Jasper, where Jasper City Park became the film's Arden High School, and a championship game was played at Young Harris College, just a few miles from the North Carolina border in North Georgia. The production also filmed at a facility at Georgia Tech, and filmed a minor league game at Luther Williams Field in Macon, Georgia.
On the subject of baseball scouts, Clint Eastwood said in an interview: "These guys have a tremendous responsibility, because they're often signing players who are 17, 18-years-old, to major league contracts with a lot of money dropped in their laps. Scouts have to be part psychologist as well as have an eye for the game, so they can be sure they're not betting on the wrong horse".
During the dinner scene between Mickey and Greg, she overhears a conversation about Jair Jurrjens pitching a no-hitter. Jurrjens, a native of Curacao, pitched for the Braves from 2008-2012 and originally reached the majors with the Detroit Tigers.
Contrary to the finale of the film, many baseball players have vast potential despite their "trouble with the curve." That's where the hitting coaches come in and work with them. A pitcher is less valuable than a versatile utility player.
Turner Field, featured throughout the movie as the home of the Braves and headquarters for their front office, is no longer used by the Braves. In 2017, the Braves moved to SunTrust Park northwest of downtown Atlanta. The facility has been purchased by Georgia State University and will be the home of their football team.
This film, a baseball movie, is the just the second sports film Clint Eastwood has acted in. The first, about boxing, was Million Dollar Baby (2004). He also directed and produced the film Invictus (2009) about the 1995 Rugby World Cup.