10 Things You Didn’t Know about “Bang the Drum Slowly”

“Bang the Drum Slowly” was released in 1973. It is a well-known American sports drama that was directed by John D. Hancock. In this film, the star of the show is a baseball player who has a terminal illness and limited intellect, and his more skilled, smarter teammate takes a keen and impactful interest in his life. It is a film adaptation of a baseball novel from 1956 written by Mark Harris. While the film was watched, and is still watched today, there are certain bits of information that are surprising to some fans. Here you can learn 10 interesting things about “Bang the Drum Slowly” you may have never heard before.

1. Robert De Niro’s Preparation

To get ready for the roll, De Niro visited Florida where he watched baseball team’s spring training. He also visited Georgia to tape conversations to get the player’s accents right.

2. The Title Reference

It is believed that the show’s title, “Bang the Drum Slowly,” is a reference to the song “Streets of Laredo” which features the words of a cowboy who is dying.

3. The Uniforms in the Film are Deceiving

While the uniforms used in the film look to be ones of the New York Yankees, they actually belong to the New York Mammoths.

4. Robert De Niro wasn’t “Given” the Lead Role

Before finally landing the lead role in the film, De Niro had to audition seven times.

5. Henry Wiggen’s Secret

Wiggen was the hero in the novel, “The Southpaw,” written by Mark Harris. This is the novel that the film and screenplay are also based on. However, Wiggen, who was played by Michael Moriarty, isn’t a southpaw, but actually a right-handled pitcher.

6. The “Singing Mammoths” Performance

This performance was filmed at Shea Stadium at the set of “Kiner’s Korner,” during the post-game show of the New York Mets telecasts and hosted by hall of fame outfielder and Met broadcaster Ralph Kiner.

7. Shea Stadium is Seen in the Film

The Shea Stadium was used as the fictional NY Mammoths stadium. Shea stadium was the home of the New York Mets from the period of 1964 until 2008 and then demolished.

8. De Niro wasn’t First Choice for the Lead Role

Originally, Al Pacino was set to play the lead in the movie, while De Niro was going to be the driver, Paulie, in “The Godfather.” Because Francis Ford Coppola wanted Pacino to play the role of Michael Corleone, he had to give up De Niro to get him released from his contract.

9. The TV Drama

“Bang the Drum Slowly,” was originally produced as a television drama that ran for one hour in 1956 on the U.S. Steel Hour with Bruce Pearson played by Albert Salmi and Henry Wiggen played by Paul Newman.

10. The Eerie Coincidence

De Niro’s character wore the number 15 for the team, and so did Thurman Munson who played catcher for the Yankees. He also passed away prior to finishing his career.


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