First of two parts
This reporter learned a lesson recently during an unscheduled interview with actor Bill Murray: expect to laugh. “You’re one of those serious ones,” observed Murray as we chatted during the August 2 American Association All-Star Game at the St. Paul downtown ballpark. His perceptiveness was uncanny.
He and Mike Veeck co-own several minor league baseball teams, including the St. Paul Saints, which was the reason for Murray being in town. Earlier Veeck all but promised us an opportunity to speak with the award-winning actor, who he expected to be in attendance at the game hosted by their club.
After Veeck introduced us, Murray proceeded to deftly alternate between funny, irreverent and introspective — sometimes all three at the same time — while we talked in between pitches during the contest. But he was never boring or at a loss for words.
Murray was born on September 21, 1950 in Evanston, Ill. as one of eight siblings. An avid reader of American biographies, he worked as a golf caddy to help pay for his high school education at a Jesuit high school. He went to college to study pre-med but dropped out — Regis University in Colorado decades later presented Murray with an honorary doctor of humanities degree.
Murray’s career began in 1976 and has spanned over four decades, from his work on Saturday Night Live and laugh out loud classics such as Caddyshack (1980), Stripes (1981) and Ghostbusters (1984), to critically acclaimed dramatic roles and lending his voice and personality as Garfield in two movies.
It was announced in June that Murray will be getting the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He’s won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and earned numerous nominations over the years, including a best actor Oscar nomination for his role in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003).
When the MSR caught up with Murray, we touched on a number of topics.
We talked St. Paul: “I love St. Paul,” declared Murray, in his best civic promotional voice. “We have been coming here for a long time. We had a lot of fun.”
We talked baseball: Murray is an unabashed fan, especially of the Chicago Cubs, his Saints and the three other minor league clubs he co-owns with Veeck and other partners. “It is the greatest baseball experience there is,” declared Murray of the second-year ballpark in St. Paul’s Lowertown.
He briefly reminisced over his team’s former home, Midway Stadium, stating, “The previous 15 years at Midway were outstanding,” said the team owner. “It will take [fans] time to figure this out. Last year they were all so dazzled by the place — it is too nice. The place takes the vibe of the crowd. You can feel the ballpark is starting to get that way.”
Next: Murray’s reflections on his films, the people he worked with over the years and more.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org