Up Front: Team player
Published in the Home News Tribune 7/22/05
Jimmy Palumbo's got softball in his blood.
Well, that and probably a couple bottles of beer.
The family tradition started in 1962 with Palumbo's father, who founded Corona Construction's softball team.
"I grew up going to his games once a week," he said. "When my brother turned 18, he got a team and then I got a team."
These days Palumbo is fielding more acting and voiceover gigs than grounders. You may recognize his mug from the bit parts he's played on "ER," "NYPD Blue," and "Desperate Housewives." But he still plays ball every Wednesday in Woodbridge, and he still goes out for a few rounds afterward with the guys at Rugs and Riffys. Those years of camaraderie, competition and conversations over cold ones are the inspiration behind "Beer League," a low-budget film starring Palumbo, his friend Artie Lange and Ralph Macchio, and directed by "SNL" writer Frank Sebastiano.
Q: So, what's "Beer League" all about?
A: It's about guys who play softball once a week -- they're getting a little older -- and after (games) they definitely like to go out and drink. And (it's about) sort of hi-jinks about the season. We're lovable losers, sort of "The Bad News Bears" meets "The Longest Yard."
Q: What's your character like, and what position does he play?
A: I play Johnny Trinno. I'm married. Artie's character is a real (expletive). Ralph Macchio, he's a really good guy. I'm sort of the middle ground. I'm one of guys who knows his stats. (I play) short stop in the movie, first base and third in real life.
Q: What do you think of Artie Lange's much-publicized drying out?
A: He's doing great, he's been sober for a while. He's the reason why we're there, that's the reason the investors are investing in it. He's the guy. He made a few jokes (while filming in the heat), "Man, bad week to quit drinking," but I'm real happy for him.
Q: You said you'd like to do another movie like "Beer League" but about being part of a summer Shore rental. What is it about that stretch of sand that entices us to sit in traffic and fork over wads of cash to sleep on a floor?
A: You know what it is? It's escapism. No matter what's going on in your life, whether you're married, single, you make money or not, you get to go someplace where nobody cares what you do, nobody cares where you live. It's a great equalizer. It's a great place to go for 48 hours -- you drink, you barbecue and you get back on the Parkway. It's like a bottle of shampoo: rinse and repeat.
Q: You've been renting in Manasquan for years. Still sleeping on the floor?
A: I finally worked my way up. I finally got a room this year.
-- Lisa Intrabartola