Baseball pitch based on Orioles player Dempsey

Columbia Pictures and Happy Madison have acquired an untitled script by Johnathon Schaech, Josh Wolf and Richard Chizmar that comedically explores an incident in the life of ex-Baltimore Orioles player Rick Dempsey, whose Little League coach turned out to be a bank robber.

The script was written with input from Dempsey, the scrappy ballplayer who was named MVP of the 1983 World Series.

Schaech, who starred in the Tom Hanks-directed “That Thing You Do,” is a lifelong Orioles fan who got involved after meeting with Dempsey. Schaech and writing partner Chizmar brought in Wolf, an established comedy writer to add humor to the character piece.

The writers pitched the story around town, and sparked to Happy Madison and Col, which is overhauling another fact-based baseball film: Aaron Sorkin is rewriting “Moneyball,” the film that imploded recently but still has Brad Pitt attached to play Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane.

“Our pitch was, it’s ‘Catch Me if You Can’ meets ‘Bad News Bears’ with a touch of ‘Bad Santa,’ ” Schaech said.

Dempsey’s coach, John Jennings, steered the team to a Little League World Championship in 1963, did time for his crimes and died of cancer after his release from prison.

It is the second turn at bat for Dempsey, who was aligned several years ago to a project that was set up at Warner Bros. That project went away, and the writers started from scratch.

Schaech and Chizmar most recently adapted the Stephen King novel “From a Buick 8″ into a Tobe Hooper-directed thriller.

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