Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm,” opening Friday, dramatizes the true story of J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm), a sports agent who, in 2007, had the brainstorm to go to India to try to recruit major-league pitching talent. Bernstein’s business had stagnated since his days representing clients like Barry Bonds and onetime Patriots star Curtis Martin. He saw India, with its national obsession with cricket — a distant cousin to baseball, don’t forget — as an untapped, potentially enormous opportunity. The movie’s title is taken from the reality show that Bernstein launched in Mumbai, a competition that yielded two prospects, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel — teens from impoverished backgrounds who, against ridiculous odds, caught on with the Pittsburgh Pirates system.
“J.B. gets described as being like a force of nature,” says Hamm. “And if you haven’t been to India, it’s like chaos times chaos to the power of chaos. The way this guy navigated that using sheer force of will is incredibly impressive.”