James Caan's new role as Terry "The Cannon" Gannon involves him playing an overbearing dad and former baseball player who's got a lot to say about how the local Little League ought to be run.
It's a character he knows a little something about.
Caan, the Oscar-, Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actor starring on the new ABC sitcom "Back in the Game," said he was exactly the kind of sideline terror for his own son as the one he's playing on television.
“I was not quite The Cannon, but I was enthusiastic,” he said. “I got thrown out three times. I chased two of the umpires over a fence with a baseball bat!”
But as far as Caan is concerned, the reason he got tossed was totally unfair.
“They told me I said, ‘Well, why was he out?’" he recalled. "He said, ‘I don’t like your attitude.’ ‘Tell me why he was out.’ He says, ‘Hey, I don’t like your attitude.’ That was it.”
Caan's real-life son, Scott, was a little like his on-screen daughter Terry Jr. (Maggie Lawson), who played All-American softball in college.
"It's important, because I know about it," he said. "I have my own little coaching methods."
"My son Scott, he was really good. I coached kids for six years, and I thought I had front-row seats at Yankee Stadium because he had scholarships. But he decided to become a ... thespian."
But Caan said the baseball is really just an excuse: "Back in the Game" is really about family -- and fun.
"No. 1, it's funny," Caan said. "The writers and creators are all guys that belong in a home. They're that ridiculously funny."
"Baseball literally is the background, but it's about this family that was brought together by baseball and separated by baseball, and then trying to be brought together again through baseball through the daughter, the father and the grandson," he said. "I play this horrifying coach, and she plays my beautiful daughter who still has a little of my blood in her, and I'm teaching the kid how to be me so eventually she'll have two of us to deal with."
"Back in the Game" premiered Wednesday and was given an early series pickup by ABC. It airs Wednesdays at 8:30.