Jasha Balcom played for the Boise Hawks in 2004 and has since gone on to become a professional swing coach.
He runs a hitting facility in Georgia called Hitter's Box that keeps him plenty busy.
So when a friend told him a production crew was looking for people to appear in a movie about Jackie Robinson, he didn't think much of it.
"I was told they were looking for extras," Balcom said. "So I sent them some of my photos and some of my baseball pictures."
Within hours, an assistant director called Balcom and offered him the opportunity to be the stunt double for Robinson, who broke the baseball color barrier when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base April 15, 1947.
"He said, 'I'm going to need you. Can you be available for two months?' " Balcom remembered. "I was like, 'Uh, OK.' "
It was more of a commitment than he thought he was getting into. But after thinking about it, Balcom knew it was something he couldn't pass up.
"This is Jackie Robinson," Balcom said. "I have to do this; it's a no-brainer. It's personal. My dad loved Jackie Robinson."
So Balcom began working on swinging, running and sliding like the baseball great. Balcom hit from the left side as a player, but he used the Pro Batter simulator at his facility to learn how to hit from the right side like Robinson.
Balcom watched footage of Robinson running and sliding into bases and tried to pick up on Robinson's mannerisms.
"The sliding part was easy, because I stole a lot of bases and kind of had a feel for that," said the 30-year-old Balcom, who hadn't played since 2007. "But I had to see how he ran. He kind of ran like a football running back. His side-to-side motion was kind of tough. It was amazing, because he was so fast and powerful, yet still so graceful. So having to do that was something I had to work at."
As was getting used to the equipment and gear used during the Robinson era.
"The gloves, the shoes, I don't know how they ran and played in those shoes," said Balcom. "They were very tough to run in. That was unique. Running back and forth in those shoes can wear you down. They felt like bowling shoes with spikes screwed on the bottom."
Balcom said he was surprised at the sheer magnitude of the process of making a major movie and the hard work that goes into it.
"It's long hours," he said. "You're working 14-hour days."
But he has a sense the hard work was worth it.
Balcom hadn't seen the final product when he talked to the Idaho Statesman - he planned to attend a premiere Thursday night in Atlanta with his mother - but the film already received some high praise.
"We think that everybody in the country needs to watch this movie," Michelle Obama said after she and the president watched a special screening. "We walked away from that just visibly, physically moved by the experience of the movie, of the story."
That story is what makes Balcom proud about his brush with Hollywood.
"What he went through is a lesson, and I'm just happy to be able to say that I'm a part of this," Balcom said. "It's a history lesson. I have students who don't know who Jackie Robinson is. Now I'm going to be able to say, 'Hey guys, go see this movie. Your coach is in this movie.' Jackie Robinson did so much for America. When I teach kids about overcoming adversity and not giving up and being a good person I can say, 'Look at this guy. You can learn so much from him.' "
Chris Langrill: 377-6424