VIERA, Fla. - OK, so “star” might be overstating it a bit. But there probably aren’t many current major league ballplayers who have appeared in a major television series.
Nate McLouth has.
It all came together last July, when McLouth was offered a chance to appear in “House of Cards,” a popular show starring Kevin Spacey that airs on Netflix. An episode of the show was going to be shot at Camden Yards, and McLouth, a big fan of the show and a member of the Orioles at the time, jumped at the opportunity.
Side note: For those of you who are fans of the show, don’t worry, I promise not to include any spoilers in this blog. McLouth even made sure I wouldn’t give out any plot details before smiling and agreeing to tell me about the shoot and his first acting experience.
“They asked (former Orioles closer) Jim Johnson first, because they knew he was a big ‘House of Cards’ fan, and he knew I was, so then he asked me,” McLouth said. “They were kind of hesitant to ask him at first, because it was a day off, and we don’t get many of those. But when they asked me, I said, ‘Absolutely!’ It’s a great show and I’ve never been involved in anything like that, been on-set at a TV show or a movie. So I was real excited about it.”
The scene was shot at night, and while only two or three minutes of that particular episode took place at Camden Yards, McLouth said the scene took around five hours to shoot.
There were around 50 extras dressed up as fans, McLouth estimates, and they were relocated around the park at various points in order to make the lower portion of the stadium seem filled.
“I was amazed at everything that goes into shooting something like that,” McLouth said. “I could see how it could be a grind for actors to do, because there was a lot of standing around, a lot of moving cameras to different angles, a lot of shifting people around and all that kind of stuff. It was cool to kind of see how it worked behind the scenes, but they work hard.”
McLouth and Johnson got a chance to shoot the breeze with Spacey in between takes and during various stoppages in shooting, and McLouth came away impressed with how down to earth the two-time Oscar-winning actor seemed.
“He was into it,” McLouth said. “It was cool how he could like flip a switch from in between scenes just talking, just conversing normally, to flipping a switch and being in character. That’s why those guys are pros, and it was pretty neat to watch.”
McLouth didn’t have any lines in the scene, and just appears for a few shots as Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood, is on the field to throw out the first pitch before a game.
Strangely enough, neither of the Orioles players that ended up being a part of the shoot are still members of the organization. McLouth signed with the Nationals as a free agent this offseason, and Johnson was traded to the Athletics. The scene was meant to take place during an Orioles game in 2014, but McLouth and Johnson will be wearing different colors this season.
“I was wondering whether they were going to cut that scene because of that,” McLouth said with a laugh. “But it is kinda weird how that worked out. We were the only two in there and now neither of us are back with the team.”
McLouth still hasn’t gotten a chance to see the second season of the show, so he doesn’t yet have a sense for how his scene will fit into the plot. He hopes to pick the show back up once the spring training grind slows down, however, and once he does, he’ll eagerly wait for his appearance.
“I told them when I got there, ‘There better be no spoilers in this,’ ” McLouth joked. “Because I had watched the entire first season at that point. But they didn’t give anything away and that small scene that we were in didn’t give anything away. So I was happy about that. But it was fun. Just a good experience.”
Here’s today’s quote of the day, written atop the morning schedule sheet: “Pain is just weakness leaving the body.”