An actress whose real-life baseball talent helped her land a role as a star pitcher in the 2005 remake of “Bad News Bears” has been killed in a traffic collision, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Sammi Kane Kraft, whose performance in “Bears” was her only film role, was 20. She died in a crash early Tuesday on a Los Angeles freeway.
“She was a passenger in an Audi that was speeding on the westbound 10 Freeway near Crenshaw Boulevard about 1:30 a.m. when it rear-ended a big rig and was then struck by another car, according to the California Highway Patrol,” the story reports. “Kraft was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said her brother, Frankie Kraft.”
The driver of the Audi was reportedly arrested on suspicion of felony drunk driving.
“Kraft was discovered on a baseball diamond in Los Angeles, where her family had moved from New York so she and another brother could play ball year-round,” the Times reports. “She secured the part of Amanda Whurlitzer, played with gusto by Tatum O’Neal in the 1976 original film, after throwing a 75 mph fastball during a casting call in Encino, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported in 2005.”
Richard Linklater, director of the remake, said in 2005: "Amanda is such a character that you can’t ‘out-Tatum’ Tatum O’Neal, so we wanted to get a real girl who could do it. I didn’t want to keep cutting to some boy with a wig on who could throw."
Kraft, who was 13 when the movie came out, played the only girl on the team of oddball baseball players, with Billy Bob Thornton playing the coach.
Kraft said in a 2005 interview: “I tried to make the role my own. I added a bit of the New York in me. A little toughness, a little bit of smart-ass."