Slate has an excerpt from Brett Martin’s new book Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos to Mad Men to Breaking Bad that details a bunch of the off-camera goings-on from The Wire. Some of it was already covered last year in Maxim’s oral history of the show (specifically, that the cast used to square off in all-night Good Guys vs. Bad Guys Madden tournaments), but this version is far more in-depth, featuring inside information about how the cast dealt with their characters getting killed off, stories about Clark Peters (Lester Freeman on the show) turning his house into a kind of wine- and weed-fueled, jazz-filled artist’s paradise, and Wendell Pierce saying of the female attention Dominic West received during filming, “A man could live off his leftovers.”
Most importantly, though, it includes these two paragraphs, which will forever change the way you think about company softball games:
Meanwhile, a rowdier scene existed among the younger cast members—untethered, far from home, and often in need of blowing off steam. This social group was centered on the Block, the stretch of downtown East Baltimore Street populated by a cluster of side-by-side strip clubs (and, in semi-peaceful détente across the street, BPD’s downtown headquarters). The cast of The Wire became legendary visitors to the Block, with a core group including [Dominic] West, [Seth] Gilliam, [Domenick] Lombardozzi, [Wendell] Pierce, Andre Royo (Bubbles), J.D. Williams (Bodie), and Sonja Sohn (Kima)—holding her own among the boys in one of many on- and off-screen parallels.
“We finished shooting at like 1 o’clock and, you know, normal places close at 2, so we’d go down to the Block, just to feel the energy,” said Royo. “The owners of the clubs would come out; the girls would come out. It was like we were heroes. The local heroes.” At a cast and crew softball game, Royo hired a limousine and a team of strippers to act as cheerleaders.
There’s no video of the game — I mean, as far as we know — but I think anyone who’s ever watched TBS at 2 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon has a pretty good idea of what this all looked like.