Billy Bob Thornton is nursing painful genitals after playing a drunken baseball coach in a remake of comedy movie THE BAD NEWS BEARS - because his young co-stars kept whacking him in "the gourds".

The Oscar-winner quickly became the target for painful practical jokes while he was making the movie.

He says, "They hit me in the nuts a lot. If I wasn't careful, they'd come out of nowhere and slam me with their gloves. I guess that never goes out of fashion. Kids love to punch you in the gourds.

"I'd try to retaliate, but I'm too old and they're too quick."

And when he wasn't trying to protect himself from cruel kids, Thornton was attempting to keep his obsessive compulsive disorder in check - as he kept score.

He explains, "In my head, I was constantly counting balls, strikes, runs, the inning, how many walks.

"Sometimes in a scene, it looks like I'm mumbling in between lines. I'm not drunk - I'm counting."

05/07/2005 09:20