Shelton was a minor league baseball player in the Baltimore Orioles' organization from 1967 to 1971.
After working on the scripts for a number of films, including co-writing the Nick Nolte/Gene Hackman political drama Under Fire, Shelton made his directorial debut with Bull Durham in 1988. Set in the world of minor league baseball, the romantic comedy stars Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon. Shelton's screenplay netted him multiple awards, including Best Original Script from the Writer's Guild of America, and Best Script from the US National Society of Film Critics. It was also nominated for an Academy Award.
Shelton worked with Costner again on the 1996 golf-themed romantic comedy Tin Cup. Other films as writer and director included the boxing comedy Play It to the Bone, a critical and commercial flop, and acclaimed 1992 comedy White Men Can't Jump, starring Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes as two basketball hustlers. Calling the latter film "very smart and very funny", and "not simply a basketball movie," critic Roger Ebert wrote that Shelton "knows how his characters talk and sound, and how they get into each other's minds with non-stop talking and boasting."
Shelton has also written and directed two biopics: Cobb, in which Tommy Lee Jones portrayed record-breaking baseballer Ty Cobb, and Blaze, which starred Paul Newman as colourful Louisiana Governor Earl Long. He wrote or co-wrote other sports-themed films including The Best of Times, starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell as former football teammates; the basketball drama Blue Chips, starring Nick Nolte, and a boxing comedy, The Great White Hype, starring Samuel L. Jackson.
Shelton is married to Canadian-born actress Lolita Davidovich, who has appeared in several of his films, including taking the title role of Blaze Starr in Blaze. The couple have two children and reside in Los Angeles and Ojai, California. Shelton has two daughters with his first wife, filmmaker Lois Shelton.
- Bull Durham (1988)
- Blaze (1989)
- White Men Can't Jump (1992)
- Cobb (1994)
- Tin Cup (1996) with John Norville
- Play It to the Bone (1999)
- Hollywood Homicide (2003) with Robert Souza
- Hound Dogs (2011, TV)
As Writer Only
- Under Fire (1983) with Clayton Frohman
- The Best of Times (1986)
- Blue Chips (1994)
- The Great White Hype (1996) with Tony Hendra
- Bad Boys II (2003) with Jerry Stahl, story credit shared with The Wibberleys
As Director Only
- Dark Blue (2003)
- Ron Shelton at the Internet Movie Database
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference