With the MLB All-Star Game upon us, and football season still weeks away, let’s take a look at the ten best baseball movies.
10. A League of Their Own
The fictionalized account of the creation of the All American Pro Girls League during World War II. It’s a surprisingly entertaining movie, with perhaps the best sports movie quote of all time, Jimmy Dugan’s “There’s no crying in baseball!”
9. The Sandlot
The story of a group of boys in Los Angeles in 1962, who want to nothing more with their summer than to play baseball. Funny at times, endearing at others, and always entertaining for both kids and parents. Just watch out for The Beast. It just went to bed!
8. Eight Men Out
The true story of one of MLB’s darkest moments, the Chicago White Sox scandal of 1919, where the players were bribed to throw the World Series. The movie is a fascinating exploration of the intersection of sports and organized crime.
7. Pride of the Yankees
The true story of Lou Gehrig, the baseball player who made ALS famous. The story covers his life from childhood to his “Luckiest Man” speech in 1939. Gary Cooper, although a bit too old to play a young Gehrig, does a fantastic job in the role.
6. The Natural
An example of baseball as the basis for a fairy tale, The Natural tells the story of Roy Hobbs, a player of mediocre ability who suddenly attains greatness. While Robert Redford was certainly too old for the role, it’s just another of several things you have to take on faith with this movie.
5. The Bad News Bears
I am, of course, referring to the original with Walter Matthau, not the remake from a few years ago. This movie was invariably one of the movies included in the children’s movie series at the Fox Theater every summer, so there’s no way of knowing how many times I’ve actually seen this classic sports theme of misfits achieving greatness.
4. Major League
Another in the misfits-achieve-greatness motif, Major League sports an ensemble cast that makes this movie hysterically funny. Bob Uecker as the play-by-play man for the Indians is priceless.
3. Bill Durham
Part comedy, part love story, and part drama. Tim Robbins is the pitcher with maturity problems, Kevin Costner is the catcher assigned to watch over him, and Susan Sarandon is the groupie who romances them both. Costner and Sarandon are good, but Robbins steals the show.
Billy Crystal’s tribute to baseball and the home run contest of 1961 between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. The movie gives fan and recognition to Maris that was unfortunately not given to him at the time, and provides an interesting insight into the internal workings of a professional baseball team.
1. Field of Dreams
I remember walking out of the theatre after seeing Field of Dreams. Most every guy was misty-eyed, while few of the women seemed to understand why. Baseball was the theme upon which everything was built, but Field of Dreams was really a fairy tale exploring the choices men make in their lives, and the complexity of the father-son relationship. The performances by Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster are among their finest.