With the start of summer within sight and the temperatures warming up, it only seems fitting to reflect on one of my favorite summertime interests…from way back in childhood memories to the present day…America, Baseball & Apple Pie…just seems to all go together. It seems like the one constant in life through all the years has been baseball, America’s National Pastime. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. And through all this, baseball has stood the test of time. This field – This game – It’s a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good and could be again. When James Earl Jones delivers these lines as writer Terence Mann near the end of Field of Dreams, it solidifies the fact that baseball is woven into the very fabric of our national consciousness. Simply put, baseball is America (and vice versa). Keeping this in mind I’ve tried to put together a list of my favorite films about this wonderful game called baseball. This is by no means complete but instead a very comprehensive list. Originally it was going to be a ‘Top 10’ list but I had a hard time narrowing it down so I decided to do a ‘recommended must-see list’ instead. I started this compilation by thinking about not only films that featured “baseball” but also about movies that treated baseball as a ‘character’. It wasn’t long that I realized that those that fell into the later category were the ones I generally liked best and ultimately shifted my focus towards them. So, without further ado, the must-see films are as follows (not necessarily in any particular order but the first half dozen or so are definitely the ones that came to mind first).
Bull Durham (1988)
starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins
Minor League team Durham Bulls, Class A, has spent a lot of money to acquire rookie phenom pitcher “Nuke” LaLoosh. Crash Davis, a 12-year veteran catcher, has been assigned to Durham in hopes that he can mature the rookie pitcher who tends to get wild at times. When a beautiful and enigmatic groupie shows an interest in both players, Crash’s assignment gets interesting.
Field Of Dreams (1989)
starring Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta
Struggling Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella obeys a voice telling him to replace part of his cornfield with a baseball field. Soon thereafter Ray experiences the appearance of Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven other 1919 Chicago White Sox players. Ray continues to hear voices which leads him to a reclusive author to help him interpret the meaning of the messages and the field.
The Natural (1984)
starring Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Kim Basinger
Roy Hobbs, a mysterious middle-aged ballplayer with an unknown past appears to play on a last place ball club, the Knights. When Hobbs begins to dominate and take the Knights into first place he must face the demons of his past. Can Hobbs continue his dominance while dealing with past and present off-field problems?
Bang The Drum Slowly (1973)
starring Robert De Niro, Michael Moriarty
Teams come together on the field in the spirit of competition; however, teams form a brotherhood when they come together in the spirit of friendship. When a New York baseball team’s catcher discovers he has a terminal illness, it’s the strength of his team of friends that make his last year as a baseball player one to remember.
The Pride Of The Yankees (1942)
starring Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, Walter Brennan
Follow the life of Lou Gehrig, famous NY Yankee first baseman who was nicknamed “The Iron Horse” for playing in 2,130 consecutive games. Gehrig eventually falls to a deadly nerve disease (ALS), which has since been name after him. This classic takes you from Gehrig’s childhood in New York, through his playing days, to his famous ‘Luckiest Man Alive’ farewell speech in 1939.
Major League (1989)
starring Tom Berrenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen
She’s beautiful, smart, goal-oriented, and she just inherited the Cleveland Indians. Unfortunately, she wants to move the franchise to Miami, and a losing season is her only ticket to Florida. So she signs the wildest gang of screwballs that ever spit tobacco. They’re handsome but hopeless! Her catcher (Tom Berenger) is a washed-up womanizer who struck out in life. Her ace pitcher (Charlie Sheen) is a punked-out crazy who struck out with the law. And her third baseman (L.A. Law’s Corbin Bernsen) is more concerned about fielding endorsements than grounders. Throw in a busload of other misfits and you’ve hot yourself a hilarious line-up that’s destined for disaster.
The Bad News Bears (1976)
starring Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal, Vic Morrow
Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau), a drunken ex-ballplayer, is forced to coach a local little league team of misfits. Buttermaker is more interested in beer and babes until he grows tired of seeing the team lose. In an effort to change things around, Buttermaker begins to teach the kids how to play and recruits 2 new ballplayers. Still a crazy bunch, the team begins to make drastic improvements and now has a shot at the title.
The Stratton Story (1949)
starring Jimmy Stewart, June Allyson, Frank Morgan
Chicago White Sox pitcher Monty Stratton is an affable long drink of water with an easy, whip-like delivery and a pitch so unhittable the young phenom racks up consecutive 15-win seasons. But Stratton’s greatest victory doesn’t come on the manicured green diamonds of our national pastime. James Stewart portrays Stratton, who loses a leg in an accident just as his career is on the rise…and whose triumph over despair and disability leads him to pitch again. Stewart signed on for the role when he realized the film would be an inspiration to injured World War II GIs. The film still inspires. Awarded an Oscar?* for Best Motion Picture Story, directed by Sam Wood (The Pride of the Yankees) and supported by a top cast that includes real-life ballplayers, The Stratton Story is sports biography at its best.
A League Of Their Own (1992)
starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Jon Lovitz
Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) has been hired to coach in the All-American Girls Baseball League of 1943 while the male pros are at war. Dugan, now a drunk has-been, unexpectedly discovers these girls can play ball! Now Dugan must manage the Rockford Peaches as they try to swing their way to a World Series title. This film is based on a true story.
Eight Men Out (1988)
starring John Cusack, D.B. Sweeney, Christopher Lloyd, Charlie Sheen
It’s 1919 and the Chicago White Sox are considered a lock to win the World Series. White Sox owner, Charles Comiskey, is a penny-pinching, over-involved manager who underpays his players. A group of hustlers and gamblers look to take advantage of this opportunity by offering select White Sox players extra cash for throwing the World Series. When the White Sox are defeated, a few sports writers suspect a fix, bringing scandal to America’s favorite pastime.
The Rookie (2002)
starring Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Angus T Jones
Jim Morris once dreamed of becoming a big leaguer. But an injury to his pitching arm while playing in the minors forced Morris out of the game. Twelve years have passed and Morris, now coaching a last place high school baseball team. Seeing that Morris still has some juice left in his arm, his team makes a deal that forces Morris to try out for a Major League team. After throwing a 98mph fastball, the aging Morris is signed to a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays giving him a second shot at “the Show”.
The Sandlot (1993)
starring Brandon Quintin Adams, Karen Allen, James Earl Jones
Scotty Smalls is new to the neighborhood, but his lack of baseball talent is making it hard for Smalls to fit in. When Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez recruits Smalls to play with his neighborhood gang at a nearby sandlot, a whole new summer experience awaits.
For Love Of The Game (1999)
starring Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston
Detroit Tiger legend Billy Chapel is pitching what may be the final game of his career. Chapel, facing the Yankees, begins to flashback to the last 4 years spent with the women he loves, Jane Aubrey, who earlier that day told him it was over and she was taking a job in London. As the game unfolds Chapel realizes how much Jane meant to him … and that he’s got a perfect game going! Now Chapel wonders if he can win her back and if his aging arm can complete the perfect game.
starring Barry Pepper, Thomas Jane
It was the summer of 1961. New York Yankees Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle both took on Babe Ruth’s sacred record of 60 home runs in one season. Two opposites fighting for the same goal. Yankees goldenboy vs. a hard hitting Midwesterner. For baseball lovers this would be an unforgettable moment in time.
starring Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Wuhl
Tyrus Raymond Cobb played baseball like a man charging a machine-gun nest. He gave no quarter, took no prisoners. And when his Hall of Fame career was over, Ty Cobb attacked life the same way. Tommy Lee Jones portrays the legendary – and equally cheered and detested – Georgia Peach in this acclaimed film from writer/director Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, Dark Blue), also starring Robert Wuhl and Lolita Davidovich. From its recapturing of the outfielder’s playing days (Roger Clemens portrays a rival pitcher) to its recreation of a 1961 Hall of Fame banquet, Cobb is a movie grand slam.
Soul Of The Game (1996)
starring Delroy Lindo, Edward Herrmann, Blair Underwood
In 1945, the world of baseball was divided between the Majors and the Negro Leagues – but the time has come for change. Will Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson or Jackie Robinson be the first to take the field in the Majors?
Fever Pitch (2005)
starring Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon
High school teacher and Boston Red Sox fan Ben Wrightman meets successful businesswomen Lindsey Meeks and they immediately hit it off. Despite being from very different worlds, their relationship seems to be perfect … until Opening Day! Now Lindsay is introduced to another love in Ben’s life, his obsession with the Red Sox.
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976)
starring Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones, Richard Pryor
Period road comedy about baseball players abandoning Negro League for lively traveling road show. Its sharp satire, energetic performances has made it a cult classic amongst African-American cinema fans, and baseball-lovers.
The Babe (1992)
starring John Goodman, Kelly McGillis
John Goodman stars as Babe Ruth in this biopic of the NY Yankee legend. Follow Ruth as he’s abandoned by his father at an orphanage, through his legendary baseball career yet struggling personal life and finally to his retirement from the game. Relive Babe’s unforgettable memories and dynamite swing.
starring Keanu Reeves, Diane Lane
Connor O’Neill, a compulsive gambler, has reluctantly agreed to coach a Little League team from a housing project in Chicago in exchange for cash to payback his gambling debt. Surprisingly, O’ Neill gains a new outlook on life once he gets to know his inner-city ballplayers and realize what’s really important in life.
Mr. 3000 (2004)
starring Bernic Mac, Angela Bassett
It’s been nine years since Milwaukee Brewer Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) hit his 3,000th career hit and then suddenly retired. Ross, a now successful entrepreneur, learns that 3 of his hits were counted twice giving him just 2,997. Ross must now come out of retirement and fight old age, the media, disgruntled teammates and his own ego to capture those 3 remaining hits.
starring William Russ, Glenn Plummer
It’s 1957 and Roy Dean Bream is a minor league has-been who’s love for the game is the only thing that keeps him playing. When the team signs black rookie pitcher Tyrone Debray, Bream sees that Debray may have the talent to do things he only dreamed of. This unlikely friendship tears down all racial barriers and inspires both ballplayers to become more than they imagined.
starring Harry Connick Jr., Shawn Salinas
Attorney Tripp Spence, recently-widowed and father to talented 13-year old pitcher Derrick, finds himself wanted by the IRS for tax evasion. Hoping to run from trouble they flee to Las Vegas and assume new identities. Derrick become 12-year old ‘Mickey’ and Tripp signs him up for a second final year of Little League. However, when ‘Mickey’ leads his team to the Little League World Series he begins to receive national attention. Now fugitive Tripp must try to stay under the radar while his son is pitching on ESPN.
The Benchwarmers (2006)
starring David Spade, Rob Schneider, Jon Heder
Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Jon Heder star in this comedy about three guys (Schneider, Spade, Heder) who, all their lives, have been living in the shadow of bullies and are determined not to take it anymore. Now they must train with the help of Mel (Jon Lovitz) to take on the most offensive and meanest Little League teams. Also starring Craig Kilborn, Tim Meadows, Nick Swardson, and Molly Sims.
Summer Catch (2001)
starring Freddie Prinze Jr, Jessica Biel, Matthew Lillard, Brian Dennehy
Local pitcher Ryan Dunne will spend the summer in the Cap Cod League, along with hundreds of other top young prospects fresh out of college. Dunne has been blessed with a great arm but must battle the death of his mother, player rivalries, pressure from the local fans and the pursuit of a beautiful young rich girl. Dunne will need to learn how to push all these distractions aside to focus on his game. His aspirations of becoming a major league ball player depend upon it.
starring Tom Sizemore
An ESPN Original Movie about the true story of hit king Pete Rose and the allegations brought against him about betting on baseball. Nicknamed “Charlie Hustle” for his play on the field, Rose took that same aggressive reputation off the field which ultimately led to lifetime banishment from the game he loved.
Little Big League (1994)
starring Luke Edwards, Timothy Busfield, John Ashton, Ashley Crow
When 12 year-old Billy Heywood inherits the Minnesota Twins from his grandfather, his first order of business is naming himself as the manager! Now this baseball genius is put to the test. How does this know-it-all kid going to deal with batting slumps, pampered egos and labor disputes? Manager Billy will attempt to turn these players into a team and remind them how to love the game again. This is a movie your whole family can enjoy.
Talent For The Game (1991)
starring Edward James Olmos, Lorraine Bracco, Jeff Corbett
California Angels scout Virgil Sweet will lose his job if he doesn’t produce a phenom soon. When his car breaks down on an old country road it proves to be a blessing in disguise as Virgil discovers hard-throwing Sammy Bodeen. Despite having no pro ball experience, Virgil is able to convince the fireballer to sign with the Angels. Wanting to make a quick buck, Angels ownership launches a massive marketing campaign promoting the newcomer. Sammy, a good ole’ country boy, just wants to play ball and now Virgil is caught in the middle of the fiasco.
Long Gone (1987)
starring William Peterson, Virginia Madsen, Dermot Mulroney
A television movie set in the 1950s, about a minor-league baseball team, led by Cecil “Stud” Cantrell. Cantrell is the player-manager of the Tampico Stogies, a third-rate team comprised of has-beens and no-talents. However, a series of events changes his luck, and the team finally becomes pennant-winning material.
Mr. Baseball (1992)
starring Tom Selleck
When has-been baseball player Jack Elliot (Selleck) is signed by a Japanese team, he is initially reluctant to take the game seriously. Elliot is very successful, though, as he teaches the team about American chutzpah, and they remind him of the value of respect. He must fight his way out from under a slump to show that he deserves the title.
Rookie Of The Year (1993)
starring Thomas Ian Nicholas, Gary Busey, Albert Hall
Little Leaguer Henry Rowengartner is a huge Chicago Cubs fan but not much of a ballplayer. His lack of ability and clumsiness lead to a broken throwing arm. However, soon after his cast is removed, Henry attends a Cubs game where he and the entire stadium discover that his newly healed arm is throwing 100 mph! The last-place Cubs sign Henry and now he is their new star. But can Henry and his arm handle all of the pressure of being a professional ballplayer and leading the Cubs out of the cellar?
The Fan (1996)
starring Robert De Niro, Wesley Snipes, Ellen Barkin
Bobby Rayburn has just signed a $40 million contract with the San Francisco Giants and his biggest fan, Gil Renard, is thrilled that Rayburn will be playing in his hometown. When Renard, a knife salesman, loses visitation rights to his son and then his job he becomes obsessed with following the Giants and Rayburn. Rayburn falls into a slump Renard is there to “help” him out. However, Rayburn doesn’t respond the way Renard expects. Renard turns psychotic on Rayburn by kidnapping his son with an ultimatum…hit a home run or else!
American Pastime (2007)
starring Gary Cole, Aaron Yoo, Leonardo Nam, Sarah Drew
Illustrating the healing power of baseball and being part of a team with a common cause, American Pastime follows Japanese-American families during the 1940s. The struggle of living in internment camps only served to make them question themselves as much as some others were questioning them. Baseball gave an outlet for their frustration and a sense of fulfillment they weren’t able to find elsewhere at the time.
Angels In The Outfield (1951)
starring Paul Douglas, Janet Leigh, Keenan Wynn
A young woman reporter blames the Pittsburgh Pirates’ losing streak on the obscenely abusive manager. While she attempts to learn more about him for her column, he begins hearing the voice of an angel promising him help for the team if he will mend his ways. As he does so, an orphan girl who is a Pirates fan and has been praying for the team begins noticing angels on the ballfield. Sure enough, the Pirates start winning, and McGovern tries to turn his life around. But can he keep his temper long enough for the Pirates to win the NL pennant?
Angels In The Outfield (1994)
starring Danny Glover, Christopher Lloyd, Tony Danza
Starring Danny Glover, Tony Danza and Christoper Lloyd. Danny Glover plays the frustrated coach of the California Angels, a struggling team of major-league misfits who don’t have a prayer of winning the pennant-until an 11-year-old fan makes a pitch to the umpire in the sky. With it’s dazzling special effects and heartwarming story, Disney’s magical feel-good movie will make a believer out of you.
Angels In The Infield (2000)
starring Brittney Irvin, David Alan Grier
The Anaheim Angels Eddie “Steady” Everett’s career has begun to tank and now he is forced to be a father to his 10-year old daughter, something he was never good at. An error that Eddie made years ago in the American League pennant still haunts him which led to the demise of his confidence and his family. Hoping to restore both Dad’s confidence and their family, daughter Laurel prays that God would help Eddie pitch the way he used to. The real curveball comes when a team of second-string angels are sent to answer the prayer.
Brewster’s Millions (1985)
starring Richard Pryor, John Candy
Richard Pryor is Montgomery Brewster, a minor league baseball pitcher who discovers he has to blow $30 million on 30 days as a condition to inherit a much greater fortune. And the catch? He will forfeit everything if he reveals to a soul the real reason he seems to be throwing away all that cash. With the help of his pal Spike (John Candy), they set off on a frantic spending spree.
The Bronx Is Burning (2007)
starring Max Casella, Loren Dean, Charles S. Dutton
In 1977, Major league Baseball has officially inaugurated the free agent market. Reggie Jackson signed a contract with the Yankees and soon brings controversy to the club, causing his fellow teammates especially, Thurman Munson to not like him. Plus, manager Billy Martin and owner George Steinbrenner have private arguments about Jackson and the team. Meanwhile, other things are happening in New York as a killer calling himself as “The Son Of Sam,” and the infamous blackout.
That was an exhaustive list to say the least. I realize also that it’s subjective to one’s own likes and personality, however there should be enough variety here to please all ages and tastes .
I welcome your input as well as suggestions of what may have been some of your favorites that I left out. Please feel free to comment.
What are your favorite baseball movies?
Here are a couple more related posts on this blog to check out:
Filed under: Movie Lists & Video Rentals, Nostalgia, Sports Ramblings, Summertime | Tagged: all time best baseball movies, baseball movies, baseball tribute, best baseball movies, films about baseball, greatest baseball movies, must see baseball movies, sports films, sports movies, top baseball movies, videos about baseball |