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January 17, 2012

The Lineup Card

10 Favorite Baseball Movies of All-Time

by Baseball Prospectus

1) Field of Dreams
To be perfectly honest—and when discussing a movie sewn through with themes of simplicity and the supposed erosion of classic American values, honesty should be required—not only isn’t Field of Dreams my favorite baseball movie, it’s not even my favorite Kevin Costner baseball movie. That, of course, would be Bull Durham, and as both films arrived in theaters when I was in my twenties, Bull Durham’s irreverent comedy was far more likely to strike a nerve than the overwrought sentimentality of Field of Dreams. Enjoying Field of Dreams at that point in my life would have been akin to copping to a fondness for Steel Magnolias. Sure, I made the two hour pilgrimage to the Field of Dreams film location at Dyersville—after all, there’s not much else to break up the drive from Madison to Iowa City—but when I ran the bases and smacked a few batting practice lobs into the left field corn, I did so with a practiced smirk. I rolled my eyes when I overheard comments about how “peaceful” and “pure” the experience was, chuckling at the ongoing squabbles over commercialization between the two families that then owned portions of the site.  I enjoyed myself, reveling in my ironic detachment… until my girlfriend asked me if I wanted to play catch, shattering all my pretension and reminding me that I hadn’t been immune to the film’s melodramatic charms after all.

You see, Field of Dreams may be a Capra movie without Capra, burdened with Costner’s sub-replacement-level Jimmy Stewart, but you can’t deny the power of its Capital M Moment. After ninety minutes of fully ripe Iowa cornball, it’s hard to believe that the appearance of Ray Kinsella’s father and their game of catch could pack such an emotional wallop. It seems completely unearned, but when I saw it in the theater, I teared up—one of only five times a film has done that to me. This was despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that I had a very happy, baseball-filled childhood and didn’t suffer from Paternal Catch Deficiency. What’s more, I’ve had at least a dozen friends or acquaintances tell me they had the same experience of not particularly enjoying the film but welling up during the game of catch. I can’t explain it, and in many ways it’s completely counterintuitive, but it’s true. It happened, and even now I get a little misty just writing about it. Whatever your opinion about Field of Dreams as a whole, it’s hard to deny its ability to get under your skin, and while that doesn’t make it the best baseball movie of all time, it certainly makes it one of the most memorable. —Ken Funck

2) Bad News Bears (Original)
There's no room for romanticism in the original "Bad News Bears". Usually, our romantic notions of baseball—the poetry of the game, the father-son bonding experience of having a catch, reading Walt Whitman in your underwear—are the minted currency of a baseball flick, but not in the tale of Morris Buttermaker's Little League team. This is a team of real kids with real problems "enjoying" their time together. They cuss, they smoke, they fight, they're lousy at baseball, but they still want to play and they still want to beat those cursed Yankees. The movie is yet more proof that Walter Matthau is a genius, but it truly works because of the children: Kelly Leak, Amanda Wurlitzer, even Tanner Boyle, Timmy Lupus, and Ahmad Abdul Rahim. They're all spot on. And there's no better ending, with the Bears enjoying their loss (with a Red Stripe shower!) to the overbearing, over-coached Yankees more than any of the victors enjoyed their win.

Hmm... maybe there's a small bit of room for romanticism in the "Bad News Bears", after all.—Larry Granillo

3) The Sandlot
Every American boy dreams of being the hero in “the big game,” and every kid plays in that game as a kid at one point or another.  We were all Ruth, Kaline, Griffey Jr., or Big Mac at one time or another; rounding those bags on the sandlot or our parents’ back yards. This movie, in one moment, shared our collective story with the world; just as we were all those great players, we were each Smalls, The Jet, The Great Hambino, and certainly Squints.  We could all picture ourselves being any of the latter three, and a select few have been able to live the life of “The Jet,” making it to the show and being the hero in that game.

The late great Hall of Fame voice of the Detroit Tigers, Ernie Harwell, put it best: "Baseball is a tongue-tied kid from Georgia growing up to be an announcer and praising the Lord for showing him the way to Cooperstown."  The dream for Ernie was the same as it was for Ruth, Kaline, Griffey Jr., Big Mac, The Jet, The Great Hambino, Smalls, and Squints. The dream was to be in the Major Leagues, and it didn’t matter how you got there. The Sandlot ranks as one of the greatest baseball movies of all times for its portrayal of Americana, for its ability to make every viewer feel safe and secure, and most importantly for its portrayal of baseball in its purest form.  Good, bad, or ugly, everyone can play on the sandlots of America. —Adam W. Tower

4) Brewster's Millions
Do I really think Brewster's Millions is the best baseball film ever made? No. It's a really stupid movie. But it's one of those awful movies that every time it pops up on one of my 15,000 DirecTV channels, I fall into some sort of drooling trance in which time stands still. I don't know that I've ever watched the thing from start to finish, but I've probably seen it about 30 times in fits and starts. There are some things the film did well. First, it proved that you can stick John Candy and Richard Pryor in the same movie and not only render them completely unfunny, but you can in fact make them seem almost child-like. I mean, this is Richard freaking Pryor, and I'm pretty sure he didn't use a single swear word in the entire film.

The other thing about this movie is that it fits into the canon of 1980s flicks in which the payoff for doing the right thing or reaching your plot-given goal in life is some kind of material payoff. Think about it. So many big budget films in the '80s—Back to the Future, Trading Places, Coming to America, Arthur, Risky Business, The Secret of My Success—rewarded their protagonists with a fat monetary prizes or some other sort of superficial compensation. In Monty Brewster's case, it was $300 million, and it came at just the right time—when his career as a ham-and-egg starting pitcher had apparently come to an end. Baby's father from Dirty Dancing was the manager and told Monty that his junk just didn't work anymore, or maybe he said something about being overly reliant on a low BABIP. I forget. It was heartbreaking. For some reason, that meant that Candy, his catcher, was done as well, so he basically followed Pryor around wherever he went. It would be touching if all pitcher-catcher relationships were so tight.

There is one scene in the movie that always makes me laugh and not in a "my God that is so horrible it's funny" sort of way. In the exhibition game that Monty sets up between the Hackensack Bulls and the Yankees, the Yanks' leadoff hitter, named Dixon, is up at the plate. Candy starts gabbing with him, acting all star-struck. Then he says, "I saw your wife on TV the other day. She sure is an ugly bitch." The discombobulated Dixon promptly takes strike three; I don't think Brewster was capable of making anyone swing and miss. Maybe it was because Pryor was a 5'10", 45-year-old starting pitcher who threw what I'd judge to be about 39 miles per hour. —Bradford Doolittle

5) Damn Yankees!
Of all the musicals ever made about baseball, Damn Yankees! certainly is the finest.  Not that it has any real competition. For those unfamiliar with the 1956 Tony Award winner for best musical, Damn Yankees! follows Joe Boyd, a loyal Washington Senators fan who actually succeeds in selling his soul to his history teacher to beat those damned Yankees, just... this... once. 

Joe Boyd, local schlub and loyal husband, is transformed into Joe Hardy, who possesses Micky Mantle's power and speed, Luis Aparicio's defense, Tab Hunter's rugged good looks, and the sudden moral ambiguity of a real major leaguer after a torrid affair with the literally immortal sexpot, Lola.

Well, Joe tries to back out of the deal but gets caught in an identity scandal when news surfaces his real name is Alvaro Aristy, and only the righteous Ford Frick-esque commissioner and some small sample size defensive luck can save the Senators as we all learn a valuable lesson about accepting our place in life and not tempting the occult.

Most of the broadway cast revives their parts in the film, including the afore-alluded to Ray "Mr. Hand" Walston as Lucifer (Mr. Applegate). It's a wild romp.

Furthermore, amateur sabermetricians can use it as one more example that adding a strong OPS presence in the lineup means a great deal more than "heart". Plus, it's more realistic than Neil Simon's "The Slugger's Wife." —Mike Ferrin

6) A League of Their Own
It's perhaps odd that in a movie about women, the most memorable (and debatable) line is from Tom Hanks: "There’s no crying in baseball! "

It's a line quoted often, usually used in a humorous context, but think about it a bit and it's a little more unsettling: would a manager have felt the need to say this to his player if that player was male? (The answer, one assumes, is "of course not", because "boys don't cry"). The movie, based on the true story of the woman's professional baseball league that was created to help fill the gap left by the absence of available major leaguers is both a fun and uplifting feminist flick (yeah, girls can play just as rough-and-tumble as the boys) and a stark reminder that while baseball may have crossed racial barriers a long time ago, gender-based ones are still staunchly in place. —Rebecca Glass

7) Bull Durham
In the late 80's, Kevin Costner got an unprecedented chance to play Kevin Costner in a movie about baseball. No, not that one about ghosts. The one that's about baseball.  The one that scored 98 percent “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes about the grind in the minor leagues, about the little things in the game, and about doing everything you can to help the team. Bull Durham stands as one of the greatest baseball movies of all time, if not the best. Lessons in baseball, romance, and life abound as Bull Durham features a little of everything—thrill of making it to the show, love triangles, clichés for interviews, sex in the clubhouse before the game, and even some poetry. This masterpiece is a great baseball movie because of the on-field scenes, the subtlety of the elements of the game that are shown here and in few other movies—like a routine pop up or a meeting on the mound. Further, it's an engaging movie for all patrons because it also features elements of romance and comedy, plus plenty of captivating speeches and memorable quotes to make it worth a watch every year. —Ben Murphy

8) Moneyball
If you’re reading this, you already know the story of Moneyball; you’ve either read the book, watched the movie, or like many, you’ve done both several times and can’t get enough (where have you gone Jeremy Bonderman?). The question here is not whether or not Billy Beane had a stroke of genius when he developed his system (he did) or whether Brad Pitt is a good actor (he is), but the question here is, “Is Moneyball a good baseball movie?” The simple answer is, without a doubt, “Yes.” In fact, it might yet rank as the greatest baseball movie of them all. No other baseball movie rivals Moneyball from an anticipation standpoint, and much like an 18 year-old phenom who goes on to make the Hall, it lives up to and even surpasses expectations.

Moneyball tells the story of the ultimate underdog, of a man with a vision to beat the big boys with what amounted to smoke and mirrors, to take on the Yankees and Red Sox dollars with what amounted to baseball gold prospecting.  To that end, what better place to tell the story (by the way, read the book if you haven’t) than on the big screen. The fact that Moneyball was overlooked at the Golden Globes is poetic in the sense that much like the players Beane (Pitt) drafted and signed, it was undervalued by outsiders and appreciated to its fullest by those on the inside. The film itself was well done, a true buffet for the entire family, kind of like a ballpark hotdog. It was a touching family story of bonding between Beane and his daughter while paying tribute to our national pastime with more than enough believable baseball action and jargon. —Adam W. Tower

9) Rookie of the Year
If you look in MLB’s record books, you will find that the youngest player is still listed as Joe Nuxhall of the Reds, who made his debut at age 15. This egregious error overlooks the story of 12-year-old former Cubs pitcher Henry Rowengartner, whose story is detailed in the movie Rookie of the Year. For those of you unfamiliar with this incredible story, Henry is an awful Little Leaguer who breaks his arm trying to catch a fly ball. During his recovery, his tendons fused too tight—something that would only happen in a movie where a 12-year-old makes the majors—so Henry could then throw 100-mph. This talent is discovered by the Cubs when he catches a home run ball and fires a frozen rope back to the catcher, drawing the eye of the Cubs’ owner (inexplicably in this scene, when Henry throws the ball back, the catcher tries to tag the hitter as he is crossing the plate but misses, so the umpire calls him safe). The Cubs sign Henry as a closer, and he struggles in his debut against the Mets but eventually is able to hone his fastball, as he strikes out Bobby Bonilla and Barry Bonds while plenty of ’12-year-old playing baseball’ hijinks ensues. Henry is taken under the wing of his personal idol, Gary Busey, which is hilarious in retrospect.

To make a long story short, everything comes down to one game versus the Mets to make the playoffs. Henry has to come in for a three-inning save because, apparently, in 1993 it wasn’t frowned upon to send out a 12-year-old to get a three-inning save. He gets through the first two innings, but before the 9th inning, he trips and lands on his arm, which causes him to revert back to being awful. It comes down to him vs. the Mets’ best hitter, and Henry is able to strike him out with an underhand eephus pitch that is swung on and missed, sending the Cubs to the playoffs and creating the most typical Mets ending to a season that could be scripted. The movie ends with us seeing Henry wearing a Cubs World Series championship ring, which brings up a few points:

1. As this movie came out before the wild card era, we as viewers are led to believe that the Cubs make it through two playoff series either without Henry or with him in his diminished capacity.

2. If Henry stayed on the team and was able to remain the closer despite him relying on eephus pitches, hidden ball tricks, and other methods of preying on the stupidity of MLB players, why couldn’t they have shown it as the climax instead of focusing so much on the regular season? This was a real missed opportunity by the directors and producers to detail the Cubs finally winning the World Series on the back of a 12-year-old.

3. If Henry was replaced on the Cubs’ playoff roster after his arm gave out, what does it say about the possible sabermetric tendencies of those behind Rookie of the Year? Clearly the point of the movie in this scenario is that having a “closer” in the traditional sense is not that important, if Henry can be replaced and have the team not skip a beat. Perhaps Rookie of the Year should be the darling of those who want to prove once and for all that relievers are fungible.

4. There is a distinct chance I’m looking into the ending of this movie way too much. —Sam Tydings

10) Sugar
The standard-issue list of best baseball movies generally features films with star power—Cooper, Redford, Costner—and often features a climactic scene in which our hero prevails in a pivotal game, or at least gets the girl.

Sugar, a subtle 2008 movie directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, is having none of it. The film tracks the travels of a young pitcher, Miguel “Sugar” Santos, from a baseball academy in his native Dominican Republic to a minor-league town in Iowa to the rush of the South Bronx. In keeping the focus on Santos’s journey—and not necessarily his results— “Sugar” serves as a reflection on universal themes that transcend the game. Expectations, pressure, and family. Culture, race, and money. Love, temptation, and success. Work, luck, and the American Dream.

Ultimately, Santos’ baseball career flounders, but he matures, survives, and comes out the other side. Sometimes, that’s heroic enough. —Jeff Euston

76 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

KerryFam4

Eight Men Out is my favorite. The last scene with Shoeless Joe playing under an alias in an independent league because he loved the game so much says something about how many of us feel about baseball. It also answers the question of what Charlie Sheen would have been like if he was a young man in the early 1900s - famous beyond what his talent would indicate, morally bankrupt, out for only himself and an unintentional cautionary tale for others. In other words, pretty much the same thing as today.

Jan 17, 2012 03:45 AM
rating: 11
 
DandyDan

Wow! No one loves Major League?

Mike Ferrin mentioned "The Slugger's Wife" in his comment about Damn Yankees. That movie stood for years as the movie I attended with the fewest people in the theater, at 5. I wonder if we could do a 10 least favorite baseball movies list.

Jan 17, 2012 04:31 AM
rating: 8
 
Noel Steere
(965)

Agree about Major League.

Also: Where's Firefly?

Jan 17, 2012 08:49 AM
rating: 0
 
kdringg

Seriously? Leaving Major League off this list is inexcusable. The movie is full of ridiculously amazing baseball quotes to go along with its top notch cast.

And where's the love for "Mr. Baseball"? It had Pedro Cerrano AND Magnum P.I.

Jan 18, 2012 16:20 PM
rating: 1
 
sliceshs

No one likes The Natural?

Jan 17, 2012 06:02 AM
rating: 2
 
Lucasjj

I was glad the Natural was left off this list. That was one baseball movie I just could not get into.

Jan 17, 2012 06:34 AM
rating: 1
 
timber

"The Natural" was horrible. I almost fell out of my chair watching the ending. I guess they felt they needed to rewrite the book for Hollywood: Happy Endings Only. Terrible.

Jan 17, 2012 08:24 AM
rating: 1
 
ArthurCopeland

Am I really the only person who thought the book tediously anti-heroic (and yes, I read it before seeing the movie)?

Yes, I'm horrified at the Hollywood need to make everything a happy ending, and it shouldn't have been done. However, the movie has some amazing poetry to it for all it's flaws. The book? Not so much for me.

(In comparison, give me the book or movie of "Long Gone" any day.)

Jan 17, 2012 15:24 PM
rating: 0
 
timber

The book is certainly very dark and, yes, hard to like. I suppose in a lot of ways the movie has more to recommend it, but a rewrite was inexcusable.

Jan 18, 2012 08:23 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Rebecca Glass
BP staff

Hard to like it once you've read the book.

Jan 17, 2012 13:43 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

I could say the same thing about Moneyball.

I thought Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill did a great job and I liked the front office machinations and the Beane-was-a-failure-as-a-player bits, but the actual baseball stuff in the movie didn't do much for me and, again, the whole draft was skipped over.

Jan 17, 2012 19:26 PM
rating: 0
 
saint09

Agreed Richard. My take on their not working through the Jeremy Brown, Nick Swisher draft was that they replaced it with the free agent selection process.

Jan 17, 2012 20:01 PM
rating: 0
 
sliceshs

exactly...

Jan 20, 2012 06:03 AM
rating: 0
 
Drungo

Every movie gets remade now, so it's just a matter of time before the Tim Burton version of The Natural comes out, even darker and more dispiriting than the book.

Jan 18, 2012 09:34 AM
rating: 2
 
Richard Bergstrom

What about the Tim Burton version of Moneyball?

Highlights will include Beane(Johnny Depp) demanding Rincon with a cutlass, DePodesta giving scouts papercuts and Bean's daughter having guitar strings for fingers.

Oh, and the A's cruelly don't get to the World Series.

Jan 19, 2012 12:27 PM
rating: 1
 
WoodyS

I do. Let's slide "The Natural" in at #3.

Jan 17, 2012 06:26 AM
rating: -1
 
sliceshs

agreed. Love the part when Redford sees Glen Close in the stands and smashes the ball through the clock. Favorite part in ANY movie.

Jan 20, 2012 06:02 AM
rating: 0
 
Wade

where's the love for "Fear Strikes Out"?

Jan 17, 2012 06:52 AM
rating: 0
 
brucegilsen
(999)

I liked it but man, Tony Perkins "throws like a girl" in that film.

Jan 22, 2012 13:39 PM
rating: 0
 
Quagmire

Fever Pitch and I am not even a Red Sox fan.

Jan 17, 2012 06:52 AM
rating: 1
 
tommybones

Bang the Drum Slowly.

Jan 17, 2012 06:57 AM
rating: 9
 
timber

Seconded. The book is even better, a must-read.

Jan 17, 2012 08:26 AM
rating: 2
 
frampton
(870)

For its sheer ridiculousness, "It Happens Every Spring" with Ray Milland as a chemistry teacher who discovers a potion that repels wood. It gets crazier from there.

Jan 17, 2012 06:58 AM
rating: 3
 
redsox2011

Ray Miland threw the ball with unbelievable movement on it.

Jan 19, 2012 17:22 PM
rating: 0
 
NYYanks826

Can't forget "Little Big League". So many baseball players making cameos in that movie. Big Unit, Griffey, Wally Joyner!

Jan 17, 2012 07:00 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Sam Tydings
BP staff

I almost took this one but I liked "Rookie" better as a kid in MLB movie. Plus the ending to "Little Big League" disappointed me as a kid

Jan 17, 2012 09:04 AM
 
tommybones

I'd have to go with Bull Durham as #1.

Jan 17, 2012 07:04 AM
rating: 4
 
billm21

Don't forget about "Rhubarb," the classic story about the cat that owns a baseball team. It makes one think that a domestic pet could do a better job than some of the lame-brained owners in the game over the last 50 years.

Jan 17, 2012 07:04 AM
rating: 2
 
Jack Thomas

No way you can omit: "The Natural", "Major League" & "The Lou Gehrig Story" & add "Brewster's Million" & "Rookie of the Year" as Top 10 Baseball Movies

Jan 17, 2012 07:13 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

I think the title of the article is a little misleading. It's not our top 10 list of baseball movies. It's 10 of our favorite baseball movies. Each person selected his or her own favorite movie (that nobody else on the staff selected) and wrote a paragraph to tell you why.

Jan 17, 2012 07:28 AM
 
chewbalka

Okay, how about adding 11 to 20?
I know they were both pretty cheesy but I'm hoping Mr.3000 and Mr.Baseball make the cut.

Jan 17, 2012 09:16 AM
rating: 0
 
jhardman

"Bull Durham" is my favorite, but it's because I lived there and went to hundreds of games in that old fantastic ballpark. I have some issue with Rebecca Glass' portrayal of "A League Of Their Own", however, which is my pick as the best baseball movie.

"There's no crying in baseball" has to do with the snot nosed little kid that irritates the crap out of the viewer during the movie. Maybe we saw two different movies. As a kid whose mom taught him the basics and love of the game in the 60's, this movie (especially the Madonna song at the end with the old women playing a game at the HOF) really tugs at my heart.

Jan 17, 2012 07:32 AM
rating: 1
 
billm21

Not true about the origin of the "no crying" phrase. It was not said to the kid but to the kid's mother.

Jan 17, 2012 07:57 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Rebecca Glass
BP staff

Muchas.

Jan 17, 2012 13:47 PM
 
CalWhite

Major League would easily be my #1 (with a nod to Bull Durham). Major League is the only movie I ever watched and then immediately watched again. Love the "Wild Thing" music scene!

Jan 17, 2012 07:41 AM
rating: 1
 
comish4lif

I just want to throw in one more underrated (IMO) baseball movie - "Long Gone" with William Peterson.

Jan 17, 2012 07:42 AM
rating: 6
 
boards

I would plus this 10 times if I could. Love me some Dixie Lee Box!!

There was also a movie about the same time with Harry Hamlin that was about a girl trying to make it as a 2nd baseman. Does anyone else remember this? What was the title? It was better than most of these listed and the girl could play.

Jan 17, 2012 13:19 PM
rating: 1
 
boards

I just looked it up. "Blue Skies Again". It also had the first Mrs Tom Cruise, Mimi Rogers. I'd forgotten about that.

Jan 17, 2012 13:23 PM
rating: 1
 
smallmanoncampus

I'm glad Sugar got some props here, that is a fantastic movie

Jan 17, 2012 08:04 AM
rating: 3
 
pandroid

Something that always confused me about Rookie of the Year: Henry comes in for the three inning save, and in the top of the ninth, with two out, the Mets send their best hitter to the plate, which prompts announcer John Candy to cry, "Oh No! It's Hato!" My question is why did it surprise him? We should be thankful our baseball doesn't operate in a bizarro Hollywood universe where the lineup is randomized after every half inning and the announcers don't even know who's on deck.

Jan 17, 2012 09:09 AM
rating: 2
 
gjhardy

My two sons watched "The Sandlot" over and over when they were between 5 and 10 years old. Terrific movie. My wife and daughters would choose "Bull Durham" though.

Jan 17, 2012 09:28 AM
rating: 0
 
begonias
(560)

The Naked Gun.

Jan 17, 2012 09:36 AM
rating: 9
 
thegeneral13

For Enrico Palazzo alone!

Jan 17, 2012 14:07 PM
rating: 1
 
saint09

"HEY! IT'S ENRIQUE POLLAZZO!"

Jan 17, 2012 18:19 PM
rating: 0
 
saint09

Pardon me: Enrico Polazzo.

Jan 17, 2012 18:19 PM
rating: 0
 
VDracul

Cobb was my favorite. Tommy Lee Jones is awesome as Ty Cobb and the movie is hilariously deranged. Even has some heart to it as it describes Cobb's early life and relationship with his parents.

Jan 17, 2012 09:50 AM
rating: 0
 
eighteen

Love the last part of this movie where Tom Arnold tells the story about Cobb's interview with a sportswriter shortly before Cobb's death.

Sportswriter: What would you hit against major league pitching today?

Cobb: .270.

Sportswriter: Really? You were a lifestime .366 hitter and hit over .400 three times. Why would you hit only .270?

Cobb: Because I'm f@#$*ing 73 years old.

Jan 19, 2012 21:03 PM
rating: 0
 
marshaja

I'm disappointed Major League didn't make the list. I burned out my first VHS copy of this from watching it too many times and still often quote it at inappropriate times.

Jan 17, 2012 10:08 AM
rating: 3
 
barnes1212

This is a fantastic list. Its got me thinking that I need to have a movie marathon this weekend. Love it.
--
I will say, Major League should have been included. It's clearly a top ten.
--
I really loved Eight Men Out as well.

Jan 17, 2012 10:12 AM
rating: 1
 
Dave Holgado

Come on, fellas... what about "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings"?!

Jan 17, 2012 10:19 AM
rating: 7
 
jnewfry
(131)

Who... gonna hit... my INVITE PITCH! A very underrated baseball movie, good call.

Jan 17, 2012 11:01 AM
rating: 1
 
rweiler

Yeah, hard to believe nobody mentioned 'Bingo Long' which not only had James Earl Jones, Richard Pryor, and Billy Dee Williams at the absolute top of their game, but also addressed a serious issue in American history while keeping people entertained and laughing. That's a long shot trifecta if there ever was one.

Jan 17, 2012 13:51 PM
rating: 1
 
cjgeisler
(199)

For The Love Of The Game was pretty decent and underrated in my opinion. That Costner sure gets around...

*61 also wasn't mentioned. I agree it doesn't crack the top 10, but I'd put it in the upper teens.

Jan 17, 2012 10:21 AM
rating: 2
 
saint09

Sorry for the negative comment, just thought For The Love Of The Game was dismal.

Jan 17, 2012 18:21 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

The baseball parts of For the Love of the Game were great. The Kelly Preston parts of For the Love of the Game made my remote control twitch.

And ditto on 61* though I'd put it in the top 10.

Jan 17, 2012 19:28 PM
rating: 2
 
John Carter

Great list, but, yeah, I'd go with Eight Men Out and Major League over Field of Dreams of the ones I've seen here. The W.P. Kinella story was nicely told with excellent cinematography - and I can dig a good drama, but I just found this story sappy in many ways. Top 10 Sports movies of all time? Here is my personal list from a few years ago: http://scoresheetwiz.tripod.com/id102.html

Jan 17, 2012 10:31 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

Eight Men Out is definitely my favorite, and I actually rank it head and shoulders above all the others. There are actually only a few baseball movies that I really like (Bang The Drum Slowly and Bull Durham leap to mind), but Eight Men Out is the only one I love.

I've actually never seen Major League -- I guess I always thought I'd hate it, but now I think I'll have to give it a try since so many of you seem to recommend it.

Jan 17, 2012 21:53 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

How'd you end up with a sense of humor without seeing Major League?

:)

Jan 17, 2012 22:08 PM
rating: 3
 
map2history

What, no "Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch"?

Jan 17, 2012 10:55 AM
rating: 4
 
DDriesen

Funny, one of the two movie scenes that always make me mist up is in "Field of Dreams" but it is when Moonlight Graham steps off the field to save Costner's daughter knowing that he can never go back. For the sake of completeness, the other is in "Miracle on 34th Street" when Santa speaks Dutch to the little orphan girl. Gonna go lift some weights now and spit so I feel a bit more manly...

Jan 17, 2012 10:56 AM
rating: 7
 
bravejason

I remember Brewster's Millions, but it's been so long that I don't remember the baseball aspect to it. Ergo, Brewster should be kicked out and replaced.

Jan 17, 2012 11:17 AM
rating: 2
 
HankandDan

Eight Men Out is clearly the most profound and brilliantly made baseball movie. Bang the Drum Slowly and Bull Durham convey the game's spirit best. Those would be my top three. But why has only one person mentioned The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, a wonderful evocation of the old Negro Leagues? Speaking of the Negro Leagues, check out the fine documentary, There Was Always Sun Shining Someplace. And don't forget The Jackie Robinson Story, a run-of-the-mill biopic, except that Jackie played himself. For another classic star turn by a famous ballplayer there's the 1920 silent film, Heading Home, starring none other than Babe Ruth.

Jan 17, 2012 12:14 PM
rating: 1
 
bbozorth

I would have added the Kevin Cosner Trifecta, adding "For the Love of the Game" I loved the mechanics, and nuances of the pithcing addressed there, but most of all the poetry of Vin Scully....

Jan 17, 2012 12:37 PM
rating: 2
 
ScottyB

Angels in the outfield!

Jan 17, 2012 13:35 PM
rating: 1
 
dr4sight

Here's a vote for a real oldie: KILL THE UMPIRE which starred William Bendix. He plays a fan who is the worst kind of umpire baiter. But when out of a job he takes to the only career that allows him to watch baseball. I have seen it several times and like it a lot.

Jan 17, 2012 13:42 PM
rating: 0
 
jnewfry
(131)

despite the fact that I was an extra in it, no one should ever choose to see the John Goodman movie "The Babe". Goodman has one of the worst swings ever filmed, and couldn't hit a ball out of the infield in reality.

Jan 17, 2012 13:43 PM
rating: 0
 
Dan W.

One thing about the "Brewster's Millions" write up (a movie I love, though I would never think of it as a baseball movie): I don't know much about Bradford Doolittle, but I would really hope that he has more points of reference on Jerry Orbach than that he's both Brewster's manager and "Baby's father from Dirty Dancing".

Jan 17, 2012 13:58 PM
rating: 1
 
greenfrog

Glad Sugar made the list. Very good movie.

Jan 17, 2012 14:29 PM
rating: 0
 
orlandoca7

Here's a thumbs up for: Eight Men Out; The Bingo Long Traveling All Stars and Motor Kings (Richard Pryor, Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones); The Winning Team (Ronald Reagan as Glover Cleveland Alexander and Doris Day is his wife); & Major League.

Field of Dreams is my least favorite movie. he Natural almost as bad. Both terrible films. The others on the list are solid choices. Glad to see Sandlot get some love.

Prefer Bingo Long to Brewsters Millions. And Pride of the Yankees over Damn Yankees, for sure.

Jan 17, 2012 14:32 PM
rating: 0
 
Isaac Lin

I rather enjoyed The Rookie, with its great storybook ending of Jim Morris getting to pitch in Texas in front of his hometown supporters. I realize, like most "based on a true story" movies, that liberties were taken to make the plot more dramatic, but the real-life emotional essence was effectively conveyed.

Jan 17, 2012 16:18 PM
rating: 3
 
saint09

"Candlesticks always make a nice gift."

Even now, anytime I see any player other than the pitching coach and catcher visit the mound, I'm thinking the above quote, followed by, "OK, LET'S GET TWO!"

Brilliant.

Jan 17, 2012 18:17 PM
rating: 2
 
Richard Bergstrom

I feel like I must've lived on another planet.. I hadn't heard of Sugar until Larry's post and this one.


And btw, I really enjoy Brewster's Millions especially with his speech on the mound.

Jan 17, 2012 19:29 PM
rating: 0
 
noplot

I'd make a case for "Little Big League". I still think it's my favorite Jonathan Silverman performance. Of course, there are other factors; I'm a Twins fan, and as a 12-year-old, I would have loved to manage and also, inevitably, watched "Night Nurses from Jersey" eleven times in three days on the first road trip.

And the Big Unit looked scarily intimidating to me, and I was 25 at the time...

Jan 17, 2012 20:53 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

I loved Brewster's Millions. Never thought of it as a baseball movie, though - just a silly 80's movie with a baseball connection, some scenes.

Jan 18, 2012 18:03 PM
rating: 0
 
schlicht

For a top 10, I'd give a vote to "Cooperstown", a made-for-TV TBS production starring Alan Arkin and Graham Greene. Good story about two players who have a falling out, with Arkin p.o.-ed when Greene gets into the Hall.

Also loved "Bang the Drum Slowly" but the book (by Mark Harris) was better

Jan 20, 2012 14:19 PM
rating: 0
 
jnossal

Eight Men Out is flat out boring, A League of Their Own is entertaining, but has way too many cringe-worthy scenes and and an excrutiatingly mawkish last 10 minutes. For the Love of the Game is just not a very good movie, although the game scenes are well done, other than some sloppy factual errors.

You know, there are movies about baseball (Eight Men Out, Major League), movies with baseball (Bang the Drum Slowly, Field of Dreams) and some with both (Bull Durham, The Natural). I've never seen Field of Dreams by the way. Don't ask why.

In no particular order:

1. Bad News Bears (Matthau, of course. I'll *never* watch the remake. Why bother?)
2. Major League (Bob Uecker should be in the HOF for his Harry Doyle portrayal alone).
3. The Natural (Malmud blew it. Levinson fixed it. One of the greatest endings for any movie, ever).
4. The Sandlot
5. Bang the Drum Slowly (just barely edges Bull Durham).

Near misses: Mr. 3000, Bull Durham, Little Big League, Fever Pitch, A League of Their Own.

Worst Baseball Movies ever:

1. Cobb. What the hell was that about? Give Tommy Lee Jones the Oscar for most overacted performance of the century. I don't care if Ty Cobb really WAS like that, give the man some depth and make it interesting, even if you have to make it up.

2. The Scout. Interesting premise that devolves into the hell of a schlock pyscho thriller that resolves itself with a group hug on the roof of Yankee Stadium. Sound stupid to you? Yah. Putrid.

3. For the Love of the Game. Incoherent, the non-baseball scenes are flat and uninteresting. Maybe chucking the whole flashback storyline would have helped. On the other hand, I think it just sucked.

4. Mr. Baseball. It says a lot that Tom Selleck is far more entertaining as the arrogant faded superstar ("Last year I led this club in 9th inning doubles in the month of August!") than as the humbled and "improved" team player that he becomes. Terminally cliched and predictable.

5. Eight Men Out. Way to take an interesting story and turn it into a plodding by the numbers recounting that is as exciting as a Joe Friday police report.

Jan 25, 2012 16:06 PM
rating: 0
 
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