Film and baseball. It seems to be a perfect fit. Countless movies have been made about our beloved game. In this blog post, I will sum up what I think are the best baseball movies ever. I will start with nr. 10 and count down to nr. 1.
Movie starring William Petersen (know for his part in CSI) as Cecil “Stud” Cantrell.
The movie tells a story about the Tampico Stogies, a minor league team in Florida during the days of segregation after the color barrier was already broken. The team has to deal with corruption and racism. This movie may not be well known by people in Europe, but it is one of my favorites.
10. Bad News Bears (the original)
This movie is about a former minor league pitcher (Walter Matthau) who takes money to coach a little league team of misfits with absolute no talent. Somehow the coach manages to make the team win and reach the little league finals in which the Bears fall to the Yankees. The movie is a sign of the times (mid-seventies) as the coach drinks, uses abusive language and a team member is smoking cigarettes.
In 2005, a remake was made. It was funny but it did not come close to the original version. The original version had two sequels and a TV series was made after it.
9. Major League
Who doesn’t know this comedy about the Cleveland Indians team that is constructed to lose games, so the widow of the late owner can move the team to Florida? Despite being a team full of minor leaguers and over the top veterans, the manager Lou Brown, succeeds to make a team out of it and to reach the playoffs, much to the disliking of the owner Rachel Phelps.
8. Trouble with the Curve
Directed by Clint Eastwood, who also plays the starring role of a near blind scout of the Atlanta Braves, who is after a slugging high school player, who eventually cannot hit a breaking ball. The relationship with his daughter is far from good, but during the movie, the two get closer together and his daughter discovers a diamond in the rough.
Movie about the hunt for the homerun record of Babe Ruth by Yankees’ Roger Maris. During the season Maris and Mickey Mantle are in a homerun race and most Yankee fans are rooting for the homegrown Mantle as they dislike Maris and do everything to make him fail. Eventually, Maris breaks the record but on the final day (162nd game) of the season. Commissioner Ford Frick decided that the record would be marked with an asterisk because Maris didn’t hit it within 154 games (the number of games that was played during Ruth’s days).
Another movie that you all will know. Story about Billy Beane, who is the GM of a money-strapped Oakland Athletics team, and invented a complete new way of building a team. Instead of relying on scouts, he hires a statistical genius named Peter Brand. With the help of Brand, he builds a team of players who are considered over the top by many. Eventually, the team makes it to the play offs even though it is totally unexpected.
5. The Sandlot
Perhaps not that well known in Europe, but this movie is a real classic. The movie is about a group of kids who play baseball on a sandlot every day. A new kid in town is slowly adopted by this group of kids and a ball with the signature of Babe Ruth is the centerpiece of this movie, as the kid doesn’t have a clue who Babe Ruth was and as he takes the ball from his father’s study, so the kids can continue to play baseball. For many people, this movie is a trip down memory lane, back to their own childhood days.
4. For love of the Game
One of the three Kevin Costner baseball movies in my top five. The story is about a pitcher in the fall of his career, who spent his entire career with the Detroit Tigers. In the final game of the season, Chapel is pitching a perfect game. The game shows a lot of flashbacks as Chapel is mulling to retire since the owner of the Tigers has sold the team and the new owners want to trade Chapel.
3. Fever Pitch
Comedy, starring Jimmy Fallon, who plays a high school teacher, who is addicted to baseball and even more to the Red Sox. The movie was shot during the 2004 season and needed an adaption in the script as the Red Sox eventually won the World Series. The movie tells the story of Ben and Lindsey (Drew Barrymore) who try to maintain a relationship during the 2004 baseball season. It looks like Lindsey is fed up with the obsessed Ben, but eventually, the two find each other again.
2. Field of Dreams
Perhaps the best-known baseball movie ever. Story about a farmer, Ray Kinsella, who builds a baseball field in his cornfield after a voice tells him to do so. First, he thinks that by doing so, Shoeless Joe Jackson, the hero of his late father, will return to play, but as the story continues, it becomes clear that a lot more is behind it. In the end, it becomes clear that the field had to be built to meet his deceased father again, with whom he had a bad relationship during his teens.
1. Bull Durham
My absolute nr. 1 baseball movie. Also because of the settings of it as a big part of the movie was shot at Durham Athletic Park.
Comedy about an aging minor league catcher, who has been sent down to the single-A Durham Bulls to teach a talented but not too smart pitcher, how to become a good pitcher.
Kevin Costner stars as catcher Crash Davis, Tim Robbins co-stars as pitcher Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh. Susan Sarandon plays a groupie who tries to seduce both LaLoosh as Davis. Even though it is a comedy, the movie shows the life in the minors pretty well.