Best Baseball Movies

Today, the New York Yankees have their home opener and receive their chamopinship rings for their 27th World Series victory.  What better way for me to commemorate such a happy occasion than by announcing my favorite baseball movies?

There have been many films about the national pastime, so I cannot list them all.  I won't include movies that I have never seen, like Cobb or Fever Pitch or Eight Men Out or Stealing Home or Bang the Drum Slowly or Everyone's Hero or The Babe or Mr. Baseball.  I will definitely not include mediocre fare like Ed, For the Love of the Game, Angels in the Outfield, Mr. Destiny, or outright crap like BASEketball or The Fan.

Here are my favorites:

Field of Dreams - This is a perfect little movie that tugs at my heartstrings every time I watch it.  A guy hears voices and builds a baseball diamond in his corn field, and the ghosts of the Chicago Black Sox come to play.  Watching Kevin Costner's character play catch with the ghost of his dad always makes me tear up. The rest of the cast is terrific too, including Ray Liotta, James Earle Jones, Amy Madigan, and Burt Lancaster.

A League of Their Own - Great moments of comedy and drama in a brilliantly directed motion picture by Penny Marshall about the first female professional baseball league.  Excellent performances by Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz, Bill Pullman, Gary Marshall, David Strathairn, and Rosie O'Donnell.

Pride of the Yankees - This is a personal favorite of mine based on the true story of the "Iron Horse" Lou Gehrig, wonderfully portrayed by Gary Cooper in one of his finest roles.  Babe Ruth plays himself in this classic.

Bad News Bears - I used to love this movie as a kid, about a down-on-his-luck minor league manager, played nicely by Walter Matthau, trying to coach a bunch of misfit little leaguers.  The young cast, including Tatum O'Neal and Jackie Earle Haley, were great to watch.  I even liked the sequels, Bad News Bears in Breaking Training with William Devane and Bad News Bears Go to Japan with Tony Curtis, and even the television spin-off with Jack Warden and Corey Feldman, but you should avoid the lame remake starring Billy Bob Thornton.

The Bronx is Burning - This retelling of the New York Yankees bombastic 1977 championship season first aired on TV and is now available on DVD.  I think it nicely captures the atmosphere of that time, with fantastic portrayals by Oliver Platt as George Steinbrenner, John Turturro as Billy Martin, and Daniel Sunjata as Reggie Jackson.

Damn Yankees - Musicals and sports don't usually mix very well, but this is one of my guilty pleasures in which a Yankee hater sells his soul to the devils to turn his beloved Washington Senators into a winning team.  Ray Walston, Gwen Verdon, and Tab Hunter have a lot of fun with the material.

61* - Another television film that's available on DVD is this dramatization of the quest by Roger Maris to pass Babe Ruth's homerun record in the the pre-steroid era.  Directed by Billy Crystal, it's a fine production, with excellent casting: Barry Pepper as Maris, Thomas Jane as Mickey Mantle, and Anthony Michael Hall as Whitey Ford.

The Natural - Barry Levinson directs a very good film starring Robert Redford as an amazing baseball player with seemingly divine talent.  The rest of the all-star cast includes Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Wilford Brimley, Barbara Hershey, and others.

Major League - A fun little comedy that inspired a couple of weaker sequels, the original still has a bunch of solid laughs.  Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Rene Russo, and Wesley Snipes are all at their comedic best.  Probably not for everyone's tastes, but I like it.

Naked Gun - This spoof of police detective stories, based on the Police Squad TV series, probably wouldn't be considered a baseball film, but the final sequence in which baseball players are turned in assassins is a comedy classic.  Forget the rest of the franchise, just watch this first film's ending.

Baseball - For something completely different, check out this epic PBS documentary series by Ken Burns about the origins and early history of the sport.

Any good ones that I've missed?

Comments

Victor said…
Great Movies...liked it all.
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