My Top Ten Baseball Movies

5 Aug

I’m going to be away for the next five days.  That’s right five days when I won’t be able to see a single Phillies game let alone write about them.  Lucky for me, right?  Well, I decided that if I’m getting a break that you, my dear readers, deserve one, too.

So, instead of watching Phillies baseball this week, I give you permission to check out one of my favorite baseball movies.  And if you’ve already seen one of them, watch it again.  After all, you’ve already seen the Phillies lose, too, many, many, many times, including last night’s 4-1 loss to the Braves.  (See how I just snuck that one in there?)

Watching any one of these movies has to be more entertaining than watching our free-falling (thanks, Ron!) baseball team these days.  The Phils have now lost 13 of their last 14 games, their worst streak since they lost 13 of 14 games Aug. 28-Sept. 14, 1999.  So you deserve a break today, for the next ten days in fact, because here, for your viewing pleasure are my:

Top Ten Baseball Movies of All Time 

10. It Happens Every Spring

This is one you may not be familiar with but it has to be on my list.  It’s about a young scientist who discovers accidentally that one of the properties of a formula he is working on is that it can cause a baseball to be repelled by wood. Yes, I’m serious. But this movie isn’t. Although some might find it corny, it was the first baseball movie I ever saw, and for that reason alone, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

9.  Major League

Although not as good as some of the top movies on my list, this movie still makes me laugh. It tells the familiar story of a down on its luck baseball team that somehow rises from the cellar to make an improbable late-season run. Yes, It’s silly and predictable, but somehow it still manages to be, as Charlie Sheen, who memorably plays Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, would say “winning.”

 8.  The Rookie

Based on the true life story of Jim Morris, a 35-year-old high school teacher who became one of the oldest rookies in Major League baseball, this movie is a great ride. Morris, perfectly played by Dennis Quaid, goes to his baseball try-out with his baby in a stroller. In fact, he’s in the middle of changing a diaper when he’s called to the mound. This movie is worth seeing just for the scene along an empty highway where Morris uses the radar speed detector to time his fast ball. I won’t give any more away but if you haven’t seen it, rent it from Netflix today!

7.  Bad News Bears

No list of baseball films would be complete without this little gem. And I mean the 1976 original version, not the sequels. You can’t help but be charmed when this pint-sized team of misfits, joined by a 12-year old female pitching whiz played by Tatum O’Neal, somehow make it all the way to the championship. With Walter Matthau in rare form as an alcoholic, ex-minor league pitcher, this movie is just plain funny with a feel good ending no one can resist.

 6.  Bang the Drum Slowly

This one is an oldie but, if you’ve never seen this movie, it’s a goodie.  Although it starts with the revelation that one of the major characters has an incurable disease, the movie is not about death. It’s about the trials and tribulations, most of them hilarious, of men who play a boy’s game for a living; it’s about friendships formed when a team is on the road; it’s about the crazy characters who fill a major league roster and what really goes on behind the clubhouse doors. Although poignant given it’s subject, Bang the Drum Slowly is ultimately about life, living the American dream… and baseball.

 5.  Eight Men Out

An incredibly powerful movie about the 1919 Black Sox scandal, when members of the Chicago White Sox took pay-offs from gamblers to throw the World Series. The movie gives names and faces to the athletes whose lives were destroyed. Particularly poignant is the story of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, one of the greatest players of his time, who was banned from baseball for his alleged role in the scandal.

 4.  A League of Their Own

Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna…in a baseball movie? Yep and it’s a great one. It’s the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League which filled the void when a lot of major league stars went off to do their military service in World War II. It’s a great story with a terrific cast and will always be a classic if only for it’s oft-repeated line: “There’s no crying in baseball!”

3.  The Natural

OK, so I’m a sucker for Robert Redford in a baseball uniform but that’s not the only reason this one makes my list. The movie is really a fable about what a man, when given a second chance, can accomplish in life. With an inspiring story and great music and pictures to match, The Natural is, well, a natural to make my list.

 2.  Bull Durham

But on those days when I need something a bit lighter I go for Bull Durham. The laughs are plentiful, the baseball scenes are priceless and Annie Savoy (played by the incomparable Susan Sarandon) is one of the most unique characters ever. When she gives her “I believe in the Church of baseball” speech and ends with “the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out is the Church of Baseball,” all I can say is, “Amen to that, Sister!”

 1.  Field of Dreams

This is my number one classic baseball movie. In fact, it might be my favorite movie period. As soon as I hear those whispered words, “If you build it, he will come,” I can kiss the next two hours of my life good-bye. And you know what? It’s worth it. It combines a good mystery with a great baseball story and even throws in some history along the way. And when Kevin Costner has a catch with his dad at the movie’s end, I reach for my tissues every time.

And if that’s not enough, here’s a bonus movie, for you:

42

If you didn’t see this recently in the theaters, it’s just been released on dvd so now’s your chance.  It tells the story of the signing of Jackie Robinson in 1946 by Branch Rickey, GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  As the first African American player in the game Robinson was forced to face blatant racism everywhere he went but perhaps the hardest thing of all was his deal with Rickey that he would not react no matter how bad it got,instead he would let his play on the field speak for him.  Which of course it did.  And so does this movie.  While some have complained that it’s not completely accurate, it is still a powerful reminder, especially these days with unfortunate racial incidents in the news, of how the courage of two men, one black and one white, changed the game of baseball forever.

Ok, there’s my list.  And if your favorite didn’t make the team, please share it with me.  That way I’ll have something to watch when I get back!

Have a great week everyone.

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4 Responses to “My Top Ten Baseball Movies”

  1. Sydney August 5, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Rookie of the Year is definitely one of my favorites. This silly movie is about a 12 year old (named Henry) who gets hurt trying to catch a baseball, but the injury to his tendon gives him the ability to pitch over 100 mph. He gets picked up by the Cubs, who were struggling at the time. Adorable movie.

    Also, not entirely about baseball, but Fever Pitch is also a good one. Jimmy Fallon, who never misses a Red Sox game, tries to convert Drew Barrymore, who is career obsessed and not knowledgeable about baseball, into a fan.

    • girlsbestphriend August 5, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

      I never saw Rookie of the Year but I love Fever Pitch! Good additions. Thanks!

  2. gerri fash August 5, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Field of Dreams is the best. We can say that about this season. We can dream that the Phillies were really playing baseball on the field at The Park!

  3. Ron Cori August 6, 2013 at 12:49 am #

    I love The Rookie, but I have to place Sandlot in the top 10 somewhere….

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