5 Best Baseball MoviesPosted by: John
It’s that time of year again where men and women all over the world celebrate the start of the Major League Baseball season. Of course, some of you are already counting down the days until the baseball season is over (like I am for the NBA) and if that is the case, then you might as well just ignore this piece. This one is for the fans of the game that take a chunk of time out of their schedules and devote it to America’s pastime whether it be checking out every single game that day on the MLB extra innings package or watching movies dedicated to one of the most diligent professional sports of the last 100 years. So without any other yammering (meat!), I give you the 5 best Baseball Movies of all time.
5: Field of Dreams (Phil Alden Robinson – 1989) Cast included: Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones, and Burt Lancaster
My Argument: Most of the time, people leave this movie off of their list of favorite baseball films because technically, it isn’t really about baseball. It’s about nostalgia, missed opportunities, and crazy child-like dream chasing more than anything else. The concept of a farmer hearing voices that would inevitably be a dead baseball player telling him to build a baseball field in his cornfield so that a cadre of ball players can play as their prime selves long after their death is pretty insane. And it took an insane man to dig under his crop and build a baseball field. It’s a great film and James Earl’s Jones’ old sixties revolutionary writer who’s pen has been silent for years really sets the story on fire.
Great Quote: This is part of a great monologue by James Earl Jones, I would post the whole thing but it’s a bit long. “America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
4: Eight Men Out (Dir: John Sayles - 1988) Cast included: John Cusack, D.B. Sweeney, Michael Rooker, Christopher Lloyd and Charlie Sheen.
My Argument: Eight Men Out is a great film about the 1919 White Sox throwing the World Series. It was a different time in sports, the owners made millions off of their teams while paying them just a little bit better than the absolute minimum wage. Players often actually took jobs during the winter season out of necessity. This was one of the defining moments for all of professional sports because it was where it was discovered that you have to play players more than they could win by the hands of gambler. It’s an interesting story filled with some great character acting by Rooker and of course Lloyd.
Great Quote: From Ring Lardner “Sports writers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your bar privileges.”
3: Bull Durham (Dir: Ron Shelton - 1988) Cast included: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins and Robert Wuhl
My Argument: For a lot of fans of baseball (and movies) this is their number one pick, and it’s easy to see why. The self proclaimed wisdom of Crash Davies, the hot headed Nuke Laloosh, and the seductive beau Annie Savoy all have great parts that explode off of the screen with quotable lines and heartfelt enthusiasm. Of course, with all good movies, this one isn’t just about baseball, but it’s about love, the future, and of course growing up and maturing. The beauty is that the characters that you expect to go through their stereotypical changes don’t actually change at all (and vice versa). It’s a comedy that keeps you guessing while trying to teach you something about life which is nothing is ever 100% predictable.
Great Quote: I’m putting the whole thing in here because this is one of my favorite quotes (well, monologues) in all of film. From Crash Davis “Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.”
2: The Natural (Dir: Barry Levinson - 1984) Cast included: Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Wilford Brimley, and Barbara Hershey
My Argument: If you haven’t noticed the theme yet, these baseball movies are more about the life lessons learned than just the game itself. In the Natural, a middle aged Roy Hobbs comes out of nowhere to lead a disastrous team to the top. From being previously shot when he was a young pitcher, he is just now getting the attention and limelight that he always strived for in life. Symbolism runs a bit heavy with the bat carved from a tree hit by lightening, and the almost divine power of Hobbs, but since it’s set in the 1930’s it gets away with most of that nostalgia. All around, it’s just a great film that should be seen by everyone, not just fans of the game.
Great Quote: From Roy Hobbs “I remember signing a contract, to play ball not to be put to sleep by some two bit carney hypnotist! I won't do that Pop! I can't.”
1: Major League (Dir: David S. Ward - 1989) Cast included: Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Wesley Snipes, Denis Haysbert, and Bob Uecker
My Argument: I am going to catch a lot of heat for this one but I feel that Major league is the best film made solely about baseball. Sure there are still ancillary things going on over the course of the story like Tom Berenger’s catcher reveling in the sun for one more year, looking back on the things that he let go. However when it comes down to it, Major League is definitely the most realistic depiction of a clubhouse on film. Of course it’s not 100 percent realistic, but all of the pieces are there. The boys club filled with cursing, the camaraderie of a team on the rise, and of course the insane practices and superstitions of ball players. Add all of that with what is pound for pound jam packed with memorable quotes and you have the best baseball film of all time.
Great Quote: From the Cuban Crusher Pedro Cerrano “Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come.”