Ryan L. Fox
There have been many baseball films that have come out over the years like Major League, The Bad News Bears, Moneyball, A League of Their Own, the Natural, and many more. But what's tougher than hitting a curveball that's down and away is trying to decide which baseball movie is the greatest of all-time.
After carefully reviewing and going over each list (as well as going down memory lane in some ways), yours truly has come up with a list of the Top 5 Baseball Movies. There were a lot to choose from but only the best could be called up to the show.
Honorable Mention: Moneyball (2011)
This of the newcomer baseball movies that came out within the last 10 years that is a pretty good watch. It’s the story of Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) as he and his partner in crime Peter Brand (a character played by Jonah Hill who is actually based off real-life baseball executive Paul DePodesta) as they use baseball analytics and sabermetrics to assemble the 2002 Oakland Athletics. Although it's considered controversial in some circles (i.e. leaving out certain players on the 2002 squad like pitchers Tim Hudson and Barry Zito and batters like Eric Chavez, the portrayal of then manager Art Howe as an antagonist), you get the origin of the W.A.R. stat and pretty every other analytical stat/sabermetric used in today's game.
5. Bull Durham (1988)
Everybody always wonder what it’s like to play in the majors. But what’s it like to be in the minor leagues, trying to make your way up to the bigs? Enter Bull Durham. Based off the minor league experiences of writer/director Ron Shelton, Bull Durham stars Kevin Costner as an aging veteran catcher trying to help prepare a rookie pitcher (played by Tim Robbins) for the bigs while the two are in a love triangle with a woman (played by Susan Sarandon). You'll laugh, you'll swoon, you'll gasp, and you'll even learn an interesting tip in what gift you should give to a newly wed couple.
4. A League of Their Own (1992)
Batter up, hear that call. The time has come for one and all...To play ball.
That was the official song of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which ran from 1943 to 1954 in which A League of Their Own was based on. Starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, and Lori Petty, viewers got a fictionalized view of what life was like for the women who played in the AAGPBL, the highs and lows with a little twist of comedy, suspense, and giving viewers arguably the most memorable sports movie line of all time. Contrary to some popular believes, this movie does prove that yes, girls can play baseball too. Not to mention that Tom Hanks role of manager Jimmy Duggan cemented another great chapter in the actor's legendary career.
3. The Sandlot (1993)
If you think baseball movies are for adults, well there some targeted at a more younger audience like Rookie of the Year and Angels in the Outfield. But the one movie that stands the test a time and is almost like a passage for children to get into the game of baseball is The Sandlot.
Taking place during the early 1960s when baseball game was at it’s purest form, it follows a group of neighborhood boys playing baseball and also getting into a lot of hijinks. The laughs keep coming as they battle against a Little League Team, get banned from the community pool, try to retrieve an autographed Babe Ruth baseball from a monster dog simply known as 'The Beast', all the while just going out every day and playing just some good ol’ baseball. Not to mention it gave birth to a lot of memorable lines that are still used to this day.
2. The Natural (1984)
Sometimes the best players are those that just seemingly come out of nowhere and just have a tremendous impact on their ballclub and the game itself. As if it comes naturally to them. Such as the case in the Rob Redford film The Natural, which is the film adaptation of a the book with the same name.
In the movie, Redford plays the role of Roy Hobbs, a man who was once a baseball prodigy (before being shot by a mystery woman) that comes out of nowhere to help a faltering baseball team (the fictional New York Knights) dig themselves out of the dregs the National League into the chase for pennant that season. But the struggles and trial that Roy Hobbs faces during his time with the Knights only help but make you appreciate the satisfying conclusion of this movie.
Not to mention that The Natural has arguably two of the best home run scenes in any baseball movie first with Roy literally knocks the cover off the ball in his New York Knights debut and his pennant clinching home run in the film's final moments. The build, the iconic music in the background, and the loud crack from the iconic bat "Wonderboy" can give you chills every time you watch.
1. Field of Dreams (1989)
This should not be a surprise to anyone at all that this movie is #1 on the list. Field of Dreams is the ultimate baseball film that any fan of the game should just take a few hours of their day to watch. This was perhaps one of Kevin Costner's most famous role as he is also jones by fellow actors Amy Madigan, the great James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, and Burt Lancaster in the film.
In Field of Dreams, Costner he plays Ray Kinsella, a family man living on an Iowa farm who builds a baseball field on his farm after hearing a whispery voice tell him, "If you build it, he will come." After finishing building the field, Ray and his family then see old-time baseball players suddenly appear out of the nearby cornfield to play on it. Although there are outside forces that tell him to just sell the farm, Ray ultimately opts to keep it and allow the old-timers to play ball as well as anybody else who wanted to join in.
What makes Field of Dreams so timeless is that it brings the game back to a more simpler time. No hundreds of millions of dollar contracts being thrown around, no analytics or some nerd saying that pitchers need to hold the ball longer for a better spin rate, no guys pumping themselves up with whatever nutritionist recommended (or what can come in a syringe). Just people playing some baseball on the diamond.
But one of the films' most iconic moments comes towards the end.
After keep hearing the line, "If you build it, he will come." throughout, you finally get to see who that pertains to. The revelation of this is when Ray finds out that the 'he' from that line is actually Ray's father, one of the catcher's from the old time squad. Then you realize that one of the reasons why Ray went through with building the field in the first place because it was his dream to just be able to spend time with his father, whom he had a falling out of prior to the beginning of the film and has regretted it since.
The scene where Ray asks his dad to play a game of catch is one of the films' iconic moments and has made grown men who have watched this movie cry (I admit, I squirted a few manly tears watching that scene). Also the sequence of the camera zooming out and panning over the field with the soft background music as the film fades to black just ties it all together.
Out of all the baseball movies out there, Field of Dreams is a must watch for all baseball fans.
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