Five Best Baseball Movies

baseballThe game of baseball has always held a spot in my heart. The sights, sounds, and smells of the ballpark with its freshly cut grass, the shouts of the vendors, and the crack of the bat.  During the year, whenever I want to relive some of those memories, I can turn to the silver screen and some of my favorite baseball movies.  The sport movies always have a theme that encourages people to do better. To strive for greater things…They teach us to be better people.  Maybe that is why I like them.  Here are my five favorite baseball movies of all time.

 
number1The Pride of the Yankees (1943)
The story of Lou Gehrig, the greatest first basemen to ever play the game of baseball. The film is an old one, but also one of my all-time favorites.  Gary Cooper, who plays Gehrig, delivers an outstanding performance as ball player as he rises to fame and then falls to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS – often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  Cooper is surrounded by an all-star cast, including Walter Brennan, Teresa Wright, and Babe Ruth (the actual Ruth plays himself in the film).  Other Yankees players who were friends with Lou Gehrig also appear in the film.  The movie was released 17 months after Gehrig’s death and it made a huge impact on movie-goers.  Gary Cooper was right-handed and Gehrig was left handed.  Additionally, Cooper didn’t know how to play baseball so had to be coached quite a bit to look passable as the all-star great.  They didn’t get the hitting down, so the director, Sam Wood, ended up getting uniforms with reverse lettering on them and they shot the sequences in reverse with Cooper running to third base.

 

 

number2Field of Dreams (1989)
Based on the story of coming to terms with life, Field of Dreams stars Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, and Burt Lancaster in his last movie role.  The premise is that an Iowa farmer hears a strange whisper in his cornfield and he takes this to be a sign to mow it down and build a baseball field.  He does and the 1918 Chicago Black Sox (a nickname given to them after they throw the World Series), who had been hanging around in Baseball Purgatory come back from the dead to play ball in what they perceive to be heaven.  This is a classic, feel-good movie that promotes family values, good sportsmanship and a purity not found in many films of today.

 

 

number3Major League (1989)
Nineteen Eighty-Nine was a good year for baseball movies.  This comedy was hilarious because it touches so close to reality.  The Cleveland Indians were in a terrible slump when this movie was made.  It was in the years prior to Dick Jacobs buying the team and building the new stadium that this film recreates. Right after, Cleveland was an award winning ball club – as if thumbing its nose at the creators of the film.  However, they are back in the same boat after Jacobs sold the team. The movie stars Charlie Sheen as a young pitcher with an amazing fast ball.  In reality, Sheen was a pitcher who could throw in the high eighty mile per hour range.  It also features Tom Berenger, Rene Russo and the late Bob Uecker [editor’s note: Bob Uecker is still alive and kicking!] amongst the cast.  The film is funny, witty, and inspirational.

 

number4Bull Durham (1988)
Another Kevin Costner film, this movie tells the comedic tale of love and baseball in a small town bush league.  Besides Costner, it stars Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins (who first met during the filming of this movie) as people caught up in a love triangle while leading the Durham Bulls to a league championship.  This movie has everything a baseball movie should: stories of the “old days”, heroic plays, and good all-around zaniness.  The players in this movie were based upon real-life baseball minor leaguers.  Costner’s character, Crash Davis, gave his permission to use his name if he got the girl at the end of the movie.  The movie had help from real-life minor leaguer, Kurt Russell, who considered playing the lead.

 

 

number5A League of Their Own (1992)
Based on the true All American Girls League during World War 2, this comedy centers around two sisters who leave their farm to play professional baseball.  The movie is loosely based on the life of Dottie Collins who threw for 17 shut outs in her 16 year career.  In the movie, the character “Dottie” is played by Geena Davis, who is a catcher.  Lori Petty plays the part of “Kitt” who is based on Collins’ life.  Other stars in this movie are: Tom Hanks (who’s character is based on baseball great, Hack Wilson), Madonna, and Rosie O’ Donnell.  The movie is a heart-felt look at how baseball changed during World War 2 when the men had gone off to war, yet America still yearned for its pastime.  While considered a comedy,  A League of Their Own is inspirational and entertaining.


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