Sunday, October 2, 2011

Top 9 Baseball Movies

Moneyball (Sony), starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, is a hit with critics and is doing quite well at the box office. The movie, which is about Oakland’s team struggling to be competitive with a highly limited budget, has the potential to become a classic among baseball films. Thus, I’ve been thinking about my favorite baseball movies, so I decided to create a list of the Top 9 Baseball Movies as I see them. Why nine? Well, I think that’s obvious, but if you don’t know, then you’ve probably never seen the films on this list anyway.

9. Major League – Shows the funny side of baseball and all professional sports, really. Grown men who get paid to play a game and thus haven’t quite grown up.

8. For Love of the Game – Shows the romantic side of the game and how it can be hard for an aging athlete to let it go.

7. The Rookie – Based on a true story, this film is an uplifting story about a man who never gave up on his dream of playing professional baseball.

6. Eight Men Out – Also based on a true story, this film tells the story of how the 1919 White Sox may have intentionally lost the World Series. The stellar cast includes Charlie Sheen, who would later star in Major League.

5. Soul of the Game (TV movie) – This movie is about a few of the now-legendary Negro League players’ attempts to break the color barrier into the Major Leagues. There’s a deep well of stories within the Negro Leagues that have yet to be told on film.

4. A League of Their Own – This 1992 blockbuster recounts a story of two Oregon sisters who played in the female professional baseball league during World War II. Tom Hanks and Geena Davis gave terrific performances, and the ending still makes me tear up.

3. Bull Durham – I think I’ve seen this movie more than any other on this list, perhaps because it seems to be on TV often. Both funny and poignant, this movie shows the gritty side of the game – the guy who plays just for the thrill. Kevin Costner’s character, Crash Davis, doesn’t want money or fame. He just wants to play.

2. Field of Dreams – The third Costner movie on this list and my favorite of the three. (Hey, you can’t name a list of great baseball movies without the guy.) This one shows how deeply baseball is rooted in America and more importantly, how baseball often is the catalyst for fathers to relate to and bond with their sons. Beautiful film. Interesting note: Costner’s role originally was offered to Tom Hanks.

1. The Natural – Stars Robert Redford, of course. This isn’t just one of my favorite baseball movies, it is one of my favorite movies, period. It’s a fantasy about a guy who may or may not have died before getting his first chance to be a star player. The second time around, he doesn’t make the same mistakes.

Some of your favorites may be on this list; many may not. So share your thoughts here. Let me know what other films I should check out, and tell me why those movies are among your favorites.