Baseball is America's favorite pastime, and movies are another favorite hot-weather hobby, so the combination of the two is pure summertime perfection. We ask you, baseball and movie fans alike, what is the best baseball movie ever made? Of the hundreds out there, there are a few that stood out in our collective minds. How do they compare with your favorites?
It's difficult to look much further than Major League when discussing classic baseball flicks. The only thing worse than the team assembled by ex-Vegas showgirl, Rachel Phelps, is Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn's eyesight. The movie is littered with goofy gags plus the hilarious performance of actual MLB announcer Bob Uecker as Cleveland Indians announcer Harry Doyle. Funny with a sucker punch, feel-good ending, what's better than that?
Kevin Costner has assembled two of baseball's great cinematic efforts in Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. In Durham, Costner plays the wizened catcher helping the up-and-coming minor league pitcher, a cocky Tim Robbins, the ins and outs of the game. Plus as an added bonus, Susan Sarandon plays the team groupie to add a little fun to the mix.
And how to top one of the best lines of all movies, rustling through the corn fields, "If you build it, he will come." In Field of Dreams, Costner plays an Iowa farmer who cuts down his crops to build a baseball field, all so he can play a game of catch with his father. Someone grab a box of tissues, cause this one's a tearjerker.
Speaking of tears. "There's no crying in baseball!" Tom Hanks' portrayal of ex-pro Jimmy Dugan, who is asked to manage a women's baseball team during World War II, is pure genius. Dugan's drunken ramblings combined with the fiery passion of the players — including Geena Davis, Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell — is a recipe for one great movie.
Then there's the movies that take us back to where it all started, in the dusty lots and old-time baseball fields, where you played with your first glove, and hit your first home run. The Sandlot is the perfect representation of those lazy days of summer, spent playing with your friends until it was too dark to see anymore. Not only heartwarming, but adventure packed as well, the rag-tag group of kids — led by Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez — spend most of their time scheming a plan to retrieve a ball signed by Babe Ruth from the neighborhood dog, The Beast.
Before there was The Sandlot, there was The Bad News Bears (the original folks). Led by Walter Matthau as Coach Buttermaker and Tatum O'Neal as Amanda Whurlitzer, it's hard to find a better baseball kids flick than this one. The team of misfits led by a grumpy ex-minor leaguer find their way to the championship. And really, was there anyone cooler than Kelly Leak?
You can't talk about kid's movies without bringing Angels in the Outfield and Rookie of the Year into the mix. It's hard to say which is better, a gunslinging 11-year-old whose restructured arm lands him on the Cubs' roster? Or the sweet foster child who wishes the Angels would win the pennant so he could have a family again? Both movies are packed with great casts (yes, that's Oscar-winner Adrien Brody receiving a massage in the dugout from an angel) and great messages.
There have been several great flicks that center around the Yankees organization, bringing out such classics as Pride of the Yankees, The Babe, and 61*. All feature the story behind former Yankee greats, and even a Red Sox fan can appreciate the history behind the pinstripes.
Lastly, the classic, the divine, The Natural. Sure the movie ends a bit different than the novel, but it is the idyllic Hollywood ending. The sparks flying from the crushed lights as Roy Hobbs rounds the bases for the pennant victory is just corny enough to be spectacular.
So which team do you root for? The Knights, the Peaches, the Bears, the Bulls? The options are endless, and how do you pick just one?
Share your thoughts below.
Friday, August 19: Is Ryan Kalish worthy of some Rookie of the Year votes?
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