Baseball evokes a certain feeling in us all. The drone of the crowd, the iconic figures, the taste of Cracker Jack, or the smell of ballpark dog all add to the game experience. The baseball movies that made our top list all have that something—and all from the comfort of our recliners.
LWOSports presents the 10 baseball movies you simply cannot avoid, in no particular order.
The 10 Baseball Movies You Must Watch
Eight Men Out
1988 – John Cusack, Clifton James, Michael Lerner, Christopher Lloyd
Eight Men Out is based on the underhanded side of baseball. The story goes that the Chicago White Sox were bribed into throw the 1919 World Series. Major League Baseball was professional a hundred years ago, but players were not well paid. So the poorly paid White Sox players were faced with the promise of real money in exchange for cheating the fans out of a proper World Series winner. This is a period piece that was very well done. The film had excellent acting, most notably John Cusack who played Buck Weaver. The ensemble cast was brilliant, too.
1984 – Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, William Brimley
The unbelievable cast should be enough to warrant a trip to BestBuy, or Amazon.com, or somewhere. Robert Redford is an iconic actor who pulled together a fantastic performance. Most people love the story of an average Joe doing great things, and that is what makes this film so appealing. The characters are well acted by the aforementioned Redford, along with strong performances from Glenn Close and Kim Basinger. William Brimley is always a quality supporting actor.
2013 – Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, T.R. Knight
The story of Jackie Robinson, one of the most inspirational stories in all of sports, is expertly told in this bio-pic. LastWordOnSports conducted a poll of over 1000 readers who voted overwhelmingly in favor of Jackie Robinson in 1942 as the single most important event in baseball history. Given that history, the movie had every opportunity to do big things, but there was certainly a lot to live up to. Thankfully, Chadwick Boseman portrayed Jackie very well, and Harrison Ford added some star power and professionalism to the film. Some argue that the movie was “sensationalized” and was very textbook-like in its plot. We were expecting a true bio-pic, and that’s what we got.
1993, Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Renna, Chauncey Leopardi, James Earl Jones
The strength of the nostalgic Sandlot is in its character development. What we loved about it as how it brought us back to a time when we were the kids in the movie, arguing over teams, and staving off other neighborhood kids for control of our diamond. And we all remember the neighborhood grump, who was played expertly by James Earl Jones. The movie is about that new kid, slightly too small, but who offers so much that others aren’t aware of. This movie is about his relationships with his new friends and his step-father, and the trials and tribulations that come with adolescence.
1989 – Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Wesley Snipes
Major League is one of those movies you can watch a hundred times over, fighting back nostalgia the whole wan through. Remember Rick Vaughn coming out of the bull pen to “Wild Thing” with his signature glasses? “Let’s get tough, Ricky!” Everyone loves an underdog story, and this is as good as it gets. The Cleveland Indians were a team of rag-tag and washed up old players thrown together with a few rookies that were never meant to succeed—oh, and a young pitcher who made his name in the California Penal League. These were the Cleveland Indians who were never supposed to win anything. The team’s uphill battles were followed closely by a cutthroat owner. The adversity the team faces is partly what makes this movie so charming and endearing. Berringer, Snipes and Charlie Sheen were all wonderful.
A League of Their Own
1992 – Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Lori Petty
“There’s no crying in baseball” This epic period piece from Penny Marshall captured audiences from from the opening scene to the last. It’s a story of two sisters who join a newly-formed female professional baseball league during war time. It details their struggles on and off the field, along with the rivalry between them. Driven by a phenomenal all-star ensemble cast featuring Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, and Tom Hanks, Geena Davis shone as the star in this larger than life flick.
Bad News Bears
1976 – Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal, Vic Morrow, Joyce Van Patten
Ahhh, the 70s. The Bad News Bears are bad—really bad. Driven on by a few young players and a coach portrayed by the incomparable Walter Matthau as an alcoholic father turned coach, the Bears were faced with an uphill battle to stave off being the laughing stock of baseball. Some excellent performances from some young actors brings the picture to life. Some very memorable moments characters such as the “girl pitcher”, or when the undersized Lupus made the dramatic once-in-a-lifetime catch. Or when the cool kid was goaded into helping the team climb from obscurity. The movie is fantastic, start to finish.
2011 – Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright
That Moneyball is high on our list should come as no surprise. It seems fans of the movie have many reasons for what makes it so appealing. For some it’s the connection to the true story of the Oakland Athletics and its general manager Billy Beane. Brad Pitt played Beane expertly, of course. Others were more focused on relationships between characters, such as between the aforementioned Beane and his assistant and statistician Peter Brand, played very convincingly by Jonah Hill. Added to the cast were Robin Wright and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who were both very good. This is another in the underdog category.
1988, Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins
Many have Bull Durham at the top of their list, and they would have a very good case. In Kevin Costner’s first baseball role (see: Field of Dreams, For the Love of the Game), he delivered an unreal performance—as did Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. The movie is about a fan who has an affair with one minor-league baseball player each season. She meets a young upstart pitcher and an experienced catcher. The plot sucks you in, playing up the relationships of its characters. From sex to romance, success to failure, and everything in between, this movie has you wanting more. What I love about this one is how it shows how sports, in this case baseball, is therapeutic for so many.
Field of Dreams
27 years later, the iconic Field of Dreams still holds up. Not only does the audience feel nostalgic, but the characters in the movie do as well. The story revolves around Ray, a farmer from Iowa, played by Kevin Costner. He makes the strange choice to clear some of his corn field to build a baseball stadium. But what drives this movie are the sub-plots, including story-lines that culminate in one fantastic final scene when all of Ray’s hard work and willingness to believe finally pays off. The movie teeters on the supernatural-meets-childhood-magic with a healthy mix of baseball history (see: “Shoeless” Joe Jackson). The movie builds its characters remarkably well. Added to the wonderful performance of Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones was spot-on.
The Pride of the Yankees, Fever Pitch, For the Love of the Game, The Rookie, The Babe, 61, Rookie of the Year
Agree with the list? Have a personal favorite that would make your list? Leave your comments below.
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