For all you faithful readers, you know from some of my posts that I enjoy the sports. My sports interests are as varied and diverse as my movie interests – I follow professional football (NFL) most closely, but as indicated in a previous post, I also enjoy the Olympics, and eventually I get into the NCAA basketball coverage as well. This summer, I got to go to my first live MLB baseball game. It was at Rogers Centre in Toronto where my sister and I watched the Blue Jays defeat the Athletics 10-4 and we had a blast!
Sadly, the Jays didn’t advance to playoff action, but as they say, the show must go on. With the World Series match-up starting this week between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers, it seemed appropriate to compile a list of my favourite baseball movies. There are a lot to choose from – baseball being the “favourite American game” is also a favourite subject of American filmmakers. So here are my all-time favs, and feel free to add your own in the comments – I always like to have recommendations to add to my “to watch” list!
1. Bull Durham
Crash Davis (Costner) and ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh (Robbins) compete for the affections of Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon). Take home message: Baseball is more than a game, it’s a way of life (and love).
2. Field of Dreams
Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) is either delusional or receiving messages from the ghosts of baseball’s greatest players including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (a pre-Goodfellas Ray Liotta). He enlists reclusive author Terry Mann (James Earl Jones) to help him figure it out. Take home message: Of course heaven is a cornfield in Iowa.
3. The Natural
Promising pitcher Roy Hobbs (Redford) suffers an injury in his youth from a random act of violence only to return from obscurity years later to salvage the season of an ailing 1930s baseball team. With help from Wonderboy (a hard-carved bat with perhaps magical or divine properties), Hobbs makes his mark. Take home message: Walk softly and carry a big bat.
4. A League of Their Own
Boozing, womanizing, washed-up coach Jimmy Duggan is reluctantly enlisted to coach the Rockford Peaches, a team in the women’s professional baseball league formed during WWII. His prize players included sisters Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit (Lori Petty), exotic dancer “All the Way” Mae (Madonna), and tomboy Doris (Rosie O’Donnell). Take home message: Throwing like a girl… not such a bad thing.
5. Major League
A fictional comedy based on the real-life Cleveland Indians where the owner’s baseball-illiterate wife inherits the franchise and decides she’d rather live in a warmer city. She plots to sabotage the team to make relocating easier and cheaper. But the band of misfit players has other plans… Take home message: Winning is a lot more fun when it’s next to impossible.
Moneyball tells the true story of Oakland Athletics’ manager Billy Beane’s (Brad Pitt) radical system for developing a winning ball club using computer generated statistics and analysis. Jonah Hill plays Peter Brand, his trusty side-kick, and like magic the A’s start winning on a budget. Take home message: Nerds and jocks unite!
I know some people might wonder about the absence of Pride of the Yankees on this list, but remember it’s a list of my favourites, and not a “best” list. I’ve never actually seen the Gary Cooper film where he portrays the famed baseball player Lou Gehrig. It’s one of those classics that I’ve always intended to watch, but never got around to it… not sure if it would make the cut or not. What are your all-time baseball movie favs?