Summer is almost here and the baseball season is in full swing, so it’s time to list the top ten baseball movies of all-time. These movies will remind you why you fell in love with baseball as a kid and why it still brings just a little magic and mystical whimsy to your life when you watch a game.
I could have expanded the list to the top 25 because there are so many deserving movies – The Rookie, Mickey, Fear Strikes Out, 61, For the Love of the Game – to name a few others, but brevity compels me to keep it at ten.
Narrowing the list down wasn’t easy, but here are my selections for the top ten baseball movies of all time:
Top Ten Baseball Movies of All Time
10. Major League. Yes, it is juvenile and silly, and sometimes crude, but it is also laugh-out loud funny, has Bob Uecker in top form, and even has the Cleveland Indians winning the pennant. Throw in Charlie Sheen and you have a classic comedy!
9. . Moneyball. You don’t find Moneyball on too many top ten lists, but it deserves that honor because it portrays a rebel in a cloistered world who challenges convention. Old-school versus the new way of doing things. Even Brad Pitt was good in this one!
8. The Natural. Though many viewers think The Natural is overrated, I find it to have a great blend of nostalgia and magic. Baseball has always been about intriguing stories, magical lore, and legends past; the Natural steps up to the plate and delivers a movie fable filled with enough baseball magic to overcome its flaws.
7. Field of Dreams. Another movie that packs in a bit too many forced scenes and overplays the sentimental card, it is, however, also filled with nostalgia and the undeniable love of the game. Like the actual game of baseball, its simplicity and logic sometimes leads to complex, thoughtful moments.
6. A League of Their Own. There’s no crying in baseball. We’ve all heard that line, and any movie that gives us such a great line should be on a top ten lists. It’s filled with great characters, great scenes, and gives us a snapshot of a forgotten piece of Americana. Though the Hollywood version may be different than the real-life version, this movies lovingly pays tribute to pioneering women who took a chance and enriched our culture and history.
5. Bang the Drum Slowly. Most people under 40 know Robert DeNiro as the crazy father in Meet the Fockers, but here he is before becoming famous for such movies as Taxi Driver, and Raging Bull, playing a terminally ill catcher in an ode to friendship, passion, and life disguised as a baseball movie.
4. Bad News Bears (the original). Though I have to admit that I even liked the remake with Billy Bob Thornton, nothing beats the original. Is there a scene in sports movie history better than the one where Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) is drinking a beer in the dugout while his daughter ices her arm in a bucket of beer? Funny yet surprising tender. A movie filled with everything you wish you had experienced in Little League.
3. Eight Men Out. Unlike A League of Their Own, which captures a bright moment in history, Eight Men Outfocuses on one of the darkest times in America’s past time. The fixing of the 1919 World Series has severe implications for years to come, and this splendid piece of film making gives the viewer a front-row seat to one of the darkest chapters in baseball history and the cast of characters who changed the game for good.
2. The Sandlot. A classic family movie that both parents and kids alike will love. If you have ever played catch with your dad, or lugged bats, balls, and mitts to a field to play a game of baseball, you will feel the magic. Makes you wonder if we have lost something special in this day of organized travel ball.
1. Bull Durham. Ask any former major or minor league, and he will most likely tell you that Bull Durham is the most accurate portrayal of life in the game. The three main actors, Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, and Susan Sarandon are all at their best, and writer/director Ron Shelton, who spent time in the minors, gives us the game in all its glory, with all its routine, and all its warts, depicted with humor, insight, and emotion.