America has always had a romance with baseball and that affection for years has manifested itself in many ways, especially on the silver screen.
Hollywood has often told tales of baseball with vivid imagery, a comic flair and even in poignant, heartfelt ways.
Baseball is Americana at its finest. It’s no coincidence that the old Madison Avenue tag line went like this: “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.”
If the heartbeat of America was a sport it would be baseball.
The legendary names alone can send a tingle down your spine.
The list goes on, and these names, these players have inspired filmmakers in ways that have captured our imagination, leaving indelible marks upon our memories. With the understanding that I haven’t seen all of the baseball movies ever made, here is my Top 10 List borrowing from those that I have seen.
1. BULL DURHAM
This one stars Kevin Costner as “Crash” Davis, and Tim Robbins as “Nuke” LaLoosh. In a way it’s a romantic tale but the comedic scenes it delivers are great while taking the viewer on a journey through the minor leagues.
2. FIELD OF DREAMS
Kevin Costner stars in another outstanding flick with a baseball diamond and a cornfield co-starring as his playground. A fantasy that should capture the hearts of any man who has played the game on any level and would welcome the opportunity to “have a catch” with his Dad one more time. James Earl Jones’ speech about baseball is American storytelling at its finest.
3. EIGHT MEN OUT
This is a drama that revisits the infamous Black Sox scandal involving (or not) the legendary Shoeless Joe Jackson and his Chicago White Sox teammates who accepted bribes to purposely tank the 1919 World Series. John Cusack stars.http://youtu.be/NZYltpZT0KI
4. MAJOR LEAGUE
Comedy starring Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger who both play for the Cleveland Indians, a team under new ownership that wants the team to be the league’s worst and drive attendance through the floor in order to justify relocating (sounds a little like the late Robert Irsay). Much to the owner’s dismay, the team catches on to the plot and channels their resentment into a winning team.
5. THE NATURAL
Starring Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs, a player whose career was derailed by tragedy who resurfaces years later as a long-in-the-tooth slugger in the Major League. This one may have been higher on the list for me had it not been for the exploding light tower scene that was way too over-the-top for my tastes.http://youtu.be/54-6yimtjtA
Brad Pitt gets the lead role in this feature film playing the part of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane. Beane is infamous for his ability to field productive teams on a shoestring budget using a unique approach guided by unconventional quantitative analysis.http://youtu.be/Y0ue3dwPYkU
7. BAD NEWS BEARS
A crotchety old boozer and former minor leaguer played by Walter Matthau coaches a collection of misfit kids who play in an extremely competitive little league. Tatum O’Neal also stars.
Two of MLB’s biggest sluggers just happen to be teammates and both seek to break what was believed to be an unbreakable record – Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs in a season. Barry Pepper stars as Roger Maris and Thomas Jane as Mickey Mantle in this made for cable production directed by Billy Crystal. This movie does a great job of exploring the friendship these men shared and the unfair pressures faced by Maris during his quest.
9. THE ROOKIE
Dennis Quaid stars a high school baseball manager in Texas who still can bring the heat during batting practice. Impressed by his skills Quaid’s players convince him to try out for the big leagues if their team makes it to the playoffs. They do and the rest is history, based on a true story.
10. FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME
Kevin Costner completes his trilogy of baseball films, one that falls far short of his previous gems, Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. This one focuses on the trials and tribulations of a Detroit Tigers’ pitcher in the November of his career. Kelly Preston co-stars.http://youtu.be/jzkRhD5zMjw
Do you agree with the list? Feel free to share your Top 10!