It’s officially springtime here in the good ole US of A, because at least, “it’s” here: Major League Baseball. In the first full day of the season, 26 teams will take the mound in America’s national pastime.
According to the Harris Poll, the National Football League is the most popular in American sports for the 30th year running, and shattering television records for viewing audiences this season. No one would argue that MLB is, or ever will again, retake the interest of the American spectator, but it does maintain a hold over the American culture and psyche.
While I’m still in NCAA March Madness mode, the dawn of baseball means that summer is just around the corner, and with it, the warm n’ fuzzy firefly, mason jar, playing catch in the backyard nostalgia of yesteryear.
Because of baseball’s influence in pop culture and sports–from Jackie Robinson to Babe Ruth, the Black Sox and the Red Sox, George Steinbrenner to Marge Schott, there are a lot (A LOT) of baseball movies.
I love sports. Love. But sports movies tend to be rather clichéd ridden trope-fests, however, there are some that you and the family can enjoy with some peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Or you and your cats. Whichever.
Here’s some of my (personal) favorite baseball flicks. Nostalgia-driven, yes.
My Top Five Baseball Movies (and the rest)
Jonah Hill is a stats nerd! Who’d have thunk it?!
This was one of those films that probably should have turned out abysmally, but managed to pull some magic strings, combining Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and the now strangely hunky Marvel star Chris Pratt, to create an entertaining, thoughtful sports drama–based on a true story!
The best part: NO ONE saw the ending coming. The A’s were totally gonna win the World Series, I could just feel it.
#4 Angels in the Outfield
Fine, this movie’s just terrible. But it came out when I was 4, and look at how cute Joseph Gordon-Levitt is!!! Also, the rest of the cast is rather ridiculous–Tony Danza, Danny Glover, Matthew McConaughey, and of course–Christopher Lloyd.
It didn’t matter if JGL’s dad was scum, the Angels winning the pennant was the most important thing to every 90 kid’s life, aside from who shot Mr. Burns and getting a Princess Di Beanie Baby. It’s campy and ridiculous, but there’s a good chance a very young kid would love it even today. Or make fun of it and play on an iPad instead.
#3 Bad News Bears
Morris Buttermaker is one of the greatest character names in film history. Don’t even dare question this fact! The Academy Award winner and professional grumpy old man, Walter Matthau, along with his merry band of misfits helped fill in the gaps in my knowledge base that were neglected by school, family, and friends–so, a vast many things.
Aside from learning that pretty girls with the last name Whurlitzer can in fact play baseball, I also was taught valuable lessons on topics that have helped me in my adult life: the ins and outs of racial epithets, birth control pills, and cups. And some baseball stuff too. Like cleats up.
#2 Major League
Charlie Sheen as his jailbird self, in yet another film about a band of misfits on a team that no one likes (sorry Cleveland…) This is a running theme in baseball flicks; this feels a bit like Wet Hot American Summer.
This film has stood the test of silly sports movie time, and several cheesy sequels to be classified a classic, in a The Longest Yard-ian tale of winning for spite and de-spite all the odds. How poetic. You go guys.
#1 The Sandlot
One of the most quotable films ever, rivaling the cinematic classic, Mean Girls (film purists just choked on their pretentious juice) The Sandlot, brought many wonderful moments such as:
“You play ball like a giiirrrrrrrrl!”
“I was gonna put the ball back.” “But it was signed by Babe Ruth!” “Yeah, you keep telling me that! Who is she?” “WHAT? WHAT? The sultan of swat! The king of crash! The colossus of clout! The colossus of clout! BABE RUTH! THE GREAT BAMBINO!” “Oh my god! You mean that’s the same guy?”
“You call that pitching? This is baseball! Not tennis!”
And many more.
This coming of age story makes my heart soar with each and every viewing, and aside from the glorious baseball feels and nostalgia it provides, it teaches a valuable lesson; be kind to one another boys and girls. Even the nerds. Because one day, that nerd could be a super cool LA Dodgers commentator that could hook you up with seats behind homeplate.
The most recent baseball blockbuster, 42, was my #6 in my book. I thought about doing a top-10, but that sounded too difficult on Opening Day. There’s baseball to watch.
Other baseball films of note, 99.9% of which feature Kevin Costner:
I have put those films that are definitely worth seeing in bold.
The Pride of the Yankees (1942) Gary Cooper, Babe Ruth
Bang the Drum Slowly (1973) Michael Moriarty, Robert De Niro
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976) Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones
The Natural (1984) Robert Redford
Long Gone (1987) William Petersen, Dermot Mulroney
Eight Men Out (1988) John Cusack, Charlie Sheen
Bull Durham (1988) Kevin Costner
Field of Dreams (1989) Kevin Costner
Mr. Baseball (1992) Tom Selleck
Rookie of the Year (1993) Thomas Ian Nicholas, Gary Busey
Little Big League (1994) Luke Edwards, Timothy Busfield, Ken Griffey Jr. appearance
For Love of the Game (1999) KEVIN COSTNER STOP
A League of their Own (1992) Tom Hanks, Geena Davis
Hardball (2001) Keanu Reeves
The Rookie (2002) Dennis Quaid
Fever Pitch (2005) Jimmy Fallon, Drew Barrymore
Trouble with the Curve (2012) Clint Eastwood
42 (2013) Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford
GET OUTTA HERE KEVIN COSTNER CAN’T YOU SEE YOU’RE NOT WANTED?
This year’s baseball movie, Million Dollar Arm, features Jon Hamm, on the hunt for the next big star–on the hard knock, reality television cricket streets of India.
It’s Disney, it’s Hamm, it’s baseball–it’s got feel good, semi-autobiographical cheese written all over it. Aasif Mandvi of The Daily Show, Lake Bell of In a World, and some other up and comers are in this film; I may give it a chance.
Now Draft Day…… let’s just hope it’s all a big post-Dallas Buyers Club joke cooked up by Jennifer Garner’s PR team (she has one right?)
Release date: May 16.
Happy Opening Day Fansided.