July 24, 2018
By: Dan Fremuth
In addition to being a huge baseball fan, I’m also a tremendous lover of movies and lists. And while I’ll spare you all my comprehensive Star Wars rankings (Empire Strikes Back is first, duh), I thought, in honor of our great summer game, I would share my top 5 favorite baseball movies of all time.
Now these aren’t necessarily the five greatest baseball movies ever made. Rather, they’re the five I enjoy the most either for personal or film reasons, or both.
Here we go!
1. Field of Dreams (1989) - “Dad, do you wanna have a catch?” And… cue the waterworks.
For nearly 30 years, this movie and, in particular that ending scene, has moved me emotionally because it so beautifully demonstrates how interconnected baseball is with family. There’s nothing more important than family and at least in our house, baseball is of those things that can always bring us back together.
Kevin Costner gives one of his best performances as Ray Kinsella and James Earl Jones is simply unforgettable as the recluse turned prophet Terrance Mann.
2. The Natural (1984) - I just love the way this movie looks, sounds and feels. I still smile like a kid when Roy Hobbs, who has finally been given a chance to hit by Pop Fisher, literally knocks the cover off the ball against the Phillies. I adore the old-time uniforms, gloves and style of play. And I still get chills when Hobbs launches a ball into the lights in the film’s climactic finish.
Those tremendous moments are also magnified by a memorable and remarkable score from Randy Newman.
3. A League of Their Own (1992) - This movie is filled with tremendous performances and tells a story far too many sports fans are unfamiliar with. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League came about in 1943 but existed far beyond the conclusion of World War II. In fact, the AAGPBL survived until 1954 with over 600 women playing in the league and attendance peaking at over 900,00 spectators in 1948.
This film pays a beautiful tribute to the early days of the AAGPBL and Tom Hanks has maybe never been better than as Rockford Peaches Manager Jimmy Dugan.
4. Moneyball (2011) - The only thing I love more than watching baseball is talking about baseball. And this movie is not only filled with baseball talking but it also sparks some great baseball talking debates.
I’m not necessarily a huge fan of analytics in baseball but you can’t deny their prevalence in the game today. Brad Pitt is sensational as Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane who uses math, not money, to cobble together a winning ball club and his response to what the A’s problem is when in a conference room facing the “old school” baseball guys is simply priceless.
5. Eight Men Out (1988) - As a young baseball fan, I was fascinated with the Black Sox Scandal. I couldn’t possibly understand how 8 professional baseball players could possibly be bought to throw a World Series. But they were and this movie beautifully and empathetically tells the story of their wretched betrayal of the game. John Cusack is wonderful as third baseman Buck Weaver (who I maintain is still innocent) and John Mahoney is even better as White Sox Manager Kid Gleason.
Honorable Mentions: The Sandlot, 42, The Rookie