The Best Baseball Movies Ever

Credit: Baseball Movies

Credit: Baseball Movies

As Major League Baseball and the Players Association continue to bicker among themselves, the offseason drags on and on with little news or reason for hope. For the San Diego Padres, the shutdown comes at a particularly inopportune time. The team needs to address last season’s disappointing drop from contention to irrelevance and to adjust to a new manager and totally revamped coaching squad.

With no ball at all and growing concern about the fate of Spring Training and the regular season, we baseball fans can find some solace in movies. Although baseball predates movies, cinema has captured the sport in a variety of ways, from comedy to pathos, from glory to heartbreak.

Ratings of baseball movies vary widely, but “Bull Durham” ranks in the top five according to Rotten Tomatoes, Wil Leach of MLB.com, and “The Sporting News.” No doubt, the dialogue sets the movie, starring Kevin Costner as Crash Davis, Susan Sarandon as Annie Savoy, and Tim Robbins as Eby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh.

The movie begins opens with Annie’s monologue, “I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones… You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never borin’–which makes it like sex.”

Other memorable lines include Crash’s advice to Nuke “Relax, don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring, besides their fascist. Throw some ground balls–it’s more democratic.”

Costner has starred in two other baseball movies, “Field of Dreams” and “For the Love of the Game.”  James Earl Jones’ resonant voice enhances “Field of Dreams,” one of his most memorable lines being “the one constant throughout all the years…has been baseball.”

Credit: Baseball Movies

In “For Love of the Game” the voice of Vin Scully (the iconic Los Angeles Dodgers announcer for 67 brilliant years) provides the backdrop to Billy Chapel’s last game:” …you get the feeling that Billy Chapel isn’t pitching against left-handers, he isn’t pitching against pinch hitters, he isn’t pitching against the Yankees. He’s pitching against time….against the future, against age…And tonight, I think he might be able to use that aching old arm one more time to push the sun back up in the sky and give us one more day of summer.”

These rankings can help baseball fans while away the hours until, indeed if, the season 2022 season begins:

Rotten Tomatoes

  1. “Moneyball” (2011)
  2. “Bull Durham” (1988)
  3. “The Bad News Bears” (1976)
  4. “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg” (1999)
  5. “The Pride of the Yankees” (1942)
  6. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame (1949)
  7. “Sugar” (2008)
  8. “Everybody Wants Some” (2016)
  9. “Bang the Drum Slowly” (1973)
  10. “Up For Grabs” (2004)
  11. “Field of Dreams” (1989)
  12. “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings” (1976)
  13. “The Stratten Story” (1949)
  14. “Eight Men Out” (1988)
  15. “42” (2013)
  16. “The Rookie” (2002)
  17. “Pelotero” (2011)
  18. “It Happens Every Spring” (1949)
  19. “Fear Strikes Out” (1957)
  20. “Major League” (1989)
  21. “The Natural” (1984)
  22. “61” (2001)
  23. “A League of Their Own” (1992)
  24. “The Phenom” (2016)
  25. “Damn Yankees” (1958)

Will Leitch of mlb.com recently posted an article on the “25 of the best baseball movies ever.” https://www.mlb.com/news/best-baseball-movies-of-all-time-c301609142

  1. “Bull Durham” (1988)
  2. “A League of the Own” (1992)
  3. “The Pride of the Yankees” (1942)
  4. “Field of Dreams” (1989)
  5. “Eight Men Out” (1988)
  6. “Moneyball” (2011)
  7. “The Natural” (1984)
  8. “The Sandlot” (1993)
  9. “Everybody Wants Some!!” (2016)
  10. “Major League” (1989)
  11. “The Bad News Bears” (1976)
  12. “Bang the Drum Slowly” (1973)
  13. “The Bingo Long Travelling All-Stars” (1976)
  14. “The Rookie” (2002)
  15. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (1949)
  16. “Damn Yankees” (1958)
  17. “Sugar” (2008)
  18. “Fear Strikes Out” (1957)
  19. “42” (2013)
  20. “Rookie of the Year” (2013)
  21. “3000” (2004)
  22. “Angels in the Outfield” (1994)
  23. “61*” (2001)
  24. “Cobb” (1994)
  25. “For Love of the Game” (1999)

Sporting News (8-20-15)

  1. “Bull Durham” (1988)
  2. “Major League” (1976)
  3. “Field of Dreams” (1989)
  4. “A League of Their Own” (1992)
  5. “Eight Men Out” (1988)
  6. “The Natural” (1984)
  7. “The Sandlot” (1993)
  8. “Moneyball” (2011)
  9. “The Bad News Bears” (1976)
  10. “61” (2001)
  11. “The Pride of the Yankees” (1942)
  12. “Sugar” (2008)
  13. “42” (20013
  14. “The Bingo Long Travelling All-Stars and Motor Kings” (1076)
  15. “For Love of the Game” (1999)

Many happy hours can be whiled away, sampling the wide range of movies that focus on the grand old game. From comedy to drama, there’s a movie to satisfy everyone’s taste. “A League of Their Own” stands out as it focuses on the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Penny Marshall directed the film, which stars Tom Hanks, Madonna, and Geena Davis. Hanks plays manager Jimmy Dugan, a heavy-drinking former star. His character has memorable lines like “avoid the clap” (advice for two boys wanting autographs) and “There’s no crying in baseball.”

Alas, Padres fans may disagree.

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Diane Calkins
Baseball has been a part of Diane's life since her father played professionally (mostly at the minor league level). She has written for a number of publications and concentrated on companion animal welfare. She welcomes the opportunity to write about the sport she loves. Diane shares her home with her husband and a house full of rescued animals.
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