|Warming up for the season: Baseball Cinema||| Print |||Send|
Written by Laura K. Nist (Contact & Archive) on March 22, 2003
The Natural (1984) - Robert Redford stars as a once hopeful rookie who is given a chance to resume his baseball career after facing demons of his past. This is more than a movie about baseball though; it's about good vs. evil and overcoming the odds. Robert Redford plays Roy Hobbs, a young pitching prospect that gets caught up in an unfortunate situation with a mysterious woman. Many years later, he is signed to play with the New York Knights baseball team as the league's oldest rookie. He becomes a middle-aged baseball phenomenon, inspires his teammates and of course brings his team out of the cellar. Based on the book: The Natural by Bernard Malamud.
Bull Durham (1988) - Let me start off by admitting that I adore Kevin Costner. This was his first baseball movie, also starring Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. It’s a story that revolves around a minor league ball team, the Durham Bulls. Kevin Costner plays Crash Davis, a veteran catcher trying to make it to ‘the show’ one last time, while being charged with helping a not too bright, wild-armed rookie pitcher learn the ropes. Susan Sarandon plays Annie, a sexy baseball groupie who chooses a new player to ‘guide’ through baseball and romance every season. There is plenty of witty dialogue and this classic scene where Crash tells Annie his philosophies: “I believe in the soul, the c**k, the p***y, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch... that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, I believe there ought to be a Constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft core pornography, opening your presents on Christmas morning rather than on Christmas Eve, and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three nights. “ Enough said.
Major League (1989) - With Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes and many others. It’s an offbeat comedy about a fictional group of misfit baseball players that are brought together by the widow of the owner of the Cleveland Indians. Her plan is to put together a team so bad it will lose its fan base and allow her to relocate to Florida. Bob Uecker is cast as the team’s announcer and delivers some of the film’s best dialogue. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this one - and I still laugh every time.
Field of Dreams (1989) - The ultimate baseball movie, starring Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella, a struggling Iowa farmer who hears voices in the cornfield that tell him to build a baseball field. Ray builds the field to bring back Shoeless Joe, his father's hero. As the movie progresses we discover that Ray is exercising his own ghosts as it turns out that the dream all along was not so much about bringing back the greats of baseball, but to reconcile with his father. This is a very touching movie about baseball and second chances. And as I understand it, it is powerful enough to make a grown man cry. Inspired by the book: Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella.
Sandlot (1993) - This is a story about a new boy who just moved to town and has no friends. He sees that all of the neighborhood kids play baseball and he is determined to learn the game so that he can fit in. When he is befriended by the town superstar who teaches him to play, the other kids decide to give him a chance. There are some hilarious scenes in this movie, particularly when the kids are trying to figure out how to retrieve the ball that goes over the fence - the one signed by ‘The Great Bambino.’ This movie is about making friends and playing baseball every day of summer vacation, so how can you go wrong? It’s a wonderful movie for baseball fans of all ages.
For Love of the Game (1999) - Starring Kevin Costner and Kelly Preston. Kevin Costner is back, as 40 yr old Billy Chappel, pitching possibly the last game of his career. Right before the game starts he finds out that his team is going to be sold and he will be traded. We see a series of flashbacks about how his life led him to this point, as he finds himself at a major cross roads, both in his professional and personal life. It is a romance in the traditional sense, and a romance about baseball itself. The perfect date movie. Be sure to have the box of tissues ready. Also based on a book: For Love of the Game by Michael Shaara.
Hardball (2001) - Keanu Reeves is the main character in this movie about a compulsive gambler who pays back a debt by coaching an inner city little league team. It is a great story about taking on challenges, facing your demons and changing your life. I wouldn’t recommend this movie for young children, however, as there is a lot of profanity and violence. Based upon the book Hardball: A Season in the Projects, by Daniel Coyle.
61* (2001) - Directed by Billy Crystal, this was originally a made for HBO movie. It is about the race between Yankee greats Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle to break Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1961. Of course we all know how it turned out, but the story digs deeper into the players’ lives; it tracks the well-known facts surrounding the race such as the way the press openly rooted for Mantle, and how the pressure appeared to get to Maris. And best of all, you don’t even have to like the Yankees to love this movie.
The Rookie (2002) - Stars Dennis Quaid and is based on a true story about Jim Morris, a Texas high school coach, who always dreamed of playing in the majors but never quite made it. While trying to motivate his high school team to win a championship he promises to try out for the majors if they win. It’s an excellent movie with a great message - never give up on your dreams. I also recommend the book as it goes into much more detail about Jim’s childhood, relationships and struggles in the minors as a young man - The Oldest Rookie: Big-League Dreams from a Small-Town Guy by Jim Morris and Joel Engel.
Other baseball movies that you may want to check out:
A League of Their Own
Angels in the Outfield
The Bad News Bears
Baseball - A film by Ken Burns
Eight Men Out
Little Big League
The Pride of the Yankees
Rookie of the Year
All movies and books can be purchased through our Amazon Link.Baseball movies