Summer is here, and that means many folks will escape the heat by heading to a nearby air-conditioned movie theater to catch a flick. While there might not be many sports movies to go see at the moment, the topic of best all-time sports movies has been discussed and published thousands of times.
This will be the first in a series of what I believe are some of the best sports movies ever. And we’ll be going sport-by-sport. Since Major League Baseball is about to hold their annual All-Star Game, what better place to start? In this series, I will only present movies I’ve actually seen. Of course, there are many I have not taken the opportunity to view.
Before I give you my list, The Baseball Almanac published their top 10 baseball movies of all time and counting down from 10 they are:
10. Major League (1989)
9. The Sandlot (1993)
8. A League of Their Own (1992)
7. The Natural (1984)
6. The Bad News Bears (1976)
5. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
4. Eight Men Out (1988)
3. Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)
2. Field of Dreams (1989)
1. Bull Durham (1988)
Without further ado, here’s my all-time list ranked from 10 to 1. Plus, additional thoughts on each.
10. Major League: I’ve watched this movie once—maybe twice—but it was long ago. I remember it being partly funny but a little over the top in an effort to be funny. I’m not sure I could sit through this one again, though.
9. Field of Dreams: Using the likeness of real historic players, this was a really good plot and it was entertaining. I think the aftermath of the movie—in which the field created for the film is still put to use—was even more interesting than the movie itself.
8. A League of Their Own: “There’s no crying in baseball.” Tom Hanks’ line in this movie might be the single most remembered line of any baseball movie made. This was a true story about women’s professional baseball and I’ve always been a big fan of true story movies. But, this one did not do much for my entertainment. I watched it once and that was enough just for the simple reason that it didn’t come through as what the league might have actually been like.
7. The Babe Ruth Story (1948): Not on Baseball Almanac‘s list above is the movie made while the “Great Bambino” was still alive. Sadly, Ruth got to the see the premiere but died a very short time later. Still, it was a very well-made movie giving some insight into the life and career of who might be our greatest baseball player ever.
6. The Pride of the Yankees: If you like a tear-jerker, the main part of the movie where Lou Gehrig gives his speech will choke you up. A great player and family man, he was taken well before his time was up. One of baseball’s greatest ever, this is a movie you could watch multiple times.
5. Fear Strikes Out (1957): Another true story, this one is about the late Jimmy Piersall—who passed away this year (June 9). If you haven’t seen this, it centers around Piersall’s father. And, the pressure he bore on the man who would play for five teams in Major League Baseball—all while Piersall battled anxiety and the overshadowing of his father. The movie stemmed from Piersall’s own book by the movie’s same name, but as Anthony Perkins and Karl Malden played father and son in the movie, Piersall distanced himself from the movie after indicating it was not a true portrayal of actual events. Still, it is a movie worth watching.
4. Eight Men Out: Here we go again with yet another true story. Yet this one is disheartening. And, it’s hard to believe that professional baseball players would actually give in to temptation and throw a World Series. Yet, that is exactly what happened. It ruined the career of who might have gone on to have one of the best careers in history, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.
3. The Bad News Bears: We’re talking about the original movie here, not the remake with Billy Bob Thornton in 2005. The original had Walter Matthau playing the part Thornton tried to redo. It also featured a young Tatum O’Neal. The movie almost feels like a cult movie, one in which you could watch over and over again. It was good, simple humor.
2. The Fan (1996): Another movie not included in the Almanac’s list is certainly not a true story. Although, you might think if anyone out there is as crazy as Robert De Niro turns out to be in this film, it could happen. If you like a good thriller, rent this one. Wesley Snipes plays the star baseball player and De Niro the crazed fanatical fan. A must-see and so good, that it can be watched again. And perhaps several more times.
1. The Sandlot: What some might deem “cheesy,” The Sandlot is a classic. It does for little league baseball what “The Breakfast Club” did for high-schoolers. Like The Breakfast Club, The Sandlot can be watched over and over again while still being enjoyable. For those growing up in similar neighborhoods (as yours truly did), it brings back some familiar childhood memories and habits, such as playing on makeshift baseball fields. But while it is a lighthearted story with James Earl Jones telling the kids he played with Babe Ruth, the ending will bring a smile to your face.
So, that is my personal list. What do you think? Feel free to rank your favorite baseball movies in our comments selection below. Next week I’ll tackle my favorite football movies!
And for more from Harv Aronson, check out his website!