10. The Sandlot (1993)
More than 100 movies have been made about the sport of baseball. Some have been good. Some have been awful. Here are the 10 best.
A nice movie about nice kids coming of age playing baseball in the early '60s; what’s not to like? This film about the hijinks of a sandlot baseball team in the summer of 1962 had modest box office success when it was released in the theaters, but it has since become a cult classic.
9. Major League (1989)
The owner of the Cleveland Indians wants to move the team to Miami, but needs to lower attendance to get out of her contract with the city. To do this, she puts together the worst team in the league, played by actors including Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, Corbin Bernsen, Tom Berenger and Dennis Haysbert. Written and directed by David S. Ward, who penned The Sting, this movie is great fun from start to finish.
8. The Natural (1984)
If this ranking where based on music alone, Randy Newman’s score would propel The Natural to the top spot. It links together so many fantastical scenes in this movie about 35-year-old rookie Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford), who leads his team to the pennant through amazing play. And that’s only one plot point of this adaptation of Bernard Malamud’s novel.
7. Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)
This adaptation of Mark Harris’ 1956 novel tells the story of two friends and teammates (Michael Moriarty and a pre-stardom Robert De Niro) grappling with one’s terminal Hodgkin’s disease over the course of a season. Al Pacino has said that this is his favorite movie.
6. 61* (2001)
Billy Crystal directed this HBO film about the 1961 home run race between Roger Maris (Barry Pepper) and Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane). A great cast and script by Hank Steinberg make this a baseball movie classic and Jane has never been better.
5. A League of Their Own (1992)
After box office failures with The Bonfire of the Vanities and Joe Versus the Volcano, this movie was viewed as a comeback attempt for Tom Hanks. As boozy manager Jimmy Dugan (based on Jimmie Foxx), who coaches the Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, he shines in what became a classic film.
4. Eight Men Out (1988)
The story of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox Scandal is told with the rich layering that is a staple of director John Sayles’ films. The actors were cast based on their baseball skills and their performances were so believable that Ken Burns had many of them do voiceover work for his 1994 documentary Baseball.
3. Bull Durham (1988)
This movie is worth watching alone for Crash Davis’ (Kevin Costner) speech on what he believes in. However, everything in this film about an aging catcher mentoring a pitcher (Tim Robbins), while both fall for a baseball groupie (Susan Sarandon), rings true. After legendary director Billy Wilder saw it, he told Ron Shelton, who wrote and directed it, “Great f----n’ picture kid.” Enough said.
2. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
This tribute to the life and career Lou Gehrig was released one year after the all-time great first baseman died of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The movie, which features Gary Cooper in the lead role, received 11 Academy Award nominations, the most for any baseball picture ever. Plus, Babe Ruth plays himself.
1. Field of Dreams (1989)
The 1960s, the 1919 Chicago Black Sox, and the trials of life are woven together in what is truly a magical film. All of the movies on this list are great, but this is the most moving and it can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
— Compiled by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.