Baseball has long been the pastime of America, and is a multi-billion dollar industry, spanning the globe, with audiences from near and far. Undeniably, it is a tough task to narrow the plethora of movies made about the great game, down to just 5, with so many to choose from.
- Field Of Dreams, 1989
This box-office hit netted $84.4M, starring Kevin Costner, an aging Burt Lancaster and Amy Madigan, the movie entails much infamous history of baseball as well as drama surrounding finances and farming. As well as that the movie is based on, the novel “Shoeless Joe” a star outfielder back in the 1910’s, who was idolized by the star of the movie, Ray Kinsella. It is a remarkable story of an ordinary American’s love for the game of baseball, family tradition and fairy tales. Another baseball legend, Archibald ‘Moonlight’ Graham is also depicted in the film, though he just played 1 major league game for the Giants in 1905. Voted as the 6th best fantasy film by the American Film Institute in 2008, it is a real eye-opener for baseball lovers.
- Sugar, 2008
A realistic look at how Latin American Baseballers have to adjust to life in the cut-throat business, that is the Major Leagues. The story in short is about Miguel Santos who gains a contract with a major league franchise, and has to adjust to the celebrity status of life in America, as opposed to his poverty-stricken way of life in rural Dominican Republic. Day by day Miguel realises that he is lonely, particularly when one of his few Dominican teammates is cut from the team, then he gets hurt and winds up playing independent league in New York. Immigration has a huge role in baseball, more so even since the 8 years post this film; there is a strong message throughout the movie, leaving it as one of the most touching modern baseball films to view.
- Moneyball, 2011
A unique look at contemporary baseball, especially the Sabermetrical revolution of the game, starring Brad Pitt as the Manager of the Oakland Athletics Manager, Billy Beane. Beane to this day is a manager of note, who has built a reputation of thinking and dealing outside of the normal. Set in the early 2000’s with recognizable names on the baseball rosters, Beane attempts to build a successful roster in Oakland. Before, he is approached by the Boston Red Sox and a lucrative contract, only to decline them and see his style of management come to the fore in Boston and glean immediate success, with a 2004 World Series Championship. Right down to recent seasons, some Front Offices have not agreed with the model of Sabermetrics, and this is entailed also as there are confrontations between Beane and the Oakland Manager, Art Howe. Really, a must watch for baseball lovers and those who want to understand the game more, from an administrative standpoint.
- Bull Durham, 1988
More of a romance type of baseball movie, once again starring Kevin Costner, this time with Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, which netted $58M at the box office. Durham is a triple A baseball team, under the organisation of Tampa Bay, though back in this films setting it was just a Class A team under the Atlanta franchises umbrella. The story is about a veteran catcher (Kevin Costner) and his task of preparing a young pitcher for the big-leagues (Tim Robbins) and a baseball fan named Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon). Eventually Sarandon and Costner fall for each other, in his post-playing days, despite her intriguing relationship with Robbins. Won a host of awards, including nominations for Golden Globes, Writers Guild of America, Best Screenplay from the LA Film Critics Association and an Academy Award nomination.
- The Pride of the Yankees, 1942
A touching tribute to legendary Yankees 1B Lou Gehrig, who was inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 1939, after an absolutely sterling 17-year career with the Yankees, in which time they won 6 World Series Championships. His premature death, just 2 years after the making of this epic movie made the film all the more touching, for those who loved to see him play. Luminaries such as Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Mark Koenig and Bill Dickey all guest star in the movie as teammates, as does broadcaster Bill Stern. The term: “…today, I consider myself the luckiest man on earth” was coined by Gehrig and made all the more famous by this film. Too many, these names probably don’t mean much, due to the time between then and now, however to those who are baseball lovers and historians they are the greats that made the game as good as it is today.
There was many other films that could have easily been on this list, and the top 5 should not be taken as anything more than 5 of the best movies. Although not a movie, the current TV series named “Pitch” also deserves an honourable mention. The series follows a young female pitcher who becomes the first ever of her type, to make the big-leagues with the San Diego Padres organisation. It is certainly worth watching, as it is available if not on TV, then certainly on other carriers such as NetFlix.
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