Baseball is back, y’all! Monday marked the return of my favorite sport, so to celebrate, I have a list of my five favorite films featuring America’s pastime! Note that I said my favorite films — some of these are hardly going to be the best baseball pictures out there and will most likely cause more than a few of you to question my sanity (yes, that’s right, no Field of Dreams) — but they never fail to make me nostalgic for getting sunburned at Three Rivers watching the Pirates lose. Again.*
1. The Sandlot (1993)
Who can’t relate to poor Scott Smalls, whose family moves into town right at the end of the school year, leaving him no time to make friends? Luckily he has a guardian angel in the form of Benny, who invites him to play ball with him and his friends. This film is as much about being a kid as it is about baseball, and it’s full of quotable gems like, “You’re killing me, Smalls”, and helpful instructions on how to make s’mores. You’d be hard-pressed to find a child of the 80s who hasn’t seen this at least once. I will probably be able to recite it FOR-EH-VER.
2. Angels in the Outfield (1994)
And thus began my love affair with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (Don’t I wish.) Angels in the Outfield has the distinction of being one of the first films I saw in theaters sans parental supervision, and therefore it holds a special place in my heart. Based on the 1951 film of the same name (just about different teams, although to be honest they could have kept the Pirates, jeez), this movie is full of shmaltz and charm and several people who would end up being Really Big Deals (like Matthew McConaughey). It also teaches the power of positive thinking. Go Angels!
3. Bull Durham (1988)
What makes this movie so great? Is it the way all of the guys respect Annie’s baseball knowledge? Is it the way Nuke wears garters under his uniform and legitimately tries to breathe through his eyelids? Or is it the way it melds humor and sexiness and baseball into one giant Film of Awesome? My vote is for the latter. From the coach’s “motivational” speeches to pitching mound conferences where they talk about everything but the game, Bull Durham has always made me laugh, no matter how many times I’ve seen it.
4. Major League (1989)
The plot is simple and fantastic — the new owner purposely assembles the worst team in the league and they end up being amazing pretty much just to spite her. From a tough as nails pitcher who ends up needing glasses to an over-the-hill catcher trying to get his ex-girlfriend back by reading the comic versions of famous novels, there is so much to love about Major League. Their quest to win unites the entire city of Cleveland. How inspiring!
5. A League of Their Own (1992)
Why, yes, of course my list of favorite baseball movies includes pretty much the only movie about the all-female league during World War II. There’s no crying in baseball, but there are infielders beaning sexist fans for making fun of the players during a game, implausibly acrobatic catches, and earning over a skeptical country just on the basis of being great at what they do. And for a movie with a lot of humor (see: previously mentioned sexist fan getting beaned), there were some heavy moments as well, as most of the women had husbands fighting overseas. Plus the core relationship in the movie was the one between sisters Dottie and Kit.
There are so many amazing baseball films out there. From classics like Pride of the Yankees and The Bad News Bears to newer hits like Moneyball, there have been so many movies depicting America’s pastime. It was actually hard to choose just five because I can easily think of half a dozen more to add to the list. (Which is why I’m super excited for Tyler Hoechlin’s new movies, because he has two baseball-themed films coming out soon, and I cannot wait for both of them.)
There need to be more movies about baseball! I will literally see them all. It’d be nice if more of them had women in it. More movies like A League of Their Own! Yes! Who wants to get on that?
*For those who don’t know, the Pittsburgh Pirates used to play in Three Rivers Stadium before it was demolished when I was in college. They now play in PNC Park. If anyone cares.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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