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The Best Baseball Movies Of All Time

Play ball! With baseball officially back and the season having started this week, I wanted to do something a little bit fun and look at not just the best sports movies, but the best baseball movies ever made. I did this once a few years ago and am tinkering with the list today. There’s more than a few to choose from, with a solid handful starring Kevin Costner, I might add. I’m even going to make some potentially controversial choices, as you’ll see below. It’s all in good fun though, and as I get set to spend another year getting my heart broken by the New York Mets, I wanted to put this out there for you all. Enjoy and get ready for baseball…

Here are, to me, the ten best baseball movies of all time:

10. Rookie of the Year – Perhaps a lot of this is nostalgia fueling the pick, but I have a real soft spot for the story of a kid who winds up pitching for the Chicago Cubs. It’s wish fulfillment for pre teen boys and a little on the scattershot side, but it’s certainly got a charm. I couldn’t resist putting this on my list, since it’s, you know…my list.

9. Major League – Baseball often transitions to comedy, with this film perhaps being the most successful pure comedic outing of the lot. The sports movie cliches and elements are handled well here, but they’re buoyed by the laughs that are liberally spread out through the entire film. It’s just a ton of fun.

8. Fever Pitch – I really dug the look at baseball fandom contained within this romantic comedy. I’m not sure how appealing it is to die hard baseball fans of sole rom-com nuts, but if you have an affinity for both sides, this merges the two worlds surprisingly well. I think it’s incredibly underrated, quite frankly.

7. Little Big League – The slightly more mature version of Rookie of the Year’s wish fulfillment, this movie looks more at coaching and the front office than at playing ball. It’s still plenty silly, but the premise gets a little bit more gravitas, as it were. Still, nostalgia is at work here, no doubt about that.

6. The Natural – An undisputed classic, I’m not quite a high on it as most others, but I still recognize it for what it is. This is a great film that perhaps suffers a small bit from heavy praise, but clearly deserves its place in history all the same. I like it a lot, even if I don’t overtly love it.

5. Field of Dreams – The tearjerker of this list, I defy any of you not to cry at the very end. The first of three Kevin Costner baseball movies on the list, this really focuses in on the love of the game as well as the bond that the sport can form between fathers and sons. It’s just beautiful stuff, plain and simple.

4. Sugar – Perhaps the least seen of the group, this is also one of the most realistic looks at the game, specifically minor league ball. A look at the import of young players from Latin America, it’s a sobering drama that has as much concern for what goes on off the field as it does for what happens on it. Seek this one out if you haven’t seen it yet…trust me.

3. For Love of the Game – The on the field details are phenomenal here in Costner’s last baseball outing, playing an aging pitcher toying with the elusive perfect game. I’ve never gotten caught up in the machinations of a sports movie like I did here. You’ll literally be out of breath by the time the ninth inning roles around. Costner has rarely been better.

2. Bull Durham – The iconic Costner flick that looks at the minor leagues nearly top the top spot. It’s almost a 1a and 1b situation, but ever so slightly, this winds up the runner up. It’s incredibly quotable and has a perfect feel for comedy, drama, romance, and sports. Rarely does that happen, at least to this extraordinary effect. Costner, Tim Robbins, and Susan Sarandon are all fantastic.

1. Moneyball – I might not be in the majority, but this look at the General Manager of the Oakland A’s is the best baseball movie ever, in my book at least. Billy Beane is an incredibly compelling character, perfectly played by Brad Pitt. Along with a great supporting turn by Jonah Hill, this basically is the ideal sports drama. It’s a prestige flick through and through. It’s tops in my heart, no question there.

Honorable Mention: 42, 61*, The Bad News Bears, Band the Drum Slowly, Eight Men Out, Game 6, A League of Their Own, The Phenom, The Rookie, and The Sandlot

Enjoy the season!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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