Writer’s Roundtable: Favorite Baseball Movies

Q: “42” a film about the life of Jackie Robinson opens in theaters this weekend, which got me to wondering: What are some of your favorite baseball movies and why?

Amanda Orr: The Sandlot! One of my all time favorite movies. I watched it all the time as a kid. It’s a movie I have to watch at least once every summer. Not only is it funny and has some great lines, but it taught me who Babe Ruth was when I was young.

Eric Seidman: For me it’s a tie.  From a rewatchability standpoint, you can’t beat The Sandlot, which is just a terrific feel-good movie and not a “kids” movie but rather a great baseball movie about kids.  From a technical standpoint I’ll take 61* any and every day of the week over everything else.  It has great performances from Thomas Jane and Barry Pepper and a really informative behind-the-scenes look at that season. This movie doesn’t get a lot of love as it was an HBO original movie, but all non-Sandlot baseball movies I’ve seen pale in comparison.

Pat Gallen: It’s Mr. Baseball with Tom Selleck and it’s not even close. The mustache alone is worthy of 3 stars out of 4. Plus, in the movie, Selleck’s character led the team in 9th inning doubles in the month of August. Quite a feat. And, Dennis Haysbert from Major League is in it!  In all seriousness, it’s Major League, the original. Bob Uecker is hysterical and makes the film what it is. And who wouldn’t want a skip like Lou Brown?

Don McGettigan:  My first thought was Major League, but I forced myself to think which movies would I change the channel for… and came up with two: A League of Their Own.  It has a few classic quotes, and my favorite actor, Tom Hanks, in an unforgettable role.  The movie has a great blend of comedy, drama, and baseball action.  My parents made me go with my two older sisters to see that movie in the theaters, and I ended up really enjoying it.    The other movie on my list is Rookie of the Year.  No, it’s not the greatest movie ever, but it came out when I was 10-years-old, and still had fantasies like – well what if I made it to the Major Leagues tomorrow… I like baseball movies that have a lot of game-scenes, and these two fit the bill.

Jay Floyd: My favorite baseball movie is Eight Men Out.  To me, one of the greatest aspects of baseball is its history and the events surrounding the “Black Sox” scandal is one of the most legendary tales ever in sports.  Also…Shoeless Joe.  Need I say more?

Ryan Dinger: This is a challenging question for me because I love both baseball and cinema.  So when the two come together, it’s really hard to leave me unsatisfied.  When I think of great baseball movies, however, 1988’s Bull Durham comes to mind.  A well-done, tongue-in-cheek depiction of the way life is for a career-minor leaguer (or at least how society imagines that life is), this movie runs the gamut of emotions: There’s comedy, romance, rivalry, poetry and philosophy all wrapped up into a two-hour film. Plus it has the star-power to make it work. Aside from Major League, it may be the most quotable baseball movie ever written. And it is, without question, one of Kevin Costner’s best performances in a baseball movie.  Director Ron Shelton really hit the sh*t out of this one. If baseball is your religion, just try and tell me you don’t enjoy this movie, Meat.

Jon Nisula:  I’m going to go with a more recent movie, but one that fascinated me more than any other baseball movie–Moneyball. I read the book and loved it, then watched the movie and was not disappointed. It’s an entirely new look at the game of baseball and I think it could turn out to be a “classic” like some of the others that were mentioned.

Alex Lee: I am going to get some heat for this, and deservedly so, but I am going to go with For Love of the Game as one of my favorites , or at least one that I think is underrated and eminently re-watchable.  Yes, there are plenty of more traditional choices… many of which have been detailed by my colleagues here.  But I felt the need to defend a movie that I find myself flipping to anytime it is on.  The baseball scenes in this flick are realistic and the career track of Kevin Costner’s character seems pretty plausible for an aging Hall of Famer (Roy Halladay anyone?).  I think the movie, aided by the greatness of Vin Scully, accurately captures the anticipation that builds with a perfect game on the line, for fans in the crowd and at home.  Now if they could just do something about Kelly Preston’s character…

A few of the fan responses from Twitter:
@lizroscher: Bull Durham, no question. It’s funny and sexy, well written and well acted, and it never, ever gets old.

@timmayK: Rookie of the Year because it’s the most realistic/inspirational

@GTown_Dave: Major League & The Sandlot– because they’re all great baseball movies…unlike say, Mr. Baseball

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