BASEBALL MOVIES: Readers Poll Results

October 26, 2011

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.” —Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) in Field of Dreams

Thanks to all of you who particpated in the Readers Poll for Favorite Baseball Movies. Although I sensed a minor conspiracy amongst women voters, the final results were pretty close to other published baseball movie lists.  I won’t name names, but the most creative write-in votes were for The Untouchables – noting the scene where Al Capone makes use of a Louisville Slugger, and Touching Home – a vote based, I believe, solely on the blue eyes of Ed Harris.

FINAL RESULTS

1. THE NATURAL

2. FIELD OF DREAMS

 

 

 

 

3. (tie) BULL DURHAM

 

 

 

 

  (tie) A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. MAJOR LEAGUE

 

 

 

 

 

 

One can’t go wrong with any of the Top 5 as they are all quite entertaining. On the list are a few laugh out loud moments, some high baseball drama, a touch of historical significance, and a heavy shot (or two) of melodrama.

One of the frustrating things about baseball (and most sports) movies is that no matter how talented an actor might be, it’s very difficult to look like you can play the game if you really can’t.  Still, it’s the game, and the memories it creates that have such a grip on us.  Whether playing a pick-up game with our buddies (The Sandlot), watching our team play that magical season (Angels in the Outfield) or simply playing catch with dad (Field of Dreams), most of us carry a connection to the game of baseball and a corresponding special memory. That’s why there are more movies about baseball than football, basketball, hockey, golf and tennis combined.  It truly is the great game.

If you are interested in going a little deeper into the baseball vault, allow me to recommend a few that often get overlooked.

IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING (1949) – comedy about a scientist who discovers a substance that makes baseballs repel wood. It stars Ray Milland and Jean Peters (who became Mrs. Howard Hughes)

THE WINNING TEAM (1952) – the comeback story of Grover Cleveland Alexander, starring Doris Day and Ronald Reagan.  Yes, the same Mr. Reagan who would go on to become Governor of California and President of the United States.

THE BINGO LONG TRAVELING ALL-STARS and MOTOR KINGS (1976) – comedy about a barnstorming Negro League team from the 1930’s featuring Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor, James Earl Jones and directed by John Badham

EIGHT MEN OUT (1988) – the story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox (Black Sox) scandal. It features a couple of then 22 year-olds named Charlie Sheen and John Cusack, and is directed by the great John Sayles.

THE SANDLOT (1993) – a story about kids being kids and the role baseball can play in family, friendship and growing up

KEN BURNS’ BASEBALL (1994) – if you have seen Mr. Burns’ documentary work on The Civil War or Jazz, then you have some sense of the detail and level of research that went into his multi-volume history of baseball

SUGAR (2008) – following the story of a talented Dominican minor league pitcher who dreams of the major leagues.

Thanks again to all who voted.  Pass this along to any baseball and/or movie lovers you know.  The final pitch is two more quotes:

It’s a great day for a ball game, let’s play two!”Ernie Banks

I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.” — Annie (Susan Sarandon) in Bull Durham


Last Chance to VOTE – Baseball Movies

October 5, 2011

 We baseball fans take the American Pastime very seriously.  That is especially true every September when we hold our collective breath in hopes that our team doesn’t join the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies as infamous chokers.  Baseball movies are an entirely different world for us.  We are forced to flip off the swich to the portion of our brain that instantaneously and simultaneously calibrates the pitch count, number of outs, who’s warming in the bullpen, positioning and arm strength of the outfielders, and the speed of the runner on second base.

 Over the years, baseball movies have subjected us to such cringe-inducing moments as Jimmy Stewart pitching, John Goodman swinging a bat, Shoeless Joe Jackson hitting right-handed, Robert DeNiro’s throwing motion, and walk-off home runs by the visiting team.  Yet, we continue to give most every baseball movie a chance because the magic of baseball can only be rivaled by the magic of movies.  Every so often we are rewarded with a perfect moment such as James Earl Jones‘ eloquent soliloquy or catcher Crash Davis mentoring Nuke on dealing with reporters … and all is right with field and film.

 September has passed and October baseball is here.  Moneyball has entered baseball movie discussions during this year’s playoff series.  The Red Sox and Braves have now joined the ’64 Phillies in the lore of historic collapses.  The dreams of their fans were sufficiently deflated and Late Night jokes aplenty.  It seems the perfect time to elicit responses for your favorite baseball movies of all time.  Since there are more than 200 baseball movies, I have tried to jog your memory by listing about 40 of the most famous.

Please VOTE for your 3 favorites in the COMMENTS section below.  Write-in votes are welcome and please send this to your friends and any baseball fans you know … results will be announced during the World Series.  If you ever doubt the emotion and life lessons of baseball, just watch Steve Martin in this clip from Parenthood:

A League of Their Own (1992)           Amazing Grace & Chuck (1987)

Angels in the Outfield (2000)                  Babe (2000)

The Babe Ruth Story (1948)                    Bad News Bears (1976)

Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)              Baseball: by Ken Burns (1994) 

Bingo Long & Traveling All-Stars (1976)       Bull Durham (1988)

Cobb (1994)                                                       Damn Yankees (1958)

Death on the Diamond (1934)                     Eight Men Out (1988)

The Fan (1996)                                               Fear Strikes Out (1957)

Fever Pitch (2005)                                           Field of Dreams (1989)

For Love of the Game (1999)                         Game 6 (2005)

The Heckler (1940)                           It Happens Every Spring (1949)

Little Big League (1994)                                        Long Gone (1987)

Major League (1989)                                            Mr. Baseball (1992)

Mr. Destiny (1990)                                                Mr. 3000 (2004)

Moneyball (2011)                                                  The Natural (1984)

The Pride of St. Louis (1952)           The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

The Rookie (2002)                                      Rookie of the Year (1993)

Safe at Home (1962)                                            The Sandlot (1993)

The Scout (1994)                                                       61* (2001)

The Stratton Story (1949)                                    Sugar (2008)

Up for Grabs (2004)                                  The Winning Team (1952)

Check back during the World Series for the results and an article on baseball movies.  Just click on “Leave a Comment” to type in your 3 favorite baseball movies (in order)!