What is it about baseball that affords us the option to label the game as "America's Great Pastime?" There's something uniquely American about the game of baseball, and as it most often the case, many equate the game to feelings of nostalgia. There's something ancient about the game, something pure, something noble, something stoic. Which is why there is often times a nostalgic element to the movies that have been made about or around the game since the 1950s--and we're, for sure, stuck on that facet of movies about the game ourselves here at TVSO.
Which is why we've put together a quick list of our favorite baseball movies (in no particular order):
The Natural (1984)
Based on the 1952 Bernard Malamud novel of the same name, The Natural is the story of baseball player Roy Hobbs, a mystical-of-sorts player, and his trials and tribulations. With an all-star cast and directed by the great film-maker Barry Levison, Robert Redford stars in the lead role as Hobbs--who was equated for his "natural" talent as a baseball player even though through his career he had many slumps and physical pain.
Field of Dreams (1989)
Another hit baseball movie based on a book written years before, Field of Dreams was based on W.P. Kinsella's novel Shoeless Joe. Starring actor Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer, who on the verge of losing his farm begins to hear mystical voices which ask him to turn several of his corn fields into a giant baseball diamond. When Ray does it, purely on instinct ghosts of old baseball players walk out of the cornfield and begin to play on Ray's new field. Setting out on the insistence of the voice, Ray travels to Boston where he must track down an influential but reclusive writer and convince him to come back to Iowa with him. Perhaps, everybody's favorite baseball movie of all time--Field of Dreams will not leave anyone with a dry eye in the house.
A League Of Their Own (1992)
Released in 1992 and featuring an all-star cast that included: Tom Hanks, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, and Geena Davis, A League Of Their Own is a baseball story about the real All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that set out to entertain baseball fans during the 1940s during World War 2. While A League Of Their Own is primarily a comedy, it has the great heart of baseball at its core, which makes it one of the best movies ever made about the game.
Released in 1994 and based on the book by sportswriter Al Stump, Cobb is the biographical tale of famed nasty Georgia Peach baseball player, Ty Cobb. Cobb had a reputation for playing dirty and even though he held many records in Major League Baseball as a former player, he was known for being a jerk. In Cobb, Tommy Lee Jones brings the famous asshole back to life as he hired sportswriter Al Stump to assist him in the writing of autobiography. Cobb does a great job, along with the John Sayles film Eight Men Out (released over ten years before) at capturing the early 20th Century of baseball fanfare.
Directed by screenwriter-turned-film-maker Brian Helgeland, 42 is the long-awaited biopic film about legendary African-American baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson. Robinson endured great amounts of racism in order to play the game in the big leagues and as a result, he broke the boundaries and doors for many to follow in his footsteps. 42 is an inspirational film, and one that treats the game of baseball as all great films about the game have previously, and those that may be made in the future should.