In honor of Opening Day, we now present to you…
The Schleicher Spin’s Guide to the Best Baseball Films:
*In the Outfield:
Left Field –
Cobb (1994) – This biopic did not fare well upon release. However, Tommy Lee Jones gives an Oscar-worthy performance in a film not about baseball but instead about one of the meanest SOB’s to ever live – who just also happened to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time. It makes for a fascinating character study.
Center Field –
A League of Their Own (1992) – This excellent ensemble drama and family film teaches history while preaching about girl power. Any young player of the game can find much to be inspired by here.
Right Field –
The Sandlot (1993) – This is another kid’s favorite that celebrates the joy of the game and endless summers running amuck in the neighborhood.
*Around the Bases:
Third Base –
Sugar (2008) – A highly touted ballplayer from the Dominican Republic comes to the MidWest to play minor league ball and is sucked in by this mess we call trying to make it in America. Understated and quietly compelling, this is our indie-baseball pick.
Second Base –
The Babe (1992) – This is another biopic that was unfairly dismissed when it was released. It’s actually pretty good, and while no one can really fill the Babe’s mythical shoes, John Goodman does a helluva job here in the title role.
First Base –
Major League (1989) – Wild Thing, I think you’re bi-winning here. A classic underdog story. Renee Russo in her prime. Charlie Sheen – insane. A whole lotta comedy. A classic of the subgenre, this film treats you like a best friend who keeps you laughing no matter how old the jokes get.
Eight Men Out (1988) – John Sayles’ ensemble drama about the 1919 Black Sox scandal is a meticulously crafted period piece, packed with equal parts diamond-action and off-field drama. This is one humdinger of a film that ages like a fine wine. This is the closest thing we have to an art-house baseball film.
Field of Dreams (1989) – Ah, Kevin Costner in his prime was quite a guy, and this ultimate male rescue/wish-fulfillment fantasy is one of the decade’s iconic films. If you build a good movie, they will love it.
Pitcher (The Opening Day Ace) –
The Natural (1984) – It’s a moody work of nostalgia. It’s a period piece. There’s that look on Kim Basinger’s beautifully icy visage as the sparks from the exploding lights come raining down in front of her luxury box seats. There’s that closing shot of Robert Redford tossing the ball to his son in the high grass, the sunlight on their faces. It’s a love story for guys and gals alike. It knocks the ball so far out of the park, it lands only in our memories.
* The Bench:
- The Bad News Bears (1976)
- Bull Durham (1988)
- Pastime (1990)
- The Rookie (2002)
Lineup created by David H. Schleicher