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Question of the Week: Favorite Baseball Movie


This week's question for our authors has to do with favorite baseball movies. We all have one, and they're not always good, but they manage to touch us in ways that other genres can't approach.


As an added bonus, at the end of the page some of our authors take quick jabs at their least-favorite baseball movies.


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My favorite baseball movie is "Bull Durham." The reason has little to do with baseball, though I love the pitching mound scene with Robert Wuhl: "Well, uh, candlesticks always make a nice gift ... '' But the real reason is Kevin Costner. Ooh baby.

Joan Ryan

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My favorite baseball movie is "Bull Durham," and nothing else comes close. The interpersonal stories are wonderful and Annie Savoy is one of the great female characters in film history and the baseball scenes are swell, but this movie truly hits home because, as a former minor league ballplayer, screenwriter Robert Shelton knew whereof he wrote. This movie feels real in ways that other fare like Major League (subverted reality in service to comedy) and Moneyball (subverted reality in service to grand Hollywood story arcs) and Field of Dreams (subverted reality because, well ... ghosts) do not. There’s a reason that so many ballplayers over the years have reminded us of Crash Davis, while pretty much every other fictional character from every other baseball movie fails to draw a single comparison. This movie is aces.

Jason Turbow


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My favorite baseball movie is "The Bad News Bears," because it's the closest to real life: The manager's a drunk, the players are subversive and in the end the Yankees win.

Mitchell Nathanson

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Predictably, my favorite is "Mr. Baseball." Some of the funnier scenes in the movie were based on interviews of Americans who had played in Japan.

Rob Fitts

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Favorite baseball movie: "Eight Men Out." Most realistic, most accurate baseball movie I’ve ever seen, with costumes, sets and music that really looked like 1919. Plus, it told an important true story that still reverberates in baseball today. A close second is Fever Pitch, even though it was a fantasy. Anybody can relate to the Jimmy Fallon character just by inserting the name of your favorite team.

Dan Schlossberg

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Favorite baseball movie: "Eight Men Out." Sure, the movie has some "embellishments,” "falsehoods" and "contrivances,"but the production values are outstanding. The uniforms, clothing and overall look of the film really transport you back to 1919. The baseball scenes crackle with authenticity and the cast is top-notch.

D.B. Firstman

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Best baseball movie? "Eight Men Out." It tells the story of the 1919 Black Sox, sort of. John Sayles’ movie was taken from Eliot Asinof’s book, and neither was all that accurate. But the story itself is fascinating, and so is the movie and all of its myths.

John Shea

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My favorite is "Eight Men Out," though I’m biased. My friend Mason Daring did the music for many of John Sayles’ films, and invited me to Indianapolis when they were shooting scenes. The wardrobe department gave me a haircut and dressed me in a period outfit, so I put in a couple of days as an extra. I watched John work all during dinner in his hotel room. I was later an extra in Field of Dreams and Fever Pitch, too—both shot at Fenway Park—though I ended up on the cutting room floor.

Bill Nowlin

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For me it's "Major League." No real reason — it's just always the one I want to watch. Always makes me laugh. Always makes me happy. Runners-up are probably "Sandlot" and "Bull Durham."

Eric Nusbaum

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"The Natural" will always be my favorite baseball film of all time. Robert Redford's performance as Roy Hobbs, Joe Don Baker as the Whammer, Robert Duvall as Max Mercy ... the list goes on and on. Before CGI, the efforts to recreate War Memorial Stadium as Knights Field are remarkable. In many ways, The Natural was one of my inspirations for Gotham Baseball.

Mark C. Healey

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My favorite is "Bang the Drum Slowly," co-starring a young and about-to-be-famous Robert DeNiro. His character, Bruce Pearson, is a part-time catcher for the New York Mammoths, who are fighting for the pennant. Pearson keeps it a secret that he is dying of an incurable disease, but his batterymate, star pitcher Henry Wiggen, sticks up for him as Bruce gives everything he's got until he can't give any more. This is baseball drama in the best way: The games look after themselves for excitement, while the plot is carried by off-field personal interchanges. No supernatural powers or ghosts are required.

"Bang the Drum" also has the classic complaint of a manager with a roster problem, as Mammoths skipper Dutch Schnell laments: "I have three catchers. I have a catcher who cannot hit, I have a catcher who cannot catch, and I have a catcher who is too old."

Jim Overmyer

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The best baseball movie for me is "A League of Their Own" because it was serious but also fun. It has a combination of wit, humor and sadness, augmented by the presence of so many stars: Tom Hanks, Madonna, Geena Davis, Rosie O'Donnell and Lori Petty.

Danny Gallagher

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"A League of Their Own" is one of the most important, funny and touching movies ever made, even beyond the world of baseball. The echoes of its release, and what it did to bring the AAGPBL to the public consciousness, cannot be overstated.

Ralph Carhart

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I realize that because I've now authored a book about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League I am expected to say "A League of Their Own." And it is DEFINITELY in my top three. But for me, the number one baseball movie is "Field of Dreams." I'm not even a huge Kevin Costner fan, which is funny, seeing as how he appears in at least 75 percent of all baseball movies, good or bad.

Anika Orrock

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My favorite has to be "Field of Dreams." My father introduced me to baseball. Baseball was always a bond between us. Even when I was a rebellious teenager who knew everything and my father knew nothing (lol), and we locked horns on a daily basis, all he had to do was say, "How did the Yankees do?" and the ice was broken. I cannot make it through the final scene of this movie without crying. Ever. My father passed way too early at age 51. I still want to have a catch.

Jon Pessah

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Major League? Nope. A League of Their Own? Nope. Bull Durham, Moneyball, Field of Dreams? Nope, nope, nope.

For Love of the Game.

I can't in good conscience call this the best baseball movie of all time, but it is my favorite. Why? Maybe because its conclusion is that even a perfect game can be imperfect; that Billy Chapel ended the night sobbing like a baby in his room, tears of sorrow because he couldn't will happiness the way he willed pitches. Maybe because it portrays romance in such an unrealistically tidy way, much like my favorite holiday movie, "The Family Man." Both movies remind me of how I used to look at romance, idealistically and simply, thinking that things just work out. Who cares if life doesn't imitate art? (Yes, I just called "For Love of the Game" art.) It makes me feel good.

Or maybe it's because of these lines from Vin Scully: "He isn't pitching against the Yankees, he's pitching against time. He's pitching against the future, against age ... and, even when you think about his career, against ending. And tonight, I think he might be able to use that aching old arm one more time ... to push the sun back up in the sky ... and give us one more day of summer."

Brad Balukjian

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AND NOW a few thoughts about those films we don't love so well:

One of the worst is "For Love of the Game." So dull that not even Kevin Costner could save it.

Joan Ryan

"The Babe" was a big, blown opportunity. I’m surprised that no one has taken another run at the story. The Babe made a mockery of the most famous and influential athlete in American history.

Jon Pessah

Worst Baseball Movie? "The Babe." John Goodman, hmmm. Kind of embarrassing and hard to watch, and I can’t imagine anyone who’s a baseball fan or non-baseball fan enjoying an hour and a half of Babe cliché after Babe cliché.

John Shea

Least favorite: "The Natural" because of its overly-romanticized view of the game.

Rob Fitts

I had a really hard time making it through "Trouble With the Curve."

Eric Nusbaum

Least favorite baseball movie: Any baseball movie with kids in it other than "The Bad News Bears." This includes all of the other Bad News Bears movies.

Mitchell Nathanson

"Major League 2" was bland compared to the original.

Danny Gallagher

Worst baseball film: "The Babe Ruth Story," with William Bendix.

Jim Overmyer

The worst? That's easy, "The Babe Ruth Story." The pandemic of baseball movies.

Mark C. Healey

It is difficult to narrow down my least favorite to a single candidate. There are just so many bad baseball movies.

Ralph Carhart

My least favorite baseball movie is "For Love of the Game." There might be worse, but this one ranks last in part because I really don't like it, but mostly because Brad loves it more than any other baseball movie and that just ain't right.

Anika Orrock

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