It’s no secret that America loves baseball. Proof of it is the big library of movies made on the subject. At this point, baseball movies are considered to be a subgenre under the genre of sports films. Unfortunately, the heyday of baseball movies is long over (peaking in the 1980s and 1990s).
To pay tribute to the best of the lot, we’ve surveyed the subgenre to come up with 10 of the best baseball movies of all time.
Top 10 Best Baseball Movies of All Time
Eight Men Out (1988)
Eight Men Out (1988) is the filmic adaptation of the real-life events that surround the notorious fixing of the 1919 World Series which is also one of the most scandalous events in sports history. Due to discontent, eight team members of the Chicago White Sox scheme with gamblers to lose the World Series.
The film is deemed to be an absorbing tale thanks in part to the great performances by its lead actors and the skillful direction of John Sayles.
The Sandlot (1993)
The Sandlot (1993) is a classic coming-of-age story intertwined with sports. It tells the story of how a new shy neighborhood kid befriends a group of young boys through playing baseball in a sandlot.
Although not earning much upon its initial release, the film has then gained a cult following among sports genre fans because of how it captured every child’s dream of ‘backyard glory’.
Major League (1989)
Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, James Gammon, Bob Uecker, Rene Russo, and Corbin Bernsen star as the members of the fictionalized version of the Cleveland Indians baseball team in this sports comedy film directed by David S. Ward.
The film is well-loved, not just by audiences, but also by actual professional baseball players and announcers who often reference the film in baseball game televised broadcasts. It spawned two more sequels which, unfortunately, failed to live up to the original film’s critical and box office success.
The Bad News Bears (1976)
A classic underdog sports movie, The Bad News Bears (1976) is the movie that single-handedly influenced the surge in popularity of sports films featuring children during the 1980s and 1990s. It tells the story of a former minor league player who agrees to coach a little league baseball team composed of unskilled kids.
Faced with imminent disbandment after they consistently lose to better teams, the coach decides to step up his game by bringing out reinforcement to whip his team into shape.
42 (2013) is a film about the historic racial integration in American professional baseball in 1946. The title pertains to the jersey number Jackie Robinson wore through his career in Major League baseball.
The film stars Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey who broke the sport’s infamous color line when he signed Robinson, played by Chadwick Boseman, to join his team. It shows how player number 42 persisted despite the public outrage that followed his presence in the Major League and showed his talent in the field eventually winning over the support of fans and the public. 42 is considered one of the best baseball movies of all time.
Field of Dreams (1989)
Sports movies, particularly ones about baseball, aren’t really your typical forerunners for the best picture award at the Oscars. But Field of Dreams (1989) is an exception.
Based on a fantasy novel by W. P. Kinsella, the film tells the story of an Iowan farmer who constructs a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield after he receives a message from the ghost of former baseball star Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Eventually, another message tells the farmer that his diamond is meant to deal second chances to people who sacrificed something in their lives.
A League of Their Own (1992)
At the time of the Second World War when most of the men where overseas in combat, the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League was founded. However, the league is threatened when the war ended and the men return.
The film chronicles the early days of the league particularly focussing on the talent search and formation of an all women’s team on their journey to compete at the World Series.
The Natural (1984)
Robert Redford stars as Roy Hobbs, the titular ‘natural’, a man with a natural talent for baseball. The film shows Hobbs’ decades’ long quest to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a baseball star filled with triumphs and failures
The film was a moderate financial success but a hit among critics. It was nominated for four Oscar awards the year of its release. The Natural is one of the 80’s best baseball films.
Moneyball (2011) is your classic sports movie about an underdog team fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds to come out on top. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill star in the film as an unlikely pair coaches who assemble a team of flawed but talented players who they hope will beat the richer clubs.
The film is based on a book which is based on the real-life events surrounding the formation of the Oakland Athletics baseball team during the 2002 playing season. It is praised for being a refreshing take on the dead genre and is deemed to be one of the smartest sports movies to be released in the past years. Another great aspect of the film is Brad Pitt’s nuanced performance as Billy Beane.
Bull Durham (1988)
Our number one spot in the best baseball movies list goes to the part sports film, part romantic comedy, Bull Durham (1988), tells the story of two people brought together by America’s ‘national pastime’– baseball. Kevin Costner plays a perennial Minor League player, who is assigned to the Durham Bulls team which share the same reputation for mediocrity. Susan Sarandon stars as his love interest, Annie Savoy, the team mascot.
The film is notable for its casual but reverent filmic treatment of the sport which highlights both humor and drama that comes with playing the game.
What’s your favorite baseball movie? Did it make it to our top 10 list of Best Baseball Movies? Don’t forget to tell us your thoughts in the comments below.