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Baseball's top 10
July 13, 2009 - Steve Murch
Baseball's all-star game is tomorrow, so what better top 10 list than the top 10 baseball movies. Unlike the other three sports, there is an abundance of movies with baseball as its theme – which means there are plenty of debates over which movies are best.
Baseball movies run the gamut from true stories to unbelievable comedies. The good ones all have one thing in common – the baseball at least has some semblance of realism. The better baseball movies all have people who look like they can at least survive a sandlot game. Watch a bad sports movie of any kind and the stars who can't throw, shooting, etc., properly all detract from the movie.
There is an exception to every rule, and there is one on this list. Sometimes the storyline is too good to ruin the movie.
Because there are so many good baseball movies, there have to be those that are honorable mention. So, here are three for honorable mention status: A League of Their Own, The Sandlot, The Babe and The Rookie. I know A League is in most people's top 10, but I just thought there was a bit of a lull in the movie that took too long to get past.
So here they are:
10. Bingo Long and the Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings: This one isn't well known, but is well worth it. It shows the hardships, and comdey, of the Negro League players and shows what it was like for them playing in the shadows. It also has a great cast lead by Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones and Richard Pryor.
9. Eight Men Out: The true story of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. While some period movies don't quite deliver the feeling of the era, this movie really makes you feel like it's 1919 baseball. An outstanding cast really makes this one real.
8. Rookie of the Year: There always has to be one movie that just has an unbelievable element, and this one is it. A kid pitcher in the big league? Who cares! Thomas Ian Nicholas plays a bad Little Leaguer whose broken arm results in the tendons being so tight he can throw a baseball so fast the hometown Chicago Cubs sign him and he leads the team to the title.
7. Bang the Drum Slowly: This one is the one where the baseball aspect falls just a little short. However, the story is gut-wrenching, as a player in his final season, played by Robert DeNiro, discovers he has a terminal illness and his friend tries to make it the best possible season for him.
6.Pride of the Yankees: This one is the true story of Lou Gehrig and follows his life through to his now famous retirement speech. Gary Cooper plays Gehrig, with Babe Ruth playing Babe Ruth to add some authenticity.
5. The Bad News Bears: Walter Matthau plays lazy Morris Buttermaker, more interested in his beer than anything else. He coaches a Little League team of misfits that finds a way to win behind the pitching of a girl (Tatum O-Neal) and bad boy Kelly Leak. The one believable aspect of this one is that every Little League seems to have a Kelly Leak, a talent player who the game comes easy to and they have other things they'd like to do.
4. Major League: The lowly Cleveland Indians find a way to win despite the efforts of their former stripper owner who tries to put together a team so pathetic no one would watch, all in the name of moving the team to a warmer climate. Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger and Wesley Snipes head an all-star cast.
3. Bull Durham: The tale of the relation between a minor league catcher, the pitcher who he is supposed to help ready for the majors, and the woman who they both are interested in. Sounds like a chick flick? Well, women will enjoy it, but it definitely is a baseball movie, while Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon are the stars, Robert Wuhl steals the movie with a couple of trips to the mound as the pitching coach.
2. The Natural: Robert Redford plays Roy Hobbs, who mysteriously arrives on the scene to play for the New York Knights. Hobbs is older than all the other players, but has the power to help the Knights be a contender. However, his murky past is what what everyone wants to know about. Where did he come from? Why didn't he play before? Great cast including Glenn Close, Wilfred Brimley and Robert Duvall.
1.Field of Dreams: A baseball movie that is so much more than a baseball movie. Kevin Costner plays, Ray Kinsella, a farmer who converts part of his field into baseball diamond where old-time baseball stars like Shoeless Joe Jackson come to life to play, only for Ray, his family and Terrence Mann (played by James Earl Jones) because they are the only one who can see the players. The field winds up reconnecting Ray with his father.
There are so many baseball movies that everyone will have a different top 10. While some of the second five people might not have heard of, everyone should have seen or heard of the top 5.
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