The long baseball winter is almost over, and if you need a little extra help to push through the last few weeks, a good baseball movie or two is a great way to go. We are now halfway through this top 20 list of the best baseball movies of all time, and press on today. If you missed the prior installments, you can find them here:
I'm sure we've all seen this one, but if you haven't it is based on the true story of the Oakland A's trying to compete in a time where the rich teams could buy players more easily than smaller market teams. Based on the book by Michael Lewis with the same title, this is an intriguing film to say the least, because it’s the most recent. There is A LOT, and I mean A LOT of dramatic license in this one, but the basic story is unchanged, aside from the character Peter Brant being a composite of Paul DePodesta, J.P. Ricciardi and others.
Final Grade: MUST SEE.
This movie, for those who don't know is based on a real women's baseball league that started in 1943, during World War 2. The film follows Dottie Henson and her time with the Rockford (Illinois) Peaches and her teammates. The casting in this movie was excellent with using actors who were athletes as well. Gena Davis, Madonna and Lori Petty actually looked like they could play (keep the Rosie jokes to yourself). It's a good movie with Tom Hanks stealing the show as the manager.
Final Grade: MUST SEE.
This is the story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox, or as they came to be known, the Chicago Black Sox. That team threw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, and it's chronicled from the players to Comiskey to the gamblers who came up with the plot to the appointment of Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, the first Commissioner of Major League Baseball. The story is smooth and it keeps your interest from start to finish. This movie is about baseball history, just like 61*, but the difference is the ensemble cast of John Cusack, DB Sweeney, Charlie Sheen and many others make this a Top Ten movie.
Final Grade: Order on NetFlix right now. Stop what you are doing and just watch.
One of the gems on the list. This would probably rank a bit higher, but this movie did a few things you could never get away with today; racial slurs, alcoholism, hazing, and straight bullying. However, all of the above is done in a lighthearted manner. The movie follows a group of misfit little leaguers who get a drunk Walter Matthau as the head coach. With the help of power hitting Kelly Leak and pitcher Amanda Whurlizer, they start to win and challenge the powerful Yankees. The great thing about the film is the other players, foul mouthed SS Tanner Boyle, the prototypical fat catcher Engelberg, and the stat-head Ogilvie. There are many subtle things in the film that make it a hilarious watch, such as the sponsor of the Bears: Chico's Bail Bonds, whose slogan is "Let Freedom Ring."
Final Grade: If you haven't seen this, you are doing baseball wrong.
A great movie. Plain and simple. Robert Redford stars as Roy Hobbs, a young pitcher on his way to the Chicago Cubs who gets shot by a mentally ill woman, thus ending his pitching career. Several years later, Hobbs shows up in the clubhouse of the New York Knights as a hitter and outfielder. With Hobbs in the lineup the Knights take off and start to win, with many twists and turns along the way. There are a few slow spots in this film, but not long enough to lose interest in the story that is Roy Hobbs. It's a great movie.
Final Grade: If you haven't seen this, you really need to reevaluate your baseball movie watching habits.
Patrick Despain is the founder and CEO of Shutdown Inning. You can e-mail him at Patrick.Despain@shutdowninning.com or get him on twitter @Shutdowninning