The final five is here. These are the five greatest baseball movies of all time. If you missed the lesser selections, you can find them here:
An all-time great movie, full of memorable quotes, especially from Harry Doyle (played by Bob Uecker). The movie follows the Cleveland Indians, a last place team, whose owner wants them to finish last again in order to get out of the team's lease and move the Indians to Florida. She instructs the General Manager to invite the worst of the worst players to Spring Training to assure they'll be terrible. However, the rag tag bunch of misfits gets wind of the plan and decides to make a strong run at the pennant. The casting in the movie is terrific, with Charlie Sheen as Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, Tom Berenger as Jake Taylor, Corben Bersen as Roger Dorn, Dennis Haysbert as Pedro Cerrano and many, many others.
Final Grade: A must see for any baseball fan.
This is a movie more about what the game of baseball means to us as fans than it does about baseball itself. It is an awesome movie about an Iowa farmer who hears voices that guide him on a journey to not only help people along the way, but to mend a relationship of his own. Kevin Costner stars as Ray Kinsella who plows under his corn crop to build a baseball field in the middle of nowhere. Shortly after, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson appears, followed by the other members of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox in subsequent visits. After hearing another voice Ray travels to Boston to retrieve noted writer Terrence Mann, a lifelong baseball fan that gave up his love of the game. Without giving up the end of the movie for those that haven't seen it, the film is a baseball movie that has a string underlying theme as I mentioned above. Go get this on Netflix and watch it with your kids. After that, call your dad.
Final Grade: This movie is a home run. A must own.
We are entering rare territory of baseball greatness starting with this. For those that haven't seen it, it's a movie about the life of Lou Gehrig. It stars Gary Cooper, who does an incredible job of portraying the Yankee legend, and his easygoing attitude. However, it does capture the hard work that Gehrig put in, day in/day out. The film was released in 1942, a year after "The Iron Horse" passed way from ALS. Also, Babe Ruth, Bill Dickey, sportscaster Bill Stern and others played themselves in the movie. This flick follows the life of Gehrig from his days at Columbia University all the way to his remarkable farewell speech.
Final Grade: A home run. A movie that is a must see, especially for the history and inspiration that Lou Gehrig provided.
This movie is one for the kid in all of us. It follows Scott Smalls, a kid that just moved to a new neighborhood in California in the summer of 1962. Smalls soon meets Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez and is invited to play baseball at the nearby sandlot. Smalls soon meets Ham, Yeah-Yeah, the Timmons Twins, Squints and the rest of the guys. The film follows the kids through their antics, including a camp out, a day at the pool with Wendy Peffercorn, trying to retrieve a Babe Ruth signed baseball and battling "The Great Beast". This is a terrific film that is funny and brings back the angst of being an awkward kid that finally meets a group of friends and that summer; the best summer of your life. Everyone loves this movie, as well they should.
Final Grade: A Grand Slam
By many, and the staff of ShutDown Inning, the greatest baseball movie ever made. It was written and directed by Ron Shelton, a former minor league player that captured the intricacies of life in the minors and the comedy that happens with 25 different personalities. It's a movie with more memorable quotes than any on the list, and that's saying something with Major League up there. The movie is about the players, coaches and fans of the Durham Bulls, in Durham, North Carolina. "Crash" Davis, "Nuke" LaLoosh, and the crazy Annie Savoy are the main characters who tell the bulk of the story through their actions and interactions with each other. However there are many great characters in this movie who fill in the blanks in a great way. Shelton did a great job with this film, using real minor league players and held a tryout camp using players at lower levels to give the film baseball authenticity. It's full of one-liners, great wacky characters and extremely funny moments. It truly is an amazing movie that is a must have for any sports fan.
"I held it like an egg."-Nuke
"Yeah, he scrambled the son of a bitch"-Crash
Final Grade: The Holy Grail of baseball movies.
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