The Best Movies About Baseball

The Ten Best Movies About the National Pastime

Field of Dreams
Universal Pictures

While there are great movies about every sport, there is something about baseball that is especially cinematic. The game as a whole is perfect for storytelling. Though it took Hollywood a few decades to figure out how to make a great baseball movie, there have plenty of great ones since the 1970s, and many of Hollywood's biggest stars have appeared in a movie about baseball at some point in their careers, both based on real events—biographies of great players are popular—and fictional stories about the game and its connection with American culture.

In order of their release, here is a list of the 10 best movies about the National Pastime.

Honorable Mention: No list would be complete without Bang the Drum Slowly (1973), Major League (1989), and Sugar (2008), though they just miss our top 10.

The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

The Pride of the Yankees
Samuel Goldwyn Company

The unfortunate early death of Lou Gehrig, one of the greatest players in the history of baseball, is one of the most heartbreaking stories in baseball history. Just a year after his death RKO Pictures released The Pride of the Yankees, a biopic of the great Yankees first baseman, starring Gary Cooper. The film is one of the few well-made pre-1970s movies and chronicles Gehrig's rise from bookish student to baseball powerhouse until his body begins to fail him. Famously, the film even features baseball's biggest icon, Babe Ruth, playing himself.

The Bad News Bears (1976)

Bad News Bears
Paramount Pictures

Walter Matthau stars as an alcoholic minor league washout who is hired to coach a team of the worst Little League players in Southern California. The interplay between Matthau and the young players -- who are all heart with no skill -- is hilarious as he manages to bring the team of misfits together. The players include Tatum O'Neal (who was already the youngest-ever winner of a competitive Academy Award) and Jackie Earle Haley, who would grow up to star in films like Little Children (2006), Watchmen (2009), Shutter Island (2010), and the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). Two sequels, a television series, and a 2005 remake followed, but none are as funny or as endearing as the original.

The Natural (1984)

The Natural
TriStar Pictures

Baseball is perhaps the most mythic of sports, and The Natural -- based on the popular 1952 novel -- taps into that sentiment. Robert Redford stars as mythic baseball hero Roy Hobbs, blessed with natural talent but saddled with bad luck. Even more famous than the film itself is Randy Newman's score, which has become a staple of highlight reels for great sporting achievements.

Eight Men Out (1988)

Eight Men Out
Orion Pictures

Along with all its thrills, baseball history is also filled with its share of shame. Eight Men Out chronicles the 1919 World Series, which was thrown by eight members of the Chicago White Sox in order to help powerful gamblers win.Though the movie, written and directed by John Sayles, was not a box office success, it was critically acclaimed for fairly portraying the players' disgust with team management in what is still considered the worst sports scandal in American professional sports.

Bull Durham (1988)

Bull Durham
Orion Pictures

The world of minor league baseball is very different than the glory of the major leagues, and Bull Durham stars Kevin Costner as "Crash" Davis, an over-the-hill catcher who helps a younger, more talented (yet unseasoned) pitcher "Nuke" LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) prepare for a stint in the major leagues. A love triangle develops between them and Annie (Susan Sarandon), a baseball groupie who tries to "prepare" LaLoosh in her own unique way. Bull Durham was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar.

Field of Dreams (1989)

Field of Dreams
Universal Pictures

Kevin Costner had back-to-back years of great baseball films with Field of Dreams, a film about a man who hears voices that command him to build a baseball field on his Iowa farm. Once he does, the ghosts of baseball's past come to play. Field of Dreams has continued to touch the emotional core of Americans, and the line "If you build it, he will come" is one of the most memorable quotes in film history.

A League of Their Own (1992)

A League of Their Own
Columbia Pictures

While Major League Baseball is played by men, during World War II women's leagues became popular with so many players and fans serving overseas. A League of Their Own celebrates this unique era in baseball history. The film stars Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty, and Jon Lovitz, and popularized the saying, "There's no crying in baseball!", a phrase Hanks shouts at an upset player.

The Sandlot (1993)

The Sandlot
20th Century Fox

Though it never got a fair shake from critics, The Sandlot has stood the test of time as one of the most popular baseball movies ever made. Moving to a new town in the early 1960s, a young boy bonds with the rest of the neighborhood boys through their daily pickup games at the local sandlot.

Many children have enjoyed the film since its release, and though direct-to-DVD sequels followed, the fun of the original is the one that has stood the test of times with viewers of all ages.

Moneyball (2011)

Moneyball
Sony Pictures

Can you build a winning baseball team when you don't have the payroll of the New York Yankees or the Los Angeles Dodgers? Billy Beane, a former baseball player of limited success, tries to discover how much he could do with his limited payroll as the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics during the 2002 season. Moneyball stars Brad Pitt as Beane, and was both a box office and critical success. It was nominated for six Oscars, including a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Jonah Hill's surprising dramatic turn as Beane's assistant.

42 (2013)

42
Warner Bros.

Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, is one of the biggest legends of the game. 42 tells the story of his struggle to make history with Chadwick Boseman playing Robinson and features Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, the General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the man who hoped signing Robinson would encourage integration on the athletic field.

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McKittrick, Christopher. "The Best Movies About Baseball." ThoughtCo, Apr. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/best-baseball-movies-4132356. McKittrick, Christopher. (2017, April 3). The Best Movies About Baseball. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/best-baseball-movies-4132356 McKittrick, Christopher. "The Best Movies About Baseball." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/best-baseball-movies-4132356 (accessed December 13, 2017).