5 Great Baseball Films

With the release of Million Dollar Arm this week, about a couple of amateur Indian cricketers who head to America to break into baseball’s Major League, we take a look at five great movies based on baseball…

While baseball might not have the devoted following it enjoys in America, the UK has certainly embraced Hollywood’s attempts to bring its big-hitting, big-hearted drama to the silver screen. In Million Dollar Arm, based on the true story of Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, we follow the reality TV-winning pair as they travel to the US under the tutelage of sports agent J.B. Bernstein (played by Jon Hamm) and attempt to break into the Major League. To celebrate its release this week we look at baseball’s most enjoyable outings in film…

5. A League of Their Own (Marshall, 1992)

League of their Own, Female Buddy Movies,We begin our top five with A League of Their Own – director Penny Marshall’s female-eye-view of this traditionally masculine game. A bad tempered, heavy-drinking Tom Hanks takes control of an all-girl professional baseball team during the 1940s when most of the men are away fighting in Europe. The ensemble cast are a delight with Geena Davis’s Dottie Hinson keeping the misfit group in check. The feisty Madonna and smart-mouthed Rosie O’Donnell are also great as these ladies give the American public something to smile about in war time.
See also: Top 10 Female Buddy Films

4. The Bad News Bears (Ritchie, 1976)

Bad_News_Bears_walter-mathauAnother drunk shows up in our film at four. The Bad News Bears takes us from the Major League to the Little League as alcoholic former pro Morris Buttermaker (played with disgruntled contempt by the brilliant Walter Matthau) becomes the unlikely coach of a cobbled together group of supposedly talentless kids. Buttermaker’s perennially inebriated state is one of many hurdles the new coach has to overcome. This is a bitter, darkly amusing look at the competitiveness of American sport, even at the youngest levels, when the pre-teen players just want to have some fun.
See also: Top 10 Teenage Rebellion Films

3. The Sandlot (Evans, 1993)

The Sandlot, Film,Baseball is the backdrop to a coming of age tale in our film at three – The Sandlot. This is the Stand By Me of baseball movies as a group of young friends spend the summer together enjoying the odd misadventure while trying to perfect their baseball swing. This enjoyable family comedy captures that nostalgic rose-tinted view we have of long summer holidays as kids, while its warm heart and optimistic view of growing up will surely bring a smile to audiences’ forgiving of its sentimental approach.
See also: Top 10 1980s Childhood Adventure Films

2. Field of Dreams (Robinson, 1989)

Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner,Okay, okay, speaking of sentimentality, you can’t get more sugar-coated than our film at number two – Field of Dreams. This Kevin Costner-starring fantasy-drama about a whimsical, down on his luck farmer who decides to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield is a warming concoction of fatherhood, family togetherness and the pursuit of your goals, however crazy they might be. Baseball is the perfect backdrop to this imaginative story, highlighting the sport’s role in the cultural psyche.
See also: Top 10 Feel Good Movies Set In Small Town America

1. Bull Durham (Shelton, 1988)

Bull Durham,

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And that role cannot be expressed any more perfectly than in our number one baseball film – Bull Durham. Kevin Costner stars again, this time as veteran catcher “Crash” Davis, who’s sent to minor league team the Durham Bull’s to mentor livewire rookie Nuke LaLoosh. The pair’s strained relationship is pushed to breaking point by the ups and downs of the team’s season and the allure of Susan Sarandon’s Annie, who’s baseball’s version of a groupie. She’s terrific as the sexually charged self-proclaimed “spiritual seeker” who chooses one player every year to be her lover and student of what she calls the “church of baseball”. The only real romance on show is for the game itself but this funny, bittersweet film has a delightful main cast. And by focusing on its characters rather than the sport, it’s a baseball film that everyone can enjoy.
See also: Top 10 Inspirational Sports Films

If you liked any of the baseball films mentioned above you may also like comedies Major League and The Benchwarmers

More Top 10s you might like:
Top 10 Films about Football
Top 10 British Sports Films
Top 10 Inspirational Sports Films

Written by Daniel Stephens & Presented by Joe Forrester

You can see more from The Reel Deal on Top 10 Films or on YouTube.

About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Dan Grant Reply

    Can’t argue with any of these, but too bad you couldn’t find a place for Major League.

    • Avatar
      Dan Reply

      Thanks Dan. It would have made my top 10 but couldn’t break into this top 5. I went for nostalgia and the romance behind the drama of the game rather than out and out comedy. Of course, there was only going to be one winner for me – Bull Durham is easily one of of all-time favourites but I have a real soft spot for the likes of The Sandlot and Bad News Bears (one for the brilliant kids, the other for the brilliant old man!)

  2. Avatar
    Mark Reply

    Nice list, although I wouldn’t have restricted it to romance, hence my adjuncts include John Sayles’ Eight Men Out about the guys (from Chicago??) who threw the world series and Cobb, the one where Tommy Lee Jones plays Ty Cobb as one of the meanest bastards on Earth – the latter has a great, albeit brief, closing shot.

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