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Ten Greatest Baseball Movies of All-Time
The influence of baseball on American culture cannot be overstated. From love to law, baseball lingo has found itself deeply rooted in the American lexicon, and that's not to mention the influence baseball has had on media, music, art, and film. Exploring the relationship between baseball and American culture has become popular among many academics, but we're not here for an academic discussion. We're here to discover the baseball movies which have touched us, defined us, made us cry, given us hope, and helped us face to ills of our society. They're all here as the ten greatest baseball movies of all-time.
Designated Hitter: YMCA
Baseball is known as America's pastime, but it is no longer secluded to the North American continent. Thriving professional leagues exist around the world, so it seems only fitting to included at least one foreign film on the list. To this end, YMCA it is. This Korean film depicts the introduction of baseball to Korea at the turn of the 20th century by missionaries working with the YMCA. If you're familiar with Korean history, you'll know this was about the time that Japan forced Korea to become a colony. This history is reflected in the story as baseball is used to allow the Koreans to do battle with the Japanese imperialists without firing any weapons. The movie provides a great glimpse into the different roles baseball can play beyond being a splendid game.
Right Fielder: The Rookie
Jim Morris, like so many young boys, grew up wanting to play Major League Baseball. He was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers at 19, but due to injuries he was never able to advance through the minor league system. He gave up on his dream until, as a high school science teacher and baseball coach, his students on the team challenged him to attend an open tryout for a Major League team should they win the championship. They won. He kept his word and tried out. What happens? You'll have to watch the film to find out.
Center Fielder: Mr. Baseball
The Nippon Professional Baseball League has existed since 1950, and there have been many exchanges between American and Japanese baseball players over the years. Mr. Baseball tells the story of Jack Elliot, a struggling professional player played by Tom Selleck, who gets traded to a Japanese baseball team. Displaying the worst of American arrogance, Elliot is convinced of his superiority over the Japanese players and displays a high-level of disregard for Japanese culture and customs along the way. Things begin to change once Elliot falls in love with a Japanese women who turns out to be the daughter of someone rather important in his life.
Left Fielder: The Bad News Bears
The highly-competitive Southern California Little League prevents all but the best players from competing in the league, but when one man's son is turned down, in true American fashion, he sues the league. They agree to settle by allowing an additional team in the league which will be composed of the worst players. With an alcoholic coach, troublemakers, and a little extra attitude, the Bears go on a wild and comical ride in an attempt to topple the best teams in the league. This 1970s film has become a cult classic among baseball fans, and it was remade in 2005 with Billy Bob Thornton playing the role as the alcoholic coach.
Shortstop: The Sandlot
Many generations of American kids grew up playing baseball over the course of summer vacation on sandlots around the country. This is a story about and for those kids. This movie tells about nine neighborhood friends who spend the summer together playing baseball and getting into a fair amount of childhood trouble. There is even a little romance for those softies in the crowd with a magic moment and a stolen kiss. Relive those childhood memories or introduce some to your own children with The Sandlot.
Third Baseman: The Natural
Based on a novel by Bernard Malamud and starring Robert Redford, The Natural tells a story about a middle-aged rookie ballplayer, Roy Hobbs, and his baseball bat, Wonderboy. At the age of 19, he is signed to play baseball but is nearly murdered by a gunshot from a crazy dane, Harriet Byrd, and does not continue to play because of his injury. Once he reaches middle age, he is given another chance to prove himself on the diamond, and a story for the ages ensues.
Second Baseman: Bull Durham
Crash Davis, played by Kevin Costner, is a veteran of the minor leagues who was sent to a single-A baseball team in Durham, North Carolina to prepare the upcoming rookie "Nuke" LaLoosh, played by Tim Robbins, for his future in the majors. The two argue, fight, laugh and fall in love with the local minor league groupie played by Susan Sarandon. Bull Durham is one of the most critically acclaimed and highly rated baseball movies of all-time, and it is a must see for casual baseball fans and even non-baseball fans.
First Baseman: A League of Their Own
When many American professional ballplayers had to help during the Second World War, people were looking for a way to keep spirits high through the vehicle of baseball. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was born out that desire. A League of Their Own depicts the founding years of the league and details the struggles the players faced for acceptance as professional ballplayer with a comedic twist provided as only Tom Hanks can. Aside from Hanks, the all-star cast included Geena Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O'Donnell.
Catcher: Major League
The owner of a professional baseball team, the Cleveland Indians, dies and leaves the team to his much younger wife. She decides she hates Cleveland and wants to relocate the team to Miami. In order to do that, she puts together a team of wannabes and has-beens with the goal of losing enough games to drive away fans to lower attendance and get out of a lease with the city. The team, a crazy mix of characters, learns about her plans and determines to not let it happen. Comedy, determination, love, and struggles ensue. And, in case you're wondering, Ricky Vaughn makes my heart sing.
Pitcher: Field of Dreams
The greatest of the greats is non-other than Field of Dreams. The story of a farmer, played by Kevin Costner, who plows under his cornfield to build a baseball field with the expectation that his father's long-dead hero, Shoeless Joe Jackson, will be able to play baseball again. Over twenty years later, even with all the twists and turns of the story memorized, the story still manages to pull sentimental feelings from one's heart. To those who have actually visited the field where the film took place, that is twice the case. Field of Dreams is the greatest baseball movie of all time. If you build it, people will come.