(first of two parts)
I recently saw an on-line list of the best baseball movies. Over the weekend, two newspapers published their lists.
Since none them had the correct answers, here are my all-time favorite baseball movies.
10. “Moneyball” (2011) Rated PG-13.
Stars: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Chris Pratt, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Reasoning: My favorite baseball movies are about players playing the game, but this movie makes my list as it examines how Oakland’s Billy Beane used computer-generated analyses to assemble a team strapped by a low budget. Beane’s statistical data determine a player’s worth. Too bad Bob Nutting never saw this movie.
Best Quote: “When your enemy’s making mistakes, don’t interrupt him.”
9. “League of Their Own” (1992) Rated PG.
Stars: Tom Hanks, Madonna, Geena Davis, and Rosie O’Donnell.
Reasoning: During World War II, baseball owners were looking for something to keep baseball in the nation’s forefront.
With many of the majors’ players in the armed forces, baseball created the first female professional league to fill the gap.
Best Quote: “There’s no crying in baseball.” Tom Hanks barks out probably the most famous baseball quote ever.
8. “Rookie of the Year” (1993) Rated PG.
Stars: Thomas Ian Nicholas, Gary Busey, Amy Morton, and Albert Hall.
Reasoning: A 12-year-old boy has an operation on his broken arm.
Somehow the surgery gives him a powerful pitching arm that delivers a ball up to 103 mph.
Remember, this movie was made 27 years ago, long before every team had a stable of bullet-throwers. He ends up pitching for the then-lowly Chicago Cubs.
Best Quote: “I just figured out why the Cubs lose every year. They’ve got more talent in the stands than they do in the field.”
7. “The Bad News Bears” (1976) Rated PG.
Stars: Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal, Joyce Van Patten, and Vic Morrow.
Reasoning: The King of Gruff (aka Matthau) is an aging ex-minor leaguer who ends up managing a team of misfits, who have no chance to win anything, do they?
Best Quote: “They win one lousy game; the next thing you know, they’ll sue for the right to play in Dodger Stadium. “
6. “The Sandlot” (1993) Rated. PG.
Stars: Tom Guidry, Mike Vitar, and Art LaFleur. But the only person you’ll recognize is a James Earl Jones cameo.
Reasoning: A new kid to the neighborhood wants to learn baseball and becomes part of some local buddies, who play the game without any supervision—you know like we all did when we were kids. The most memorable scene features The Beast, a ball-eating dog that
lives just behind the fence at the kids’ sandlot.
Best Quote: “Man, this is baseball, you gotta stop thinking! Just have fun. If you were having fun, you would have caught that ball!”
5. “Little Big League” (1994) Rated PG.
Stars: Luke Edwards, John Ashton, Timothy Busfield, and Jason Robards.
Reasoning: a 12-year-old inherits the Minnesota Twins from his grandfather.
A series of events leads him to fire the manager and become the field general himself.
It’s a cute movie, but it makes the list mainly because of the circumstances of how I saw it.
In 1994, I had taken the family to brand-spanking new Jacobs (now Progressive) Field in Cleveland to see the Twins-Indians game. I had misread the info on the tickets and we showed up for a 2 o’clock game on July 4 instead of the 4 p.m. game on July 2.
Even though the game was sold out, we still got to see the Twins—in the adjacent Tower City Cinema. As it turned out, all five of us really enjoyed the film—they even forgave me for missing the baseball game…well almost.
Best Quote: “If I owned the Twins, I’d just hire a bunch of scientists to do my homework.I mean, if you’re rich, you don’t have to be smart. That’s the whole beauty of this country.”
Next Week’s Column: My top four baseball movies.
JIM SANKEY is a baseball columnist for The Allied News