Let me start this post by saying I’ve never heard of Little Big League. Maybe my dad was on that Rookie of the Year side that Gavin was talking about, or maybe I just didn’t pay any attention growing up.
I’m purposely leaving out any of Gavin’s honorable mentions because I want to include my own. But for the record, I agree with his sentiments about The Sandlot and Eight Men Out.
I am going to say this though… I am not of a fan of Major League. Funny.. sure, but the whole Charlie “Wild Thing” Sheen? No, thank you.
I know, I know. A love story between Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jessica Biel? The terrible pun on “catch?” But this is actually a fun film about a pitcher full of potential and that last shot he’s afforded, which in turn works as a mechanism for his own maturity. It accurately portrays dugout culture and the dynamics of teammate relationships. Despite this being a love story at heart, baseball is a part of every scene. The pressure of performing well is always there.
This isn’t a baseball movie, but rather, baseball is the setting in which this movie is written. This could have easily been a film about any other sport, but they chose baseball. Also, another terrible pun in the title… but the 2004 Redsox are going to be one of my favorite postseason stories for a long time, and as a man that loves a woman that doesn’t love baseball, I understand. This film gets a mention because though it doesn’t revolve around players, it’s a beautiful story about the other side, the camaraderie of fans, and how silly the whole thing is.
5. The Rookie
Sure, it’s one of those Disney films inspired by a true story of one man doing great things, but what’s resonated with me about this film is how the game never leaves you. I still find myself grabbing my wiffle ball bat and practicing mechanics when I’m home alone. I still stretch my arm out the way we used to at practice. I’ll spend 40.00+ at the batting cages just to get that fix. The dream doesn’t die, and the scene with the broken radar, where the light changes from 76 to 96 as he walks away, will always be pretty awesome.
4. For Love of the Game
I’m a stickler for movies that get the baseball mechanics correct, and though this film is more love story than anything, the moments in which Kevin Costner “clears the mechanism” are absolutely perfect. His pitching motion, the swings of other actors and even John C. Reilly’s body language as his go-to catcher just make me giddy. I was going to leave this film as an honorable mention, but I just convinced myself to put it in the list. Too many movies make me cringe when it comes to mechanics (Mr. 3000, Bull Durham, Major League), but For Love of the Game absolutely does not.
3. The Natural
Is there anything better than a guy crushing one into the lights? I don’t think so. If you’ve ever played the game, then you’ve had that dream where you send a ball into orbit. If we hadn’t, then Slugfest never would’ve made it as a video game series. We are a culture of heroes, legends, “chosen ones,” and The Natural fits perfectly into the ideology.
I have no idea how 61* only “cracked” Gavin’s list. Just as the 2004 Redsox are on of my favorite postseason stories, the Mark McGuire-Sammy Sosa home run race is one of my favorite narratives*. (*I know it’s a sham… but the present moment excitement was very real.) Billy Crystal some how reconstructs the home run race between Mantle and Maris in away that recreates that present moment excitement every time I watch. I despise the Yankees, and somehow I still root for them in this film. That’s got to say something… right?
1. Field of Dreams
I hate that Gavin and I reached a consensus for our number one movie, but since we built this blog, we should’ve known this was to come. Field of Dreams hits at the heart of what baseball really is for most of America, a way for a boy to connect to his dad. I only ever started playing baseball because I knew my dad played his whole life and I only ever fell in love because he started calling me “Chipper.” Gavin’s right about the supernatural element as well. I’m not the least superstitious in my own life… except when it comes to baseball. I still rub my fingers on the bill of my cap when it’s 2-2-2, and I still refuse to acknowledge a no-no until it’s completed or broken. Even better, it’s a baseball film without the politics. No angry GM. No pressure to make it. Just one man and what the game means to him.
I will not be surprised, if one day I hear a voice telling me to build a baseball field, and I’m leading infield drills with the 1995 Atlanta Braves.