If you follow me on Twitter (I’m sorry), then you know that besides film, I am devoted to baseball and the Boston Red Sox. January and February are generally the darkest months of my year, with no baseball and terrible movies. But, as we move into March, Oscar season ends, Spring Training begins and I emerge from my cave to interact with other… um, people. Since pitchers and catchers have reported this week, I thought I would share with everyone some of my favorite films about baseball. Additionally, these are MY favorite movies, not necessarily the best movies, so there will be no inclusion of seminal classics like Pride of the Yankees or Major League or anything with Kevin Costner. And even though I am a proud member of Red Sox Nation, you will not see Fever Pitch on this list either. Its not even a movie about baseball as it is about a baseball fan. There was a much better film about baseball fans called…
The Fan (1996) is Robert DeNiro as said fan and Wesley Snipes is the ball player. Did I start with this film because I know that Dylan is a Giants fan? Possibly. Have I personally gone to some of the extremes that Gil Renard goes to in the film? I deny everything. However, I do know something about die hard fans turning on a big ticket free agent outfielder who can’t hit his weight thru the break and yes, maybe I blew him up on Twitter as well. But the movie came out at a time when sports fans LITERALLY were going crazy. It’s difficult to watch it now and not believe the story could happen. So next time your team nose dives in September, just think that some old Italian could have kidnapped your number 3 hitter’s kid. FUN FACT – The novel the film is based on revolved around the Red Sox.
But baseball has always been about kids and that brings me to two of my favorite baseball movies growing up, The Sandlot and Little Big League. If there is ever a movie to make you feel nostalgic for being a kid in a time when your parents were kids, it’s The Sandlot (or maybe Dazed and Confused). There’s at least one kid on that team that you can relate too and you knew all those other kids growing up. And for someone who moved around a lot and had to make new friends, the movie meant as much to me as Little Big League. But, it had my favorite player of all time, Ken Griffey Jr., great baseball action and clubhouse antics and teaches one of the most important life lessons you can learn from baseball. Nobody wins them all. FUN FACT 2- In The Sandlot, Denis Leary is a Yankees fan. In real life, he is a DIE HARD Red Sox fan. It is noted as his best performance.
Learning about the game has also drawn me to three other films that I really like, and love re-watching. To go for back into the history of baseball, Eight Men Out is a must watch. The story of the eight blacklisted White Sox players who threw the 1919 World Series is especially good viewing for anyone who wonders why ball players make so much money. To understand the spoils they enjoy today, it’s important to reflect on how they were exploited in the past. Baseball grew as America grew and it’s even reflected, somewhat obnoxiously, in the movie A League Of Their Own. The story of women’s professional baseball was clearly a passion project for those involved but it’s a baseball story that needed to be told. Gender bias aside, it’s a great movie and probably Tom Hanks best comedic performance ever. FUN FACT 3- In college, I did a routine from the film where I played Jimmy Stewart as Jimmy Dugan and Cary Grant as Walter Harvey. It killed.
Finally, a movie that I vigorously defend is Hardball. I don’t care if people think Keanu Reevs can’t act, his speech at the ends puts me in tears every time I watch it. Yes, it’s cute kids being cute and that’s something I absolutely loathe in movies, but I’m a sucker for it in this one. Though it is light on the baseball, again it teaches one of the most important life lessons learned from the game. Showing up is one of the bravest things you can do when everyone is rooting for you to fail, kind of like Keanu Reeve’s performance in the movie. FUN FACT 4 – Because of this movie, ‘Big Poppa’ has been used as David Ortiz’s walkup music at Fenway Park.
FUN FACT 5 – I loved MoneyBall. Any movie ending with the Red Sox winning the World Series is a favorite.