Swinging for the Fences

What? You mean the National Pastime isn’t moviegoing? Oh, well, what better way to celebrate the start of baseball season then by being on deck, ready to watch some terrific baseball movies? Grab your remote along with some peanuts and hot dogs and slide into these hits, listed in no particular order. ClearPlay filters are available for all movies except where noted.

The Natural
(1984) – Larger than life adaptation of the Bernard Malamud classic about a ballplayer destined to be “the best there ever was.” More of an allegory than reality, and it’s sure beautiful to look at. Cinematography by Caleb Deshanel.

Eight Men Out
(1988) – A great script by John Sayles elevates this story of the White Sox scandal of 1919. Starring John Cusack, D.B. Sweeney, Michael Rooker.

Field of Dreams
(1989) – “Is this Heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa.” This Kevin Costner fantasy is about a guy who levels a good portion of his cornfield to build a baseball diamond because a voice tells him to. Added bonus: It’s one of a small handful of movies where it’s okay for men to cry.

The Rookie
(2002) – Family-friendly Disney movie tells the true story of Jim Morris, a high school baseball coach who tries out for the pros. Starring Dennis Quaid.

The Sandlot
(1993) A nostalgic view of sandlot baseball from a kid’s perspective. Fans of the movie don’t just like it; they adore it.

Bull Durham
(1988) – Durham tops a lot of baseball-movie lists, thanks to writer-director Ron Shelton’s stint in the minors. Make sure you ClearPlay it, as it deals with a lot of off-field sexual activity. Stars Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.

A League of Their Own
(1992) – Though not one of my favorites, this story about an all-girls’ league deserves to be on the list if only for the line, “There’s no crying in baseball!” Stars Geena Davis, Tom Hanks and Madonna.

Pride of the Yankees
(1942) Film classic in which Gary Cooper plays Lou Gehrig, New York Yankee iron man who succumbs to illness. No filter exists because it doesn’t need one.

Bang the Drum Slowly
(1973) – Drum highlights the friendship between a Big League pitcher (Michael Moriarty) and his dying catcher (Robert DeNiro). Poignant without being maudlin. No filter exists, so profanity and a scene of propositioning will limit family viewing.

Fever Pitch
(2005) – The best movie ever made about baseball fandom. Ben (Jimmy Fallon) as to decide whether to give up his beloved Red Sox for the girl of his dreams (Drew Barrymore).

Major League
(1989) – Crowd-pleaser with over-the-top characters, ML follows a bunch of underdogs as they rise to the top. Mostly silly, but it’s fun silly.

The Bad News Bears
(1976) – The original with Walter Matthau and Tatum O’Neal, not the Billy Bob Thornton remake. A washed-up Little League coach (Matthau) re-sets his priorities as his ragtag team vies for the title.

-- by Marty Nabhan, ClearPlay Third Base Coach