The spring season, weather wise, can be a major challenge for scheduling games. Rainy conditions, the occasional pop-up snow storm, and colder temperatures present a major headache for league commissioners, athletic directors, and event coordinators. Professional teams aside, when it rains in the spring, games get postponed or cancelled due to weather. So, what can you do to improve as a baseball player when your team gets rained out? You can watch a baseball movie, of course.
All kidding aside, baseball movies are one of the most popular sports Hollywood has chosen to portray on the big screen. After all, movies are about heroes, drama, last second heroics, fallen stars, and resurrecting a career. Well, baseball has all of those components in its storied history and it is currently writing new stories every day. Here are a few of my favorite baseball movies and why:
- “The Natural” – Robert Redford in one of my favorite roles as the mysterious, talented, and comeback kid Roy Hobbs. Once a major baseball prospect, years of mystery following an unfortunate encounter, then a meteoric rise to stardom, only to fall once again, then pick himself up to win the game. Classic movie for any baseball generation.
- “Field of Dreams” – Kevin Costner is so incredible in this movie, you just want to reach onto the screen and shake the man’s hand. Wonderful cinematography capturing the Midwest (Iowa) and Boston (Fenway Park). Amazing story about the bond of baseball in families, parent to child, how a simple game of catch can bring tears to your eyes as a baseball parent. Incredible supporting cast with Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones, and Burt Lancaster.
- “The Bad News Bears” – Walter Mattheiu as the coach of the worst Little League team ever assembled. Laughable, sarcastic, with a big heart for these kids. I love the original one, haven’t seen the newer version with Billy Bob Thornton. Losing and errors is never something to make fun of, but you can’t help yourself with this movie.
- “A League of Their Own” – Incredible story about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a pioneering league for women, when women were supposed to be in the kitchen making dinner or getting the kids ready for school. Modern day female athletes deserved the praise and acclaim this movie received, as they are far too often put on the back burners of news stories versus their male athlete counterparts. Tom Hanks is just perfect and utters the greatest baseball quote ever, “There is no crying in baseball.” All-star cast with Geena Davis (from Wareham, MA) and Madonna. Side note, local Rhode Island baseball player Wilma Briggs played in this league for 6 seasons before her career as a North Kingstown school teacher.
- “42” – This movie is such an important film in terms of its historic perspective. Minorities, prior to Jackie Robinson’s rookie campaign with the Brooklyn Dodgers, were nowhere to be found in Major League baseball. His incredible courage, the pain he endured from racist hecklers, the death threats to himself and his family are the reason he is immortalized by Major League baseball. Plus, he was a really awesome baseball player who just needed that one break, that one call up. His number 42 was retired by every Major League team to honor his dedication and heroism to the game of baseball in breaking the color barrier in the 1940’s. His rookie year, Robinson was 28 years old. Imagine the stats he would have compiled if he were given the chance to play at say 19 or 20 like modern day players. What a talent and what an important baseball movie on so many levels.
There are comedies like “The Benchwarmers”, “Major League”, and “Mr. 3000”. There are the dramatic ones like “Bull Durham”, “For The Love of the Game”, and “Trouble with the Curve.” New England, especially Massachusetts has movies such as “Fever Pitch” and “Summer Catch” which have great scenes from Fenway Park and the summer Cape Cod League. Disney has many baseball movies including “Angels in the Outfield”, “Air Bud”, “The Rookie”, and “Million Dollar Arm.” If it has a title with “baseball” or “outfield” or “field”, chances are I have seen it.
What are your favorite baseball movies and why? Send me a post or email and I’ll post it on my Facebook page – The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. For today, the weather looks good so let’s get outside and play baseball.