If you’re stuck home, missing actual baseball, you may be able to fill the void a bit with a good ol’ baseball flick. Baseball has seemed to translate to the silver screen a lot better than other sports. There are a few good non-baseball sports-movies, while baseball has at least a dozen really watchable films, some silly, some sappy, and some serious.
We asked our writers to tell us about their favorite baseball movie.
Bradford Lee: This is an easy one. With a tip of the cap to Bull Durham, Trouble with the Curve and Field of Dreams, my favorite is Major League – farfetched, goofy, campy, light hearted baseball fun. Bob Uecker, basically playing himself, is classic – “And that one’s off the reservation.” “Just a little outside. That’s ball seven. Ball eight.” “And nothing beats Pete Vukovich asking Tom Berenger, “How’s your wife and my kids?” Plus the Yankees get beat.
Hokius: Bradford stole mine so I’m going to go completely off the reservation and pick the classic Deep Space Nine episode, “Take Me Out to the Holosuite” where Sisko and the crew must play earth’s oldest - and nearly-forgotten - pastime against a team made up entirely of smugly arrogant Vulcans. The Niners lose, sadly, but they achieve a moral victory by managing to score a run. My favorite part is when Odo, acting as umpire, tosses the smarmiest of the Vulcans for touching him during an argument about the run being scored. I’m also a fan of the epilogue moment where the DS9 crew celebrates in the bar while the Vulcans try to berate them for being logical; sometimes it’s just better to have fun even when it doesn’t make any sense.
David Lesky: My favorite baseball movie is Major League, but it’s not an easy decision. I think rooting for the Royals and them being complete also-rans made me love the movie growing up and I’ve now made it a tradition that I watch it the day before the season starts. I was all ready to go on March 25, so I’ll probably still watch it then and then again right before the season, but it’s still disappointing nonetheless. Bob Uecker makes the movie, but the performances from the whole cast make it so that I can’t help but laugh even though I’ve heard the jokes a million times. While Major League is my absolute favorite, I have to give a shoutout to A League of Their Own, which I think is one of the most compelling baseball movies I’ve ever seen. That’s a close second for me. But let’s be real. Other than Trouble With the Curve, there’s no such thing as a truly bad baseball movie.
Josh Keiser: This was genuinely tough to decide. You can make a great case for so many and it all depends on what mood you’re in. The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, 61, Field of Dreams are all up there for me. But I’m a silly guy that likes silly things and so I’ve gotta go with a silly movie. My definitive favorite baseball movie is Major League 2. Yeah! The sequel! The original one is classic and I’m sure it’ll be in this article somewhere, but the characters from 2 are better than the first one. All the good ones came back (Wild Thing, Willie Mays Hayes, Dorn, Jake, Cerano, Lou, and of course Harry Doyle). They also added possibly my favorite of the group, Rube Baker. He was a one liner juggernaut.
“They’re gonna send me back to Omaha and I don’t even live there.”
“My Dad figured I wouldn’t amount to much except...well I never came up with anything, but I know I can play ball a little.”
“Hey Cerano, I’m on the rooster.”
“Women. Ya can’t live without ‘em and they can’t pee standing up.”
“My momma always said it’s better to eat shit than to not eat at all.”
I mean there are just so many great lines in it and we haven’t even started with drunk Harry Doyle. So that’s my choice. Apologies to all the Major League purists out there.
Shaun Newkirk: Let’s separate something out here: favorite baseball movie doesn’t mean the best baseball movie. If we are talking favorites, often we are talking about guilty pleasures or movies we enjoy despite them not being Osca-worthy.
”The Scout” STINKS. It’s a terrible movie that borderlines on ridiculous (Brendan Fraser’s character in his first ever career start throws a 27 strikeout perfect game in the World Series...and he doesn’t throw a pitch for a ball the entire time - apparently MLB hitters can’t make contact with a 103 MPH fastball). But The Scout is slappy, it’s enjoyable on a Saturday afternoon in your recliner, and it’s funny.
My favorite baseball movie is actually an American remake of a film that came out in the UK shortly after The Scout, but instead of on a soccer field, it took place on a baseball field: Fever Pitch. The second word there still works, as “pitch” is another name for a field in soccer (and of course we know the baseball vernacular). Despite being about different sports, the original and the remake deal with the main characters passion for the game they love and often how our passions get in the way of our personal lives.
Fever Pitch is directed by the Farrelly Brothers, and features Jimmy Fallon as Ben alongside Drew Barrymore as Lindsey. It follows the highs and lows of both the 2004 Red Sox and the relationship between the two: starting in the winter, excitement builds in the spring, the good times roll in the summer, but as October comes so does heartbreak. However much like the Red Sox that season, Ben and Lindsey come back from the brink and find happiness (or the World Series).
Fever Pitch is another Saturday afternoon recliner movie, but it’s maybe the only baseball movie that focuses not on the players, but on the fan. It touches on the meaning of fandom and how that fandom intersects with how we treat each other, particularly those close to us. How being a fan is an up and down rollercoaster that requires both giving and taking, like a relationship. It’s dumb and there is a scene where Fallon’s character gets “lobster fingers” which is peak SNL Fallon, but it’s so entirely enjoyable that even if you hate the Red Sox, you can fall in love with baseball (and Lindsey).
Minda Haas Kuhlmann: Bull Durham, every day of every week. It is both great at being a baseball movie, and great at being a steamy romance. Since it was directed by someone who actually played minor league baseball, the baseball parts feel a lot more grounded in reality. It’s got the famous quotes, rants, and speeches, and also tiny moments that are just perfect. (Annie’s reply of “How embarrassin’” after Crash says he doesn’t dance is so small, and they move right on from it after a beat, and it is perfection.) Do not watch the TV-edited version, and do not show this movie to children. It’s not for them. Baseball is profane and hideous and the best damn thing in the whole world, and this movie is for adults who have been through all of that with “this f***ing game.”
As an added bonus, Annie’s wardrobe is DIVINE.
SterlingIce: No one’s taken Field of Dreams yet? The single greatest movie for waxing poetic about baseball? Yes, it’s a movie about baseball that’s not about baseball. Yes, there are some flaws in a narrative that’s held together by only a couple of threads, namely daddy issues, James Earl Jones, and a weird unexplained voice. But it also has this:
Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
Seth Jarman: I think the answer has to be Major League. Like so many other comedies from that era, the stereotypes are cringe-worthy, but it’s such a funny movie with so many great lines, and just about everyone in it is hilarious. Bob Uecker established himself as a national treasure with his performance, and the restaurant scene where Vaughn thinks he looks “like a banker” still makes me laugh every time. I love that Charlie Sheen looks like he could actually be a flame-throwing pitcher, too, which isn’t always the case in baseball movies (looking at you, Tim Robbins). And when he comes out of the bullpen to “Wild Thing” and the crowd goes nuts, good luck not getting goosebumps. “I know he hasn’t done very well against this guy, but I’ve got a hunch he’s due.” Now that’s how you manage a bullpen!
Matthew LaMar: Major League 2. It’s rare for a comedy sequel to achieve the heights of its predecessor, but Major League 2 does so by adeptly combining what worked with the first one alongside new characters and meaningful changes to returning ones. I love the earnest and hilarious Rube Baker, who channels some serious Andy Dwyer energy (or the other way around, whatever; time is weird). Besides, Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughan going out of his way to face the antagonist, Jack Parkman, during the climax of the film is perhaps the best scene in either Major League film.
Max Rieper: I highly recommend underrated gems like the indie flick Sugar, about a Dominican player signed by a fictional Kansas City baseball team, the Netflix documentary Battered Bastards of Baseball, about the independent league Portland Mavericks, and the overlooked HBO flick Soul of the Game about the Negro Baseball League. If I’m being honest, my favorite baseball flick is Major League. Since that has been mentioned a few times, I’ll stick up for an underrated flick, Mr. Baseball, starring Tom Selleck. It is a familiar “fish out of water” story, but it does a good job representing baseball in Japan with some great baseball scenes and is pretty re-watchable.
What is your favorite baseball movie?