By: TJ Hartnett
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
It should have been Opening Day 2020.
Unfortunately, global circumstances beyond MLB’s control led them to delay the start of the baseball season. While there’s still hope that we will all get to hear “play ball” before too long, there is currently no end in sight for our collective lack of professional baseball.
If you’re like me, this has been a frankly depressing couple of days but, if you’re like me, you’ve turned to the best substitute available for the hole in your life (outside of re-watching actual games, which for whatever reason I don’t find all that enjoyable): baseball movies.
There have been dozens of baseball movies made and several of them are wonderful and remind me of why I love the game so much. So, in lieu of being able to write about actual baseball, I’m going to provide you with my top 5 favorite baseball movies.
5. A League of Their Own: You know the line. You’ve said the line. Despite the fact that I’ve seen plenty of baseball players cry and in fact I’ve cried over baseball before. Stripping the ideology that “there’s no crying in baseball” of any semblance of truth, the late Penny Marshall’s love letter to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is a warm blanket of baseball goodness any time you watch it.
Tom Hanks is great, but the focus of the movie is the team of women (not girls), led by Geena Davis. It’s a joyful and funny movie and a notable one. Sports movies starring women continues to be a hole in Hollywood’s resume.
4. Bull Durham: This one feels the most like inside knowledge. Probably because writer/director Ron Shelton actually played minor league ball in the Baltimore farm system.
The main plot of this movie, a love triangle between Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins, doesn’t actually do much for me. However, the on field stuff, like meetings on the mound and Costner’s catcher Crash Davis telling the opposing batter what’s coming is why this movie is in the top 5.
3. The Sandlot: Is this movie great? Probably not. But I’m 32 years old and I dare you to find a single baseball fan anywhere near my age who doesn’t absolutely love this movie. You won’t.
This movie is childhood for so many kids who just loved playing pickup ball anywhere they could. It’s top 3 and I won’t apologize for it.
2. Field of Dreams: I’m a sap. You don’t know me well enough to know that, so I’m telling you.
This movie is sentimental, probably to a fault, but this movie celebrates baseball as a pastoral, innocent, and elegant miracle of a game.
Going to an MLB game early and watching players take batting practice and shag fly balls, while the grounds crew puts the chalk down the first and third base lines is the purest form of contentment imaginable to me.
That’s what this movie strives for (it notably doesn’t strive for accuracy – could they not find a lefty to play Shoeless Joe?!) and often succeeds.
It’s always one that I like to revisit during spring training in order to get reacclimated with the love of the game. So, I may have to watch it a few times this year.
1. Major League: Surprised, perhaps? Major League is neither the most acclaimed work of cinema, nor the most celebrated baseball flick by baseball fans. However, it’s a classic sports movie.
It’s still really funny after 31 years (see: literally everything Bob Uecker says) and believe it or not it’s really the only movie on this list that’s actually about a baseball team playing baseball.
My friends and I quote this one constantly; from opposing teams’ home runs being “too high” to the rapid-fire monologue of “hell of a situation we got here,” Major League is full of joy and it’s my favorite baseball movie.
And right now, that’s all we’ve got.