With Brad Pitt’s Moneyball nominated for 6 Academy Awards this year and spring training just around the corner I felt it was time to countdown the 5 best baseball movies of all time. In Moneyball Billy Beane uses a line that, I’m not sure if it was actually spoken or not, but it quickly became one of my favorites, “It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball”. That pretty much sums up Hollywoods love affair with America’s past time. With that in mind this list was born.
Kevin Costner plays aging star pitcher, Billy Chapel who can see the end of his illustrious career right in front of him. He begins to think of life after baseball and what to do with it and who to spend it with. His longtime girlfriend, Jane has made a life choice that, unknown to Billy, doesn’t include him. During a routine start on the final day of the season, Billy looks back on his career and relationship with Jane. More focused on his thoughts than the game, Billy goes on to make history in what will be his last game. A movie that has enough baseball to appeal to the men and enough of the love story to appeal to women, For Love Of The Game appeals to all.
An all time classic comedy about a basement dwelling Cleveland Indians team threatening to be moved if the teams dismal ways continue. A greedy owner throws together a misfit team in hopes of relocation to Miami. The one thing they didn’t count on was the hope of this teams last chance players and their hope at pulling out a winning season. With one of the most memorable roles as the teams play by play announcer, Bob Ueker delivers some of the most loved lines associated with the game of all time.
Kevin Costner’s second movie on the list is without question one of his best movies of all time. Costner stars as minor league baseball legend Crash Davis who is traded and tasked with helping develop young hotshot pitcher, Nuke Laroosh. With Laroosh destined for the majors he has a few kinks to work out and not just in his mechanics but in his attitude and approach to the game. Noted as the movie that introduced one of Hollywood’s longest relationships of Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon the memorable chemistry was clearly felt between Sarandon and Costner.
The true story of the 2002 Oakland Athletic’s and their frustrated general manager and how with the second lowest payroll in the game, they still managed to produce one of the most memorable season’s in recent memory. Billy Beane played by Brad Pitt is forced to re-examine how a team is built using a new system of statistics and mathematics now known as sbermetrics. Having changed the game forever with the help of his new young assistant, Peter Brand wonderfully played by Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill. Moneyball is a movie that transcends the game and tell the story of being able to make a difference no matter what the outcome.
Adapted from the classic novel by Bernard Malamud, The Natural is the story of Roy Hobbs, a man who was raised to be and had the skills to be the best player the game ever saw before tragedy stuck and he was forced away from the game for 16 years before finally working his way to the majors. Determined to make the best of his limited time he inspires a down on their luck team to rise to the best the game has to offer. With a classic performance by Robert Redford and perfectly cast as the teams manager is Wilford Brimley who is looking for one final chance at a winning season. Perfectly cast and beautifully shot, The Natural is a love story to baseball’s golden era and has the rousing cheering ending we love from our sports movies.