Top 5 Baseball Movies

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If you put a gun to my head and asked me what my favorite sport is, I would probably have to say baseball.  I love baseball and I have always loved it since I was a little kid.  I played until high school and I pitched, played 1st Base, 2nd Base, and catcher.  My favorite team is the Chicago White Sox although I am also a big Atlanta Braves fan having spent two years of my life in Atlanta during their epic run in the 90s.  In honor of this past opening weekend of baseball, in which my White Sox went 2-1, here are the five best baseball movies.

1. The Natural – Barry Levinson

I have heard all kinds of charges levied against The Natural however anyone who doesn’t have chills when watching the final scene doesn’t have a beating heart and clearly isn’t human.  They lack any kind of soul.  I don’t care if people find the story to be ridiculous but the fact of the matter is that I could watch this film over and over again.  Robert Redford gives what might be his career defining performance in this film.  A must watch for any baseball fan.

2. Field of Dreams – Phil Alden Robinson

A quintesential baseball film, this proves that the only thing more American than baseball and apple pie are fathers and sons not getting along.  The baseball action is wonderful and is handled with great respect.  Kevin Costner turns in what might be his best performance and the supporting cast ranging from James Earl Jones to Ray Liotta is wonderful.  Plus it makes my White Sox look good.

3. Eight Men Out – John Sayles

Anyone who knows anything about John Sayles knows that he is a huge baseball fan.  He is featured in Ken Burns wonderful documentary Baseball.  So him tackling the 1919 Black Sox scandal is probably a match made in heaven.  Eight Men Out is powerful reminder of what goes on behind the scenes in sports and how even baseball players are only human beings.  The film doesn’t also forget to let us know that the Cinicinatti Reds had a far better record that year than the White Sox.

4. Bull Durham – Ron Shelton

There is a Crash Davis in every organization.  A career minor leauger who has toiled around from team to team never quite making the big leagues.  They aren’t necesarily bad players but they aren’t great either.  Most likely, they are career .265 hitters without a lot of power.  For the White Sox, it was Jamie Burke and Chris Widger.  Despite being a hilarious comedy, Bull Durham is a very realistic look at what life is like in the minor leagues.  The scene when Crash finally gets the call up to the big leauges sends chills down my spine.

5. Sugar – Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden

This is one of the best baseball films of recent years.  While not being about baseball as much as the other films, Sugar features some of the best baseball scenes of any movie.  What makes the film so special is how painfully realistic the film is when dealing with life in the minor leagues.  The film strains away from any sentimentality by taking a naturalistic approach.  The film is both funny and quite powerful.  Fleck is a baseball fan, unfortunately for him it is of the Oakland A’s, however he never lets that distract from the story.

EXTRA INNINGS:

Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns – Ken Burns

While technically not a movie, Ken Burns’ 10 part PBS mini-series is easily the best film about baseball.  It is extremely comprehensive, informative, entertaining, and powerful.  Burns takes us from the beginning of baseball in the 1800s to present day with his recent release of Baseball: The Tenth Inning on blu-ray and DVD.  He gets incredible archival footage and amazing talking head interviews with Billy Crystal (New York Yankees fan), the aforementioned Sayles, Doris Kearns Goodwin (Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Red Sox fan), Vin Scully (broadcaster for the Dodgers), Red Barber (broadcaster for the Dodgers), and a host of others.  I have watched this thing close to thirty times.

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