Baseball on the Big Screen
Baseball season is upon us, Knockfans! How’s your team faring?! Don’t worry, doesn’t matter. If you love baseball (and we do), honestly who cares if the hometown boys are winning or losing? What we all love about baseball doesn’t just revolve around the wins and losses…what really gets our emotions stirring is the smell of the ballpark, the buzz of the crowd, and the crack of the bat!
For this month’s Knockmix, we’re doing things a little differently. Although baseball has been a central topic in a few great songs (John Fogerty, where you at?!), America’s National Pastime has really shined on the big screen. That’s right, this is our first ever movie Knockmix!
With dozens of baseball-themed movies to choose from, we’ve selected 10 of our favorites. From there, we’ve looked up how they rank to professional movie critic (and baseball fan), Roger Ebert. We’ve listed them by the number of stars Roger gave them, from most to fewest.
So throw on a ball cap, check out our list, and select which baseball movie you’ll be watching this weekend!
Field of Dreams (1989)
" 'Field of Dreams' will not appeal to grinches and grouches and realists. It is a delicate movie, a fragile construction of one goofy fantasy after another. But it has the courage to be about exactly what it promises. 'If you build it, he will come.' And he does." – Roger Ebert
"In the 2002 season, the nation's lowest-salaried Major League Baseball team put together a 20-game winning streak, setting a new American League record. The team began that same season with 11 losses in row. What happened between is the stuff of "Moneyball," a smart, intense and moving film that isn't so much about sports as about the war between intuition and statistics." – Roger Ebert
Bull Durham (1988)
" 'Bull Durham' is a treasure of a movie because it knows so much about baseball and so little about love. The movie is a completely unrealistic romantic fantasy, and in the real world the delicate little balancing act of these three people would crash into pieces. But this is a movie, and so we want to believe in love, and we want to believe that once in a while lovers can get a break from fate. That’s why the movie’s ending is so perfect. Not because it seems just right, but because it seems wildly impossible, and we want to believe it anyway." – Roger Ebert
"From the soundtrack to the speechifying to the subject material to the script’s somber tone, “42” has the uniform of an Oscar contender, but it falls short of Hall of Fame status. Jackie Robinson was great. “42” is good." – Roger Ebert
A League Of Their Own (1992)
"The movie has a real bittersweet charm. The baseball sequences, we've seen before. What's fresh are the personalities of the players, the gradual unfolding of their coach and the way this early chapter of women's liberation fit into the hidebound traditions of professional baseball. By the end, when the women get together again for their reunion, it's touching, the way they have to admit that, whaddaya know, they really were pioneers." – Roger Ebert
The Sandlot (1993)
"There was a moment in the film when Rodriguez hit a line drive directly at the pitcher's mound, and I ducked and held up my mitt, and then I realized I didn't have a mitt, and it was then I also realized how completely this movie had seduced me with its memories of what really matters when you are 12." – Roger Ebert
Rookie of the Year (1993)
"Look, this isn't a great movie. If you're not a kid, don't go unless there's a kid you want to take. But if you are a kid, and you have ever for a moment wondered what it would be like to play major-league ball at your age, then take it from the old Little Leaguer and see this movie. I really shouldn't give it three stars, but I'm going to anyway. Call it a form of revenge for all those hours of dread I spent in right field." – Roger Ebert
Mr. Baseball (1992)
"Selleck does a nice, quiet job of making the title character convincing. He isn't overwritten or overplayed, and seems like what he is: A player of considerable but not unlimited ability who needs to do some growing up. He grows up, the games get played, the subplots resolve themselves satisfactorily, and although the movie sets no records for brilliance, it works." – Roger Ebert
The Natural (1984)
"As for the baseball, the movie isn't even subtle. When a team is losing, it makes Little League errors. When it's winning, the hits are so accurate they even smash the bad guy's windows. There's not a second of real baseball strategy in the whole film. The message is: Baseball is purely and simply a matter of divine intervention. At about the 130-minute mark, I got the idea that God's only begotten son was playing right field for the New York team." – Roger Ebert
The Rookie (2002)
"The Rookie" is comforting, even soothing, to those who like the old songs best. It may confuse those who, because they like the characters, think it is good. It is not good. It is skillful. Learning the difference between good movies and skillful ones is an early step in becoming a moviegoer. "The Rookie" demonstrates that a skillful movie need not be good. It is also true that a good movie need not be skillful, but it takes a heap of moviegoing to figure that one out." – Roger Ebert
BONUS: Major League (1989)
The iconic baseball movie, Major League, starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Beringer, and Wesley Snipes, is an office favorite and would absolutely be included among our 10 favorites. Alas, Roger Ebert never reviewed Major League and therefore we felt like we couldn’t include it on the official list. Nevertheless, here is the movie trailer in all of its late 80’s glory.