This is exactly where I am right now. Baseball is over for the year and I pretty much know what is outside my window. It’s not even officially winter season yet. Oh, what to do?
Fortunately, there are numerous baseball movies that allow me to get my fix. Here’s a list of my favorites.
1. For Love of the Game
Released in 1999. The film based on Michael Shaar’s novel of the same name starred Kevin Costner and Kelly Preston. It centers around the potential last game in Billy Chapel’s career. He is pitching a perfect game, mulling potential retirement and of course is recalling his moments with Jane Aubrey, his love interest. Vin Scully and Steve Lyons calling the game add a wonderful realism to the film.
“Are we not in America? Isn’t baseball America’s favorite pastime?”
~ Jane Aubrey
“The game doesn’t stink, Mr. Wheeler. It’s a great game.”
~ Billy Chapel
“Tell them I ‘m through, “for love of the game,” Billy Chapel
(Signed on the baseball)
2. Field of Dreams
Released in 1989. The film based on W.P. Kinsella’s book of the same name has an amazing cast. Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, Burt Lancaster and Frank Whaley. It’s a magical movie of baseball, father and son moments, redemption and believing in dreams. There are several moments in this movie during which I always tear up.
“If you build it, he will come.” ~ The Voice
“This is my most special place in all the world, Ray. Once a place touches you like this, the wind never blows so cold again. You feel for it, like it was your child.” ~ Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham
“Hey...Dad? You wanna have a catch?” ~ Ray Kinsella
“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.” ~ Terence Mann
3. The Natural
Released in 1984. The film is based on Bernard Malamud’s novel of the same name. The cast included Robert Redford, Kim Basinger, Glenn Close, Robert Duval and Wilford Brimley. The story of a ball player, Roy Hobbs that could have been the best of all time but is slightly sidetracked due to a poor decision.
Pop Fisher - “You know my mama wanted me to be a farmer.”
Roy Hobbs - “My dad wanted me to be a baseball player.”
Pop Fisher - “Well you’re better than any player I ever had. And you’re the best god damn hitter I ever saw. Suit up.”
“I wish Dad could’ve...God, I love baseball.” ~ Roy Hobbs
4. A League of Their Own
Released in 1992. It’s a fictionalized telling of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). It starred Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and Lori Petty.
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” ~ Jimmy Dugan
“Because there’s no crying in baseball. There’s no crying in baseball. No crying.”
~ Jimmy Dugan
5. Bull Durham
Released in 1988. Based loosely on director Ron Shelton’s minor league experiences. The cast included Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Trey Wilson and Robert Wurlitzer. A fun account of an aging catcher brought in to mature a younger pitcher with an amazing arm. A great glimpse into the minors even if Robbins doesn’t look like much of a pitcher.
“The rose goes in the front, big guy.” ~ Lawrence “Crash” Davis
“He’s got a million-dollar arm but a five-cent head.” ~ Larry Hockett
“Sears sucks, Crash. Boy, I once worked there. Sold Lady Kenmores. Nasty. Nasty work.” ~ Larry Hockett
“The only church that truly feeds the soul, day in and day out, is the church of baseball.” ~ Annie Savoy
6. Major League
Released in 1989. The cast includes Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, James Gammon and Rene Russo. Bob Uecker steals the movie as Harry Doyle the play by play guy. The last place Cleveland Indians are being run by a former Las Vegas showgirl in hopes of playing so badly she can move them to Florida.
“This guy’s the out you’ve been waiting your whole life for.” ~ Jake Taylor
“Juuuust a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.” ~ Harry Doyle
“Yeah. We’ve got uniforms and everything. It’s really great.” ~ Jake Taylor
7. Pride of the Yankees
Released in 1942. This movie starred Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright and Walter Brennan. It’s the story of New York Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig who died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which after Gehrig died at age 37, became commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Real life Yankee players also joined the cast. They were Babe Ruth, Bill Dickey, Robert Meusel, and Mark Koenig. Bill Stern the sportscaster also played himself in the movie.
This was the first baseball movie I ever saw. Think I was about 6 years old (obviously not the year it was released) and saw it at my grandfather’s house. Memorable, funny and sad.
“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
~ Lou Gehrig
“All the arguing in the world can’t change the decision of the umpire.”
~ Lou Gehrig
8. The Sandlot
Released in 1993. Mostly a cast of kids, Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Renan; but also included Karen Allen, Denis Leary and James Earl Jones. This coming of age story revolves around a game that never ends and the neighborhood kids that are “the game” and the new kid who’s brought in. Funny, touching, and reminds you of many childhood memories.
“C’mon, Benny man. The kid is an L-7 weenie.” ~ Michael “Squints” Palledorous
“You’re killing me, Smalls.” ~ Hamilton “Ham” Porter
“Remember, kid. There’s hero’s and there’s legends. Hero’s get remembered, but legends never die. Follow your heart, kid, and you’ll never go wrong.” ~ Babe Ruth
“Baseball was life! And I was good at it...Real good.” ~ Mr. Mertle
“Man, this is baseball, you gotta stop thinking! Just have fun. If you were having fun, you would have caught that ball.” ~ Benjamin Franklin “Benny the Jet” Rodriguez
9. Mr. Baseball
Released in 1992. A fun movie dealing with a MLB player on the NY Yankees that gets traded to the Chunichi Dragons. He regains his love of the game under his strict Japanese manager. This movie stars Tom Sellick, Ken Takakura and Dennis Haysbert.
“We’re not athletes, we’re baseball players.” ~ Jack Elliot
“Baseball is a game, and games are supposed to be fun.” ~ Jack Elliot
“I‘m a baseball player. I’ve been a baseball player all my life. Even before I was a baseball player, I was a baseball player. I don’t think I can be anything else.” ~ Jack Elliot
Damn Yankees - Released 1955. A delightful musical.
Eight Men Out - Released 1988. Based on the 1919 Chicago “Black Sox” throwing the World Series and the aftermath.
It Happens Every Spring - Released 1949. A chemistry teacher invents a substance that keep the ball from contacting a wood bat. Fun movie.
Summer Catch - Released 2001. Romantic baseball comedy set in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Unfortunately, they cut the scene with Carlton Fisk.
The Rookie - Released 2002. True story of Jim Morris and his unusual path to the major leagues with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Great family dynamics.
“You know what we get to do today, Brooks? We get to play baseball.” ~ Jimmy Morris
“Wasn’t going to miss this one. Watching you out there tonight...not many fathers get to do that.” ~ Jim Morris, Sr.
“Your grandfather once told me it was ok to think about what you want to do until it was time to start doing what you were meant to do.” ~ Jim Morris, Sr.
Trouble with the Curve - Released 2012. Solid baseball movie about an old scout out on the road and his relationship with his daughter. No computers, just baseball knowledge.
42 - Released 2013. The late Chadwick Boseman playing Jackie Robinson. Emotional movie of Jackie breaking the colour barrier of MLB and all the trials he went through in 1947. A must see.
“Maybe tomorrow, we’ll all wear 42, so nobody could tell us apart.” ~ Pee Wee Reese
“Robinson rounds third, headed for home sweet home.” ~ Wendell Smith
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings - Released 1976. A movie about a barnstorming Negro League team. Good baseball, fun cast.
Long Gone - Released 1987. Class D baseball team struggling to get by in the Deep South.
Bang the Drum Slowly - Released 1973. Saw this in a high school religion class. Under-rated movie about a star pitcher and his relationship with a catcher dying of cancer. Sad, touching journey.
Bruce Pearson - “Everybody’d be nice to you if they knew you were dying.”
Henry “Author” Wiggins - “Everybody knows everybody is dying; that’s why people are as good as they are.”
Check these out. I know I missed a few; which are your favorites? Any other quotes you’d like to add?
~ Coach Mike