Again, making a list like this was harder than I thought. Narrowing it down to nine, I had to leave some of my favorite off, but I’ll leave my ‘honorable mention’ list for the end. Meanwhile, such movies as Ed and The Slugger’s Wife were fairly easy to cast aside. Here we go:
9) Bang The Drum Slowly: This could be the best movie you’ve never seen. I was able to pick it up for $5.00 and what a good investment. A young Robert DeNiro plays a fatally ill ball player who basically rallies his team around him. The acting is excellent, and the story is original. I was really suprised and impressed when I was able to sit down and watch it. Some of the scenes are a little dated, since it was filmed in the 70’s, but the story itself is just timeless. The ball players are member of the New York Mamoths club, but look ridiculously close to the Yankees. The writing is well done and I have to believe this movie was nominated for some awards at one point in time. You know it has to be pretty good to beat out The Sandlot…which is still one of my favorites, but had to be left off. It’s worth at least checking out if you have a chance.
8) Major League III: Back To The Minors. I know I’m gonna get a lot of flack for this one….I know it can’t compare to the original, but I still find it very entertaining. For some reason I find myself watching it quite a bit, and it’s a tradition to watch during my annual baseball trip. I like it a lot better than the first sequel because of it’s original and not a ‘remake’ of the first one. Also, the fact that it revolves around the Minor Leagues is a plus in my book, too. It doesn’t involve the Indians, but has the Twins as the ‘bad guys’ and the Salt Lake Buzz as the misfit AAA team brought together my rookie coach Gus Cantral (Scott Bakula). There are a few familiar faces, such at Cerano, Tanaka, and ‘Rube’ Baker. There is a lot of good baseball stuff in this movie along with some laughs to go along the way. Not as funny as the first, but I think you’d enjoy it for what it is. Trust me on this one….
7) Bull Durham: Another movie that revolves around the Minors, most of you would have ranked this one a lot higher. As funny as it is, I lose interest at the end when the baseball parts are over and it focuses on the relationship between Kevin Costner and Susan Serandan. It does have some of the funniest one-liners to date. It’s too bad that the original ballpark the Durham Bulls played in isn’t used anymore, but now the Bulls are part of the Triple-A International League instead of the lowly Class A Carolina League. My favorite scenes are when Crash (Costner) tells the batters what pitches Nuke is preparing to throw. The movie also turned the Durham Bulls into one of the most recognized Minor League ball clubs in the country. It’s on my baseball trip ‘to do’ list for sure. With so many ball clubs in North Carilina, you could get a lot of baseball games in a short time. I don’t think I really have to recommend this one, as most either own it or have seen it many times.
6) Everyone’s Hero. This is a sentimental favorite of mine. This is one of the first movies I took my two oldest kids to see at the theater, and my youngest is becoming a big fan of it as well. It’s a good way to expose kids to baseball, history, and Babe Ruth himself. It’s quite a bit off the wall, with a talking baseball and the Babe’s bat ‘Darlin’. The story goes that the evil Cubs owner has Darlin’ stolen to the Babe can’t hit and the Yankees will lose the World Series. The main character, a kid named Yankee Irvine, has his dad blamed for the mishap and fired. Yankee must rescue Darlin, make his way to Chicago, save the World Series for the Yanks, and try to get his dad’s job back. Yeah…that’s a lot of responsibility for a little kid. Of course he makes friends along the way, and learns more about baeball. The main theme of the movie is ‘keep swinging’ and the Babe keeps stating that anythng can happen in baseball. It’s highly recommended for the kids.
5) Field of Dreams. I know for most people, this movie is probably number one. The movie based on the novel ‘Shoeless Joe’ really captured the imagination of baseball lovers everywhere. I enjoyed the novel, but this is one of the few movies that I actually enjoyed more. They did a great job with it, and really got the point accross of the magic of baseball. The scenes with ‘Moonlight’ Graham are my favorite, but lots of memorable moments. I was also lucky enough to visit the movie site in Dyersville, Iowa earlier this year. Unfortunately there was no corn stalks, but it is still a great place to visit. I was able to take some infield, pitch off the mound, and play catch with my dad which is what I’m supposed to do, I guess. I’ll have to take my kid there when they’re a little older and have watched the movie themselves. It’s a timeless classic that I really never get tired of watching.
4) The Bad News Bears (1976). Their are many reasons why I like the original to the remake of 2005. The original has to be one of the funniest baseball movies ever, and the first in sport ‘underdog’ movies. Movies like the Mighty Ducks, Big Green, and Little Giants are all basic remakes substituting hockey, soccer, and football. It doesn’t hurt that I had a mega crush on Tatum O’Neal when I as a little kid, either. How cool would it have been to have a girlfriend who could throw a curve ball? Walter Mathau was great, and this movie works on so many levels. I actually enjoyed the second sequal, Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, and it barely missed the list. If you havn’t seen the original, I highly recommend it. In retrospect, I probably should have named one of my boys Tanner. This kids really makes the movies and provides some of the most memorable moments.
3) The Rookie. I love this movie and have watched it quite a bit. The fact that it’s based on a true story just adds to the magic. The fact that Jim Morris really made it to the Majors and fullfilled his dream is actually amazing. The movie is actually based on his autobiography ‘The Oldest Rookie’. I havn’t read the book yet, but hope to when I get a chance. I’m sure the movie embelishes a lot of the story, but it’s well put together and seems to be as realistic as possible while being entertaining. It’s something I can watch over and over again. My favorite scenes involve Morris coaching his team to the district championship, and telling his son over the phone that he’d been called up to the Majors. The Minor League scenes are really fun, too, and seam to bring the feel of that level to the audience. Dennis Quaid does a good job in the movie, also, in bringing Jim Morris to the big screen. The whole concept if the movie is really inspiring and was perfect fit for a family Disney film.
2) The Final Season. This movie didn’t get a lot of press, but I loved it and have watched it many times over the last year. Another film based on true events, it follows a small Iowa high school on their quest for a 20th state championship. Unfortunately, the school is closing and they fired their legendary coach Jim Van Scoyc in hopes the team will fail to make the merger with a larger school more tolerable to the community. It’s directed by the same guy who did the Sandlot, so that should add to some of it’s credibility. I was so inspired by this film I had to go to Norway, Iowa, where the movie took place and visit the museum there. Everyone was very nice, and I was even able to meet coach Van Scoyc. I asked him how much of the movie was accurate, and he replied, “well…there’s a lot of bullsh!t.” Still a great movie and an ever better true story.
1) Major League. This is simply the funniest baseball movie I’ve ever seen. It rivals my beloved Star Wars for how many times I’ve veiwed it. You can hear a lot of the one-liners form this film at almost any ballpark, and it’s probably impedded in our pop culture more than people realize. The cast was perfect, and the characters they portrayed were original and hilarious. I can watch the second one, but not nearly as much as the original. I don’t think I could ever hate the Indians, no matter what after this movie. My favorite scenes include Lou Brown wizzing on Dorn’s contract, Willie Mays Hayes getting cut early, and the Wild Thing arriving at Spring Training. There’s really nothing I don’t like about his movie, and will continue to watch it whenever I feel the need.
My list of honorable mentions include The Sandlot, A League of Thier Own, Mr. Baseball, 61*, For Love of The Game, and Mr. 3000. No, seriously, Mr. 3000. I also liked The Natural…but I simply dont’ find myself watching it all that much. I like to see what everyone thinks and whay your list would be. This is my Prime 9…what’s yours?