10 of the Best Baseball Movies of All Time
Brad Posted on July 09 2021
The sound of a bat cracking, the deafening noise of the crowd… We cleared the benches and rushed the field with the best-reviewed baseball movies of all time! We have an epic selection of the top baseball movies, from nostalgic favorites (The Natural) to baseball movies based on true stories (The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg) to comedy baseball movies (A League of Their Own).
1. Moneyball (2011)
Director: Bennett Miller
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Chris Pratt.
Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the Oakland A's general manager, has an epiphany one day: baseball's traditional wisdom is all wrong. Beane must reinvent his squad on a tight budget by outsmarting the wealthier ball clubs. Beane teams up with Ivy League graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) to challenge old-school conventions. He seeks out bargain-bin players that have been deemed flawed by scouts but have game-winning potential. The movie is based on Michael Lewis's novel.
The 2002 Athletics were able to compete with larger market teams like the New York Yankees, who invested over $125 million in payroll that season by re-evaluating their approach. Oakland had to find players who were undervalued by the industry due to its smaller budget, and their system has worked so far. In 2002 and 2003, the A's made the playoffs thanks to this strategy.
2. 42 (2013)
Director: Brian Helgeland
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie.
Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), the iconic manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaks baseball's infamous color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team in 1946. Rickey and Robinson find themselves in the crosshairs of the public, the press, and other players because of their bravery. When confronted with open bigotry from both sides, Robinson shows true bravery and admirable restraint by refusing to retaliate and allowing his undeniable talent to silence the critics for him.
3. A League of Their Own (1992)
Director: Penny Marshall
Starring: Tom Hanks, Madonna, Geena Davis, Lori Petty
During World War II, when all the men were fighting, women filled the majority of the positions that were left empty due to their absence. Since the owners of baseball teams do not want baseball to go extinct forever, they plan to form women’s teams. As a result, scouts are sent around the country in search of female athletes. One of the scouts travels to Oregon and meets a remarkable woman called Dottie Hinson. He approaches her and invites her to participate but she declines. Kit, her niece, who wants to leave Oregon, offers to accompany her. He accepts, but only if she can persuade her sister to accompany her. They are selected and placed on the same team after they try out.
On their way to stardom, competitive sisters Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and Kit Keller (Lori Petty), scout Ernie Capadino (Jon Lovitz), and grumpy has-been coach Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) spar with each other. Two of the sisters' teammates are played by Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell.
4. Bull Durham (1988)
Director: Ron Shelton
Starring: Susan Sarandon, Kevin Costner
It's the start of the minor league baseball season, and Annie Savoy, for whom baseball is THE religion, is going through the annual process of selecting the one player on her home team, the Durham Bulls of the Carolina League, whom she will take under her wing, sexually and otherwise, solely for the season, and who has always had his best year as a player. She has narrowed her options down to two recent purchases:
Ebby Calvin LaLoosh, the wild neophyte pitcher with a wicked fastball - the pitch on which he solely relies - but who can't aim; the more he thinks about it, the more erratic the pitch becomes; and catcher Crash Davis, the veteran who has been in the minor leagues for twelve years and who believes he knows best in his lack of self-awareness. Although Ebby will gladly accept Annie's offer to accept sex as a natural part of his being, Crash, who is as philosophical as he is athletic, withdraws from the race - being the first player to do so.
Despite his attraction to her, he does not regard sex as the "game" she treats it, particularly since he is approaching the end of his baseball career. Annie gives Ebby the nickname he so desperately desires - Nuke - to fit his pitches as part of his transformation.
5. The Rookie (2002)
Director: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Jim Morris, Rachel Griffiths
Jim Morris is a chemistry teacher and baseball coach at a high school in Texas. He's always enjoyed baseball, and as a way of inspiring his teammates, he offers to attend a professional try-out if they win the championship. He used to want to be a professional baseball player, but an injury ended that dream.
Sure enough, the 39-year-old father of three shows up at a Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitching camp, where he seems to have recovered his pitching arm, tossing a 98-mph fastball with ease. He has a contract and works in the minor leagues while his loving wife raises their children at home. He is quickly promoted to the major leagues, pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays, who are currently in Texas playing the Texas Rangers. This film is based on a true story.
6. The Bad News Bears (1976)
Director: Michael Ritchie
Starring: Walter Matthau, Tatum O'Neal, Vic Morrow
Morris Buttermaker, a recovering alcoholic and former minor-league baseball pitcher, is hired to coach "the Bears," a Southern California Youth Baseball League team of misfit players created as a result of a lawsuit filed against the league for removing those players from other teams. The Bears are the outsiders, shunned by the more competitive teams (and competitive parents). After allowing 26 runs without recording an out, Buttermaker forfeits the first game.
To help the team, Buttermaker recruits two unlikely candidates: the sharp-tongued Amanda Whurlitzer, a skilled pitcher (trained by Buttermaker when she was younger) who is the 11-year-old daughter of one of Buttermaker's ex-girlfriends; and the local cigarette-smoking, loan-sharking, Harley-Davidson-riding troublemaker, Kelly Leak, who is also a good athlete but has been excluded in the scouting process. With Amanda and Kelly on board, the Bears begin to build interest and begin winning games.
The Bears eventually make it to the championship game, where they will face the top-ranked Yankees, coached by violent, competitive Roy Turner. As the game progresses, tensions escalate as Buttermaker and Turner become more brutal in their treatment of each other and the other players in order to win. When Bullock hits his pitcher son for not following an order, Buttermaker admits that he, too, has put too much focus on winning, and he brings in his benchwarmers to encourage everyone to play.
The Bears lose the game as a result of Buttermaker's decision. With a field celebration as if they had won, Buttermaker offers the squad malt, which they spray on each other.
7. The Jackie Robinson Story (1950)
Director: Alfred E. Green
Starring: Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey, Ruby Dee
Robinson is seen as a young boy in the beginning of the film. A stranger, fascinated by his catching abilities, gives him a worn-out baseball glove. He becomes a multi-sport sensation at UCLA as a young man, but as he approaches graduation, he is concerned about his future. Mack, his older brother, was also a standout college athlete and graduate, but he could only find work as a lowly street cleaner.
Robinson is drafted as an athletic director when America enters World War II. After that, he joins a professional African-American baseball team. His relentless travel, however, prevents him from seeing his college sweetheart.
Then one day, Clyde Sukeforth, a scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers, invites him to meet Branch Rickey, the team's president. Robinson initially dismisses the bid as a joke, given that African Americans are not permitted to play in the segregated major leagues. He and Rickey assess each other until he is persuaded that the opportunity is real. Robinson signs with the Dodgers' International League farm team, the Montreal Royals, after considering Rickey's message about the hate and threats he would face if he couldn't strike back.
Robinson leads the league in hitting in his rookie season, and amid the Commissioner of Major League Baseball's grave concerns, Rickey promotes him to the Dodgers. Many fans and teammates dislike Robinson at first, and he has a rocky start playing out of place at first base and going through a hitting slump, but he eventually wins people over with his talent and determination. Robinson drives in the tying run and scores the winning run in the deciding game, and the team goes on to win the pennant.
8. The Natural (1984)
Director: Barry Levinson
Starring: Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall
Young baseball phenom Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) is fired by the psychotic Harriet Bird on his way to a try-out with the Chicago Cubs (Barbara Hershey). Hobbs returns to professional baseball as a rookie for the last-place New York Knights after a 16-year absence. Despite early conflicts with his boss, Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley), Hobbs develops into one of the league's best players, and the Knights begin to win. However, this irritates their master, Judge (Robert Prosky), who prefers Hobbs to lose games rather than win them.
9. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
Director: Sam Wood
Starring: Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, Babe Ruth
The life of legendary baseball player Lou Gehrig is chronicled in this touching biographical drama (Gary Cooper). Gehrig is hired by the New York Yankees after being championed by sportswriter Sam Blake (Walter Brennan). He joins a team of heavy hitters that includes the iconic Babe Ruth. Things look up for Gehrig when he marries his spirited sweetheart, Eleanor (Teresa Wright), but he is soon sidelined by a devastating illness that he valiantly fights.
10. The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998)
Director: Aviva Kempner
Starring: Carl Levin, Walter Matthau, Alan Dershowitz
Aviva Kempner wrote, directed, and filmed The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, a 1998 documentary film about Hank Greenberg, a first baseman for the Detroit Tigers who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Greenberg, a Jewish player who refused to play on Yom Kippur in 1934 during a heated pennant race, faced a lot of antisemitism. He hit 58 home runs in 1938, coming close to breaking Babe Ruth's record of 60.
Greenberg's career was cut short during World War II, as it was for many other players at the time. Greenberg was initially deemed unfit for duty due to his flat feet. On re-examination, however, he was found not guilty. The United States Congress had released men over the age of 28 prior to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. Greenberg immediately reenlisted in the US Army Air Forces after the assault.
In 1947, as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates and in his final season, Greenberg was one of the few players to greet Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers, the majors' first black player in many years. Later, Robinson said, "The teacher informs the class. Mr. Greenberg is covered with it."