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Tour of Ten: The Baseball Movies Edition

Spring Training has arrived, with Major League Baseball teams having reported to their respective facilities in Florida and Arizona. However, if exhibition baseball isn’t quite enough to get you revved up for the season ahead here are some cinematic options instead in our inaugural Tour of Ten . . .

The Natural (1984)

Top Cast: Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close

Quote: “Go pick me out a winner Bobby.”

Four Oscar nominations went to The Natural, director Barry Levinson’s film about Roy Hobbs and his bat Wonderboy. A stacked cast, also including Kim Basinger and Barbara Hershey, elevates the proceedings, and key changes from the source novel lets the film have its iconic, triumphant end.

Bull Durham (1988)

Top Cast: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins

Quote: “Just throw it at the bull.”

No baseball movie is as quotable as this one, the story of a single-A team, its hotshot pitching prospect (Robbins), and his veteran catcher / mentor (Costner). Director Ron Shelton was a bona fide minor leaguer for five years, and his screenplay for Bull Durham received an Oscar nomination.

Eight Men Out (1988)

Top Cast: John Cusack, David Strathairn, D.B. Sweeney

Quote: “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”

Back in the day baseball cheating wasn’t about taking steroids or banging on garbage cans, it was about conspiring with gamblers to throw the World Series. Documents the 1919 Chicago White Sox and the eight players – including Shoeless Joe Jackson – who would be banned from the sport.

Major League (1989)

Top Cast: Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes

Quote: “Just a bit outside.”

Gives Bull Durham a run for its money for quotable lines, and was a box office hit as well with Berenger, Sheen, and Snipes (along with Corbin Bernsen and Dennis Haysbert) as players for a Cleveland team whose owner wants them to lose so that she can move the franchise to Miami.

Field of Dreams (1989)

Top Cast: Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta

Quote: “If you build it, he will come.”

Costner switches from the comedy of Bull Durham to drama for Field of Dreams, which was nominated for three Oscars including Best Picture and even inspired Major League Baseball to stage a pair of regular-season games adjacent to the filming location (through the cornfield).

A League of Their Own (1992)

Top Cast: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty

Quote: “There’s no crying in baseball.”

Hanks has the most famous line, but Davis leads the cast of director Penny Marshall’s film about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League – which was in business from 1943 to 1954. It was also turned into a well-received (but very short-lived) television series on Amazon Prime.

61 * (2001)

Top Cast: Barry Pepper, Thomas Jane, Anthony Michael Hall

Quote: “Roger, are we feuding?”

Noted baseball fan Billy Crystal directed this film about the 1961 baseball season and the attempt by New York Yankees sluggers Mickey Mantle (Jane) and Roger Maris (Pepper) to break Babe Ruth’s single-season record of 60 home runs. Spoiler Alert: One of them does manage to break the record.

The Rookie (2002)

Top Cast: Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Brian Cox

Quote: “Not many science teachers throw like you.”

Quaid plays Jim Morris, in a based-on-a-true-story film about how the pitcher went from being a high school teacher to making his Major League Baseball debut at the age of 35. The real-life Morris would eventually pitch 15 innings in the majors for Tampa Bay during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

Moneyball (2011)

Top Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Quote: “Do I care if it’s a walk or a hit?”

Nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture, Moneyball is based on Michael Lewis’ nonfiction book about Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane’s attempt to use analytics to assemble a winning roster on a shoestring budget. Pitt and Hill also got Oscar nominations for their roles.

42 (2013)

Top Cast: Chadwick Boseman, T.R. Knight, Harrison Ford

Quote: “I didn’t come here to make friends.”

The late Boseman is Jackie Robinson and Ford is Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey in the story of how Robinson would break Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Robinson would go on to play 10 years for the Dodgers, and he would win the National League MVP Award in 1949.

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With zero championships between his MLB, NHL, and NFL teams over the last 30 years, Dave keeps one foot in the past while shaking his fist at the present. Having provided content to all manner of sports websites over a 20-year career in the industry, Dave brings to Attiq an eye for all things editorial and a disdain for all things New York Yankees. Click here for Dave's posts.