by Brendan T. Gleason
Take Me Out to the Movies
Regardless of what Punxsutawney Phil says, when I do my first fantasy baseball draft of the year, I know that spring is upon us. Yes it’s baseball season. The crack of the bat reminds me of The Natural. The sacrifice bunt reminds me of Major League. The sound of a ball hitting the leather glove makes me think of Field of Dreams. And thinking of Field of Dreams makes me weep like I’m watching a video of a returning soldier surprising his family.
I like reading themed movie lists, and I like writing them as well. While it is just one person’s opinion, there’s normally some good insight involved (on the one’s I read, not the one’s I write). This list will be broken up into a few categories. Please let me know if you agree or disagree with any of my choices.
Best movies about baseball playing kids:
1. The Sandlot – As amazing as this movie was, can we all agree that in 1962 there’s no way 7 sets of parents(Timmy and Tommy Timmons were brothers) would be cool with their sons hanging out every day with a black kid. I’m glad times have changed since then, but let’s not kid ourselves. This flick does bring back childhood memories for anyone who ever played baseball.
2. Little Big League – This one is kind of cheating, because although a Bill Haywood could play baseball, a Bill Haywood couldn’t play it well. But a Bill Haywood sure could manage. People in Minnesota wish they had a Bill Haywood running their club most years.
3. The Bad News Bears – This movie had it all. A drunk coach. A girl pitcher. A kid smoking on a moped who went on to be the best hitter in the league. A couple of blonde bowl cuts. Blatent racism. A coach on the other team who hits his kid on the field. How did this movie get made?
Worst movies about baseball:
1. Benchwarmers – “I have a good idea. Let’s put David Spade, Rob Schneider and that kid from Napoleon Dynamite in a movie where they play little league again”. Oh wait… that’s a terrible idea?
2. Ed – Joey Tribiani and a primate run the bases in this classic. I love monkeys. I love baseball. So for me to put this on the worst list, it has to be real bad. It is.
3. Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch – I almost didn’t put this one on here because of the fantastic pun in the title. But again…you make a movie where an animal plays a sport with humans ata high level, and I will find room for it on my worst list.
Almost made the cut: Mr. 3000, Hardball, Summer Catch, Major League: Back to the Minors
Best baseball scenes in non-baseball movies:
1. The train running through the outfield in “Brewsters Millions” – Richard Pryor inherits a bunch of money, and sets up his Hackensack minor league team in a 3 inning exhibition game against the Yankees. They play on their home field, which just happens to have train tracks running through centerfield. Fortunately, the Yankees are used to train wrecks since they’re still paying for A-Rod to be on their team, and they once hired George Costanza.
2. The Angels-Mariners game in “The Naked Gun” – Leslie Nielsen singing the national anthem and becoming the home plate umpire so he could be close to the expected assassin of the Queen makes for a hilarious baseball game. Enricco Pallazo may not know all the words to the star-spangled banner…but he tried hard, and then later saved the Queen.
3. When the ball hits Drew Barrymore in “Fever Pitch” – wait… that IS a baseball movie?
Best non-baseball scenes in baseball movies:
1. The team huddle at the pitcher’s mound in “Bull Durham” – Lots of questions go on in a meeting at the mound, and in Bull Durham they let you know that some of them have nothing to do with the game. Robert Wuhl was right. Candlesticks do make a nice wedding gift.
2. The same dream from “Field of Dreams” – When Ray Kinsella is telling his wife about his dream the night before, she isn’t on board with his plan to follow the dream until she realizes she had the same one. Getting chills just thinking about it. If I followed my dreams all the time like Costner in this movie, I would play a lot of ping-pong and eat a lot of Arby’s.
3. When the team tries to help their manager with his math homework in “Little Big League” – I didn’t want to repeat any movies, but this scene is pretty classic. Billy Haywood can’t figure out a word problem for his math homework. All the adults on the team are trying to help him, but as most of you know, adults are pretty dumb. Finally “The Single Guy”’s Jonathan Silverman recalls the formula and saves the day, allowing the team to focus on the upcoming game.
Best Movies not already named:
1. A League of their Own
2. Major League
3. Eight Men Out
James Earl Jones says it best as Terrance Mann in Field of Dreams. He says, “The one constant through all the years Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.” So Hollywood will make more baseball movies, because if they make them, we will come.
Brendan T. Gleason is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles. He cannot hit a curveball. Follow him on Twitter.