15 Best Baseball Movies

There are a wide range of movies about baseball, but which ones really do the best job at capturing the sport? Here is our list.

The “kevin costner baseball movies” is a list of 15 best baseball movies. The list includes some old classics like Field of Dreams and Bull Durham, as well as newer ones like Moneyball and A League of Their Own.

While football has been the sport of choice among American fans in recent years, baseball is still affectionately referred to as “America’s Pastime.” Baseball was a youth rite of passage for many American males, and it served as the background to some of their most treasured memories. As youngsters, baseball was a common way for many men to connect with their dads. Who can forget your father bringing you to the sports shop to get your first glove, telling you how to break it in, and playing catch in the backyard with you?

Baseball has affected the lives of individual men for more than a century, but it has had a much greater impact on American culture; it has formed our conceptions of masculinity, lifted our spirits amid economic downturns and wars, and served as a battlefield for civil rights.

Baseball is so intertwined with personal relationships, romance, and cultural significance that it’s no surprise that so many films have been created about it. Others are amusing, some are moving, and some are just forgotten. We’ve selected 15 of the finest baseball movies (in no particular order) to help you get back into the flow of things as the new season begins.

Have fun!

The Sandlot is a film based on a true

Cast of sandlot movie taking a picture after playing basketball.

I’m going to go out on a limb and declare that The Sandlot is the finest boy movie ever made. During the summer, my friends and I would watch this movie over and over again (in between games of Pickle and Pepper), giggling at and repeating all of our favorite lines (“You’re killing me, Smalls!”). “You play girly ball!” “FOR-EV-ER!”) and swooning over Wendy Peffercorn. The Sandlot isn’t trying to be anything more than a basic film about a group of close childhood friends who share a passion for baseball. I still make it a point to watch The Sandlot every summer, and every time I do, it transports me back to my own youth, when I used to play baseball with the neighborhood kids in Danforth Farms. I’m looking forward to seeing this with Gus.

The Yankees’ pride

Gary cooper speech scene in pride of the yankees movie.

Because of his skill and persistence, the Iron Horse became a legend. He became a hero because of his bravery in the face of a crippling condition. Lou Gehrig was one of America’s most illustrious baseball players, and who better to portray him than Gary Cooper (albeit it’s sort of amusing to watch a 40-year-old Cooper play a 19-year-old Gehrig). You, my friend, have no soul if you aren’t crying during the famous “Luckiest Man” speech.

Dreams in the Field

Kevin Costner chatting to a person along with family in movie "field of dreams".

While Field of Dreams is mostly about a man’s reunion with his deceased father, it also explores baseball’s capacity to unite towns and generations in America. For many Americans, this comment by Terence Mann (played by James Earl Jones) perfectly encapsulates what baseball means to them:

“Baseball has been the one constant over the years, Ray.” The United States of America has rolled past like a legion of steamrollers. It’s been erased, recreated, then erased again, like a chalkboard. Baseball, on the other hand, has recorded the passage of time. This field, this game, Ray, is a relic of our past. It reminds us of all that was once wonderful and may be again.”

 

Bull Durham is a game that takes place in the

Kevin costner's arguing scene in movie "Bull Durham".

If you ask any baseball player or film critic what the best baseball film ever produced is, they’ll tell you Bull Durham. It was named the best sports film of all time by Sports Illustrated. And with good cause. Bull Durham masterfully conveys the tenacity and determination of minor league baseball’s underdogs. Bull Durham was written and directed by Ron Shelton, a former minor league baseball player, which explains why viewing it gives you the sense of peering into the life of genuine minor league baseball players.

Kevin Costner portrays experienced catcher Crash Davis, who is charged with coaching Eddie Laloosh, an undisciplined rookie pitcher (Tim Robbins). The banter between Laloosh and Davis in between pitches is some of the finest dialogue in cinematic history. They are pitted against one other not just for baseball, but also over a beguiling lady portrayed by Susan Sarandon. Bull Durham is, at its foundation, a story about a group of people striving for something greater in life–something that we can all identify to as men.

The Natural World

Robert Redwood throwing scene in movie "The natural".

Characters from Greek mythology such as Achilles and Agamemnon come to mind when we think about mythological heroes. The epic and mythical hero is transported from the battlefields of ancient Greece to the baseball diamonds of 1920s America in The Natural. Roy Hobbs is played by Robert Redford, a great baseball player whose bright future was cut short by a lethal dame while he was young. Roy is back 16 years later to pursue his goal of playing big league baseball. Roy holds his fabled bat, fittingly called “Wonderboy,” fashioned from a tree hit by lightning, much as Achilles had his mythical armor crafted by the gods. When it comes down to it, The Natural is about rebirth and pursuing a goal no matter how difficult it may be. By the time the credits roll, you’ll be sobbing like a baby since it’s so beautifully filmed and composed.

Bears of Bad News (1976)

Kids getting trophy in movie "The Bad News Bears".

The Bad News Bears’ ruggedness and edginess appealed to me as a child. It’s a film about a group of feckless, misfit Little Leaguers who are coached by an indifferent ex-minor leaguer (Walter Matthau) who spends his time in the dugout nursing a can of beer rather than instructing. My nine-year-old brain found it both shocking and humorous that the youngsters swore and drank like sailors. But underneath the swearing and pre-teen drinking is a video about regaining and sustaining self-respect in the face of adversity and refusing to let competition mar the game’s enjoyment.

Major League Baseball

Two players having a chat in a baseball match.

The owner of the Cleveland Indians passes away, leaving the club to his cold-hearted widow. She despises Cleveland, so she devises a scheme to assemble a team so poor that the club loses supporters, enabling her to go to Miami. The heart of this misfits’ club consists of a washed-up catcher with terrible knees, a wild formerly-incarcerated pitcher with wicked speed but no control, a power hitting voodoo priest, and a pop fly-hitting base runner. Despite the lack of skill on the squad, the players band together to win games merely to get even with the owner. Major League is a terrific comedy that makes me laugh out loud every time I see it. Bob “I must be in the front row” Uecker, comedian and former American League ballplayer/WWF announcer/Mr. Belvedere star, gives some terrific laughs as Indians announcer Harry Doyle.

 

(For a whole summer, my neighborhood pals and I would lift our pretend enormous testicles and shout at each other, “You have no marbles!” Childhood memories abound), but the original is still the greatest.

There are just eight men left.

Baseball players playing in movie "Eight men out".

Eight Men Out is a brilliant account of baseball’s founding sin. In 1919, eight Chicago White Sox players planned to throw the World Series in return for money from Chicago underworld gamblers. The scandal tainted the reputations of some of baseball’s greatest players (including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson) and threatened to bring professional sports to an end in the United States. While we frequently reminisce about baseball in Kodachrome and sepia tones, Eight Men Out is a melancholy reminder that prior generations faced the same corrupting elements that we denounce in sports today. Eight Men Out has excellent screenplay and performances, as well as some of cinema’s finest ball-playing moments.

Moneyball

Bradpit scene in Money ball.

Who’d have guessed that a movie about baseball statistics could be so gripping? Moneyball follows Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane as he defies convention by putting together a successful team comprised of discounted ballplayers using analytics rather than scouts. The idea seems dull, but it’s really another classic underdog story–a here’s man attempting to compete with more wealthier organizations like the Yankees by assembling a group of players who had been written off by everyone else. Brad Pitt portrays Beane, while Jonah Hill portrays his statistics man, Peter Brand. The picture works because of the two men’s chemistry, and the language is witty and quick, as you’d expect from an Aaron Sorkin script.

Slowly pound the drum

Player waiting for catch in movie bang the drum slowly.

Brian’s Song is a baseball song. ‘Bang the Drum,’ for example, is a game Baseball gradually becomes a background to the narrative of an extraordinary relationship between two men who confront death together, only for one to succumb and the other to be forever altered. Bruce Pearson, a simple-minded catcher diagnosed with terminal Hodgkins disease, is played by a young DeNiro. Henry Wiggen (Michael Moriarty), Bruce’s greatest friend, teammate, and roommate, stays by him during his last season. Every time I see Bruce confront death humbly and valiantly as his buddy supports and consoles him, a knot forms in my throat.

Ken Burns’ Baseball

Movie poster of baseball by Ken Burns.

This is an eighteen-hour documentary split across nine two-hour parts, rather than a single film. But I had to add Baseball on the list since it eloquently portrays the enormous sweep of America’s sport. Ken Burns has made a profession out of bringing the ghosts of America’s past back to life so that they may tell us their story. Burns examines how baseball has been connected with many aspects of American culture, from racism and war to labor relations and art, in Baseball.

If you haven’t already watched Baseball, do yourself a favor and add it to your Netflix or Amazon queue. You’ll get an understanding for baseball and its effect on America, for better or worse, even if you’re not a baseball fan.

 

Fear makes an appearance.

Man shouting in movie Fear strikes out.

Fear Strikes Out is a public service announcement about the harm that too enthusiastic Little League parents who live vicariously through their children may cause on their offspring. Fear Strikes Out is more of a psychological drama than a baseball film, since it is based on the real-life ascent and public collapse of professional baseball player Jimmy Piersall. Dads, keep telling yourself that “it’s only a game” if you don’t want your child slugger to grow up to be a Jimmy Piersall.

They Have Their Own League

Man coaching baseball tricks to his student in a League of Their Own.

What? On a website called The Art of Manliness, there’s a video featuring a group of women playing baseball. You betcha, sibling. A League of Their Own is a great baseball film that shows us a side of American history that is often forgotten. Owing to a dearth of males to form teams due to the WWII draft, baseball owners created an all-baseball women’s league to keep interest in the sport alive during the war. A League of Their Own follows the ups and downs of the Rockford Peaches, a fictitious version of one of those all-girl teams. This film is a pure delight to see. It’s a fantastic narrative with fantastic performances. Tom Hanks was fantastic as Jimmy Dugan, an alcoholic former pro baseball player turned coach, and because to him, we will always know that there is no weeping in baseball.

The Newcomer

Four men relaxing in movie The Rookie.

What would you do if you were given a second shot at achieving a goal? We get to observe the internal and external battle that one guy goes through when a second opportunity comes his way in The Rookie. The Rookie is based on the actual story of Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitcher Jim Morris, who went from being a washed-up minor league pitcher to teaching high school baseball in a tiny Texas town to playing Major League baseball at an age when most professional pitchers retire. Because The Rookie is a Disney picture, it’s a little schmaltzy and pulls at your heartstrings, but I don’t mind. Morris’ tale encourages me to never give up hope of realizing a long-held ambition.

It’s up for grabs.

Poster of movie "Up for Grabs".

Remember in 2001, when Barry Bonds set a new single-season home run record? Have you ever wondered who the fortunate person was that caught that historically significant and perhaps valuable ball? Up for Grabs is a documentary about that legendary ball and the two guys who were involved in one of the most epically funny and head-shakingly tragic court fights of all time. This picture was used by my 1L property law professor to introduce us to the classic textbook case of Pierson v. Post, in which a New York court had to determine what constituted possession in a fight over a dead fox. The dead fox in Pierson is replaced by Barry Bonds’ home run ball in Up for Grabs. Up for Grabs is a comic morality drama about the risks of greed and myopia creeping into a man’s life if he isn’t careful.

 

61*

Baseball players looking at eachother facing the crowd in movie 61.

What would you do if everyone was betting against you? Worse still, what if the person everyone wanted to succeed was a buddy and teammate? Billy Crystal, a filmmaker and a fanatical Yankees fan, tells us how one individual dealt with such a predicament in 61*. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris competed for the single-season home run record during the 1961 baseball season. Yankee fans, perceiving the gregarious Mantle as the successor to the Yankee dynasty established by Ruth, DiMaggio, and Gehrig, campaigned for the Mick to break the record, booing and even threatening the more reserved Maris. We get to witness firsthand how both Maris and Mantle dealt with the stress and criticism that came with breaking the Great Bambino’s record, and how that strain helped them form a masculine relationship.

 

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