The 20 Best Baseball Movies
Baseball and Cinema. Two of America’s longest standing and most storied passions. It’s only natural that some of our most beloved films would also be about baseball. Ordered by date released, here is our list of our 20 Best Baseball Movies.
1. The Ballgame, 1898
Produced by Thomas Edison, this very short, 27 second long film is the very first Baseball movie ever made and contains some of the earliest American sports footage ever committed to film. It depicts a ball game played between the Reading Coal Heavers and the Newark Bears. It may not be the flashiest film on this list, but without it, no other baseball films could exist.
2. The Pride of the Yankees, 1942
One of the very first blockbuster sports films, this biopic of legendary Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig was nominated for 11 Academy Awards including Best Lead Actor for Gary Cooper’s deeply human portrayal of the Iron Horse. The film is a testament and homage to a beloved and heroic sports figure whose premature death touched an entire nation. Tragically, Lou passed away from the disease that now bears his name just a year before the film would be released.
3. The Jackie Robinson Story, 1950
Starring Jackie Robinson as Himself, this biopic focuses on Jackie’s struggle with racism as he became the first African-American Major League Baseball Player. Starting off with Jackie as a small impressionable boy, it shows his journey from multi-sport star at UCLA to street cleaner to World War II veteran and finally starting second-baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jackie was still playing Major League ball when this film was shot during the off-season following his third year with the Dodgers. You would think the busy off-season would have slowed down Jackie’s play on the field but he still put up his same legendary numbers. Despite not being a trained actor, Jackie did a tremendous job of acting in this film, especially considering how close to home the material must have been for him.
4. Bad News Bears, 1976
Starring the legendary Walter Matthau and backed by an ensemble cast of child actors, Bad News Bears is a profane- and at times cynical- baseball comedy that is ultimately a heartfelt story about a man whose faith and hope in life is renewed by a ragtag group of little league misfits. It has its fair share of hilarious moments but it also has incredibly touching moments. We’ll leave you with our favorite:
5. The Natural, 1984
Based on the book by Bernard Malamud, The Natural tells the tale of mythical, fictional character Roy Hobbs. A man so naturally good at baseball they call him The Natural. The story of Roy is more Fairy Tale than realistic; he carves a bat from a tree felled by lightning, he literally knocks the cover off the ball and hits a game winning homer into the stadium lights so hard that the lights explode. Starring a prime Robert Redford, the Natural is filled with some of the most iconic moments in Baseball Movie history.
6. Bull Durham, 1988
The late 80s and early 90s were the golden age of baseball movies. Roughly half of the films on our list are from this period and a lot of those are Kevin Costner Baseball Movies!. First up is Bull Durham. This won’t be the last time a Kevin Costner Baseball Movie will be on this list. Taking place mostly in the minor leagues, Bull Durham is based on writer/director Ron Shelton’s time spent as a minor league second baseman in the Baltimore Orioles system. With a star studded cast and realistic attention to detail, it is one of the most critically acclaimed sports movies of all time, scoring a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.
7. Eight Men Out, 1988
Eight Men Out is about the infamous 1919 Blacksox Scandal, where 8 members of the Chicago Whitesox were paid off by notorious gangster and gambler Arnold Rothstein to throw the 1919 World Series. All 8 players were banned from baseball for life, including all-time great player Shoeless Joe Jackson who despite a lifetime .356 batting average was banned from being elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
8. Field of Dreams, 1989
Our second Kevin Costner baseball movie and perhaps the most beloved on our list, Field of Dreams has produced some of the most memorable pop cultural references in film. Who doesn’t remember ‘If you build it, they will come’? Loved by fans and critics alike, Field of Dreams was nominated for several Oscars including Best Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.
9. Major League, 1989
The late 80s and 90s were also the golden age of Baseball Comedy Movies. With films such as Little Big League, Rookie of the Year and Angels in the Outfield- there was no shortage of on-field laughs. But our favorite Baseball Comedy Movie from this era has to be Major League. On the surface an R rated Baseball Movie might have been a hard sell but Major League was a box office success, earning over 75 million dollars and spawning 2 sequels. From Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn to Willie Mays Hayes- it features an eccentric cast of baseball characters and endless laughs.
10. The Babe, 1992
Babe Ruth is probably the most mythical sports player in American history. The Babe tells his story, from the incorrigible boy in an orphanage in Baltimore who could hit the ball a mile to the most famous superstar athlete in the world to washed up and forgotten ball player. John Goodman gives a memorable performance as the Bambino. Showing his full range of acting skills- from a young and naïve rookie to a desperate and sad alcoholic. This movie took some creative liberties with Ruth’s life story- which is understandable considering Ruth’s life itself was the stuff of folklore.
11. The Sandlot, 1993
This nostalgic coming-of-age Baseball Story set in the early 60’s is about a ragtag group of friends whose love of baseball brings them together everyday to play a ball game down at the old sandlot. Starring some great child actors as well as James Earl Jones in his second appearance on this list, this movie will make you long for days past.
12. Cobb, 1994
One of the more serious films on our list of Baseball Movies, Cobb tells the story of Ty Cobb, one of baseball’s earliest and most polarizing superstars. Tommy Lee Jones gives the performance of a lifetime as he portrays Cobb as both an old retired man and young superstar. This movie isn’t afraid to show the dark side of Cobb, covering both his racist tendencies and highly traumatic childhood.
13. Ken Burns’ Baseball, 1994
This epic, 9 Part, 18 hour long documentary tells the entire history of the sport of Baseball in painstaking detail. Made by famous documentarian Ken Burns, this film took almost 4 years to compile and was released during a dark time in baseball- during the 1994 players strike.
14. The Fan, 1996
Critically panned upon it’s initial release, The Fan has gained a cult following in recent years. Starring Robert De Niro as Gil Renard, an unhinged, down on his luck knife salesman who is a huge San Francisco Giants fanatic. He becomes obsessed with Wesley Snipes’ Bobby Rayburn- an obvious allusion to Barry Bonds- and begins to stalk him. With a shocking ending, this baseball movie is much darker and grittier than most movies on this list.
15. For Love of the Game, 1999
The third and final Kevin Costner Baseball Movie on his list, For Love of the Game tells the story of aging pitcher Billy Chapel as he deals with the pressures of pitching in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx in his final outing by calming himself with memories about a long-term relationship.
16. 61* , 2001
Directed by longtime New York Yankees fan Billy Crystal, 61* tells the story of Roger Maris’ historic pursuit of Babe Ruth’s single season homerun record in the summer of 1961. Co-starring Thomas Jane as a dead ringer for Mickey Mantle, the film also features extensive CGI that was used to transform old Tigers Stadium into Old Yankees Stadium.
17. Battlefield Baseball, 2003
The only foreign film on our list, Japan’s Battlefield Baseball is a frenetic blend of martial arts, unbelievable action and baseball. It’s the closest thing to a live action anime film about baseball as there is. Its plot can be at times ridiculous but it is a very fun watch for fans of Baseball Movies and Anime alike.
18. Beer League, 2006
Written by and starring famed comedian Artie Lange, Beer League is an oddball comedy about a men’s softball league where getting black out drunk is just as important as being able to lay down a good bunt. Filled with raunchy laughs and despite being a box office failure, it gained a cult following after being released on home video.
19. Moneyball 2011
Perhaps one of the most critically acclaimed Baseball Movies of all time, Moneyball- based on the book of the same name- tells the story of Billy Beane and his unlikely rise as one of the most influential and powerful General Managers and executives in Baseball. A must watch for any fan of Sabermetrics.
20. Gem Mint: A Baseball Card Story, 2021
As far as we know, Gem Mint is the first Baseball Card Movie ever made. It’s chock full of deep cut, ‘inside baseball’ references that only true hardcore baseball fans would get. A fun, little, independent comedy, Gem Mint tells the story of Billy, a baseball card hustler and semi-famous YouTube celebrity from Brooklyn, New York whose obsession with baseball and baseball cards runs so deep, that it threatens to destroy his family. Watch now on Amazon Prime Video here: https://tinyurl.com/3ksp7tcv