Director Ron Shelton played in the minor leagues, so his hilarious take on life with the minor-league Durham Bulls is realistic, on and off the field. Crash Davis (played by Kevin Costner), a journeyman catcher, tutors phenom pitcher Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) about more than just pitching. Bulls groupie Annie Savoy (played by Robbins future partner, Susan Sarandon) also takes turns with the lessons. Its a romantic comedy wrapped around baseball a cant-miss combination.
Even the premise seemed comical back in the 1980s: How could the Cleveland Indians win their division? But in this often-quoted, underrated (and fictional) classic, the laughs come as fast as Willie Mays Hayes (played by a young Wesley Snipes) and the Indians actually beat the odds.
Sure, the plot seems contrived at times, and the characters are a bit over the top, but its still laugh-out-loud hilarous.
For any history buff of the game, this 10-DVD set is a must-own. Originally broadcast on PBS (it won an Emmy for best informational series), director Ken Burns follows the game from the beginning, and it gives incredible, in-depth historical context to baseball.
It also put former Negro Leagues star Buck ONeil into the spotlight at age 83. His stories alone are worth the purchase price.
Based on a book by Bernard Malamud (which ends differently than the movie), the movie follows an over-the-hill Roy Hobbs (played by Robert Redford) on a quest to reclaim the baseball glory that evaded him as a young player.
It's a bit cliché in parts and director Barry Levinson hits viewers over the head with symbolism, but the movie is superbly acted, with a cast that includes Robert Duvall, Glenn Close and Barbara Hershey. It also has a fantastic score and great cinematography.
Sure, the lights won't actually explode like fireworks when a home run is hit into them, but it looks really cool.
Kevin Costner's second turn in a baseball movie was a little more sappy than his first ("Bull Durham"). But this film, based more on the supernatural than reality, is a lot more than a movie about an Iowa farmer that builds a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield. It's a tug-at-the-heartstrings film about a man connecting with his father, about often-misunderstood early 1900s baseball legend "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, about believing that "if you build it, they will come."
When the book "Moneyball" was published in 2004, nobody would have believed it would become a movie starring Brad Pitt seven years later. After all, it's a movie about math -- how the Oakland A's took baseball's conventional wisdom about player evaluation and turned it on its statistical head, using advanced statistical analysis to get an edge on the other 29 teams. It turned into a hit at the box office, the first baseball movie to do that in years.
7. 61* (2001)
Directed by Billy Crystal, this HBO movie now available on DVD traces Roger Maris' career season in 1961, when he eclipsed Babe Ruth's record of 60 home runs, and dueled with teammate Mickey Mantle for the record for most of the season.
Maris (played by Barry Pepper, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Maris) was tormented by the intense pressure of breaking Ruth's record, and the movie captures that stuggle against the background of Mark McGwire's pursuit of the Maris' record in 1998.
Based on a true story, this film recounts the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which came into existence during World War II, when it appeared Major League Baseball might shut down.
There are plenty of good baseball scenes starring Geena Davis, Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell, with some great one-liners by Tom Hanks ("there's no crying in baseball"), who plays the washed-up manager. Don't miss Jon Lovitz's scene-stealing turn as the scout.
9. Cobb (1994)
An underrated film directed by Shelton ("Bull Durham") about Hall of Famer Ty Cobb's later years, when he was a reclusive, yet very rich ex-ballplayer (thanks to Coca-Cola stock).
The movie follows a writer commissioned to write Cobb's biography, Cobb (played by Tommy Lee Jones) knows that his baseball legacy is tarnished by issues with anger, racism and abuse, and he wants a positive slant to the book. But his flaws come into full view.
It spawned some lackluster sequels and was remade in 2005, but the original is still king. The story puts a drunk former minor-league coach (Walter Matthau) in charge of a crazy bunch of little league misfits. His pitcher is a girl (Tatum O'Neal), the team is full of outrageous characters and the team is sponsored by Chico's Bail Bonds. Full of laughs.