Thirty years ago, Kevin Costner's "Field of Dreams" hit theaters. The 1989 flick follows an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball diamond that soon becomes inhabited by the ghosts of great players. The standout film, which earned three Academy Award nominations, is one of our all-time favorites thanks to its heartfelt story and strong cast. In celebration of the 30th anniversary of "Field of Dreams" on April 21, 2019, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at the very best baseball movies. Keep reading for our top picks…
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"A League of Their Own" has it all: baseball, girl power and amazing acting! The 1992 movie tells the story of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, one of the first professional women's leagues in the United States. Starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell and Lori Petty, "A League of Their Own" uniquely centers on women in a sport that's traditionally ignored them. The flick was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2012.
Brad Pitt and baseball? Honestly, what more could you want?! "Moneyball" makes our list thanks to its distinctive story and phenomenal performances. Unlike many baseball films that focus on the players, "Moneyball" takes us into the front office of a professional MLB team. The 2011 flick is centered on Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane's attempts to assemble a competitive team on a limited budget. "Moneyball" went on to earn six Academy Award nominations (including best picture, best actor for Brad and best supporting actor for Jonah Hill), and more than $110 million at the box office.
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One year before he blew us away in "Field of Dreams," Kevin Costner starred in another electrifying baseball flick: "Bull Durham." The 1988 movie, which also starred Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, follows a veteran catcher who's brought in to teach a rookie pitcher about the game in preparation for the major leagues. Along the way, he finds love and a sense of self. "Bull Durham" is not only a great baseball movie — it's also one of the best sports movies ever made. In fact, Sports Illustrated ranked it the No. 1 greatest sports movie of all time!
Our list would be incomplete without this classic! We all grew up loving 1993's "The Sandlot," and our adoration continues to this day. The movie follows a group of young baseball players during the summer of 1962 — a moment in their childhoods that helps to shape them into the men they eventually become. "The Sandlot" is funny, genuinely sweet and a burst of nostalgia, aka the perfect summer baseball flick.
"The Bad News Bears" was remade in 2005 but it's the 1975 original that left a lasting impact. The movie starred Hollywood icon Walter Matthau as Morris Buttermaker, a hard-drinking former minor leaguer who begrudgingly agrees to coach a Little League team. After working with gifted pitcher Amanda Whurlitzer (played by a young Tatum O'Neal), Morris has a change of heart. "The Bad News Bears" was beloved by audiences and critics alike, leading to two sequels, a 1979 CBS TV series and the 2005 remake.
"42" is a baseball biopic that truly captured our hearts. The 2013 film follows the life of Jackie Robinson, the first African American athlete to play in Major League Baseball. Chadwick Boseman shined as Jackie, perfectly portraying his nuances, talent and frustrations, while Harrison Ford expertly took on the role of sports executive Branch Rickey. "42" is a must-see film for not only sports fans but all moviegoers.
True love and baseball? Adorbs! "Fever Pitch" is the perfect baseball film for those of us who like a little rom-com in our sports flicks. The 2005 film stars Jimmy Fallon as Ben Wrightman, a teacher and super-obsessed Boston Red Sox fan who must re-adjust his priorities after falling for executive Lindsey Meeks, played by Drew Barrymore. "Fever Pitch" is adorably charming and laugh-out-loud funny. Trust us, you won't regret checking out this one!
"Sugar" is a baseball drama that's not to be missed. The 2008 films tells the story of Miguel Santos, aka Sugar, a Dominican pitcher who's struggling to make it to the big leagues and working to pull himself and his family out of poverty. Miguel advances to the minor leagues but must reevaluate his life's goal after his performance on the field starts to suffer. An independent film with limited release, "Sugar" might not be as flashy as some of our other picks, but it's just as powerful. The touching drama is anchored by lead actor Algenis Perez Soto's phenomenal performance.
Are you ready to laugh for two hours straight? If so, please watch "Major League." The 1998 film, which stars Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes and Corbin Bernsen, follows a fictional version of the Cleveland Indians baseball team. Rene Russo also had a breakout role in the film as one of the player's ex-girlfriends. "Major League" was made for a measly $11 million but grossed more than $50 million at the box office thanks to its hilarious exploits and shenanigans.
What's professional sports without a little scandal? "Eight Men Out" left us on the edge of our seats thanks to its juicy subject matter. The 1988 film is centered on the MLB's Black Sox scandal, in which eight members of the Chicago White Sox team intentionally lost the 1919 World Series in exchange for gambling money. The film stars Charlie Sheen and John Cusack as two of the disgraced players and Christopher Lloyd as a former pitcher and gambler. "Eight Men Out" not only brings the drama but features stand-out performances and awesome direction from John Sayles.
Get your tissues ready. "The Pride of the Yankees" is one of the most beautiful, yet stunningly tragic, baseball movies ever. The 1942 film tells the story of legendary New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig, who died at 37 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, later known as "Lou Gehrig's disease." The movie is not your traditional sports flick — "The Pride of the Yankees" is a tribute to Lou's life. It stars his former Yankees teammates Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Mark Koenig and Bill Dickey as themselves. The heartfelt film, which was released one year after Lou's death, is guaranteed to make you tear up.
Some people are just destined for greatness, as proven by the 1984 baseball flick "The Natural." The movie stars Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs, an athlete with great "natural" baseball talent. The film, which received four Academy Award nominations, follows Roy's career from boy with big dreams to accomplished player and father who teaches his own son about the game. Acting royalty Glenn Close and Robert Duvall round out the talented cast, helping to make "The Natural" one of the best baseball flicks ever.
Robert De Niro has been an acting phenom from the very beginning. Back in 1973, he blew critics away with a breakout performance as Bruce Pearson in "Bang the Drum Slowly." The movie follows Bruce, a baseball player of limited intellect who has a terminal illness, and his brainier, more skilled teammate. Their story of friendship will leave you with a few tears, but mostly heartwarming feelings of compassion and empathy. It's a must-watch film!
"61*" is a TV movie, but it's every bit as good as the theatrical releases on this list. The HBO film stars Barry Pepper as Roger Maris and Thomas Jane as Mickey Mantle, two Yankees on a quest to break Babe Ruth's 1927 single-season home run record of 60, during the 1961 season. Directed by Billy Crystal, "61*" delves into the stress put upon the players to beat the record and the impact the season has on their friendship.
It's been more than six decades since "Fear Strikes Out" was in theaters, but it's still one of the best baseball films to come out of Hollywood. The 1957 biopic focuses on the life and career of MLB center fielder Jimmy Piersall, a bipolar athlete who played 17 seasons in the majors. Oscar nominee Anthony Perkins played Jimmy, bringing sensitivity and understanding to the part. "Fear Strikes Out" provides a powerful commentary on the influence of family and mental health on a man's life decisions.
"Ballplayer: Pelotero" is the only documentary on our list. It offers amazing insight into the world of baseball and corruption in the Dominican Republic as well as the hurdles locals face to reach the major leagues. The 2011 film specifically follows future MLB player Miguel Sano and future minor league player Jean Batista, up-and-coming prospects eager to achieve their life-long dream of joining an MLB team. The gritty tale doesn't sugarcoat the process and exposes the reality that Dominican players, many of whom are never given the opportunities they deserve, endure.
We adore a good musical and "Damn Yankees" is no exception. The 1958 film combines two of our biggest loves — sports and music — into one awesome musical. The movie is a 1950s retelling of the Faust legend, involving the New York Yankees and Washington Senators baseball teams. Tab Hunter and Gwen Verdon are literally perfection with their sensational vocals and classic good looks, while the story is fun and entertaining for all.
Only an actor of Tommy Lee Jones's caliber could take on the complicated role of Ty Cobb and excel at it. Tommy starred as the controversial MLB outfielder in the 1994 biopic "Cobb." The film follows sportswriter Al Stump as he attempts to ghostwrite Ty's autobiography — juggling Ty's impressive career with his bursts of violence and racism. "Cobb" is fascinating, entertaining and educational all at the same time and anchored by exceptional performances throughout.
It's never too late to achieve your dreams, as proven in the 2002 film "The Rookie." The movie stars Dennis Quaid as Jim Morris, a real-life MLB player who joined the league at age 35 after spending years as a high school teacher and baseball coach. The uplifting story about Jim, who played for two seasons from 1999 to 2000, will touch even the most skeptical cynic.