First Base:
“The Bad News Bears” 1976
An alcoholic former minor leaguer coaches a team of misfits in an very competitive California little league. Walter Matthau is outstanding as the coach who’s waiting for his next beer, but Tatum O’Neil as the fireball throwing ace almost steals the show. This film has been the basis for every film about misfit kids and sports. 

Second Base:
“Bang the Drum Slowly” 1973
This story of the friendship between a star pitcher and a marginal half-wit catcher will touch your heart. Robert De Niro gives a power performance as the catcher who just wants to play. This may be baseball’s “Brian’s Song”.

Third Base:
“Bull Durham” 1988
Crash Davis is minor league star catcher brought in to help develop a potentially great pitcher who needs a little seasoning before heading to the majors. This is a much a love story as it is a baseball film. Crash and his pitcher both fall for the same woman – a groupie who picks one promising player a year to have an affair with. This film set the standard for sports comedy and has some of the best lines ever.

Short Stop:
“Damn Yankees” 1958
Whatever Lola wants Lola gets. A fan makes a deal with the devil to become a star player and help his favorite team beat those ‘damn Yankees’. Everything about his film is entertaining particularly Gwen Verdon as the devil’s minion – Lola. This is one of the best film adaptation of a Broadway musical.

Left Field:
“Fear Strikes Out” 1957
This dark tale is based on the life of major leaguer Jimmy Piersall who battled mental illness to become a star on the diamond. This is the only heavy drama on the list and is perfect contrast to the lighter fare.

Center Field:
“Field of Dreams” 1989
If they build it they will come, if they film it they will watch. 
Ray Kinsella builds a baseball diamond on his farm and legendary players come out of the corn field to play. This is a magical film that truly brings the joy of baseball to film.

Right Field:
“The Natural” 1984
Roy Hobbs is shot on this way to the majors and almost dies. Years later he gets his shot and makes the most of it. While predictable and syrupy it is still wonderful to watch Roy light up the stadium with a home run. Robert Redford is perfect and the rest of the cast is just as good.

Pitcher:
“The Rookie” 2002
High school baseball coach Jimmy Morris gave up on his dream of playing in the majors years ago. When he tells his team if they win district he will try out for a major league team his entire life changes. He blows everyone away with this fastball and ends up making his major league debut at an age when most players are retiring. This is based on the true story of Jimmy Morris and Dennis Quaid does a great job of playing him. 

Catcher:
“Talent for the Game” 1991
A scout for the California Angels is on the verge of losing his job when he finds a country boy with no pro experience but great arm. Soon he is forced to make a decision between what the owners want and what is best for the player. This little known film is highlighted by a great performance by Edward James Olmos as the scout.

Designated Hitter:
“It Happens Every Spring”  1949
A chemistry professor develops a formula that caused objects to resist wood. Needing money to marry the Dean’s daughter he becomes a pitcher for the Cardinals. He has to keep it secret and that creates some funny situations. This delightfully whimsical tale is a lot of fun. 

THE TOP TEN BASEBALL FILMS

(in alphabetical order)