Updated: 04/01/2016 4:07 PM | Print Story |  Email

Baseball Movie Trip

Baseball’s opening day is coming soon. For those of you who can’t wait for the first pitch to be thrown our staff picked a few classic movies to hold you over till April 3rd. Paul McGuire Grimes, from the website Paul’s Trip to the Movies, see if they stand the test of time.

Elizabeth’s pick: FIELD OF DREAMS (1989)

Baseball has always been an important part of Ray Kinsella’s life. Many of the memories of his dad all center on that American pastime. Ray’s father had idolized Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was suspended from the game after the baseball league blamed him and seven of his fellow players of intentionally throwing the 1919 White Sox World Series game for money. One day while out in the cornfields of his Iowa farmhouse, Ray hears a mysterious voice whispering, “If you build it, he will come.” This phrase permeates in his head until he believes he solves the mystery of what he is supposed to build and for whom. He believes the voice is telling him to build a baseball diamond for Shoeless Joe and his teammates so they can return to the game. Ray is scared of turning into his father who never did anything daring, never fulfilled a dream, or carried out some spontaneous mission. He explains this all to Annie over a bedtime heart to heart talk. While the idea to build a baseball diamond to host some dead ball players is a bit far fetched, she fully supports him. Months pass until the night when Shoeless Joe finally arrives. His entrance onto the field marks the beginning of a longer journey Ray finds himself on as he lives out his mission in life, which also includes a reclusive author and the influence baseball has on so many individuals.

-Stars: Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Gaby Hoffmann, Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones, Timothy Busfield, Burt Lancaster

-Based off the book Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella.

-Terrence Mann is a fictionalized version of J.D. Salinger, whose real name was used in the book. Since Salinger disapproved of the use of his persona, the character’s name was changed for the movie.

-The film was shot near Dyersville, Iowa, and the owners of the farm kept the field intact and turned it into a tourist attraction, which is visited by thousands of people every year.

-Nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Score for James Horner

-There is something sentimental about the good old days of baseball where the players all played due to their love of the game and their fans.

-What draws me to this movie and tugs at the heartstrings is the concept that you are never too old to stop dreaming or carry out one last wish in life. I think this message is why it has had a lasting impact and why moviegoers continue to re-watch it year after year as the film really teaches you that no matter where you are at in life, it is never too late to pursue a dream, be spontaneous, and live out one of your passions in life.


Steve’s Pick: MAJOR LEAGUE (1989)

Baseball movies come in all forms. Major League more of a comedic approach. The Cleveland Indians have been in a thirty-four year losing slump. They can’t seem to catch a break, and it’s become a guarantee for the remaining fans. The widow of the team’s owner has decided to shake things up by hiring some of the worst players out there to join the team. Her thought is that if the team winds up in dead last in the standings attendance will dip so low that she can move the team to Miami. The new players include: a rebel ex-convict with an unruly strong-arm, a voodoo obsessed hitter, and an incredibly fast young runner who shows up to training without an invite. The camaraderie and teamwork between the players grows as the season continues. When they find out they’ve been hired in hopes of losing, they band together to win as much as possible just to anger the owner.

-Now availability through Netflix Streaming

-Stars: Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, Corbin Bernsen, Tom Berenger, Rene Russo, Dennis Haysbert

-Starts out as a comedy of errors with how horrible they are at playing the game. Provides some good zinger by the team announcer needed a bottle of Jack by his side to get through the game. Bob Uecker was the perfect casting choice, as he was a former player turned radio sportscaster.

-You start out as you root for them to fail and make mistakes, but once they start winning, you shift your thinking from wanting them to lose to actually wanting them to win as it’s far more entertaining seeing the horrible boss suffer

-While it has an R-rating, there’s mild language in it and could be appropriate for teens and up

-Elizabeth will love that Rene Russo is in it. There’s a whole romantic subplot involving Tom Berenger’s character trying to win back his ex-girlfriend played by Russo.


Emily’s Pick:  BULL DURHAM (1988)

“I believe in the church of baseball.” If rock bands can have groupies, so can minor league baseball teams. Eddie LaLoosh is the hot new pitcher for the Durham Bulls.  He’s carefree, reckless, wild, and unpredictable especially for being the new guy on the team.  Veteran catcher “Crash” Davis sees right through his attitude. After a night out with a groupie, Annie, LaLoosh comes to the locker room an exhausted mess calling himself “Nuke”. Everyone has to have a nickname. Annie is at every game and flirts with Crash and Nuke. Crash has been assigned to guide Nuke since he’s new to the team.  He believes Nuke has no respect for the game and is willing to call him out on it. Nuke decides to start listening to Crash and play ball his way. Low and behold, they start winning, and Nuke doesn’t want to blow his wining strike. He tries to resist Annie’s temptress ways in order to keep his mind in the game. Crash also warns Nuke that they will start losing if he continues his fling with Annie.  Once the major league starts calling, Nuke must decide if he’s willing to leave behind Crash, Annie, and the rest of the Bulls. What Nuke doesn’t realize is that if he decides to join the major leagues it’s going to affect everyone else not just him.

-Rated #5 on American Film Institute’s Top 10 Sports films of all time.

- Stars: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and Robert Wuhl

-Sarandon is great at the feisty, flirty fan who can easily woo her way into having one on one time with the players.

-Sexual tension and love triangle between the rookie, the veteran, and their number one fan.

-Baseball movies were not popular at the time and studios rejected it. Turned out to be a success and paved the way for Field of Dreams and Major League

-Even though it’s a comedy, it takes the love of the sport seriously in how it teaches the audience the ins and outs of how to play, the philosophy and superstitions involved, and the way it becomes something more than a sport for the players and the fans

-It definitely has the “1980s Guy Movie” vibe to it.  It’s the kind of movie you can sit back, relax, and drink a cold beer while watching it.

-Not one for the whole family as there is a good amount of profanity and sex throughout.