Top 3 Baseball Movies of All-Time (from my childhood)

I’ve heard and read over the past few years everyone else’s take on the best baseball movies ever made ranging from The Natural to A League of Their Own to Bull Durham. When I grew up, I watched baseball movies made for kids and this may be blasphemous in terms of baseball movies, but I have never finished watching the complete movies of the previouisly mentioned classics. It’s a rainy Sunday today and the baseball season is over so what is there to do? Watch football? Nah…sit down in front of the tube and turn on a classic baseball movie from my childhood. Here is my rundown of the top 3:

3. Rookie of the Year – starring Thomas Ian Nicholas, Gary Busey, Daniel Stern, Dan Hedaya, Eddie Bracken, and John Candy

Plot Summary:
Henry Rowengartner is your average kid who loves to play baseball. One day, he slips while trying to catch a ball and breaks his arm. After he gets his cast removed, his tendons have healed too tight, which allows him to throw 100 mph heaters. His throwing ability catches the eyes of everyone at Wrigley during a game in which he throws a ball from the bleachers all the way to the plate. He signs a contract with his hometown Cubs and helps them climb to the top of the division. In the last game of the season, Henry slips on a ball between innings and hurts his arm and he loses his ability to throw with power. He resorts to a number of tricks to get the next few batters out and the Cubs go on to win the World Series, while Rowengartner returns to playing Little League and living life as an average kid.

Heroes/Villains:
Henry Rowengartner, Chet “The Rocket” Steadman / Jack, Alejandro “Butch” Heddo

Favorite Quote:
“Pitcher has a big butt! Pitcher has a big butt!

Why I like this movie:
Every kid has dreams of making the big leagues and this movie personifies that perfectly. What’s great about this movie is that his dreams comes true a little early – a kid with a super ability on a major league team.

2. Angels in the Outfield – starring Danny Glover, Brenda Fricker, Tony Danza, Christopher Lloyd, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Neal McDonough, Adrien Brody, and Matthew McConaughey

Plot Summary:
Roger and J.P. are two kids who live in foster care in Southern California. Roger’s dad comes by the home one day and tells him that they will be a family when the Angels win the pennant. Much like the Cubs in the previous movie, the Angels are in last place and have problems with team chemistry. Roger prays to God for the Angels to win the pennant so his dad can come back and they can be a family again. Roger begins seeing real angels in games who come and help the players make spectacular plays in both the field and the batter’s box. The manager, Knox, discovers these kids and takes them under his wing. The Angels start an amazing streak of wins, which culminates to the last two games of the season against rivals, the Chicago White Sox who are in second place. Roger becomes depressed because his dad releases his son’s custody. The media also gets a hold of Roger’s “talents,” and they begin questioning manager Knox’s use of Roger in winning games. The owner gets mad and threatens to fire Knox if he doesn’t recant, but he sticks with his believes and his players support him. They go on to win the pennant by beating the White Sox without the help of any angels and Knox ends up adopting both Roger and J.P.

Heroes/Villains:
Roger, J.P., George Knox, Mel Clark, Al / Ranch Wilder, Kit “Hit or Die” Kesey (played by none other than the current Giants hitting coach Carney Lansford)

Favorite Quote:
Hank Murphy (owner): “Is it your belief, ma’am, that angels play baseball?”
Maggie Nelson: “Since the all-star break, yes.

Why I like this movie:
There are always moments in sports when we see amazing plays, which defy gravity, logic, the player’s ability, etc. This movie characterizes all those moments in the form of angels. Some scenes might be extremely cheesy, but hey, this movie is a Disney movie from the early 90s. It’s very nolstagic for me and always goes back to the saying in sports “you gotta believe.”

1. The Sandlot – starring Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, James Earl Jones

Plot Summary:
This whole movie is a flashback to the 60s when Smalls moves to a new town. He doesn’t have many friends until he meets Benny, the leader of a local group of kids who play baseball in a sandlot. That summer, they get into all sorts of crazy adventures, but it all revolves around baseball. The main plot of the movie is around playing ball in the sandlot. They avoid trying to hit home runs over the wall because “The Beast” resides behind those fences. They lose a regular ball over the fence one day and are out of a ball to play with. Smalls offers to get a ball from home, unaware that it’s a ball signed by Babe Ruth or who he is for that matter. He ends up hitting a home run over the fence and then realizes that it’s his step dad’s ball and the rest of the group are shocked that he would play with a ball signed by the Great Bambino. They end up coming up with an array of crazy ideas to try to retrieve the ball to no avail. Benny ends up volunteering to swipe the ball and this leads to a chase throughout the neighborhood as he his hotly pursued by “The Beast.” The dog is defeated when the fence falls on him after the chase ends back at the sandlot. The kids save the dog and returns him to his owner, Mr. Mertle, who turns out to be a very nice man who was a former ballplayer who was blinded during a game. They tell him about their predicament since the Ruth ball is now destroyed and he offers to trade for a 1927 “Murderers’ Row” ball signed by the entire NY Yankees team in exchange for coming by once a week to talk baseball. The movie ends by showing what eventually happened to all the kids of the sandlot as they grew up. Smalls is the last one left and the movie shifts to present day as he is a broadcaster for the Dodgers and his friend Benny is a player. He ends the movie stealing home and flashing a thumbs up to his old friend Smalls.

Heroes/Villains:
Scotty Smalls, Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez / Opposing Little League team, “The Beast”

Favorite Quote(s):
“Oh yeah, the Great Bambino. Of course! I thought you said the Great Bambi.”
“I don’t know. Some lady gave it to him. She even signed her name on it… Ruth. Baby Ruth.”
“For-ev-ver! For-ev-ver! For-ev-ver! For-ev-ver!”
“Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die, follow your heart kid, and you’ll never go wrong.”

Why I like this movie:
What’s not to like about this movie?? This movie has everything you could ever want in a baseball movie: themes of friendship, comraderie, myths, and baseball. Best of all, this movie is set in the 60s. I love the old-school references to Erector sets and such. Best movie ever.

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4 Responses to “Top 3 Baseball Movies of All-Time (from my childhood)”

  1. I’m partial to Field of Dreams and The Natural.

    As for modern baseball movies, I really enjoyed Final Season.

  2. I agree with The Sandlot being among the best baseball movies out there, but I have a rarely admitted liking for Rookie of the Year. I tend to sit and watch it whenever it is on TV. You missed the best quote though. How can you not choose “funky butt lovin’!”??

  3. What about the movie about the girls baseball league when they say “there’s no cryin in baseball.” And what about field of dreams, “If you build it, he will come.

  4. As hard as it may seem, I’ve actually never seen those movies. These are only the movies that I’ve seen in my childhood so they are pretty limited to movies geared towards the PG crowd.

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