MLB Power Rankings: The 25 Best Movie Cameos by Pro Players

Dmitriy Ioselevich@dioselevSenior Analyst IIIJune 13, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: The 25 Best Movie Cameos by Pro Players

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    We love our favorite players for what they do on the field, but many of baseball's biggest stars like to perform on another field too—the movies.

    Baseball has been a part of the American psyche almost as long as movies have, and there's nothing better these days than a movie about baseball.

    However, pro players have been making their Hollywood debuts in all sorts of movies, from comedies to dramas to documentaries. Here's a look back at the best movie cameos ever. 

25. Bill Mazerowski Hits into Triply Play in "The Odd Couple"

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    The Odd Couple, a 1968 comedy film written by Neil Simon, is best remembered for its legendary theme music.

    But the movie also featured a brief appearance by then Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Bill Mazerowski, who was asked to hit into a triple play.

    It only took Mazerowski two tries to complete the feat. Maybe Roberto Clemente, the producers' first choice for the role, could've done it only one take.   

24. Butch Davis and Others in "Bull Durham"

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    Bull Durham might be the best sports film ever made (at least Sports Illustrated thinks so), and it's not even about a major league team!

    The Durham Bulls are a minor league team in North Carolina and this 1988 film profiles the partnership between a veteran catcher and a rookie pitcher. The pitcher, by the way, is loosely based on Steve Dalkowski, the flamethrower who is supposedly the hardest throwing pitcher in baseball history (even though he never made it to the majors).

    There are three cameos in this movie by little known former big leaguers: Butch Davis, Kelly Heath and and Sid Akins.

23. Ron Darling Plays Self in "Mr. 3000"

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    Derek Jeter is doing his finest Bernie Mac impersonation as an aging hitter trying to get his 3000th hit. The only difference is that Jeter is real.

    Mac plays Milwaukee Brewers slugger, Stan Ross, who returns to baseball in an attempt to reach the historic 3,000-hit milestone. Along the way, he encounters advice, criticism and fanfare from a variety of figures in the sports world, including former Mets' starter Ron Darling.

    Other guys you might know in this 2004 film are Tom Arnold, Larry King, Tony Kornheiser, John Salley, Stuart Scott, Michael Wilbon, Chris Rose, Peter Gammons and Jay Leno. Not a bad cast for a baseball movie, although a few more actual ball players would have been appreciated.

22. Reggie Jackson Plays Self in "Baseketball"

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    Baseketball may not be a real sport, but it sure is fun to watch!

    South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone star in this 1998 comedy about a sport that blends free-throw shooting, bases and extremely crude and lewd behavior.

    This film is loaded with stars on and off the field, including such names as Bob Costas, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dale Earnhardt and Dan Patrick. But since we only care about baseball, the two noteworthy cameos are from Reggie Jackson and Tim McCarver.

21. Joe Charboneau Gets Another 15 Seconds of Fame in "The Natural"

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    "Super Joe" Charboneau will always be remembered for electrifying baseball fans everywhere during his rookie season for the Cleveland Indians in 1980.

    The eccentric outfielder was known for doing everything between opening beer bottles with his eye and dying his hair unnatural colors. He won Rookie of the Year in 1980 but was out of baseball just two years later.

    Charboneau lives on as one of the greatest one-hit wonders off all-time, and in cinema. He played an extra in the 1984 classic, The Natural, a film about another one-hit wonder known as Roy Hobbs.

20. Keith Hernandez Plays Self in "The Yards"

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    Keith Hernandez is best known for his appearance in Seinfeld, but he had a couple of movie roles in his acting career too. One of them was in The Yards, a 2000 crime film featuring Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix.

    Hernandez played a baseball celebrity and was flanked by former NBA superstar Allan Houston. 

19.Bret Saberhagen, Keith Herandez Can't Play with Brendan Fraser in "The Scout"

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    Fraser plays Steve Nebraska, a young baseball player who can light up the radar gun with his 100 mph fastballs.

    During his audition at Yankee Stadium, Nebraska first strikes out the great Keith Hernandez and then homers off Bret Saberhagen.

    Other notable cameos in this 1994 film are Tim McCarver, John Sterling, Ozzie Smith, Steve Garvey and others. The late George Steinbrenner also makes a brief appearance when Nebraska is offered a record $55 million contract to play for the New York Yankees.

    Figures, even in a fictional movie the Yankees still get whoever they want.  

18. The Voice of Bob Eucker in "Major League"

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    Major League is one of the best sports films ever made, and it's reached an iconic status among baseball fans. What's not to like?

    This 1989 classic has stars, including Charlie Sheen as Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn (Sheen actually pitched in high school) and more than its share of former major leaguers.

    There's Pete Vuckovich, the 1982 AL Cy Young award winner. There's Willie Mueller, a former pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers. There's Steve Yeager, a former catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    But the one name that stands out above the rest is Bob Uecker, the longtime voice of the Brewers. Uecker actually had a short and unsuccessful major league career, but he lives on as one of the most beloved figures in baseball.

17. John Kruk Gets Stabbed in "The Fan"

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    Baseball and murder usually aren't two things that go together well, but that was the subject of this blockbuster thriller starring Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes.

    De Niro plays a crazed Giants fan (no pun intended) who kidnaps the son of the new star player, played by Wesley Snipes. The real tragedy is that John Kruk gets stabbed in the process.

    Other big leaguers appear in this 1996 thriller as well, but it's hard to top seeing a 53-year-old De Niro take down the 180-pound Kruk.

16. Sammy Sosa as Himself in "Hardball"

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    Keanu Reeves and baseball aren't two things that you'd expect to go together well. But throw in a dozen kids living in the Chicago slums, and you actually have a pretty good movie.

    Reeves takes over as the baseball coach and becomes a leader, a mentor and a friend for a group of young African Americans who have nothing else. He's even nice enough to take the entire team to a Chicago Cubs' game where they get to meet the real-life Sammy Sosa. 

15. Roger Clemens, Derek Jeter in “Anger Management”

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    It's unlikely that director Peter Segal recognized the unintentional comedy of putting Roger Clemens into a movie titled Anger Management, but it was 2003 after all.

    Clemens and Jeter each make a brief appearance in this comedy starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson, as does the old Yankee stadium where one of the final scenes was filmed. 

14. Houston Astros in "The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training"

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    The Bad News Bears is one of the most memorable baseball films of all time, but unfortunately, the original didn't feature any major leaguers. This sequel, released in 1977, featured as many as eight current and former ball players.

    At one point nearly half the Houston Astros lineup made a cameo, including Cesar Cedeno, Enos Cabell, Bob Watson and J.R. Richard. Two other names you might know are Joe Ferguson and Bob Watson.

13. Frank Thomas Blasts One in "Mr. Baseball"

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    Baseball will always be America's pastime, but the sport has a rather large following in Japan too. In 1992's Mr. Baseball a veteran New York Yankee, played by Tom Selleck, is traded to the Nagoya Chunichi Dragons of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league.

    His replacement at first base? None other than Frank Thomas, a menacing slugger who even back then could uncork a 500-foot home run at will.

    Tim McCarver, Leon Lee and Brad Lesley are three other former ball players who make a cameo in this film, but it's The Big Hurt who steals the show.

12. Mike Buddie and Others in "For the Love of the Game"

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    For the Love of the Game is a 1999 drama about a veteran pitcher who has to come to terms with the end of his career while somehow also pitching the best game of his career.

    Kevin Costner, who actually throws in the mid-80s, stars as the fictional Billy Chapel. Alongside him are several of baseball's most prominent figures.

    Vin Scully, the longtime voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is the play-by-play announcer for Chapel's perfect game. Mike Buddie, a former reliever for the Yankees and Brewers, also has a small role and actually coached Costner off the set. Other major leaguers in this film who you may know are Ricky Ledee, Steve Lyons, Juan Nieves, Bob Sheppard and Pedro Swann. 

    And yes, that is John C. Reilly as the catcher.

11. Mitchell Page, Carney Lansford in "Angels in the Outfield"

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    Whether you've seen the 1951 original or the 1994 remake, you know that Angels in the Outfield is one of the best baseball movies ever made.

    The more recent version tells the story of a California Angels team that gets some supernatural help in its quest for a championship.

    Mitchell Page, a former outfielder for the Oakland Athletics, played the role of Angels' player, "Abascal." Carney Lansford, a former third baseman who did actually play for the Angels back in the 1980s, played Kit "Hit or Die" Kesey. 

10. Red Sox Players in "Fever Pitch"

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    This 2005 romantic comedy about a diehard Red Sox fan featured cameos from Johnny Damon, Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek during Boston's historic 2004 season.

    What you probably don't know is that Fever Pitch is actually a remake of a British film about soccer and is loosely based off a Nick Hornby book by the same name.

    Another thing you may not know is that the original script had the Red Sox making it to the World Series and losing. However, when fate intervened (and the Yankees choked), the producers rewrote it so the final scene was at Game 4 of the 2004 World Series.

    Above is a clip of Red Sox fans singing "Sweet Caroline," a scene that was eventually used in the movie.  

9. Star-Studded Cast in "Summer Catch"

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    The Cape Cod Baseball League is one of the best things about baseball, but it took until 2001 for someone to make a movie about it.

    Starring Freddie Prinze Jr., Summer Catch is about an aspiring ball player who uses the summer league as a final audition for a career in baseball.

    Most of the players in this film were minor leaguers, but there are brief appearances from Mike Lieberthal, Doug Glanville, Pat Burrell (who actually played Cape Cod baseball) and Ken Griffey Jr. Off the field you also get to see Curt Gowdy, Hank Aaron and Carlton Fisk.

8. Reggie Jackson Swings Away in "The Benchwarmers"

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    Reggie Jackson hit 562 home runs over the course of his Hall of Fame career, but in The Benchwarmers he puts his talents to use smashing mailboxes.

    Jackson plays himself in this 2006 sports comedy about three middle-aged nerds who form a baseball team. But the so-called "Benchwarmers" don't start winning until Mr. October shows them his secrets to success.

    Jackon's baseball tips consist of pranking the neighbors, playing hot potato and of course, drive-by mailbox smashing. 

7. Sparky Anderson Manages the Tigers in "Tiger Town"

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    Tiger Town is one of the lesser known baseball movies ever made, but it stands out among its peers for one reason—Sparky Anderson's in it.

    The late, great Hall of Famer played himself as the manager of the Detroit Tigers in this 1983 made-for-TV movie produced by the Disney Channel.

    I couldn't find any clips from the movie itself, but here's an interview Anderson did a few years before retiring.

6. Barry Bonds Strikes out in "Rookie of the Year"

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    Once upon a time Barry Bonds was a skinny outfielder playing for the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. If you don't think performance-enhancing drugs work, take a look at what Bonds used to look like in 1993.

    Bobby Bonilla and Pedro Guerrero also make brief appearances in this classic film about a 12-year-old who discovers he has an electric arm. 

5. Jeter Getting Shot in “The Other Guys”

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    Any time you put together Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson and Eva Mendes, you probably have a pretty good recipe for a movie.

    Add in Derek Jeter and you have one of the more hilarious scenes in recent years, courtesy of the 2010 action comedy The Other Guys.

    In this clip Wahlberg (who was born in Boston and is a big Red Sox fan) shoots Jeter during the World Series.

    Naturally, a gun shot wound would actually explain Jeter's .323 slugging percentage this season. 

4. Jim Palmer, Reggie Jackson and Others in "The Naked Gun"

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    Everyone knows that baseball players love to have fun. But umpires need to get in on the action too.

    In this scene from the hilarious comedy, The Naked Gun, Leslie Nielsen plays an undercover cop trying to squash an assassination attempt on Queen Elizabeth II.

    Also appearing in this 1988 film are Jim Palmer, Tim McCarver, Jay Johnstone and of course, Reggie Jackson, who plays the assassin.

3. The Babe in "The Pride of the Yankees"

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    Lou Gehrig, the great Yankees first baseman and Hall of Famer, died in 1941 after struggling for years with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), now known as Lou Gehrig's disease. One year later the director Sam Wood released an autobiographical film about Gehrig's life.

    Gehrig was played by Gary Cooper, but his Yankees' teammates play themselves, including Babe Ruth and Bill Dickey. 

    You can find the entire film on YouTube, but easily the most iconic part of the movie is Gehrig's farewell speech (linked above).

2. Roger Clemens Being a Punk in "Kingpin"

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    It seems silly that Clemens would make a cameo in a movie about competitive bowling, but then again he wasn't playing a baseball player.

    Instead, Clemens made his Hollywood debut as a drunk redneck trying to pick a fight with an innocent Amish boy (Randy Quaid).

    A few months following the release of this comedy in 1996, Clemens announced that he would leave the Boston Red Sox. It's believed that he took his trucker hat with him to Toronto. 

1. Griffey Jr. Robbing the HR in “Little Big League”

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    Little Big League is 1994 film about a 12-year-old (Luke Edwards) who becomes the owner and manager of the Minnesota Twins. Edwards turns the perennial loser into a contender and leads the Twins to a one-game playoff against the Seattle Mariners and a certain outfielder by the name of Ken Griffey, Jr.

    The movie version of Griffey is even better than the real life version, and he makes a highlight-reel catch to rob Minnesota's Lou Collins of a game-winning home run.

    Other major leaguers making appearances in this movie are Randy Johnson (while he was still with the Mariners), Paul O'Neill, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez, Wally Joyner and Lou Pineilla (crazy as always).