Moneyball and the 25 Best Baseball Movies of All Time

Jeffrey BeckmannCorrespondent IJune 18, 2011

Moneyball and the 25 Best Baseball Movies of All Time

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Moneyball isn't set to hit theaters until later this year, but it's already creating quite a stir on the web.

    I've recently read everything from Brad Pitt not being a good fit as Billy Beane to people anointing the flick as the greatest baseball movie ever made—and it hasn't even been seen yet!

    While the buzz surrounding Moneyball is well-deserved—and it will surely land somewhere on this list after its release—I think it's safe to say it won't dethrone some of the all-time classics atop the baseball-movie list.

    In celebration of America's pastime, along with all the great quips and immortalized characters we have enjoyed over the years, here are the 25 greatest baseball movies of all time. 

25. Mr. Baseball

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    Mr. Baseball is by no means a classic, nor is it one I would even suggest you watch, in fear I would lose credibility. 

    Tom Selleck stars as Jack Elliot—an aging first baseman that the New York Yankees trade to the Yomuiri Giants in Japan. Frank Thomas cameos as the young first baseman taking Elliot's place in New York.

    Elliot eventually warms up to the idea of playing in Japan, and he eventually makes a run at the single-season home-run record. 

    You'll get some cheap laughs throughout. Again, it's not a horrible movie, but it could have been better.

24. Summer Catch

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    Although Summer Catch isn't a movie I would suggest to you for baseball reasons alone, the fact that Jessica Biel co-stars bumps it onto the list.

    You'll get a few laughs as you follow Freddie Prinze Jr. during his summer tenure in the Cape Cod Baseball League.

    There were a ton of cameos throughout the movie, including Ken Griffey Jr., Pat Burrell, Hank Aaron and Carlton Fisk.

    And did I mention Jessica Biel? 

23. Little Big League

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    Most youngsters get an old watch or some other family heirloom when their grandfather passes away. Billy Heywood got the Minnesota Twins.

    If you are young and/or you still have an imagination, Little Big League is a movie you'll enjoy. Especially because, for a kid, owning a baseball team isn't about the money—it's just about having a friggin' baseball team!

    Cameos by Ken Griffey, Jr., Randy Johnson and Lou Piniella give the movie some bonus points.

22. Angels in the Outfield

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    Yes—I was the kid you saw stuck in right field doing "Angel Wings" during Little League games after this movie came out.

    While the angels never helped me and I was eventually benched, they did show up in this Disney flick to help the California Angels.

    Christopher Lloyd pulled it off as the leader of the angels while Danny Glover did a good job as manager. The flick gets extra cool points, seeing as the kid was just in the movie Inception.  

21. Cobb

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    Tommy Lee Jones did an outstanding job portraying one of the greatest baseball players of all time in Cobb.

    The movie followed the latter part of Ty Cobb's life as controversial sportswriter Al Stump helped him piece together an autobiography in hopes he could "set the record straight."

    Although there wasn't much baseball in the movie, viewers get a great idea of how much of a prick Ty Cobb really was.

20. Hardball

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    I know I'm not the only one who thought about busting out some headphones to listen to some B.I.G. on the pitchers mound after watching this film.

    In many ways, Hardball is a new age version of the "Bad News Bears," following a bunch of young misfits from the projects as they are able to escape to the baseball field.

    Keanu Reeves stars as the team's coach—a heavy drinker and gambler who takes on the coaching role as a condition of receiving a loan from a buddy.

19. Damn Yankees!

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    I'm not much for musicals, but after seeing it, I was OK with the fact my wife tricked me into watching a "baseball movie." 

    The film—released back in 1958—is a simple story about a Washington Senators fan who makes a deal with the devil in order to help his favorite baseball team win the AL pennant.

    You will get a few laughs while watching it and—if you can put up with all the singing—it's actually a pretty good flick. 

18. Rookie of the Year

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    Rookie of the Year left every young boy excited when they broke their arms—in hopes that they too would be able to throw a 103 miles-per-hour fastball.

    This movie was actually believable to kids when it was released in 1993, seeing as how bad the Cubs really were at the time.

    Gary Busey stars as the Cubs' old, washed-up pitcher, and the movie also has one of the scariest baseball villains of all time.

17. Tiger Town

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    Anyone who has seen Tiger Town realizes it is a very underrated film. 

    Released as a made-for-TV movie back in 1983, Roy Scheider stars as an aging outfielder for the Detroit Tigers who is "willed" by a young fan into hitting home runs to win games.

    As corny as the plot may sound, it is actually a well-acted and very inspirational film.

16. Fever Pitch

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    The timing of Fever Pitch was impeccable—although only by coincidence.

    Jimmy Fallon stars as a die-hard Red Sox fan who has a fandom many people can closely relate to. The scene when he's at spring training is priceless!

    The ending of the movie was actually changed because the Red Sox ended up winning the World Series.

15. Fear Strikes out

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    Anyone who has dealt with extreme pressure from their fathers will relate to Fear Strikes Out.

    The movie is based on the true story of Jimmy Piersall—who struggles with bipolar disorder and who is under immense pressure from his father to make it to the major leagues.

    Piersall eventually made it to the big leagues, but not before being mentally broken.

    This is still a great movie today, and it may make you think twice before trying to live vicariously through your children.

14. The Rookie

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    The Rookie is the heartwarming true story of Jim Morris—a high school chemistry teacher and baseball coach who had his baseball career cut short due to injuries.

    With the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays offering an open tryout, Morris agrees to tryout so long as his mediocre high school team wins the championship. Of course, his team wins the championship and Morris goes to put his new-found upper-90s fastball on display for scouts.

    It's one of those movies that if you weren't told it was a true story beforehand, you probably wouldn't think it was after seeing it. That's how amazing the story is.

13. Pastime

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    If you haven't seen Pastime, I suggest you immediately go rent it.

    The movie has a similar story-line as Bull Durham—but it happened to be written years before the other iconic flick.

    The dad from "Boy Meets World" plays Roy Dean Baum—a veteran minor-league pitcher who mentors the young, power-armed Tyrone Debray.

    If you like Bull Durham, you will enjoy Pastime as well. 

12: 61*

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    Billy Crystal did a great job giving life to this film—which follows Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle in their pursuit of Babe Ruth's home run record.

    61* does a great job of showing how the media victimized Maris in his pursuit—as Yankee-land wanted to see Mantle get the record instead.

    I wonder who will be playing Barry Bonds in 71*? Twenty years ago it could have been Eddie Murphy, but today it may have to be Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

11. The Sandlot

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    Any kid who has seen this movie can tell you how awesome it is. How many of you have said or heard the phrase, "you're killing me, Smalls," without realizing it came from this movie? 

    Scotty Smalls moves to a small town and becomes friends with a group of kids who need one more person to field a team for them in The Sandlot.

    You'll get some good laughs out of the kids' mischievous summer shenanigans, and the pool scene is one that every young boy dreamed about for years.

10. A League of Their Own

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    A League of Their Own became an instant baseball classic when Tom Hanks nailed the role with his exuberant personality as manager of a female baseball team.

    While their husbands are away at war, the women form a league of their own (get it?). Geena Davis and Madonna co-star as members of the Rockford Peaches.

    I never thought I'd enjoy a movie about women playing baseball, but with some great performances and some good one-liners, there is a lot to like.   

9. For the Love of the Game

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    This is one of my personal all-time favorites. It follows Kevin Costner as Billy Chapel—a veteran pitcher in the midst of throwing a perfect game in the final start of his career.

    For the Love of the Game is very underrated. The movie goes back and forth between Chapel pitching his final game and reflecting on his career.

    The movie has a little bit of everything, while the ending will leave you feeling pretty good. 

8. Major League

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    Major League is an awesome baseball movie, and it's about the only sports fame the city of Cleveland can hold on to. 

    An excellent cast made up for a rather predictable story line, while Rickey "Wild Thing" Vaughn and Pedro Cerrano are two of the most notable sports movie characters of all time.

    Bob Uecker nailed it as the Indians' announcer, too. The film was actually set at old Milwaukee County Stadium.   

7. The Pride of the Yankees

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    Back when Pride of the Yankees came out in 1942, it would immediately become one of the most iconic sports movies of all time.

    The movie covers the latter part of Lou Gehrig's career before the legend is forced to retire due to a disease that ended up being named after him. 

    Although it probably doesn't hit home with today's generation as much as it did back in the day, any human being with a heart will have swelled eyes while Lou Gehrig gives his infamous farewell speech.

6. Bang the Drum Slowly

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    While the actual baseball details may miss the mark at times throughout the movie, any person who doesn't shed a tear during this movie is dead inside.

    Robert DeNiro kick-started his career portraying a terminally-ill catcher who builds a close bond with his teammate and star pitcher over the course of a season.

    Bang the Drum Slowly is basically baseballs version of "Brian's Song." 

5. Bad News Bears

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    The Bad News Bears is a timeless baseball comedy that reminded baseball fans of how much fun they had playing Little League.

    Walter Matthau appeared to be the coolest Little League coach of all time, while the group of foul-mouthed misfits uses just about every derogatory slur imaginable.

    This is the only sports movie that makes it look like it's even more fun to lose a game—as long as you can start an awesome brawl with the opposing team afterwards.

4. Eight Men Out

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    I just recently saw Eight Men Out for the first time and I enjoyed every minute of it.

    The movie puts to life the infamous Black Sox scandal of 1919—where underpaid White Sox players accept bribes to throw the World Series that season.

    It is an accurate portrayal of the scandal which led to eight members of the White Sox being banned from MLB for life—including Shoeless Joe Jackson.

3. The Natural

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    The Natural is a fantastic baseball flick that can spark the imagination of any true fan.

    Robert Redford portrays Roy Hobbs—who emerges from obscurity at 35 years old to become the greatest player in the game.

    While it may be a bit far-fetched, it's a movie that will leave you believing that anything is possible.

2. Field of Dreams

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    "If you build it, he will come."

    Field of Dreams—nominated for three Academy Awards—truly captures everything that makes baseball America's pastime.

    Who knew a movie about a bunch of old-time baseball players appearing out of a cornfield would become so iconic?

    There is nothing quite like tossing a baseball with dad as a youngster, which is likely why there isn't a dry eye in the house at the end of the movie.

1. Bull Durham

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    Bull Durham is the movie that launched Kevin Costner into baseball-movie greatness.

    In perhaps the most authentic baseball movie ever made, Costner nails the role of "Crash" Davis—a washed-up veteran catcher who is brought in to mentor the not-so-bright Nuke Laloosh.

    The movie was based on the real minor-league experiences of writer/director Ron Shelton and is, without a doubt, the greatest baseball movie ever made.