There have been some fantastic baseball movies made through the years, and while it takes a good story to make a good movie it is the right actors that push a movie over the top and make a good film great.
Films like Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, The Natural and Major League among others are not only classic baseball films but great movies in general.
So here is a look at the 10 best actors in baseball movie history, actors who made the most of their chance to be on the baseball field and brought life to the sport in their movies.
Jim Morris in The Rookie (2002)
In 1999, 35-year-old high school teacher/baseball coach Jim Morris made the Devil Rays off of an open tryout at the prodding of his players. That allowed him to revive a once promising big league career and the story as a movie waiting to happen with Disney jumping at the opportunity.
Dennis Quaid, while he looked nothing like the real Jim Morris, did a terrific job portraying him in the film and looked every bit the part of a pitcher in the action scenes.
Willie Mays Hayes in Major League (1989)
Bobby Rayburn in The Fan (1996)
One of the biggest reason there was such a drop-off from the first Major League movie to the second was the fact that the Willie Mays Hayes character was no longer played by Wesley Snipes, but instead by Omar Epps. No offense to Epps, who is a good actor, but Snipes is Willie Mays Hayes.
However, that was not his only role as a ballplayer as he also played Bobby Rayburn in the movie The Fan where he was a star player who became the focus of a stalker, played by Robert De Niro. Aside from Snipes and De Niro the movie also had a good number of real baseball players in it.
Ty Cobb in Cobb (1994)
There have been few players in baseball history as talented as former Tigers outfielder Ty Cobb. He is first overall in career batting average, second in hits, runs, triples and has the third highest career WAR of all-time.
However, there were also few players more despised than the violent racist that was Cobb and Tommy Lee Jones captures that perfectly. When a sportswriter is chosen by Cobb to write his autobiography, the writer must decide between writing the story that Cobb wants him to and writing the real story.
Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in Major League (1989)
Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in Major League II (1994)
Charlie Sheen has made headlines of late for his off-the-wall behavior that got him fired from his hit TV show Two and a Half Men and led to his now infamous 20/20 interview.
However, back before he was famous for being crazy he was a pretty good actor, and one of his more memorable roles was playing the flame-throwing ex-con Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the first two Major League movies.
"Nuke" LaLoosh in Bull Durham (1988)
Bull Durham is widely recognized as the best baseball movie ever made, and while Kevin Costner is a big reason for that Tim Robbins plays in equally large role in making the movie great.
In the role of "Nuke" LaLoosh, Robbins plays the up-and-coming young pitcher who is mentored by Costner's character Crash Davis. He may be best remembered for films like Shawshank Redemption and Mystic River but Robbins is fantastic in Bull Durham as well.
Bruce Pearson in Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)
Gil Renard in The Fan (1996)
Robert De Niro is one of the most accomplished and well respected actors of all-time, and with over 80 movies to his credit it is no surprise that he has appeared in a pair of baseball movies.
Most recently he appeared in The Fan playing a down and out salesman who begins stalking superstar baseball player Bobby Rayburn who is played by Wesley Snipes.
However, his breakthrough role in films came in 1973 when he played Bruce Pearson in Bang the Drum Slowly based on a Mark Harris novel. In the film, De Niro plays a backup catcher who is limited both in ability and intellect. However, when he finds out he has a terminal illness he shares it only with star pitcher and best friend Henry Wiggen and the story follows them through the season.
Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own (1992)
The movie A League of Their Own focuses on the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that was formed in 1943 by Phillip K. Wrigley as an alternative to the MLB with so many men fighting overseas.
In particular, the movie looks at the Rockford Peaches and while there are a number of great performances, Tom Hanks steals the show as former MLB star and current washed up drunk Jimmy Dugan who manages the Peaches and he shows that he is just as good in a comedic role as he is in a drama.
Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees (1942)
It is no small task being asked to play a character in a biopic, and it becomes even harder when that person is larger-than-life figure Lou Gehrig but Gary Cooper proved why he was one of the best actors of his time as he was phenomenal.
The movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards with Cooper getting a nod for Best Actor, and the movie goes down as one of the best baseball movies ever and easily the best before 1970.
Roy Hobbs in The Natural (1984)
Adapted from the 1952 Bernard Malamud novel of the same name, The Natural easily takes home the honor of best baseball movie based on a book. While there are stark differences in the story from book to film one thing rings true and that is the central terrific character that is Roy Hobbs.
From 19-year-old phenom to disheartened veteran on the comeback trail Redford is the perfect choice to portray Roy Hobbs and he helps bring the book to life. While he does not take to number one spot on this list away from the man on the slide to come, Roy Hobbs may well be the best character in baseball movie history.
Crash Davis in Bull Durham (1988)
Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams (1989)
Billy Chapel in For Love of the Game (1999)
You could argue for days over what the best baseball movie of all-time is, but there is little question as to who takes the top spot as the greatest baseball movie actor.
Kevin Costner has starred in three of the greatest baseball films ever made, with Bull Durham and Field of Dreams cracking most top ten lists you will find.
His role as career minor league catcher who mentors a young pitcher as Crash Davis in Bull Durham is perhaps the top baseball acting role ever, and while Field of Dreams and For Love of the Game can be a bit sappy and over they are still very good movies.