Baseball On The Big Screen
And “Happy Opening Day!” Yes, we can say it’s officially Spring because “The Boys Are Back In Town” and another season of Major League Baseball is underway. As I’ve said before, there’s nothing like Opening Day, when the grass is a bit greener, the uniforms a little whiter, and the hot dogs and frosty beverages taste just a little bit better. It’s why, as the great Tom Boswell writes, “time begins on Opening Day!”
So today I’m going to revisit some of my favorite baseball movies that really get me fired up about the new season. Here are a few, in no particular order:
Field of Dreams. Does it get any better than James Earl Jones’ speech about “the one constant through the years has been baseball”? This movie reaches deep inside and recaptures the magic of the game that was lost somewhere along the way. From Kevin Costner’s “catch” with his Dad, to the story-within-the-story of Moonlight Graham, this movie never gets old.
The Natural. The cinematography in this gem is first-rate and effectively takes you back into the game’s past. It’s also a great story of second-chance, as an older Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) comes back years later after a tragedy sidetracks his baseball career to revive the lowly New York Knights. The casting is also first-rate, with Wilford Brimley as the gruff manager, seductress Kim Basinger, childhood sweetheart Glen Close are all fantastic. I love “The Natural!”
The Rookie: the true story of a high school baseball coach who, with the urging of his players, didn’t give up on his dream of making it into the major leagues. Dennis Quaid is fabulous as the Texas coach who finally makes it to “the show.” The scene where the entire town comes to watch him pitch brings tears of joy. And there’s the Dad-angle, as Quaid’s character re-forms his relationship with a father (Brian Cox) who doesn’t have much in common with his son.
Major League: Bob Uecker steals the show as the Cleveland Indians play-by-play man (“Just a bit outside!”) in this story of a ragtag bunch of misfits who win the pennant just to spite the owner, who threatens to move the team. Again, the casting is first rate, and although I like the sequel (Major League 3 isn’t worth your time), the first ML movie is the best.
A League Of Their Own: “There’s no crying in baseball!” shouts Tom Hanks to his players, in this movie about a women’s professional baseball league that provided an alternative to major league baseball during World War II. Penny marshall directs, and the casting is first rate. Madonna’s song at the end of the movie as the surviving members of the league take the field for an impromptu game is touching.
And those are my five faves. of course, you can’t go wrong with Bull Durham, Eight Men Out, and 42. And there’s the chick flick disguised as a baseball movie “For Love of the Game”, yet another Kevin Costner sports movie. I only mention this for the ladies…and the Vin Scully play-by-play.
Enjoy the National Pastime and the baseball flicks, and until next time GO NATS and GO HORNETS!