Baseball is back! To celebrate, here is our list of the top 5 baseball movies that will get you and your kids ready for the season. We had to leave many off the list, but it's hard to argue the lasting genius that these movies have shown for generations of baseball fans.
#5 Angels in the Outfield
We will start the list with the 1994 Disney classic "Angles in the Outfield". The story of a boy named Roger who lost his mother and is now living in a foster home with his best friend JP. Roger wants nothing more than to live with his deadbeat Dad, who thinks it's best that Roger remains residing in foster care. When he asks his Dad how they could be a family again, he responds, "maybe when the Angles win the pennant," he then hops on his Harley and drives away, leaving his son in the dust.
Roger prays and asks God to help the pathetic California Angles, a team of guys who have no business in the Major Leagues. Led by Manager George Knox, played by Danny Glover, who gets in a fistfight with his players and has no clue what the hell he is doing.
Rogers's prayers are answered as he gets some help from a group of angels led by the head angel AL (Christopher Lloyd). AL explains only Roger can see the angels, and the angels can't help in championship games... they need to be won on their own. This pathetic team ends going on a big winning streak, ultimately winning the division title and pennant. Roger doesn't end up with his dad, but he and JP end up in a better situation and are both adopted by Knox in a feel good moment to end the film.
Why it is on the list
This is one of those cheesy, feel-good kids' movies with a ridiculous plot. Nevertheless, one of our favorite baseball movies growing up.
#4 A League of Their Own
This movie is a classic, one we have always enjoyed. The story takes place during World War II. The stock of men was depleted, which ultimately led to a candy business/ Cubs owner Walter Harvey spearheading the start of an all women's professional baseball league. Two sisters are found by a scout who convinces them to try out. Both of them make the Rockford peaches where they are joined by Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell.
The Peaches have an all-time Manager, an alcoholic washed-up-has-been Jimmy Dugan, played by Tom Hanks. Dottie Henson, the breadwinner of the sisters, becomes the star of the league while her kid sister Kit becomes resentful, which leads to a nasty fight between the two, landing Kit on the trading block where she ends up on the Racine Belles. The two teams meet in the World Series; it's a back and forth series that ends up going to a suspenseful 7 games. The Belles win on a walk-off in the park home run by Kit, making her the big hero and star that she always wanted to be, even though we all know Dottie intentionally dropped the ball after the two sisters collided at home plate.
Why it is on the list
All in all, this is a classic, with many baseball scenes and great one-liners courtesy of Tom Hanks. One of those movies that, if it is on, we will sit down and watch no matter what.
#3 Rookie of the Year
Coming at number 3, we have the classic story of a lowly baseball team, the real-life hated Cubs. They have no shot of sniffing the playoffs when a kid, Henry Rowengartner, dreams of being a star but hasn't a shred of talent, tries to impress his crush at school by trying to catch a fly ball. While chasing after the ball, he trips on another baseball and crashes to the ground beneath him, breaking his arm.
When he goes to the doc to get his cast removed, the doctor finds that Henry's tendons fused with the bone causing his arm to make bizarre sounds and become a slingshot. Henry hits his doctor in the face breaking his nose, which results in one of the best and now looking back on it, a very inappropriate one-liner "Oh Funky Butt Loving!" (Seriously... for a kids movie that's BOLD, even for the 90s).
Henry ends up pitching for the Cubs where all he can throw is 100 mile-an-hour heaters, which we all know he would get rocked! But of course he's untouchable. He and Chet "Rocket" Stedman, played by Gary Busey, a washed-up pitcher who grabs his shoulder and winces in pain after every single pitch, help lead the Cubs to the…. Well, it's a bit confusing where they are in the playoffs. Show stealing play by play announcer John Candy says before the Game, "This is for all the marbles! The Division Championship, the loser, goes home a loser, and the winner moves on the World Series!" Pretty sure after the Division Championship you still need to go to the NLCS, then the World Series. But what do we know? Even more confusing, Chet comes out in the sixth inning and coach says, "You gave me six great innings! I'm saving you for the playoffs!" Aren't they already in the playoffs?
Henry comes in for the save, and on his way out in the bottom of the ninth he trips on a baseball just like before and lands on his arm, magically defusing the tendon from the bone, and now he can't throw the stinky cheese. He comes up with creative ways to get through the inning, including an illegal underhand pitch modeled after his Mom to win the Game. At the end of the movie, Henry throws up his fist at a little league game showcasing a World Series ring. How they won a series with no Chet and a back-to-normal no-talent 12 year old is beyond us.
Why it is on the list
We love this one, just a fun nostalgic movie that has always been on the top of my list. It is a cheesy farfetched movie that boasts a star studded cast and hilarious one-liners. Also seeing the POS "father figure" of a boyfriend lose everything is pretty satisfying.
#2 Major League
This one hits close to home with us since it is about the dog days of baseball where the Indians were consistently the laughing stock of Major League Baseball. The movie is about a terrible team that has new owner and former Vegas showgirl Rachel Phelps hell-bent on moving the team to Miami, but in order to break the lease with Cleveland, she will need the ticket sales to plummet.
She assembles a team out of what she thinks to be the worst possible players in the league. They end up turning things around behind a near-blind convicted felon out on work release Ricky Vaughn played by Charlie Sheen, a speedy-but-can't-hit Willie Mays Hayes played by Wesley Snipes, a voodoo man that can't hit a curve named Pedro Cerrano played by Dennis Haysbert, and an old washed-up catcher with bad knees played by Tom Berenger. Oh, and Dorn. This group of misfits is lead by manager Lou Brown, who was more concerned with selling some white walls when he got the call to manage.
The Indians end up tying the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East leading to a one-game playoff. The Indians win on a swinging bunt by Jake Taylor and Willie Mays Hayes scores all the way from second base, securing the division and keeping the Indians in Cleveland.
Why it is on the list
This one is very entertaining, funny, and full of classic one-liners. A great cast with memorable characters and the Cleveland connection make this a movie we will watch every year right around the start of the MLB season. Again, the secret star of the whole film is the great Bob Uecker who plays announcer Harry Doyle.
#1 The Sandlot
Number one on the list is a no brainer; the Sandlot is an underdog story about a boy who moves into a new town and struggles to meet new friends. One day he stumbles upon a pickup baseball game. He curiously stands in left field watching in amazement as the sandlot boys take infield. When all of a sudden a ball comes out to him, they yell for him to throw it back, and poor Scotty Smalls has never played sports let alone throw a baseball. He attempts to throw the ball in but it lands 4 feet in front of him, causing an eruption of laughter from the boys.
Small's runs off the field in embarrassment. It ends up being the best thing that ever happened to him because it allowed him to meet the neighborhood star Benny the Jet Rodriguez. Benny takes Smalls back to the sandlot and teaches him to play baseball and introduces him to new friends.
When Smalls hits his first home run into the back yard of the Beast, his excitement is cut short as he realizes what he had just done. He tries to explain that the ball wasn't his, and it was his step dad's baseball. The ball turns out to be a ball autographed by "The Great Bambino" Babe Ruth. The boys try everything they can to get the ball back, with no luck. Finally, one night Benny has a dream where he talks to Babe Ruth; he tells Benny to hop the fence and get the ball back. "Heroes get remembered kid, but legends never die". The next morning, Benny rounds up the troops and says to meet at the sandlot. The Jet straps up his PF Flyers and takes on the Beast, which results in an intense chase scene ending with the kids getting the ball back and gain a new friend in Hercules the dog. The boys had a summer they would never forget, great fun, and life lessons.
Why it is on the list
If there were ever a movie that could take you back to your childhood, this is the one. The feel of summer as an adolescent, waking up every morning and hoping on your bike to meet up with your friends, going to the pool, playing pickup games, and getting into trouble any way we knew how. It doesn't matter what you are doing when this movie comes on; you know you will sit and watch it in its entirety.