With the recent theatrical release of 42, which depicts the tale of the great Jackie Robinson and is a must-see for baseball and non-baseball fans alike, there has never been a better moment to look at the best baseball movies ever made.
Baseball has run the gamut of the motion picture industry for decades, creating some genuinely memorable on-screen moments and characters that have endured the test of time, from comedies to tragedies, from big-budget films with superstar casts to low-budget documentaries featuring nobody of note.
Morris Buttermaker, Roy Hobbs, and Rick Vaughn areas associated with America’s game as Joe Torre, Derek Jeter, and Justin Verlander are for others.
Others may be scratching their heads, wondering what in the world I’m on about.
This leads me to a point that should go without saying: every single film on this list, from the Top 15 to those that barely made the cut, is worthy of your attention and should be viewed by even the most casual baseball enthusiast. But enough of that—let’s get down to business and list the top ten best baseball movies of all time.
The 15 Best Baseball Movies Updated In 2022
Here is the list of the 15 best baseball movies Updated in 2022
Pound-for-pound, 1988’s Bull Durham has stood the test of time as the best baseball movies—drama or comedy—ever produced.
Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) is a long-time minor league catcher assigned to the hapless Durham Bulls, a minor league team with a lengthy history of mediocrity. As the two teach each other about baseball, life, and love, hilarity ensues.
While known primarily as a comedy, there are some dramatic moments mixed in, and a cast that includes Susan Sarandon and Robert Wuhl does a masterful job of bringing it all together.
For a generation of baseball fans (myself included), The Bad News Bears were—and still remain—the Holy Grail of baseball movies.
Walter Matthau plays Morris Buttermaker, once a minor-league baseball player and now the coach of a group of misfits with middling talent on the baseball field.
There is something in this movie that would offend everyone were it to be released today—through the politically correct nature of things these days would likely ensure that the film never saw the light of day. Just take a look at the trailer—can you imagine that being played on network television today?
If you wanted to convince me that Field of Dreams should be at the top of this list, I wouldn’t argue.
That’s how close it is between the 1989 epic and the two movies I have ranked ahead of it.
A compelling drama with an all-star cast, the film tells the storey of a farmer in Iowa, Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), who is compelled by an unseen voice to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield with the mantra “If you build it, they will come.”
Sure enough, they do come—including “shoeless” Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) and the 1919 Chicago White Sox. In addition to James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, and Amy Madigan, they round out a solid cast for a film that received three Oscar nominations in 1990, including one for Best Picture.
Based on the 2003 book by Michael Lewis, Moneyball is one of the most successful baseball movies of all time.
Brad Pitt takes on the role of Billy Beane, the GM of the Oakland Athletics, who is trying to keep his team competitive in 2002, despite having serious constraints put on his payroll by ownership, leaving him unable to compete with big-market clubs for the best talent available.
For baseball fans looking for the first real front-office shift from traditional statistics and scouting methods to the new school that includes sabermetrics, this is the movie for you.
For people who don’t follow the A’s (or baseball in general), Moneyball is still an entertaining film full of excellent acting performances. Both Pitt and Jonah Hill, who plays assistant GM Peter Brand, received Oscar nominations for their roles, while the film itself was nominated for Best Picture.
Released in 1984, The Natural is based on the 1952 novel written by Bernard Malamud and tells the enduring tale of a 35-year-old man, Roy Hobbs, played brilliantly by Robert Redford.
For over two hours, Redford is joined by acting legends such as Robert Duvall and Glen Close, who, together with Kim Basinger, keep spectators hooked to the screen—and their seats—for over two hours.
While the filmmakers took some serious artistic licence with Malamud’s novel, changing both the outcome and what many believe to be the intended meaning of the final chapters in the book, The Natural stands on its own as a testament to America’s pastime.
When it comes to legendary sports comedies, 1989’s Major League stands up to some of the best.
The Cleveland Indians have a new owner who wants to relocate the franchise to Florida, but she requires the team to be one of baseball’s worst losers in order to accomplish so.
Despite her best efforts to undermine the team, Ricky Vaughn (Charlie Sheen), Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes), Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) and Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert) lead the team on an improbable run.
Bob Uecker is at his best as Indians play-by-play guy Harry Doyle, delivering one zinger after another, and the entire ensemble contributes to this being one of the best baseball movies ever made.
When picking a film to watch, it’s easy to ignore documentaries, but baseball enthusiasts would be advised to sit down and watch Ballplayer: Pelotero, the best documentary about the sport ever put on film.
This isn’t a feel-good storey about the boys of summer, but rather a gritty, dark storey about two prospects in the Dominican Republic, Miguel Sano and Jean Batista, who are about to celebrate their 16th birthdays, making them eligible to sign with an MLB team, and the shady, underhanded dealings and corrupt individuals with whom they must deal in order to make their dreams a reality.
Pelotero, narrated by John Leguizamo and executive produced by Bobby Valentine, doesn’t hold back or sugarcoat anything that happens. The route these two players must take isn’t attractive, and this shady underbelly of baseball occurs far more frequently than anybody would want to believe.
If the names Sano and Batista seem familiar, it’s because they should. Sano is Minnesota’s best prospect, and Batista is a career. The 295-pound bat, who is not among Houston’s top 20 prospects, is still working his way through the organization’s minor league system.
A-League of Their Own is a dramatised account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was intended to fill the hole left by the bulk of major league players serving overseas in World War II.
An all-star cast led by Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan, a foul-mouthed, frequently inebriated former big leaguer,
Jimmy Dugan plays a foul-mouthed, frequently-drunk former major leaguer who manages the Rockford Peaches, despite the fact that he doesn’t take the job—or his players—seriously.
The Peaches’ roster includes Geena Davis (Dottie Hinson), Lori Petty (Kit Keller), Rosie O’Donnell (Doris Murphy), and Madonna (Mae Mordabito), resulting in humour as well as some really heartwarming—and heart-wrenching—moments both on and off the field.
A generation of baseball fans grew up seeing The Sandlot in 1993, but make no mistake: baseball enthusiasts of all ages can understand and enjoy what is far too frequently dismissed as a “children’s movie.”
It tells the narrative of Scotty Smalls, the new boy on the block, and how he overcomes a stepfather who has little time for him and his own self-doubts via baseball to become “one of the guys.”
Iconic lines like “You’re killing me, Smalls!” combined with loads of nostalgia and James Earl Jones make this one of the most underappreciated baseball movies of all time.
Harrison Ford offers his best performance in years as Branch Rickey, while relative newcomer Chadwick Boseman is fantastic as Jackie Robinson, with both performers deserving of major plaudits come award season.
Christopher Meloni (Leo Durocher) and John C. McGinley (Red Barber) all provide great performances, with the entire ensemble portraying the raw passion and unfettered hatred that split — and, to some extent, still divides — the United States along racial lines.
Nobody, regardless of profession, should have to go through what Jackie Robinson went through. The fact that he was able to not only survive but also remains a figure of class and decency throughout his career is a true testament to what a great man he was.
Back in college, I was lucky to be accepted into a class regarding Jackie Robinson and his impact on the game, as well as the country as a whole. We met and listened to folks like his widow, Rachel Robinson, and the late Larry Doby, the American League’s first black player.
This film transported me back to that classroom at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
With so many men fighting in the war, a women’s professional baseball league is formed, and open trials for teams are held. Two sisters, Dottie Hinson (Davis) and Kit Keller (Petty), become teammates, and a rivalry develops between the two, jeopardising the team’s success. In a funny role, Hanks plays Jimmy Dugan, a washed-up, drunken former player who is picked to lead the squad.
Consider for a moment a world in which baseball players were not paid millions and millions of dollars. Back in 1919, the Chicago White Sox, like the rest of us, were having trouble paying their bills, so they decided to toss the World Series in return for some gambling wins. Unlike most sports films, Eight Guys Out is a tragic narrative about desperate men who are forced to deal with the shame of their acts for the rest of their lives. Joe, say it ain’t so. —Bonnie Stiernberg & Co.
There’s always been something romantic about independent minor league baseball clubs, but none more so than the storey of the Portland Mavericks, a team with no big-league ties. Maverickdom, owned by actor Bing Russell (Kurt Russell’s father), moved from Oregon to the rest of the country, beginning with Joe Garagiola’s NBC special. The team’s antics were as entertaining as the game itself, with characters such as blackballed Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton, the first woman general manager in baseball (age 24) and the first Asian-American (at 22), the inventor of Big League Chew, batboy Todd Field (Oscar-nominated screenwriter for In the Bedroom), and a ball dog. Nonetheless, the team’s run from 1973 through 1977 was among the greatest in the lower levels. Bing’s ambition was to resurrect the excitement and enjoyment of minor-league clubs from the first half of the twentieth century, to embody the baseball cliché “for the love of the game.” “Our goal was simple: retribution,” Bouton says of his $400-a-month comrades. We adored the Dodgers’ and Phillies’ fuzzy-cheeked college-bonus babies.” It’s an underdog narrative begging for a documentary, and Chapman and Maclain Way have delivered. —Josh Jackson & Co.
The actual storey of Jimmy Piersall (Stewart), who fought the bipolar disease and his father’s incessant push to become a major league baseball player, While he ultimately made it as a member of the Red Sox, he had to recover from a mental breakdown in order to have another shot at the big leagues.
Academy Award nominations including Best Writing and Motion Picture Story. When a baseball flies through Professor Stephens’ (Milland’s) glass and spills all of the chemicals he is working with, his experiment is wrecked. However, the mix of chemicals causes the baseball to resist wood, and he takes advantage of the chance by moving to St. Louis, where he becomes a standout pitcher in the major leagues, guiding his club to the World Series.
Despite having more than his fair share of awful movies (Taxi, anyone? ), Jimmy Fallon delivered an unexpectedly appealing performance in this overlooked, underseen Farrelly Brothers thriller. The concept suggests that Fallon’s character would simply discover that “love is more essential” than his passionate Boston Red Sox fandom, but it turns out to have a significantly deeper viewpoint on themes of vulnerability and desertion. Fallon is unquestionably lovely, both humorous and sympathetic, alongside Drew Barrymore’s character in a film based on Nick Hornby’s biography about his ardent Arsenal fandom. —James Vorel