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  • Bill Chastain

TOYS AND GAMES: All-Time Best Baseball Movies

The Sporting News came ups with the following list for the Top 15 All-Time Best Baseball Movies:

1. Bull Durham

2. Major League

3. Field of Dreams

4. A League of Their Own

5. Eight Men Out

6. The Natural

7. The Sandlot

8. Moneyball

9. The Bad News Bears (1979)

10. 61*

11. The Pride of the Yankees

12 Sugar

13 42

14 The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings

15. For Love of the Game

I basically agree with the list, though I’d bump For Love of the Game and 61* in favor of two personal favorites, Bang the Drum Slowly and Stealing Home. I’ve not seen Sugar, but I will.

Now, a few observations.

Charlie_Sheen_2012 Charlie Sheen, the actor most resembling a baseball player (“Charlie Sheen 2012” by Joella Marano)

First, it’s too bad Tim Robbins did not resemble a baseball player in Bull Durham, that would have made the movie even better. Same goes for Robert De Niro in Bang the Drum Slowly. Based on the actor he would become, his performance in that role became even more disappointing. What if De Niro would have prepared as he did for the roll of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull? Maybe then he would have resembled a guy who had once played baseball. In addition, his depiction of Bruce Pearson came off as a cliche of southern stereotypes.

Joining De Niro and Robbins in the hardly-authentic-depictions-of-baseball-players department are Dwier Brown (Ray Kinsella’s father in Field of Dreams). After watching him throw, I wondered why Ray was so hung up on having a catch with him. William Bendix as Babe Ruth in The Babe Ruth Story was comical as was Anthony Perkins’ playing Jimmy Piersall in Fear Strikes Out.

I’d love to see Brown, De Niro, Robbins, Bendix and Perkins lined up and armed with baseballs in front of a pane of glass to A) see if they could hit it (Because to quote Crash Davis, I don’t think any of them could hit water if they fell out of a fucking boat). And, B) to see if their throws would break the glass if they did manage to hit their targets.

Give me the cast of A League of Their Own any day. Those ladies could play.

Kudos to Kevin Coster in multiple baseball movies, Robert Redford from The Natural, and James Earl Jones in The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings as authentic looking baseball players. And I’ve got to credit Charlie Sheen (Eight Men Out, Major League, and Major League II) for being the most credible actor playing a baseball player I’ve seen.

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