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WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley ranks his favorite baseball movies of all time.

WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley ranks his favorite baseball movies of all time.
Few baseball movies can claim to have the sharp writing of L.A. Confidential with the barrier-breaking music of Crash, but 42 has both thanks to writerdirector Brian Helgeland and a sweeping score by Mark Isham.Harrison Ford transformed himself as Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers owner who integrated baseball by signing Jackie Robinson in 1947. Chadwick Boseman gives a bat-smashing performance to lead a deep cast Nicole Beharie as wife Rachel, Lucas Black as colorblind teammate Pee Wee Reese, Christopher Meloni as womanizing manager Leo Durocher, Andre Holland as sportswriter Wendell Smith and John C. McGinley as legendary broadcaster Red Barber.

Few baseball movies can claim to have the sharp writing of "L.A. Confidential" with the barrier-breaking music of "Crash," but "42" has both thanks to writer/director Brian Helgeland and a sweeping score by Mark Isham.

Harrison Ford transformed himself as Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers owner who integrated baseball by signing Jackie Robinson in 1947. Chadwick Boseman gives a bat-smashing performance to lead a deep cast: Nicole Beharie as wife Rachel, Lucas Black as colorblind teammate Pee Wee Reese, Christopher Meloni as womanizing manager Leo Durocher, Andre Holland as sportswriter Wendell Smith and John C. McGinley as legendary broadcaster Red Barber.
Field of Dreams magically cemented Shoeless Joe Jackson in our pop culture. But if fantasy isnt your thing, check out Eight Men Out, a realistic behind-the-scenes look at the infamous 1919 Black Sox Scandal where eight members of the Chicago White Sox conspired to throw the World Series. Based on a book by Eliot Asinof, the film pits the conspirators (David Strathairn) against the competitors (John Cusack) and those in between, from Coach Gleason (John Mahoney) to Shoeless Joe (D.B. Sweeney), who hears a boys heartbroken cry, Say it aint so, Joe. It also features Charlie Sheen before Major League and Christopher Lloyd before Angels in the Outfield. John Sayles directs with the nostalgic tone of The Sting and writes with the courtroom tragedy of Quiz Show.

"Field of Dreams" magically cemented Shoeless Joe Jackson in our pop culture. But if fantasy isn't your thing, check out "Eight Men Out," a realistic behind-the-scenes look at the infamous 1919 Black Sox Scandal where eight members of the Chicago White Sox conspired to throw the World Series.

Based on a book by Eliot Asinof, the film pits the conspirators (David Strathairn) against the competitors (John Cusack) and those in between, from Coach Gleason (John Mahoney) to Shoeless Joe (D.B. Sweeney), who hears a boy's heartbroken cry, "Say it ain't so, Joe."

It also features Charlie Sheen before "Major League" and Christopher Lloyd before "Angels in the Outfield." John Sayles directs with the nostalgic tone of "The Sting" and writes with the courtroom tragedy of "Quiz Show."
Based on the true story of the 2002 Oakland As, Moneyball was the Jerry Maguire of baseball movies, taking a familiar sports genre and exposing its front office maneuvers. We cheered as an underdog G.M. built a winning team based on a math equation, and cried as he learned to become a better father. Smartly written by the power duo of Steve Zaillian (Schindlers List) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) from the hit book by Michael Lewis, the film earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Actor (Brad Pitt) and Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill). Its music The Mighty Rio Grande will destroy you, as will the films final acoustic guitar tune, which multiplexes still play in the lobby Im just a little bit caught in the middle. Life is a maze and love is a riddle. ... Just enjoy the show.

Based on the true story of the 2002 Oakland A's, "Moneyball" was the "Jerry Maguire" of baseball movies, taking a familiar sports genre and exposing its front office maneuvers. We cheered as an underdog G.M. built a winning team based on a math equation, and cried as he learned to become a better father.

Smartly written by the power duo of Steve Zaillian ("Schindler's List") and Aaron Sorkin ("The Social Network") from the hit book by Michael Lewis, the film earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Actor (Brad Pitt) and Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill).

Its music "The Mighty Rio Grande" will destroy you, as will the film's final acoustic guitar tune, which multiplexes still play in the lobby: "I'm just a little bit caught in the middle. Life is a maze and love is a riddle. ... Just enjoy the show."
Eight years after The Odd Couple (1968) and 17 years before Grumpy Old Men (1993), Walter Mathau played an ex-minor leaguer coaching a rag- tag little league squad, led by pitching ace Tatum ONeal three years after her child Oscar win for Paper Moon (1973). The ending may feel a bit anti-climatic by todays standards, but we cant forget this is the film that invented the template for all kids sports movies to follow. You can see its archetypes in everything from The Mighty Ducks to The Little Giants to The Sandlot, with the overweight catchergoalie, glasses-wearing nerd and diamond-in-the-rough ringer. The film inspired two sequels, a TV series and a 2005 remake with Billy Bob Thornton. Its so engrained in our pop culture that you can walk down the street, pass a group of kids and still hear them say, Ooh, thats bad news bears.

Eight years after "The Odd Couple" (1968) and 17 years before "Grumpy Old Men" (1993), Walter Mathau played an ex-minor leaguer coaching a rag- tag little league squad, led by pitching ace Tatum O'Neal three years after her child Oscar win for "Paper Moon" (1973).

The ending may feel a bit anti-climatic by today's standards, but we can't forget this is the film that invented the template for all kids sports movies to follow. You can see its archetypes in everything from "The Mighty Ducks" to "The Little Giants" to "The Sandlot," with the overweight catcher/goalie, glasses-wearing nerd and diamond-in-the-rough ringer.

The film inspired two sequels, a TV series and a 2005 remake with Billy Bob Thornton. It's so engrained in our pop culture that you can walk down the street, pass a group of kids and still hear them say, "Ooh, that's bad news bears."
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What happens when the men go off to World War II and major leaguers are replaced by Rosie the Riveters The answer A League of Their Own. The film put a 180-degree spin on the male-dominated baseball flick, showing that women could flash the leather just as well on the diamond. Geena Davis earned a Golden Globe nomination as Dottie Hinson, who leads the Rockford Peaches (Madonna, Rosie ODonnell) against her kid sister Kit (Lori Petty), while waiting for her husband (Bill Pullman) to return from war. Still, it was Tom Hanks who stole the show as the drunken, broken-down manager who taught the world an important rule Theres no crying in baseball The film made Penny Marshall the first female director in history with two 100 million grossers, A League of Their Own and Big (1988), both with Hanks.

What happens when the men go off to World War II and major leaguers are replaced by Rosie the Riveters? The answer: "A League of Their Own."

The film put a 180-degree spin on the male-dominated baseball flick, showing that women could flash the leather just as well on the diamond. Geena Davis earned a Golden Globe nomination as Dottie Hinson, who leads the Rockford Peaches (Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell) against her kid sister Kit (Lori Petty), while waiting for her husband (Bill Pullman) to return from war. Still, it was Tom Hanks who stole the show as the drunken, broken-down manager who taught the world an important rule: "There's no crying in baseball!"

The film made Penny Marshall the first female director in history with two $100 million grossers, "A League of Their Own" and "Big" (1988), both with Hanks.
The Natural is the stuff baseball dreams are made of, following Roy Hobbs, the naturally gifted ballplayer who struck out Babe The Whammer Ruth and smacked homers with his mythical, thunderstruck bat Wonderboy. Robert Redford was pursued by three tantalizing women Barbara Hershey as a serial killer who targets rising athletes Golden-Globe nominee Kim Basinger as the owners daughter who seduces him into a slump and Oscar-nominee Glenn Close as his childhood sweetheart The Lady in White. The film feels less like a movie and more like a fairy tale, thanks to a sparkling, slow-motion finale from director Barry Levinson and a Randy Newman score thats become so famous, many forget it actually came from a movie.

"The Natural" is the stuff baseball dreams are made of, following Roy Hobbs, the naturally gifted ballplayer who struck out Babe "The Whammer" Ruth and smacked homers with his mythical, thunderstruck bat Wonderboy.

Robert Redford was pursued by three tantalizing women: Barbara Hershey as a serial killer who targets rising athletes; Golden-Globe nominee Kim Basinger as the owner's daughter who seduces him into a slump; and Oscar-nominee Glenn Close as his childhood sweetheart "The Lady in White."

The film feels less like a movie and more like a fairy tale, thanks to a sparkling, slow-motion finale from director Barry Levinson and a Randy Newman score that's become so famous, many forget it actually came from a movie.
Major League may be the most laugh-out-loud of all baseball movies, with Rated R humor and a string of memorable characters Wesley Snipes as Willie Mays Hayes, Charlie Sheen as Rick Wild Thing Vaughn, Corbin Bernsen as Roger Dorn, Dennis Haysbert as Pedro Cerrano and James Gammon as Coach Lou Brown (You may run like Mays, but you hit like sht). The on-field antics of the rags-to-riches Cleveland Indians are layered by the off-field romance of Tom Berenger and Rene Russo and the fury of owner Margaret Whitton, who wants the team to lose so she can move it to Miami. Written and directed by David S. Ward, the Oscar-winning writer of The Sting, the films greatest attribute is its running play-by-play by announcer Bob Uecker, who lends his trademark sarcasm to classic lines like Just a bit outside

"Major League" may be the most laugh-out-loud of all baseball movies, with Rated R humor and a string of memorable characters: Wesley Snipes as Willie Mays Hayes, Charlie Sheen as Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, Corbin Bernsen as Roger Dorn, Dennis Haysbert as Pedro Cerrano and James Gammon as Coach Lou Brown ("You may run like Mays, but you hit like sh*t").

The on-field antics of the rags-to-riches Cleveland Indians are layered by the off-field romance of Tom Berenger and Rene Russo and the fury of owner Margaret Whitton, who wants the team to lose so she can move it to Miami.

Written and directed by David S. Ward, the Oscar-winning writer of "The Sting," the film's greatest attribute is its running play-by-play by announcer Bob Uecker, who lends his trademark sarcasm to classic lines like "Just a bit outside!"
Our No. 4 slot goes to baseballs No. 4. Released just a year after Lou Gehrigs death, The Pride of the Yankees captured a nation grappling with the sudden loss off its hero to an unknown disease that now bares his name. The film starred the incomparable Gary Cooper, whose uncanny resemblance to the actual Gehrig turned his final speech into one of the AFIs Top 100 Movie Quotes Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. The biggest treat is seeing Babe Ruth as himself in the background, giving the film an authenticity that fictional portrayals could never achieve. Few moments are as heartbreaking as Gehrig facing his own mortality Is it three strikes, doc Its three strikes.

Our No. 4 slot goes to baseball's No. 4.

Released just a year after Lou Gehrig's death, "The Pride of the Yankees" captured a nation grappling with the sudden loss off its hero to an unknown disease that now bares his name.

The film starred the incomparable Gary Cooper, whose uncanny resemblance to the actual Gehrig turned his final speech into one of the AFI's Top 100 Movie Quotes: "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

The biggest treat is seeing Babe Ruth as himself in the background, giving the film an authenticity that fictional portrayals could never achieve. Few moments are as heartbreaking as Gehrig facing his own mortality: "Is it three strikes, doc?" "It's three strikes."
The women from A League of Their Own may object to a freckled kid catcher screaming, You play ball like a girl But The Sandlot is as fun as baseball movies come. Written with the same nostalgic narration of A Christmas Story, Stand By Me and The Wonder Years, The Sandlot tells the charming coming-of-age story of Scotty Smalls, who tries to fit in with a group of 50s sandlot kids by swiping his step-dads baseball. Turns out, the ball was signed by Babe Ruth, which Scotty only realizes after it sails over the fence and lands in the den of the neighbors mythical killer dog, The Beast. Memorable moments include Bennie The Jet knocking the cover off the ball, Squints going mouth-to-mouth with Wendy Peffercorn and a final footrace with The Beast in a pair of P.F. Flyers. An entire generation grew up eating Smores and quoting four simple words Youre killing me, Smalls.

The women from "A League of Their Own" may object to a freckled kid catcher screaming, "You play ball like a girl!" But "The Sandlot" is as fun as baseball movies come.

Written with the same nostalgic narration of "A Christmas Story," "Stand By Me" and "The Wonder Years," "The Sandlot" tells the charming coming-of-age story of Scotty Smalls, who tries to fit in with a group of '50s sandlot kids by swiping his step-dad's baseball. Turns out, the ball was signed by Babe Ruth, which Scotty only realizes after it sails over the fence and lands in the den of the neighbor's mythical killer dog, The Beast.

Memorable moments include Bennie The Jet knocking the cover off the ball, Squints going mouth-to-mouth with Wendy Peffercorn and a final footrace with The Beast in a pair of P.F. Flyers.

An entire generation grew up eating S'mores and quoting four simple words: "You're killing me, Smalls."
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Bull Durham is so unique it can only be described as a sports sex comedy. Susan Sarandon plays a hardcore fan of the Durham Bulls who sleeps with one minor leaguer each season to prepare them mentally for the big leagues. As she says, Making love is like hitting a baseball. You just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, Id never sleep with a player hitting under .250. Not unless he had a lot of RBIs and was a great glove man up the middle. Her passion leads to a steamy love triangle with veteran catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) and wild pitcher Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins). The film hilariously spoofs sports cliches, while capturing the elusive dream of making it to the show. Writerdirector Ron Shelton earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, launching a series of sports hits, including White Men Cant Jump, Blue Chips, Cobb and Tin Cup.

"Bull Durham" is so unique it can only be described as a sports sex comedy. Susan Sarandon plays a hardcore fan of the Durham Bulls who sleeps with one minor leaguer each season to prepare them mentally for the big leagues.

As she says, "Making love is like hitting a baseball. You just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, I'd never sleep with a player hitting under .250. Not unless he had a lot of RBIs and was a great glove man up the middle."

Her passion leads to a steamy love triangle with veteran catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) and wild pitcher Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins).

The film hilariously spoofs sports cliches, while capturing the elusive dream of making it to "the show." Writer/director Ron Shelton earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, launching a series of sports hits, including "White Men Can't Jump," "Blue Chips," "Cobb" and "Tin Cup."
If you build it, he will come. Is there a more magical movie than Field of Dreams The premise of exiled players disappearing into Iowas heavenly cornfields earned a spot on the AFIs Top 10 Fantasies of All Time. Ray Liotta shags flies as Shoeless Joe Jackson, Burt Lancaster chills us as Doc Moonlight Graham and James Earl Jones gives cinemas best case for baseball as Americas national pastime People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game. Its a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and could be again. Still, for all its baseball nostalgia, the film at its core remains a father-son tale, with Kevin Costner choking up as he asks his ghostly father, Wanna have a catch

"If you build it, he will come." Is there a more magical movie than "Field of Dreams?" The premise of exiled players disappearing into Iowa's heavenly cornfields earned a spot on the AFI's Top 10 Fantasies of All Time.

Ray Liotta shags flies as Shoeless Joe Jackson, Burt Lancaster chills us as Doc "Moonlight" Graham and James Earl Jones gives cinema's best case for baseball as America's national pastime:

"People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game. It's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and could be again."

Still, for all its baseball nostalgia, the film at its core remains a father-son tale, with Kevin Costner choking up as he asks his ghostly father, "Wanna have a catch?"
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