Cleat Geeks

Old School Saturday; Baseball Movies

You don’t have to be Old School, or even today’s youth to enjoy a baseball movie on the big screen or DVD.  Baseball movies have touched fans of all ages from 6 to 86.

As fans we have been blessed to see some of the great actors of all time portray legendary baseball players.

thewinningteamRonald Reagan was our country’s 40th President after his career as an actor.  He is best known for his role as Notre Dame football player George Gipp, lying on his death bed, telling Pat O’Brien as Knute Rockne “to win one for the Gipper”.

President Reagan starred with Doris Day in the 1952 movie “Winning Team” as Hall of Fame pitcher, Grover Cleveland Alexander.

James Stewart will always be linked with George Bailey, the character he portrayed in the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  Mr. Stewart also showed off his pitching style as Chicago White Sox pitcher, Monty Stratton in the “Stratton Story”.  An all-star pitcher who lost his leg in a hunting accident in 1938, came back to pitch in the minor leagues with a wooden leg.

thestrattonstoryOther Old School actors who portrayed baseball players are like an a-list of award winners.

William Bendix portrayed Babe Ruth in the “Babe Ruth Story”, Anthony Perkins, who scared us all in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller “Psycho” as Norman Bates, portrayed the troubled Jimmy Piersall in “Fear Strikes Out.” Dan Dailey in 1952 as Cardinal great Dizzy Dean and one year later starred in the original version of the “Kid from Left Field”.

Oscar winner Ray Milland in the 1949, “It Happens Every Spring”, shows the versatility of the actors of those days.

The most famous actor to date in my mind to play a ball player is Gary Cooper.  Arguably one of Hollywood’s all-time greats with Oscar wins in “Sergeant York” and “High Noon”, Mr. Cooper stole the big screen as Lou Gehrig in “Pride of the Yankees”.  Cooper was nominated by the academy for his role in the film.

Baseball players have also had a hand in acting.  Yankee great catcher, Bill Dickey, appeared as himself in “Pride of the Yankees” and “Stratton Story”.  Babe Ruth made cameos in films.

Many actors showed off their baseball prowess.  Tom Selleck was said to hit a ball over the wall at Tiger Stadium.  Dennis Quaid portrayed Tampa Rays pitcher, Jimmy Morris in “The Rookie” and looked every bit the part.

Charley Sheen of the “Major League” series was a standout high school ball player.  Kevin Costner, Chadwick Boseman, Barry Pepper all could play.

In my lifetime, I have seen almost all films, documentaries and biographies of baseball and it’s stars.  Here is my list of favorite baseball films starting with honorable mention, then my top ten.the-rookie-2002

Honorable mention:  Sandlot, Moneyball, Fear Strikes Out, The Rookie, Major League, Field of Dreams, Winning Team and 61.

10.)  Bad News Bears – Walter Matthau coaches a rag-a-muffin Little League team.thenatural

9.)    Soul of the Game – HBO film of Negro League players, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Jackie Robinson trying to break MLB color barrier.  Excellent cast.

8.).   Bang the Drum Slowly – Robert DeNiro as Yankee catcher who is terminally ill.

7.)     The Natural- Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs with lots of broken windows and lights.

6.)     Bull Durham – life in the minor leagues with of course a lady involved.

5.)     42 – Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford as Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey and Jackie’s early days as a Dodger.harrison_ford_chadwick_boseman_42_a_l

4.)     Eight Men Out – 1919 Black Sox scandal.  An ensemble of actors too long to mention.  Players of that era played to a tee with s superb cast.

3.)     League of Their Own – “There’s no crying in baseball”.  If you haven’t seen this one, rent it.

2.)     Pride of the Yankees – The movie for all ages.  Everyone who knows anything about baseball, knows Lou Gehrig.  Gary Cooper and Teresa Wright nailed it as Lou and Eleanor Gehrig.

1.)     Baseball a film by Ken Burns 9 Inning – A documentary about the history of baseball as you have never seen before put together by one of the best historians.  If you love baseball, you will love this.500nocrying

Top tens are topics for agreeing or disagreeing.  Comments, likes or dislikes are all welcome.

Old School or New School let’s all enjoy everything baseball.


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