Today, we’re going to look at some of the best baseball movies ever created.
This list is a composite of research based off of surveys that included thousands of responses as well as balancing the opinions of some of baseball’s experts.
While it’s tough to balance these perfectly, we think this is a pretty solid list balancing the classics with some of the modern day additions.
These are the best baseball movies of all-time:
1. Bull Durham (1988)
Stars: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins
Easily the number one ranking on this list. It’s a movie that reaches for the top of every list that you’ll find.
Bull Durham manages to bring together the best of romance and America’s past time. This movie is at its best as a veteran pitcher tries to teach a young talent about baseball. In the end, both players end up teaching each other about a little bit about life as well.
Annie Savoy may sum up the perfection of the sport in one quote, “Baseball may be a religion full of magic, cosmic truth and the fundamental riddles of our time, but it’s also a job.“
This quote exemplifies the balance that the movie is able to hold between the beauty of the game and the reality of life.
2. Moneyball (2011)
Stars: Brad Pitt, Robin Wright, Jonah Hill
Moneyball is a modern addition to the list. It’s a consensus top 5 movie on most lists. The beauty of this film is that it’s around baseball, not in the game itself. The movie is about the new-age analytics that were developed by Billy Beane and his front office crew.
With Brad Pitt taking the role of Beane, he puts on an amazing performance full of emotion. He struggles through self-doubt as even his daughter questions his ability only to come out on the other side with one of the best teams in baseball.
Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt both received Oscar nominations as they offered great performances.
Moneyball is all about the underdog finding a way to come out on top. It’s a feel-good story that has something for everyone.
3. Field of Dreams (1989)
Stars: Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta
This could easily be argued as the best baseball movie of all time. It’s a classic, and I can’t say I’d fight against it. It’s the perfect movie that reminds many viewers that baseball, at it’s heart, is about family. With a cast that includes Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, and Ray Liotta it was bound to be a classic.
Costner offers one of his best performances as Ray Kinsella where he follows an ethereal voice who repeatedly pushes him to build a field so that “he will come”. The field gives people a second chance to come out and play ball after they’ve died. In the end, Roy gets to see his dad and enjoy playing catch one more time.
The best quote from the movie is easily, when “Shoeless” Joe Jackson walks on to the field and simply asks, “Is this Heaven?“. It’s a thought that passes through every young player’s heart – there’s nowhere better than that field.
4. The Sandlot (1993)
Stars: Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Art LaFleur
With a, mostly, unheralded cast of young kids, The Sandlot became a generational movie of kids growing up. This movie offers everything you could look for. The non-baseball fan can enjoy reminiscing about a simpler time or remember what it’s like to be on the outside looking in.
As Scotty moves to a new town, he picks up baseball as a way to meet the neighborhood kids and become part of a group. There is even a scene focused on all the boys having a crush on the lifeguard at the community pool.
For those who are a bit more sport-centric, The Sandlot reminds us that not everyone knows the history or the verbiage of the game. Smalls doesn’t know who Babe Ruth is and when he’s told to “go home” he literally leaves the field and runs to his house.
The Sandlot is an interesting case of simultaneously being a classic (it’s already 30 years old) and a cult classic. Anyone that enjoys a good sports movie can appreciate the quality of The Sandlot, but for kids growing up in the 90’s it reaches another level. Even today, you still hear “You’re killin’ me smalls” on a regular basis.
If you’ve never seen The Sandlot, you need to change that. Sports aside, it’s one of my favorite movies of all-time.
5. A League of Their Own (1992)
Stars: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty
If you ask your average fan for one quote from a baseball movie, you’re likely to hear “There’s no crying in baseball!” It’s one of the most well-known quotes you’ll find and it comes from Tom Hanks’ character Jimmy Dugan trying to push his players to be better.
A League of Their Own is one of those movies that became an instant classic. It tells the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that existed during World War II.
With stars like Tom Hanks, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell this movie was destined for fame. It stands as one of Penny Marshall’s best films as a director.
There’s a wonderful balance of sport, emotion, and humor woven throughout the movie. The movie is part history and party comedy which is rarely well-blended. In this case, it offers a beautiful balance of entertainment and knowledge.
6. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
Stars: Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, Babe Ruth
With the hatred that the Yankees have developed over the years, it’s easy to forget how great this movie is. It’s the top documentary of all time. Looking at the movie with its focus on a player (Lou Gehrig) rather than the team helps the viewer really enjoy.
Gary Cooper does a great job, and there is even an appearance from Babe Ruth himself. The movie is a touching biopic that helps the viewer to remember how great Gehrig was in his prime.
It’s not the upbeat story that you’ll find with something like Major League or Bull Durham, but if you’re an avid baseball fan, you won’t find much better than this.
7. The Bad News Bears (1976)
Stars: Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal, Vic Morrow
To be sure everyone is on the same page, this is the 1976 version of the film. It’s stood the test of time and is tough to beat as it offers a little bit of something for everyone. For those who have played baseball, it takes you back to the comedy of playing or watching your children play.
Walter Matthau offers an outstanding performance as Coach Buttermaker who is struggling after losing his Minor League coaching job. He turns to coaching a little league team of misfits and who are, at times, hilariously inept.
This movie doesn’t pretend to be politically correct which is one of the things that I love about it. That being said, some people in today’s world will take issue with the movie, but it was filmed in 1976. It was a simpler time where people were a little less sensitive.
As a fiar warning, you should know that it includes racially insensitive phrases, a young girl saying she can’t play baseball because she’ll be wearing a bra soon, and a coach who says the powers that be can shove a trophy up their ass.
Overtime, there has been some criticism, but I think it’s still one of the best baseball movies you’ll find.
8. The Natural (1984)
Stars: Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close
Robert Redford stars as Roy Hobbs in one of the most well-known sports classics of all-time. It gives the viewer everything they could want: tragedy, triumph, heartache, romance, and an underdog coming out on top.
In this movie, you see an excited Hobbs ready to go to the majors only to have his dreams torn away from him. He never quite succeeds as a pitcher, but has the opportunity (mixed with some luck and folklore) to return to the minors as a hitter.
As a baseball fan, we experience incredible joy (winning the World Series) and incredible pain (losing a playoff game or seeing a career ending injury) and I believe The Natural does an amazing job of bring those realities to the film.
9. Eight Men Out (1988)
Stars: John Cusack, Clifton James, Jace Alexander
It’s hard to believe that this modern day classic has been around for 35 years already, but it came out in 1988. If you’re a long time baseball fan, you know the story of the 1919 World Series. The screen play is based on Eliot Asinof’s study into how the World Series was fixed.
This movie offers a well-balanced cast who knows how to work off of each other. Lacking a single star in the movie may make the movie better. I found that it’s a great study of the human experience – fighting greed and corruption.
In what is a difficult topic to put on the big screen, I think John Sayles offers a perfect adaptation. Some aspects are simplified to make the movie more relatable and easier to understand, but I think Sayle kept the “meat” of the movie intact.
10. Major League (1989)
Stars: Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen
This is the classic underdog movie with a bit of a twist. The owner of the Cleveland Indians wants to move the team and figures that having the worst team in the league will let her do just that. When the team finds out, they manage to will their way to victor to spite her.
Major League doesn’t take itself too seriously. Some have called it an adult adaptation of The Bad News Bears which is a fairly accurate statement. The real beauty of the movie comes from how well the cast works off of each other which is really impressive when you consider the star power involved.
If you’re looking for a quality sports movie that is able to make fun of itself, this is the perfect option. It seems that most of the cast took a specific player and parodied them to develop the roles they had. There’s also a scene where Pedro Cerrano runs out to check on a bird who was hit by a ball.
Major League is easily one of the best baseball movies you’ll find. Major League II was solid, but I wouldn’t waste my time watching Major League: Back to the Minors.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our take on the greatest baseball movies of all-time. It seems that most of these are a consensus with a bit of movement on where they fall in the top 10.
In the end, each of these movies has one common thread. Whether it’s the underdog story of The Natural and Major League or a reminiscent look back at our childhood through The Bad News Bears and The Sandlot, they make us love the game just a little bit more.
How does our list stack up to what you think? Did we miss anything? What’s your favorite baseball movie?