Good Movies for MLB Opening Day

Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 8:53 pm

This list of good movies for MLB Opening Day was compiled in honor of the sport’s upcoming April start. Slip any of these films into your DVD or Blu-ray player, and you’ll swear you can smell the peanuts and hear the crack of the bat. Better yet, all the films listed below can be rented from Netflix, and we even get a small commission for sending you there. What could be more American than baseball, apple pie, and affiliate programs?

The Rookie (2002) – Dennis Quaid stars in this real-life tale of Jim Morris, a high school baseball coach whose dream of playing in the pros has long since passed. But when his team makes him a bet, Morris agrees to try out for an MLB franchise if his boys reach the state playoffs. They do, of course, and that’s when Morris learns he can consistently throw a 98 mph fastball. The film is rated “G,” so it’s suitable for the whole family.

A League of Their Own (1992) – While the men are off fighting in World War II, women’s baseball begins to grow in popularity. This Penny Marshall film tells of players such as Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis), Kit Keller (Lori Petty), Doris Murphy (Rosie O’Donnell), and “All the Way” Mae Mordabito (Madonna), all members of the Rockford Peaches. Their manager is an alcoholic former pro named Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), who utters the famous line, “There’s no crying in baseball.”

The Natural (1984) – After nearly being shot to death, a talented young pitcher named Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) has his pro career derailed before it even begins. Sixteen years later, he signs with a major league team and single-handedly begins to turn their season around. But the team’s owner actually wants them to lose, and so begins a dangerous game of seduction, blackmail, and attempted murder.

The Pride of the Yankees (1942) – Released one year after his death, this film tells the story of Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig, including his many career achievements and a fairy-tale romance with his future wife. Gary Cooper does a magnificent job of capturing Gehrig’s simple honesty, and the farewell speech at Yankee Stadium is one of film’s timeless moments.

Bull Durham (1988) – No list of good movies for MLB Opening Day would be complete without this sexy baseball tale starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Capturing the lives and loves of the Durham Bulls, the film mixes minor league action with plenty of action in the bedroom (courtesy of Sarandon’s baseball groupie, Annie Savoy).

The Bad News Bears (1976) – When the worst Little League players are grouped onto one team, an alcoholic former minor-league pitcher, Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau), is recruited to coach them. Despite a bumpy start, the team begins to win games when Buttermaker recruits a girl (Tatum O’Neal) and a local bad boy (Jackie Earle Haley). An irreverent look at the competitive nature of American sportsmen.

Field of Dreams (1989) – When he hears whispers coming from his cornfield, a farmer (Kevin Costner) is inspired to construct a baseball field in his backyard. One year later, a stranger emerges from the cornfield dressed in a baseball uniform. It turns out to be “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta), and he asks if he can bring others to play a game. If you want to see a baseball fan cry, just pop this inspirational tale into the DVD player.

For Love of the Game (1999) – Kevin Costner makes his third appearance on this list, this time as an aging pitcher trying to pull off a perfect game. As he does so, he thinks back on his career in the majors and his relationship with his ex-girlfriend (Kelly Preston). Co-starring John C. Reilly, Brian Cox, J.K. Simmons and Jena Malone. Directed by Sam Raimi.

Major League (1989) – When the new owner of the Cleveland Indians franchise wants to move the team to Miami, she must first reduce attendance in order to get out of the lease with the city. To accomplish this, she puts together a rag-tag team of losers, but the misfits surprise everyone and go on a winning streak with dreams of a playoff berth. Starring Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Rene Russo and Wesley Snipes.

61* (2001) – Directed by Billy Crystal, this HBO original movie stars Barry Pepper as Roger Maris and Thomas Jane as Mickey Mantle. As the 1961 season begins, both men seek to take the Yankees to the World Series and break Babe Ruth’s record for single-season home runs in the process. A loving tribute to the game of baseball, although the appearance of Mark McGwire near the end is a little odd in retrospect.

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