Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My Top Ten Baseball Movies:6-10

I'm back with a post that was going to go up while I was gone,but wifi woes on the final night of my trip waxed that board for me.
I'll be dropping road trip posts later this week on Augusta,Kannapolis,Winston-Salem and Danville along with all the usual stories from the road.
Until then,enjoy this and the final part of the feature that I'll post later today or Wednesday!

Movies,like so many things are subjective.
We all have things that touch us,things that we know may not be great art,but still make us howl with laughter and others that just are entertaining for other reasons.

Considering that,this and a future post with my top five choices for baseball films are subjective.
Documentaries are not included as there may be a future list for sports documentaries.
Your list may not rank with mine and some may make you wonder just what I'm thinking,but lists are usually fun to make,so here goes my favorite baseball movies from 6 through 10!

6) Bull Durham
                          This might be lower than many have it rated,but it's still a fun movie.
Kevin Costner hits well as the aging vagabond "hired gun" that those of us on the minor league scene see all the time-especially in AA baseball and Tim Robbins as the young wild fireballer does inspired work as well,although he does look a little older for the role than I'd like.
I've never been much of a Susan Sarandon fan,so that might have kept this out of the top five.
Interesting note;In some of the game action,you'll see Hagerstown Suns uniforms and players against the Durham Bulls,but they are usually announced as the Peninsula Pilots!

7) A League of Their Own
The story of the short-lived women's baseball league didn't make a lot of mistakes in the surroundings,although I would have preferred that they just used the actual name of P.K.Wrigley instead of the pseudonym "Walter Harvey" for the league founder (and Cubs owner) played by Garry Marshall.
Lots of ladies in this movie went onto major and minor roles in television and films even on the opposing team as Tea' Leoni and Janet Jones (Mrs.Wayne Gretzky) were on the rival Racine team.
Geena Davis was sensational in her role,but Tom Hanks as "Jimmy Dugan" (based on Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx,who actually managed in the league) stole every scene he was in.
Love the little kid dancing around pointing at Dugan and taunting him with "You're gonna lose, you stink" before being drilled by a thrown glove! Got him,indeed!!
Interesting Note:Geena Davis says that the film has baseball,but not baseballs as they used spongy baseballs in order to not hit the cameramen

8) Major League II
This sequel isn't quite as good as the original mainly for two reasons.
One is the Indians home field moved from decrepit "Cleveland Stadium" (the filming was actually in Milwaukee County Stadium) to the unnamed stadium (This was Baltimore's Camden Yards).
Camden was a much better stadium,but it's quality takes away a little from the grit of the original.
The other? The new characters (except one) didn't really make the cut for me,although Omar Epps was good enough replacing Wesley Snipes as Willie Mays Hayes.
I did think Jack Parkman (David Keith) was great as the villain of the film,Randy Quaid was hilarious as the angry fan and it still had several great scenes that I love and recite even now.
Interesting note: The movie never acknowledges the new stadium,even though the Indians had moved to Jacobs Field when this film was released.

9) Bad News Bears-1976
Ahead of its time in dealing with the hypocrisy of little league baseball,this film had so many things that were funny,yet offensive and a word for word remake couldn't be made today,which is why the remake despite having Billy Bob Thornton isn't nearly as good.
It's funny with a few flaws.Kelly Leak is said to be 13 or 14 in the movie (which is too old for little league play) and it's not hard to see Jackie Earle Haley isn't hitting the ball and Tatum O'Neal is clearly a boy pitching in a wig for her scenes.
Still,the kids are a riot and Walter Matthau was the perfect casting as the worn out manager...
Interesting Note:Yankee pitcher Joey Turner was played by Brandon Cruz,who a few years earlier had been "Eddie" as the child star in the TV series "Courtship of Eddie's Father". 

10) Bad News Bears-Breaking Training
Even though this movie doesn't quite match the original,I can't help myself to watch it almost every time that MLB network shows it and that's a lot.
It's different because it lacks the social commentary,but it has many scenes that you remember to this day-Who hasn't done the "let them play" chant from the big game at least once in every day life?
Combine that with cheesy current gold shill William Devane coaching in a old army jacket and you have a funny film.
Besides the real star is my beloved Astrodome with shots of the stadium inside and out along with those great 1970's Astros uniforms with the rainbow stripes and Astros of the age!
Name another movie that you get this-"Look guys,it's Bob Watson and Cesar Cedeno"!!!
Interesting Note:Brett Marx as third baseman "Jimmie Feldman" is the grandson of "Gummo" Marx.

Tommy Lee Jones is terrific as the older Ty Cobb,but the baseball segments really show his age and take away from the film a bit.
Robert Wuhl has never been a favorite and that might be what kept Cobb out of my top ten.
Still,some great lines and Lou Myers as Willie,who quits as an employee of Cobb's owns his few scenes in the film,
Jones and Myers scenes together alone are enough to watch this film,if you never have watched previously!

Honorable Mention-No particular order.
61-The Mantle/Maris story is told well and the casting are dead ringers for the two.Just missed.

The Sandlot-Some would put this far higher,but it doesn't bring the nostalgia to me that Breaking Training does.

The Rookie-Dennis Quaid is great as Jim Morris,but a little too much time in Texas and not enough in the minors hurt its grade.

For the Love of the Game-More of a love story wrapped around a baseball game,but enough baseball to make it watchable.
Kevin Costner and John C.Reilly are great as aging and grizzled batterymates.

The Scout-Albert Brooks is my pick as the underrated comic genius of my time and he carries Brendan Fraser (who is a little better than normal here) to a pretty decent film with tons of cameos from baseball celebrities.

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