Roy Halladay, the starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies just became the second person in history to pitch a no-hitter in a post-season game. Even those apathetic about baseball can appreciate the incredible rarity of this cleat-footed feat, and to celebrate, I’ve put together a list of the best baseball movies out there.
What goes into a great baseball film? Is it a sense of Americana? Is it a well-paced presentation of the game itself? Is it the players being brought to life and rounded out so that they become something more than just Gods of the Mound? Would Gods of the Mound make a great title for a porn version of Clash of the Titans?
I think it’s a combination of all of these things. So, without further ado, and since “5 No-Hitter Baseball Movies” doesn’t make sense, here are 5 Perfect Baseball Movies in honor of Roy Halladay.
The Natural (1984)
The Pitch: Ask most anyone to name an iconic scene from a baseball movie, and the shot of Roy Hobbs blasting the outfield stadium lights and running toward home with sparks raining down behind him usually comes to mind. That final hit, complete with the Christ-like blood pooling up at Roy’s side, encapsulates the rest of the film so perfectly. The score. The slow race around the bases. The awed look on everyone’s faces. It’s a portrait of the triumph of the game, and it doesn’t hurt to have Robert Redford as the star, either.
The Sandlot (1993)
The Pitch: Maybe it’s just my generation, but this film speaks volumes not only to the sport but to an idyllic childhood that only exists in memory. The gang that meets up every day during the summer to play ball until someone hits it over the fence into Mr. Mertle’s backyard is somehow exactly like the kids you grew up with. The film is not really about the game, but about what the game can do to bring people together and act as the basis for all the memories we have of summer, from your first kiss to your first kiss from a dog you think is about to eat you.
A League of Their Own (1992)
The Pitch: This movie taught everyone the most important lesson of all: there’s no crying in baseball. From the brilliant script, to Penny Marshall’s deft directing, to Tom Hanks and Geena Davis and Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell and Lori Petty and David Strathairn and Jon Lovitz and Stilwell Angel. The list of perfect pieces to this film continues deep into the Green Monster. Who knew that watching Tom Hanks piss for 5 minutes could be so entertaining.
Field of Dreams (1989)
The Pitch: Quick. Name a baseball movie that has almost no actual baseball in it. Field of Dreams is a modern classic that features the ghosts of game’s past and a cross-country hunt for elements to a larger life delivered to us by a deep voice from beyond. In the end, the movie is really about a man reconnecting with his father, and who here dares to claim they didn’t tear up when Ray asks his dad for a catch?
Bull Durham (1988)
The Pitch: At the risk of making this a list of Best Kevin Costner roles, this movie demands to be included because it’s decidedly non-heroic. The players, especially Crash, are all presented in a realistic light as grown men playing a game. There’s a perfection here that comes from the authenticity of the minor leagues that most movies wouldn’t dare to show because it would risk taking the titans down and making them human.
What’s your favorite baseball flick?