10 baseball movies to watch with the sports world on hold
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Baseball has been represented in a large number of high-quality movies. Narrowing the list to 10 was nearly impossible, but here's a whittled-down watch list while we patiently wait for the real thing to return.

Note: There's been a few notable baseball television series. "Eastbound and Down" brilliantly showcases Danny McBride's humor, and "Brockmire" is just wrapping up its four-season run. And if non-fiction is more your flavor, Ken Burns' 10-part documentary "Baseball" is available to stream for free on PBS.

'The Pride of the Yankees' (1942)

Directed by Sam Wood
Starring Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, Walter Brennan

One of the first classic baseball movies, "Pride" depicts the life, career, and tragic death of legendary Yankees slugger Lou Gehrig (Cooper). The film received 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and it still stands as a well-crafted biopic of a greatly loved and respected baseball figure.

The American Film Institute ranked a line from the film's most-famous scene - an ailing Gehrig's farewell speech at Yankee Stadium - as the 38th-most memorable quote in movie history. Several of Gehrig's former teammates played themselves, including Babe Ruth.

'The Bad News Bears' (1976)

Directed by Michael Ritchie
Starring Walter Matthau, Tatum O'Neal, Vic Morrow, Jackie Earle Haley

Focussing on a ragtag group of misfits is now a well-worn trope for sports movies, but it wasn't exactly the norm when "The Bad News Bears" premiered. Matthau's drunken former ballplayer turned Little League manager - who struck out Ted Williams in spring training - is the perfect foil for this group of rough-around-the-edges kids fighting against the odds while facing more polished teams.

Certain elements of the script probably wouldn't play as well today, almost all connected to the foul-mouthed Tanner Boyle. But the movie is surprisingly progressive. Amanda (O'Neal) joins the team as the pitcher, and outside of an initial comment or two, there's no lingering on the fact she's a girl. And she kicks butt. The more sanitized "The Mighty Ducks" owes "The Bad News Bears" a debt of gratitude, as the former wouldn't exist without the latter.

'The Natural' (1984)

Directed by Barry Levinson
Starring Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger

"The Natural" gets by on a lot of goodwill from its incredible final scene when (spoiler alert for a 36-year-old movie) Redford's Roy Hobbs steps up with the pennant on the line, and his career and life in jeopardy thanks to a re-opened wound. This scene might be the most unforgettable sequence in any sports movie, making the journey ultimately worth it.

'Bull Durham' (1988)

Directed by Ron Shelton
Starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins

The quintessential movie chronicling life as a ballplayer is loosely based on writer-director Shelton's own time in the minors. It's clever and profane in equal measures, and while Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh's pitching mechanics are ridiculous, Costner's Crash Davis is the real McCoy.

This is in the discussion with "Major League" for the pound-for-pound funniest baseball movie, and it's up there with "Slap Shot" across all of sports. But Sarandon's presence as Annie sets it further apart. She cuts through the machismo and injects the movie with a sense of philosophy, sexiness, and tenderness absent in many sports flicks, and in a way that doesn't feel false or cheesy.

'The Naked Gun' (1988)

Directed by David Zucker
Starring Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley, George Kennedy

OK, maybe "The Naked Gun" isn't your typical baseball movie since it's a parody of police films. But baseball is at the very core of this classic comedy, and the movie doesn't work without it.

After he spends the first hour of the film screwing up pretty much everything that crosses his path, bumbling cop Enrico Palazzo Lt. Frank Drebin (Nielsen) is forced to infiltrate an Angels-Mariners game so he can save Queen Elizabeth from being killed. That's the set up for the iconic climactic baseball sequence that includes, among other things, seemingly every famous sports broadcaster in the booth, the most bizarre rundown in history, and a slew of baseball cameos ranging from longtime umpire Joe West to a Hall of Famer whose memorable appearance won't be spoiled any further.

We all need some good hearty laughs these days, and "The Naked Gun" provides plenty of them, with the baseball scenes standing out as the funniest parts.

'Field of Dreams' (1989)

Directed by Phil Alden Robinson
Starring Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones

"Field of Dreams" is iconic in spite of its eye-rolling overly sentimental moments. And in this time of uncertainty, it's maybe good to reconnect with how much the game can seem magical, even in a literal sense.

This movie is also a heartwarming exploration of a father-son relationship and the universal need for connection.

'Major League' (1989)

Directed by David S. Ward
Starring Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen

When Las Vegas showgirl Rachel Phelps (Whitton) brings together a patchwork group of ballplayers after inheriting the Cleveland Indians from her deceased husband, sports comedy gold is bestowed upon "Major League" viewers.

Ward, an Ohio native who said he'd never see the Indians win a World Series unless he wrote a movie about it, created the ultimate underdog story that stars Berenger as washed-up catcher Jake Taylor, Sheen playing flame-throwing felon Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn, and surly grump James Gammon as Indians skipper Lou Brown.

The lovable bunch of so-called losers' mission is to stop Phelps from relocating the team to Miami. They then outplay their expectations and overcome their shortcomings during 107 minutes of goofy moments, vulgar dialogue, and a little bit of voodoo magic.

'A League of Their Own' (1992)

Directed by Penny Marshall
Starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Lori Petty

In "A League of Their Own," World War II threatens to shut down professional baseball before candy bar company owner Walter Harvey persuades his rich friends to bankroll a women's league while the boys are at war.

Marshall's delightful picture documents the trials and tribulations of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League through the eyes of players on the Rockford Peaches. The squad features strong female athletes, including dairy-farming protagonists Dottie Henson (Davis) and Kit Keller (Petty), and crude alcoholic ex-player Jimmy Duggan (Hanks) as the manager.

"A League of Their Own" is a cultural and historical masterpiece that provides viewers with a feminist interpretation of women's sports, and also tugs on heartstrings while keeping things clever and fun.

'Rookie of the Year' (1993)

Directed by Daniel Stern
Starring Thomas Ian Nicholas, Gary Busey, Dan Hedaya

What kid didn't contemplate breaking their arm for a shot at playing in the majors after watching this film?

That's what happened to Henry Rowengartner (Nicholas), an unskilled Little Leaguer, when his injury gives him the ability to throw over 100 mph. He ends up pitching for the Chicago Cubs, kicking off a cheesy but heartfelt story about what it would be like for an adolescent boy to play professional baseball while trying to juggle relationships with family and friends. Put on a movie that brings a smile to your face during these difficult times.

'Moneyball' (2011)

Directed by Bennett Miller
Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Phillip Seymour Hoffman

"Moneyball" is an adaptation that shouldn't have worked, but it wound up receiving six Oscar nominations. Michael Lewis' book is simply a peek behind the curtain of how the Oakland Athletics operated during the early 2000s. Instead of going all business, though, the movie focusses on a very human element of the story: Brad Pitt playing a dismissive Billy Beane who's jilted by the scouts after they once anointed him the next "five-tool superstar."

How can you not be romantic about baseball with Jonah Hill as the analytical Peter "Paul DePodesta" Brand, an unknown Chris Pratt as perpetually scared Scott Hatteberg, legendary screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, and an unforgettable score from Mychael Danna with a contribution from This Will Destroy You?

Honorable mentions: "Eight Men Out" (1987), "The Sandlot" (1993), "Little Big League" (1994), "Sugar" (2008), "Everybody Wants Some" (2016)

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