‘Major League’ was Released 32 Years Ago Today – Is It the Best Baseball Movie Ever?
It was on this day, April 7th, in 1989 Paramount Pictures released a sports comedy that 32 years later is still considered one of the best baseball movies ever - Major League. Now, I don't know if I'm ready to say it is THE best, but it is certainly in my top five. So, what makes a baseball movie great? I think it comes down to just two things for me - does it make me feel something, and are the baseball scenes believable?
I have strong feelings, emotions, and memories attached to baseball, so I want a movie to connect with some of them. A movie like The Sandlot takes me back to my youth, playing ball with my buddies, wherever, whenever, and however we could. A movie like Field of Dreams lets me reminisce about all the hours spent with my dad, practicing, playing, and developing a love for baseball - it has taken on a whole meaning now that I have a son of my own. All the great baseball flicks hit me in the feels, whether it's in the heart or the funny bone.
Now to my second criteria - baseball believability. My wife has called me a snob before about my stance on how real the baseball scenes look, and she's probably not wrong. I understand that we're talking about movies - fiction - and some liberties have to be taken to tell the story, I get that. What I don't get is casting an actor or actors that clearly have no athletic ability, at least in regards to baseball. I mean, if you make a baseball movie, hoping baseball fans will want to see it, don't you think a baseball fan is going to recognize what a real baseball player looks like?
Apply both my criteria to Major League and you'll realize it absolutely is one of the greats. It's a super funny movie that touches on the silliness, the comradery, the superstitions, and the excitement that comes with baseball - and it's evident that the actors can actually play baseball (to some degree). When Charlie Sheen is pitching as Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn, he is really pitching, with pretty good form by the way. When Dennis Haysbert, aka Cerrano, hits a bomb, it's really Dennis swinging the bat. Conversely, one example of a baseball movie that has absolutely no credibility is Rookie of the Year. Forget about the concept or story, and just look at the baseball scenes - complete garbage. I think I've made my point. Do you think I'm a baseball snob?
In conclusion, let me leave you with a list of my personal favorite baseball movies (In no particular order)...
- Major League
- The Sandlot
- Field of Dreams
- Bull Durham
- A League of Their Own
- Eight Men Out
- The Natural
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