The Bad News Bears (1976)
I often wish that there was something more to remember other than this movie teaching me to swear. Whilst walking to the pool one afternoon, I was talking to my mom and inadvertently used the S-word and suddenly the air was sucked completely out of the baseball field-sized area surrounding us. Thanks, Bad News Bears! This movie is sheer fun. Walter Matthau offers up one of the best cinema-based "bad coach" icons ever and for those of you that have ever participated in little league - this isn't too far off the mark of that experience. The chemistry of the team of kids in this film is unlike any other and will help you hearken to days long gone by and new-found smiles and belly laughs.
Field of Dreams (1989)
This was the first movie I rented after (involuntarily) "moving out" of my parents house. Again, my days of competitive baseball were behind me by then, and while this movie offers up legend, mystique and "what ifs," there's a deeper notion this film holds that is different for each person who watches it. A farmer and baseball aficionado (Costner) is working in a large corn field in Iowa one day and hears a voice say "If you build it, he will come..." What ensues in this movie is a little bit of magic, a ton of heart, and a final scene that makes me well up to this day. Why? Well, because - jeez, guys - who wouldn't want to have another last chance to play catch with his pop? It's a piece of complex simplicity that allows all viewers to take away their own message. If you watch it, the thoughts will come.
In the Bullpen: (Honorable Mentions)
The storied past and "culture" of being a Red Sox fan is something all-together unique. While it's easy to "hate the friggin' Red Sox," it takes a lot more to try and understand the position, perspective and shall we say CURSE that apparently held back a storied baseball team from winning it all. This HBO-based one-shot (hosted by Ben Affleck and visited by a HUGE variety of Boston-based celebrities) offers what I think is the best sample and viewpoint for everyone - regardless of whether or not you're a Red Sox fan - of how the "Curse of the Bambino (Babe Ruth)" has contributed to many a dinner table legacy. If you have to grin and bear to watch ONE Red Sox-based story reel, this is it. The humor, pace, and wrangling tentacles of irony that push this tale are outstanding.
Baseball by Ken Burns (1994)
Are you someone that "hates baseball?" It may be time for a Ken Burns-style trip for you. Encapsulated in this 8-part, Emmy Award-nominated story are the building blocks and details that help you better understand the make up not only of the owners, the players and the teams, but the FANS and the people covering the game. Becoming a baseball fan isn't something you're born into, truly - it's something you're sworn into as you experience the game and come to love it - that is, if you take the time to give it a look. The visuals in this piece (like ALL Ken Burns projects) are really something to behold.
Now that you've got the bases cleared, a red hot in your hand, the storied crackerjack waft in the air and a sea of screaming fans, are you going to tell us what YOUR favorite baseball feature film is? Discuss below!