Batter Up! For decades, sports movies have been a part of entertainment culture for as long as most of us can remember. Baseball itself was the first professional league to become “America’s Sport,” and ended up crossing over into Hollywood (Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe’s relationship for example). So it was only natural that baseball movies would end up becoming a part of cinematic history.
That being said, we have decided to come up with what we consider to be the top 35 baseball movies of all time. In no particular order, these are the films that we believe have stood the test of time. Let us take you out to the ball game, and give you that feel good baseball nostalgia.
This 1942 film was produced by Samuel Goldwyn, and starred Gary Cooper, who portrayed the legendary New York Yankees player Lou Gehrig. The baseball player had passed away the year before from ALS, and the film was done as a tribute. The Pride of the Yankees also featured another Yankees legend Babe Ruth, and the movie received ten Oscar nominations. The film can now be found on YouTube Movies.
Up For Grabs is a 2005 comedy based on a real life dispute between two men over Barry Bonds record setting 73rd home run ball in 2001. For those wondering, the rights to the ball were contested in court by two men (Alex Popov and Patrick Hayashi), and actually ended up getting pretty heated. We certainly don’t want to spoil the documentary for those that haven’t seen it, so we won’t reveal the final court ruling. At the moment, the film can be purchased on the official MLB website. Hopefully the documentary can make its way to streaming platforms soon.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game is a 1949 musical film that featured some of the biggest stars of the MGM era including Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Esther Williams. The movie is based in the year 1908, and focuses on the fictional baseball team, the Chicago Wolves. The film grossed over $4 million at the box office, and is considered one of the greatest musicals of all time. The movie can now be found on Amazon Prime.
This 2014 film stars actor Jon Hamm as a top sports agent by the name of J.B. Bernstein, looking to sign new talent after having multiple clients retire. Eventually Bernstein realizes there’s a lot of undiscovered talent in India, and creates a proposal entitled “Million Dollar Arm” to discover the best young pitchers. The movie received positive reviews, and grossed $36 million at the box office. Million Dollar Arm can now be found on Amazon Prime.
This 2005 film was directed by Michael Hoffman, and Michael Keaton is the leader of an all-star cast. In the film, Rogan (a struggling playwright) sets out to kill his biggest critic Steven Schwimmer (portrayed by Robert Downey Jr.) ahead of his latest premiere. Rogan ends up skipping his opening night premiere all together to watch game 6 of the 1986 World Series matchup between The Boston Red Sox and The New York Mets at a bar. The film also stars Catherine O’Hara, and can be purchased via Amazon.
Angels in the Outfield is a 1951 comedy starring Paul Douglas and Janet Leigh. The film was directed by Clarence Brown and centers around a female reporter who blames the Pittsburgh Pirates manager for their losing streak. The manager (who was known to be verbally abusive), then begins to hear the voice of an angel who promises to help the team if he changes. The movie can now be found on HBO Max.
The Pride of St. Louis is a 1952 biographical film based on the life of baseball Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean. The movie stars Dan Dailey as Dean, and covers Dean’s career from the minor leagues all the way to the MLB. The film wound up being nominated for Best Story at the Academy Awards, and can now be purchased on YouTube.
Drawing comparisons to Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, Off the Black was released in 2006 to positive reviews. The film stars actor Nick Nolte as a bitter umpire by the name of Ray Cook. Cook’s questionable call in a high school game leads to a team’s season being ended, and the leader of that squad is now out for revenge. The movie received good ratings, and can be watched on Tubi.
Released in 1994, Cobb is a biographical film focusing on the life of baseball player Ty Cobb. Cobb was portrayed by actor Tommy Lee Jones, and the film was directed by Ron Shelton. While the movie didn’t do so well at the box office, critics praised Jones’s performance. The film can now be found on Amazon Prime.
This romantic comedy sports film was released in 1988, and is based on the minor league baseball experiences of writer and director Ron Shelton. The film stars Kevin Costner as Crash Davis, a veteran catcher tasked with teaching rookie pitcher Ebby LaLoosh about the game to prepare him for the major leagues. The movie is considered one of the best sports films of all time, and can be watched on VUDU.
The Bad News Bears is a 1976 sports comedy film starring actors Walter Matthau and Tatum O’Neal. The movie focuses on the youth team The Bears, who are absolutely abysmal. With some recruiting, the team is able to slowly turn their season around. Bad News Bears is considered a baseball classic, and can now be watched on Amazon Prime.
If you know you know. The Air Bud series was one of the most popular family series in the 2000s, and Seventh Inning Fetch follows “Buddy” the dog on another adventure with a baseball team. In the movie, Buddy’s puppies get kidnapped, and Buddy must rescue them before going to bat. The film received positive reviews, and can now be seen on Amazon Prime.
Eight Men Out is a 1988 sports drama starring John Cusack. The film is centered around the MLB’s Black Sox Scandal, where eight Chicago White Sox players conspired with gamblers to intentionally lose the 1919 World Series in exchange for money. The movie was a commercial success, and can be viewed on YouTube.
This 1989 sports comedy features stars such as Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, and Tom Berenger. The film is based on a Vegas showgirl by the name of Rachel Phelps inheriting the Cleveland Indians from her deceased husband. Phelps wants to move the team to Miami, but in order to get out of Cleveland, the team has to perform really bad. Major League was a huge box office success, and can be seen YouTube.
The Jackie Robinson Story is a biographical film based on hall of famer Jackie Robinson. The film focuses on Robinson’s journey and struggles as he becomes the first African-American MLB player. The Jackie Robinson Story is ranked as one of the best sports films of all time, and can be watched on various platforms such as Amazon and STARZ.
This 2002 film starring Dennis Quaid is ranked as one of the best sports films of all time. The Rookie is a real life story based on a high school baseball coach that made it to the pros at 35 years old. The film grossed $80 million at the box office, and can now be found on platforms such as ABC, and Amazon Prime.
Moneyball is based on the 2003 book of the same name. The film chronicles the Oakland Athletics, as general manager Billy Beane tries to build the team to compete with larger market teams such as the New York Yankees. The film stars Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, and can be watched on Hulu.
61 is a 2001 sports drama film directed by Billy Crystal. The film focuses on the journey of Roger Maris (portrayed by Barry Pepper) and Mickey Mantle (portrayed by Thomas Jane) as they set out to beat Babe Ruth’s home run record. The movie received positive reviews from critics, and can be watched on Hulu.
This 1992 film is now in the United States National Film Registry for its “cultural relevance.” The movie features stars such as Tom Hanks and Madonna, and focuses on the creation of a women’s baseball league. A League of Their Own wound up grossing over $100 million in the U.S., and can now be streamed on Amazon Prime.
This 2013 film stars the late Chadwick Boseman in an excellent portrayal of Jackie Robinson. Released in April of that year, the film grossed $97 million, and critics praised the performance of Boseman, as well as the other actors. 42 can now be watched on Amazon Prime.
Rookie of the Year is a sports comedy starring Gary Busey and Thomas Ian Nicholas as players for the Chicago Cubs. The film also features appearances from Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, and Pedro Guerrero. While the movie received poor reviews from critics, the film was a box office success. Rookie of the Year can now be found on Hulu.
Fever Pitch is a 2005 comedy film starring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. The film is a remake of the 1997 version, and centers around the relationship of Ben Wrightman (portrayed by Fallon) and Lindsey Meeks (portrayed by Barrymore), as Wrightman tries to prove that their relationship means more to him than the Boston Red Sox. The film can now be watched on Hulu.
Little Big League is a 1994 sports film starring Dennis Farina, Timothy Busfield, and Luke Edwards. The film is a comedic adventure focusing on a twelve year old, who ends becoming the owner and manager of the Minnesota Twins. Little Big League can now be purchased via YouTube Movies.
This 2004 comedy stars the late comedian Bernie Mac and Angela Bassett as his co-star. The film centers around a baseball retiree making his comeback at the age of 47. While the film received negative reviews from critics, it grossed over $21 million at the box office. Mr. 3000 can now be watched on Amazon Prime.
This musical comedy was released in 1958. The film was directed by George Abbott, and focuses on a middle-aged Washington Senators fan so tired of his team losing that he’s willing to sell his soul to the devil. Damn Yankees was received well by critics, and can be purchased on YouTube and Amazon Prime.
Field of Dreams is a sports fantasy drama released in 1989. The film stars Kevin Costner, and focuses on an Iowa farmer by the name of Ray. One night “Ray” hears a voice in his head telling him to build a baseball diamond on his land. Shortly afterwards, the ghosts of baseball greats begin to appear on his property. The film grossed over $87 million at the box office, and can be found on Hulu.
The Natural is a 1984 sports film based on the 1952 novel of the same name. The film stars Robert Redford, and focuses on the journey of baseball sensation Roy Hobbs who is shot on the way to a tryout with the Chicago Cubs. Sixteen years later, Hobbs makes his return to pro baseball. The Natural was nominated for four Academy Awards, and can also be watched on Hulu.
This 1957 film is a biography focusing on the life of baseball player Jimmy Piersall. The movie stars Anthony Perkins as Piersall, and chronicles his journey from childhood all the way to the major leagues. Fear Strikes Out is recognized as one of the top sports films of all time, and can be seen on YouTube or Amazon Prime.
This 1999 film starring Kevin Costner features the actor playing a character by the name of Billy Chapel who’s at the end of his career. As he’s pitching a perfect game (the game of his life), all Chapel can think about is his failing relationship with his wife Jane Aubrey (portrayed by the late Kelly Preston). The film can now be watched on Hulu.
Bang The Drum Slowly focuses on two friends/teammates after one friend is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease. Robert De Niro portrays the ill teammate, and the role is considered to be the beginning of his stardom. Bang the Drum Slowly can currently be found on YouTube Movies.
This 2016 film is the directorial debut of Joseph Mazzello, and is based on the true story of Mazzello’s brother who did not make the major leagues. The film was executive produced by NFL player Tony Romo, who was also in a period of not being signed to a professional team (he later went to the Dallas Cowboys). Undrafted is now available on platforms such as YouTube and Amazon Prime.
The Perfect Game was released in March 2009. The film chronicles the events leading up to the 1957 Little League World Series. The Perfect Game grossed almost $4 million at the box office, and can be watched on Amazon Prime.
Featuring star names such as Justin Timberlake and Amy Adams, Trouble With the Curve centers around a baseball scout who brings his daughter with him on a scouting trip. The trip introduces his daughter to the game, and allows the aging scout to reconnect to baseball in a different way. The film can now be seen on YouTube Movies.
This 2006 film is a comedy focusing on three adults who decide to challenge child bullies to a baseball game. The film was produced by Adam Sandler, and stars Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Jon Header. The Benchwarmers can be watched on Hulu.
Last but not least, we have the film regarded as the best baseball film of all time. The Sandlot was released in April 1993, and tells the story of a group of young baseball players during their 1962 summer campaign. Grossing $34 million worldwide, The Sandlot is now considered a cult classic. The film can now be found on a number of streaming platforms including; Hulu, Amazon Prime, and YouTube.
Through the past century, there have been dozens of heart-tugging baseball films. It’s made us laugh, it’s made us cry, and it’s even allowed us to relive some of the best moments in baseball history. While there are plenty of honorable mentions, we hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. With the MLB Playoffs approaching soon, be sure to watch these classics to get you pumped.