[Editor’s Note: Last year during Spring Training, Michael did this exercise, and wrote up the movies individually, as described in the post below. But then he wrote up this ranking post about one year ago … and somehow it got lost in the deep, dark depths of the editorial process (Read: I completely missed it somehow – sorry, Michael). So, given that ranking baseball movies is something that is always fun, even a year later … here you go!]
Back in February, I promised to watch 20 baseball movies by the end of Spring Training. “Baseball Sunday,” I called the endeavor, reviving a tradition my friends and I started back in college.
More specifically, I planned to watch 20 baseball movies, in chronological order, before ranking each of them, calculating how much time is actually spent playing the sport in each and, ultimately, sharing that one piece of baseball wisdom that just about every sports movie is so eager to offer.
This is that promise.
But instead of diving straight into the rankings, I shared my thoughts on each movie, the total time spent playing baseball, the baseball lessons and much more in four separate pieces (five movies at time). You can find those four articles – that were written chronologically – here, here, here and here (or by clicking on the movie, below).
So, without further adieu, here are my rankings of the Top 20 Baseball Movies – that I watched this Spring – with the release year in parenthesis, and the time spent playing baseball thereafter.
Here we go:
- Bull Durham (1988) – 26 minutes 30 seconds
- Moneyball (2011) – 21 minutes 43 seconds
- Major League (1989) – 40 minutes 11 seconds
- Bang the Drum Slowly (1973) – 14 minutes 45 seconds
- The Bad News Bears (1976) – 40 minutes 0 seconds
- The Sandlot (1993) – 14 minutes 50 seconds
- 42 (2013) – 30 minutes and 54 seconds
- A League of Their Own (1992) – 28 minutes 30 seconds
- Major League II (1994) – 45 minutes 14 seconds
- Rookie of the Year (1993) – 44 minutes 4 seconds
- Fever Pitch (2005) – 7 minutes 56 seconds
- 61* (2001) – 25 minutes 0 seconds
- Field of Dreams (1989) – 10 minutes 20 seconds
- Eight Men Out (1988) – 28 minutes 30 seconds
- The Natural (1984) – 36 minutes 0 seconds
- Hardball (2001) – 22 minutes 30 seconds
- The Rookie (2001) – 33 minutes 52 seconds
- For the Love of the Game (1999) – 35 minutes 15 seconds
- Major League: Back to the Minors (1998) – whoops…reset the clock
- Angels in the Outfield (1994) – 28 minutes 3 seconds
Before I began this process, I would have never guessed that Bull Durham would have made it to the top of my list. That said, the combination of comical baseball insight, a deep look into the minor leagues, the dual story of a veteran breaking the minor league home run record and a rookie pitcher trying to make it to the show put Bull Durham over the top (the all-star cast of Susan Surandon, Tim Robbins and Kevin Costner doesn’t hurt, either). With an excellent 26 minutes of time spent playing baseball, Bull Durham takes the cake.
Moneyball and Major League – two very, very different movies – follow just behind. And while those three were easily in the top tier, the relative order between them was pretty difficult to determine. One looks at the minors, one the majors and the other the front office operations of team during a transitional period of baseball.
The bottom three (For the Love of the Game, Major Leagues: Back to the Minors and Angels in the Outfield) were also pretty easy choices for the bottom of the list. The former had way too much side/drama/romance (despite a strong baseball A-story), Major Leagues: Back to the Minors was simply not very good and Angels in the Outfield didn’t quite hold up from my childhood (though it could work for younger children, I suppose).
Lastly, Major League I, Major League II and Rookie of the Year lead the league in time actually spent playing baseball. But, as you can also tell by their relative positioning, that doesn’t have too much of an impact on their actual, overall rankings. In the end this was a pretty fun process and a great way to get amped up for the season.
Care to share your agreements and disagreements? Any glaring errors or omissions?
Hopefully, you, too, found it fun, interesting and useful and its something we can do again another time with 20 new movies. #BaseballSunday –> Complete.