Clem's Baseball home

Baseball in the Movies
(and Television)

Baseball Cinema: The canonical works

Any organized religion or belief system has at its core a certain set of commonly accepted literary and artistic works that serve to convey a sense of the Ideal World in terms that average human beings can understand. Baseball is no different. Over the course of many decades, the most common media in which the stories of heroism and virtue are conveyed has gradually changed from written text to music to the cinema.

It is interesting to observe that movies about baseball have proved far more successful than movies about football. Football games just do not carry the kind of riveting, nail-biting drama that baseball games do. Baseball's long descent into mediocrity and insignificance which began in the 1960s (Vietnam!) may well have been halted in the late 1980s (fall of the Berlin Wall!) by the release of several remarkable motion pictures, listed below. Hollywood to the Rescue! It is hard to film motion pictures in real major league stadiums in northern latitudes because all the production apparatus would disrupt the real games. As a result, substitute stadiums are often used, with varying degrees of success in terms of authenticity. NOTE: Only movies with an explicit baseball theme are listed below, but other movies are referenced on the respective stadium pages.

Title Starring actors Year Stadiums filmed in My rating
Fireman, Save My Child Joe E. Brown 1932 Wrigley Field (L.A.) 6
Elmer, the Great Joe E. Brown 1933 Wrigley Field (L.A.) 5
Alibi Ike Joe E. Brown, Olivia de Havilland 1935 Wrigley Field (L.A.) 6
Pride of the Yankees (Also see my review.) Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, Walter Brennan, Babe Ruth (!) 1942 Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field (L.A.) (Others simulated.) 8
It Happened in Brooklyn Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, Peter Lawford, Jimmy Durante, Gloria Grahame 1947 "And there were only minimal references to the Dodgers for a film about Brooklyn in a year they won the pennant."
It Happens Every Spring Ray Milland, Jean Peters, Alan Hale Jr. (!) 1949 Wrigley Field (L.A.) 6
The Stratton Story James Stewart, June Allyson 1949 Comiskey Park, Briggs Stadium 7
Angels in the Outfield Paul Douglas, Janet Leigh 1951 Forbes Field 8
The Jackie Robinson Story Jackie Robinson (as himself), Ruby Dee 1951 8
The Winning Team Doris Day, Ronald Reagan 1952 Yankee Stadium , Wrigley Field (L.A.) 7
Fear Strikes Out Anthony Perkins, as Jimmy Piersall, & Karl Malden, as his father 1957  
The Kid From Left Field Dan Dailey, Anne Bancroft, Billy Chapin, Lloyd Bridges 1953 Wrigley Field (L.A.) 6
Damn Yankees (Also see my review.) Tab Hunter, Ray Walston (!), Gwen Verdon, Jean Stapleton (!) 1958 Griffith Stadium, Wrigley Field (L.A.), 7
Bang The Drum Slowly Robert De Niro, Michael Moriarty 1973 Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium, RFK Stadium 7
The Bad News Bears Walter Matthau, Tatum O'Neal, Vic Morrow 1976 -
The Natural Robert Redford 1984 War Memorial Stadium (Buffalo, NY) 8
The Slugger's Wife Michael O'Keefe, Rebecca De Mornay 1985 Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
Bull Durham Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins 1988 Arlington Stadium, McCormick Field (Asheville, NC) 8
Eight Men Out John Cusack 1988 Bush Stadium (Indianapolis) as "Comiskey Park" 7
Stealing Home Mark Harmon, Jodie Foster 1988 Veterans Stadium
Major League Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen 1989 Milwaukee County Stadium, Cleveland Stadium 7
Field of Dreams Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, Amy Madigan 1989 Fenway Park 9
A League of Their Own Gena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell 1992 Wrigley Field, Bosse Field (Evansville, IN) 7
Mr. Baseball Tom Selleck, Dennis Haysbert 1992 Nagoya and Okaskai, Japan 7
The Babe John Goodman, Kelly McGillis 1992 Wrigley Field (Others simulated.) 7
Major League II Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen 1994 Camden Yards, U.S. Cellular Field 5
Angels in the Outfield (remake) Danny Glover, Tony Danza, Christopher Lloyd (& Gene Autry!) 1994 Anaheim Stadium, Oakland Coliseum 6
The Fan Robert De Niro, Wesley Snipes 1996 Candlestick Park?, Dodger Stadium 7
For Love of the Game Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston 1999 Yankee Stadium 7
61* (Also see my review) Barry Pepper, Thomas Jane 2001 Tiger Stadium, Memorial Coliseum 8
Hardball Keanu Reeves, Diane Lane 2001 Tiger Stadium 6
The Rookie Dennis Quaid 2002 (Rangers) Ballpark in Arlington 6
Mr. 3000 Bernie Mac 2004 Miller Park
Game 6 Michael Keaton 2005 Shea Stadium 6
Fever Pitch Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon 2005 Fenway Park, Busch Stadium (II) 9
The Bad News Bears Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear, Marcia Gay Harden 2005 -
How Do You Know? (Also see Dec. 8, 2012.) Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Jack Nicholson 2010 Nationals Park 7
Moneyball Brad Pitt, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill 2011 Oakland Coliseum 8
Trouble with the Curve Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman 2012 Turner Field 7
42 Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford 2013 Rickwood Field, Birmingham, AL; Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, TN
NOTE: Stadium names with a bright green background are links to pages from other Web sites.

FAN TIP: Chuck Freedman

Baseball on Television

Baseball games were first broadcast on a commercial basis in the late 1940s, and TV has become an integral part of the business of baseball. Since the days of Leave It to Beaver in the 1950s, baseball has often been a topic on family oriented television shows, but there have been few fictional programs devoted primarily to baseball. Growing appreciation of baseball by intellectuals was manifested by Ken Burns' historical documentary series broadcast on PBS in 1994, just when the sport itself hit rock bottom.

Title Starring or appearing actors Year Stadiums?
Home Run Derby various sluggers 1959 Wrigley Field (L.A.)
Ken Burns' Baseball documentary series Buck O'Neil, Robert Creamer, Thomas Boswell 1994 many
The Clubhouse (CBS) Dean Cain, Christopher Lloyd 2004 Dodger Stadium, Long Beach State

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