Top baseball movies: Part I

We’re a little over a week away from Opening Day, or April Christmas as I call it. There are few things in the world I love more than baseball, but movies are right up there. To prepare to celebrate one of the greatest days of the year, I thought I would put together a list of some of my favorite baseball movies. Over the next week, I’ll break down my six favorite baseball movies in three posts.

I’d like to preface it with my criteria:

  1. Staying power. How memorable is the movie? If there aren’t memorable lines or scenes from the movie, it’s out.
  2. Game accuracy. You cannot completely disregard the rules or general gameplay of baseball. Sorry Air Bud: The Seventh Inning Fetch, you’re out. (More on that next time.)
  3. Pace of play. I love movies, but it has to move.

Let’s get to it.

Rookie of the Year (1993)

Henry Rowengarter got to live out every kid’s dream of playing in the major leagues as a 12-year-old after the tendons in his broken arm healed too tight. Never forget the cast removal scene where he hits the doctor in the nose and spits, “Funky butt lovin’!” The kid throws gas and hits triple digits on the radar gun, so the reeling Chicago Cubs add him to their bullpen. How could that be a bad idea? Rowengarter’s only appearance on the base paths gave us the classic taunt, “Pitcher’s got a big butt!” It was just fun enough to get in my top six.

Little Big League (1994)

One thing I’ll never forget about this movie is walking out of the theater and hearing my dad smirk, “Yeah, when was the last time the Mariners made the postseason.” At that point, never. Among the list of all-star major leaguers to make cameo appearances in the film, Ken Griffey Jr. has a significant role in the final game, so I was all in on this one.

This movie showed the next best thing to playing baseball for any kid who loves the game. 12-year-old Billy Heywood is given ownership of the Minnesota Twins, then becomes the manager. He’s fully exposed to the realities of life in the big leagues and tries to maintain a Chihuahua’s confidence among alpha dogs.

The exchanges among the team in the clubhouse and the dugout are perfectly written. One of the best is before Heywood enters the clubhouse for the first time as manager.

Lonnie Ritter: Kids today are amazing. I played winter ball down in Venezuela, they had kids half his age, every one of them speaking Spanish. That’s a hard language.

Lou Collins: They speak Spanish in Venezuela.

Lonnie Ritter: I know! That’s my point!

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