I never used to be much of a baseball fan, but in the last few years, I find myself more drawn to this all-American pastime.
It started a few year ago when I got hooked watching baseball movies. Classics like “The Pride of the Yankees” with Gregory Peck and “The Babe” with John Goodman and even “Damn Yankees,” with Ray Walston. Who knew there was a musical about baseball?
If you try to look up “top baseball movies” online, you end up with a zillion lists. Most include the same titles in the top 10, but in varying order. The lists almost always include “Bull Durham” with Kevin Costner, “Field of Dreams” with Kevin Costner and “Bad News Bears” with …. no, not Kevin Costner, Walter Matthau.
One of my all-time favorite baseball movies features -- yes, this time you’re right --Kevin Costner: “For Love of the Game.” The movie wraps baseball in romance. I finally get why people are so nuts about the game when I watch Costner as the aging pitcher, surrounded by thousands of fans, but somehow completely alone on the mound, striking out batter after batter, reflecting on each as an old friend. There, in the twilight of his career, he reaches that holy of holies – a perfect game.
It helps that it has a great soundtrack, features the beautiful Kelly Preston, the much loved, and oft-maligned Detroit Tigers, and was directed by Michigan’s own Sam Raimi.
Other baseball movies from most top 10 lists that I’ve fallen in love with include: “Major League,” with Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger; “The Natural,” with Robert Redford; “The Sandlot” and “A League of Their Own.” Who could forget Tom Hanks hollering “There’s no crying in baseball! There’s NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!!”
Billy Crystal directed “*61,” the story of the season that Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris battling for the homerun record. Watching that, I finally understood all that hubbub about steroids and asterisks.
Now there’s “42,” the life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making turn with the Brooklyn Dodgers. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I plan to this summer on one of those amazing blue-sky days when baseball seems like the perfect way to fill an afternoon.
Did you see it? What did you think? Will “42” become a baseball classic?