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The 10 best baseball movies ever made

From Bull Durham to The Natural, these are the greatest baseball movies that you should stream now

Baseball has been America’s pastime since the moment of its invention, and it has a long history in American culture. There have been plenty of legendary moments in the history of the game, but one of the great things about baseball’s legacy is that it extends far beyond the shores of the sport itself. Baseball is unique not just in the history of America, but also in the history of cinema, and in the long history of movie-making, few sports have proven to be more cinematic. 

There are tons of great movies set in and around the world of baseball, and they range from true stories to utter fantasies. What unites them all, though, is a sense of romance about one of the greatest games that’s ever existed. Baseball is poetry, it’s a series of one-on-one duels, and more than anything, it’s romantic. These are the greatest baseball movies ever made, and many of them will remind you what makes the sport so great to begin with.

For all of you devoted fans of baseball or other sports, we also have lists of the best sports podcasts and sports documentaries.

Moneyball (2011)

87 %
pg-13 134m
Genre Drama
Stars Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by Bennett Miller
Moneyball‘s true story is all about the math of baseball, but that doesn’t make the movie any less heartwarming. Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is the general manager of the Oakland A’s with a budget that is dwarfed by other teams in the league. With the help of an Ivy League grad, (Jonah Hill), he redefines the traditional assembly of a baseball team using statistical analysis and Beane’s unfettered charm and optimism. Moneyball is a story about the romance of baseball, and how hard it is to change a game that’s been played for more than a century.

42 (2013)

62 %
pg-13 128m
Genre Drama
Stars Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie
Directed by Brian Helgeland
Starring in one of his great roles as a leading man, Chadwick Boseman plays the legendary Jackie Robinson. Based on very real historic events, Robinson is the first-ever African-American man to play in major league baseball. Set in 1947 during the year of his integration, 42 is an inspiring and heart-breaking tale. While it’s one that many viewers have likely seen before, Boseman brings a unique charisma to Robinson that makes his performance shine.

Field of Dreams (1989)

Field of Dreams
57 %
pg 107m
Genre Drama, Fantasy
Stars Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Gaby Hoffmann
Directed by Phil Alden Robinson
Referred to as “my generation’s A Wonderful Life” by star Kevin Costner, Field of Dreams is a heartwarming account of an Iowa farmer compelled to create something magical. When Ray Kinsella (Costner) gets inspiration from a detached voice telling him to build a baseball field in the middle of Iowa, he winds up playing catch with his long-dead father. Based on the 1982 novel Shoeless Joe, which is loosely based on a true story, Field of Dreams is a movie that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and is all the better for that. 

Read more: The best movies streaming on Netflix 

A League of Their Own (1992)

A League of Their Own
69 %
pg 128m
Genre Comedy, Drama, Family
Stars Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty
Directed by Penny Marshall
Focused on the family dynamic between two sisters, A League of Their Own is a delight from beginning to end and one of the only movies on this list that surely passes the Bechdel test. In the early 1940s, America’s young men went off to war, which left American baseball severely lacking. A fictional story based on true events, this film follows the first women’s baseball league which was born during the war to keep the spirit of baseball alive. Ultimately, though, A League of Their Own is about hope and perseverence, and it also features an all-time great comedic performance from Tom Hanks as the team’s coach.

The Sandlot (1993)

The Sandlot
55 %
pg 101m
Genre Family, Comedy
Stars Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, James Earl Jones
Directed by David M. Evans
In a coming of age tale that spawned the legendary line, “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!” The Sandlot is a wonderful piece of wholehearted American nostalgia. When the new kid, Scottie Smalls (Tom Guiry) moves into town, he manages to make friends with a group of young boys who play baseball every day at their local baseball diamond. Baseball is really just the backdrop to The Sandlot, though, which is mostly about what it’s like to be a kid with your own fears, turmoil, and inner life.

Sugar (2008)

82 %
r 114m
Genre Drama
Stars Algenis Perez Soto, Rayniel Rufino, André Holland
Directed by Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden
Sugar is a beautiful and smart film about baseball that offers a fairly original perspective on the game. When a 19-year-old Dominican baseball pitcher with an incredible arm is recruited to play American baseball in Iowa, he encounters a culture that doesn’t necessarily welcome him with open arms. This film also focuses on the difficulties of facing a language barrier when trying to make a name for yourself, and feels true to the experience many immigrants may have when their plucked out of the country they call home to play a sport somewhere else.

Read more: The best movies streaming on Hulu

Bull Durham (1988)

Bull Durham
73 %
r 108m
Genre Comedy, Romance
Stars Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins
Directed by Ron Shelton
Another Kevin Costner classic, Bull Durham follows players in the minor leagues as they show us that there is more to baseball than just the majors. With fantastic performances from Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins, Bull Durham is really a romantic comedy following a love affair set against some truly depressing minor league games. It’s a movie about the romance of baseball that also acknowledges how crummy the sport can be.

The Bad News Bears (1976)

The Bad News Bears
84 %
pg 102m
Genre Family, Comedy
Stars Walter Matthau, Tatum O'Neal, Ben Piazza
Directed by Michael Ritchie
Another baseball comedy, The Bad News Bears is a raunchy and hilarious film that has remained a classic for decades, gaining so much acclaim that they re-made it in 2005. While the new version has some great moments , it will never match up to Walter Matthau’s comedic timing and performance in the original. Mathau plays a grumpy man who couldn’t make the minor league cut and is forced to coach a team in an uber-competitive California little league division, he tries out some unconventional methods and goes against all the rules. Fair warning: Having come out in 1976 (before the MPA ratings change) and containing a few distasteful racial slurs, this movie is not PG by any of today’s standards.

Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)

Bang the Drum Slowly
80 %
pg 96m
Genre Drama
Stars Michael Moriarty, Robert De Niro, Vincent Gardenia
Directed by John D. Hancock
In the 1973 drama Bang the Drum Slowly, we follow a tragic and sincere tale of two players united by unlikely conditions. A charismatic rising star pitcher, Henry (Michael Moriarty) and a simple-minded catcher, Bruce (Robert De Niro) play opposite each other on the fictional New York Mammoths, but have a hard time connecting due to Bruce’s lackluster personality and inability to connect with others. After discovering that Bruce is suffering from a terminal illness, Henry begins to form a bond with him, resulting in rising suspicions and frustrations from the rest of the team. Though this film has moments of tragedy and sadness, it’s also lovely and inspirational from beginning to end.

The Natural (1984)

The Natural
61 %
pg 137m
Genre Drama
Stars Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close
Directed by Barry Levinson
The Natural comes loaded with an original story only partially based on true events. When a young and promising pitcher (Robert Redford) is on his way to try out for the Cubs, he is shot by an unstable baseball fan and goes into a 16-year physical and emotional recovery. After his time away, he comes right back to the game and is forced to join the worst team in the league, the New York Knights. Despite his sedentary years, he makes a fantastic comeback and takes the team to new heights, defying the chaotic odds placed before him. Defying the odds, as with many sports movies, is central to what makes The Natural so powerful, but Redford shines in this role as he does in many of his films.

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Movie images and data from:
Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance culture writer based in upstate New York. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The…
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