Thursday, September 8, 2011

BATTER UP!! (Baseball In the Movies)

I have never really followed baseball---unless you count those couple of years when my home team was in the World Series, and every afternoon at school we got to close our books and turn on our classroom televisions. Catholic education definitely has its upsides. Anyway, despite my general lack of enthusiasm for actual baseball, I seem to thoroughly enjoy, and even be deeply moved by, a good baseball movie.

Eight Men Out

I've only seen this movie once, and years ago at that, but I remember clearly the strong emotional response that I had at the end of the film. During the last scenes when Buck Weaver is sitting in the stands, I felt that pit-in-the-stomach sense of sadness and loss. I felt it for Buck Weaver, for the sport of baseball, and for the country. It was very unexpected, and very moving. 

Film critic Roger Ebert, with whom I often agree, had this to say about the film:

It's an insider's movie, a baseball expert's film that is hard for the untutored to follow.

Balderdash! It is a fascinating true tale. As a viewer, it felt remarkably genuine, like being in a time-warp. The acting is strong, particularly by John Cusack, who seemed perfectly cast. This is a very good film, and not hard to follow, or at the very least, get the gist of enough to appreciate the impact. Luckily, the Rotten Tomatoes website called it " arguably the best baseball move ever made". So, someone over there was obviously able to follow it.

Sorry, Roger, you were mistaken on this one. I am amazed that you didn't feel like shedding a tear. I sure did.

Bull Durham

Another one that I saw only once years ago, but surprisingly enjoyed. This one sticks out in my memory as well, but the tears, of course, were from laughing too hard. Life in the minor leagues was apparently kind of a hoot.

Angels in the Outfield

This is a mild, funny, sweet-natured fantasy. Great movie for the kids; they'll love it. And if you're not a grumpy old movie snob, you'll enjoy it, too.

Field of Dreams

If you are like my sister, and fell asleep during this movie, tried to watch it again and couldn't get through it, then we are gonna have a problem. 

This movie is beautiful, and if you don't muster up a few tears when Ray chokes out, "Dad, you wanna have a catch?", then you need to have your heart examined. Granted, this is a big-time fantasy movie with a very spiritual feel, and both of those traits can be off-putting to a good many people. But to those people (of whom I am frequently one) I say, "Pffffftttttt." 

And on that note, I conclude the sharing of my extensive knowledge of baseball, America's pastime. I  think America should consider changing its pastime to watching movies. No? Okay, how about eating chips?


  1. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Better than Nyquil!

  2. Funny girl, but seriously, don't take her advice on this one!

  3. Among the best essays EVER written on American culture are ones on baseball. I'm thinking of Roger Angell's New Yorker essays for the most part, but it's a rich genre you might enjoy discovering, if you haven't done so yet.