Even if you’re not a baseball fan you’ve likely watched a baseball movie you still liked. Which ones were your favourites?

I loved playing sports, including baseball, as a kid, when my knees could still handle it. But I’ve always loathed watching them.... just too damn boring for me. However, I do love good sports movies, and the baseball ones are some of the best out there.

There’s so many of them to choose from.... some good like 42, 61*, The Rookie, Bang the Drum Slowly, Moneyball..... and some not as good likeThe Fan, Mr. Baseball, Rookie of the Year, Mr. 3000... but if I had to pick, it comes down to the three I’ve rewatched the most:

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For Love of the Game ranks for a lot of reasons. Sam Raimi directs a pure and straightforward, if a little sentimental, movie that’s as much a love letter to baseball as it is the story of its central character.

This was the third of Kevin Costner’s baseball trilogy (although, just this week he hinted that he may have a fourth forthcoming) following Field of Dreams and Bull Durham, and while not the critical darling that the first two films were, it rightfully still has a diehard fanbase.

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Based on the book by Michael Schaara, it’s the story of what is most likely the final game in Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel’s final game. He’s 40 and at a crossroads in life. The team is about to be sold, he is about to be traded, and yet it’s slowly dawning on him that he’s pitching a perfect game. As the game progresses his mind wanders back over his career and life as he reflects on what in life he values most.

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I think it’s a beautiful film, with a great score/soundtrack and a damn fine cast. J.K . Simmons, Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly, Jena Malone, and Brian Cox all star as well. Reilly’s scenes with Costner are pure joy as he brings that sense of earnestness that he does so well.

Trailer:

Available for rent from all of these:

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I love The Natural many of the same reasons. Barry Levinson directed a quintessentially great American film that’s about more than its main character.

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Very loosely adapted from a Bernard Malamud novel it tells the story of the mysterious Roy Hobbs who emerges from nowhere as a 35 year old rookie phenom on the 1939 NY Knights. He had once been a promising prospect until an unfortunate encounter with a deranged woman intent on killing him. Now, amidst questions about his identity and potential scandal, he’s attempting something of a comeback with his second chance.

This is a visually stunning film from the great cinematographer Caleb Deschanel during the years at the height of his career, augmented by an excellent score. It also features a brilliant cast in Robert Redford, Wilford Brimley, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Robert Duvall, Darren McGavin, Richard Farnsworth, Michael Madsen, Joe Don Baker, and the always unforgettable Barbara Hershey.

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Trailer:

Available for rent from all of these:

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Major League is just plain fun. Basically a sports movie parody crossed with The Bad News Bears it tells the story of the last place Cleveland Indians who are made even worse by design by an owner filling the roster with a collection of has-beens and losers so that she can sell the team off. They of course have their troubles but come together in the end.

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You don’t watch Major League for its plot. You watch because it’s funny as hell. Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Wesley Snipes, Corbin Bernsen, Rene Russo, Dennis Haysbert, and Bob Ueker all deliver remarkably hilarious performances in a film by the man who also brought you the genius that is King Ralph. For me it’s worth watching over and over just for Ueker’s commentary...”Just a bit outside” being one of the greatest lines in a film ever.

Trailer:

Available for streaming on Netflix here and for rent from all of these: