Films of Dreams: The Greatest Baseball Movies

For Love of the Game
Major League baseball’s Opening Day for the 2010 season was earlier this week. Unless you count playing video games on the Wii, I am never going to hit a home run out of a major league ballpark. I am never going to pitch a no-hitter. James Earl Jones is not likely to give me a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth, and I am never going to date Kelly Preston (both John Travolta and my wife can now rest easy at that last one).

Thanks to the magic of the movies, though, I can vicariously do all of these things and more by watching the five greatest baseball films . . . of all time!

#1 For Love of the Game (1999)
Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston
Written by Michael Shaara and Dana Stevens
Directed by Sam Raimi

On the brink of retirement, an aging pitcher has the game of his life while distracted by thoughts of a lost love. Raimi went on to direct the Spider-Man trilogy. For Love of the Game is available on DVD.

#2 Field of Dreams (1989)
Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan
Written by Phil Alden Robinson and W.P. Kinsella
Directed by Phil Alden Robinson

Spurred on by a mysterious voice, an Iowa farmer digs up part of his cornfield to build a professional-grade baseball field. Available on Blu-ray and DVD.

#3 The Sandlot (1993)
Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar
Written by David M. Evans and Robert Gunter
Directed by David M. Evans

A group of kids loses a valuable baseball to “the Beast,” an enormous dog that lives next door to their sandlot-turned-baseball-field. Available on DVD.

#4 The Natural (1984)
Robert Redford, Robert Duvall
Written by Roger Towne, Phil Dusenberry, and Bernard Malamud
Directed by Barry Levinson

A major league baseball team signs a 35-year-old rookie in 1939. This one hit Blu-ray on Tuesday and is also available on DVD.

#5 Fever Pitch (2005)
Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon
Written by Nick Hornby, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel
Directed by Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly

An obsessive Boston Red Sox fan who never misses attending a home game is forced to find time for a girlfriend he meets in the off-season. When the perennially disappointing Red Sox went on to win the World Series in 2004, the ending of this movie was rewritten to reflect the unexpected victory. Fever Pitch is available on DVD.