The Greatest Baseball Movies of All Time, According to Critics

Baseball Excitement


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Baseball Excitement

Films That Knocked It Out of the Park

Major League Baseball has been around for almost 150 years — founded even before the first film was ever made. From the beer and hotdogs to the comradery in the stands, there are countless dedicated baseball fans who love watching movies about the sport — during the off-season, that is. From black-and-white classics and sentimental favorites to slapstick comedies, here are some of the best baseball movies ever made, according to critics.

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The Pride of the Yankees

‘The Pride of the Yankees’ (1942)

A timeless classic, “The Pride of the Yankees” is the oldest movie on this list. The movie was based on the life and career of first baseman Lou Gehrig — and it was released just one year after the player passed away from ALS. The tribute film is moving and does a beautiful job of celebrating Gehrig’s life and career, earning it a spot as one of the greatest baseball movies ever made.

Related: The Greatest Football Movies of All Time, According to Critics

The Stratton Story

‘The Stratton Story’ (1949)

Following in the footsteps of “The Pride of the Yankees,” “The Stratton Story” is another tribute baseball film that came out in the ‘40s. Based on Chicago White Sox pitching legend Monty Stratton who loses his leg in a hunting accident, the black-and-white movie is a pleasant drama starring Jimmy Stewart.

The Bad News Bears

‘The Bad News Bears’ (1976)

Before “Major League’s” heyday, “The Bad News Bears” was basically the lone comedy centered around the sport. A team full of misfit kids who warm the bench better than they can hit the ball is the perfect recipe for a laugh-until-your-cheeks-hurt movie — and “The Bad News Bears” proves that much to be true.

Bull Durham

‘Bull Durham’ (1988)

When you hear “baseball movie,” you might think of something action-oriented or perhaps something that is based on a true story. “Bull Durham” breaks the mold. The romantic comedy stars Kevin Costner and it’s just as much about love as it is baseball. It’s also regarded as one of the best sports movies of all time — in a review, The Washington Post wrote, “This is a movie about true believers, and if beforehand you're not a member of their church, by the end you'll be raring to join up.

Eight Men Out

‘Eight Men Out’ (1988)

The year before he starred in “Major League,” Charlie Sheen had a role in another baseball flick. Based on Eliot Asinof's book “Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series,” “Eight Men Out” dramatizes the scandal that unraveled when the Chicago White Sox — who were underpaid — accepted bribes to purposefully lose the 1919 World Series. According to the Los Angeles Times, writer-director John Sayles tackled the complexity of the scandal with ease, writing, “He’s woven each of the story’s complex strands — moral, psychological, political, journalistic, personal — into a watershed American drama that’s rich and clear.”

Field of Dreams

‘Field of Dreams’ (1989)

With a cast like Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta, and James Earl Jones, it’s hard to go wrong. “Field of Dreams” isn’t your average, run of the mill baseball flick. The film is a fantasy and it’s based on W.P. Kinsella’s novel “Shoeless Joe.” “Field of Dreams” was released just two weeks after “Major League” and was Costner’s second performance in a baseball movie within a year — the other being 1988’s “Bull Durham,” which is also on this list. But not all viewers will find the movie enjoyable — in a review of the film, the Hollywood Reporter wrote, “Many fans won’t make it to the seventh-inning stretch; others will be back for extra innings.” The discrepancy in viewer response is most likely due to the movie being less about baseball and more about life.

Major League

‘Major League’ (1989)

As far as baseball movies go, “Major League” is probably the funniest. While many flicks about the sport tend to lean into “feel-good” vibes, this one offers a fictional, light story that will keep you laughing all the way through. The movie offers the perfect balance between crude humor and action-packed baseball. 

A League of Their Own

‘A League of Their Own’ (1992)

Madonna, Tom Hanks, Rosie O’Donnell, and Geena Davis are just part of the star-studded cast in “A League of Their Own.” Different from other baseball movies, this one chronicles two sisters who join the first female professional baseball league. The film is sentimental while showcasing sassy humor — giving viewers the best of both worlds.


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The Sandlot

‘The Sandlot’ (1993)

“You’re killing me, Smalls” might just be the most popular quote to come out of a baseball flick and as such, “The Sandlot” is probably the most beloved kid baseball movie of all time. The plot is simple and easy to digest and the characters — Scotty Smalls, ‘Squints’, and ‘Ham’, to name a few — are charming and hilarious. Set in the ‘60s, the movie derives some serious feelings of nostalgia and brings you right back to the good old days of summertime neighborhood fun.

‘The Rookie’ (2002)

‘The Rookie’ (2002)

Most true story baseball movies follow the lives of baseball players, but the plot of “The Rookie'' centers around a coach, played by Dennis Quaid. Between the small-time team getting a shot at the championship and a coach who thought he was past his heyday realizing his lifelong dreams, what’s not to like about this endearing movie?


‘Moneyball’ (2011)

Different from most baseball movies, 2011’s “Moneyball” is a drama about baseball during the digital age. Starring Brad Pitt, Chris Pratt, Jonah Hill, the movie was a humongous box office success, grossing more than $110 million worldwide against a $50 million production budget. Despite hesitation that the precipice of the film might be dry or boring, “Moneyball” made a believer out of Rolling Stone magazine. In the magazine’s review, it said, “Moneyball is one of the best and most viscerally exciting films of the year.” It was so well-received, in fact, that it scored six different nominations at the 84th Academy Awards.

Related: Small-Budget Films That Went On to Win Oscars


‘42’ (2013)

As the first African American baseball player to play in Major League baseball, Jackie Robinson is one of the most well-known players of all time. As such, there are plenty of books, shows, and movies about him. 2013’s “42” stars Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford. Boseman does an impeccable job portraying Robinson and engages the audience in a way other books and movies about the player have never done before — making the film sentimental in the simplest, most effortless way.

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