Five baseball movies to watch while in quarantine

This is the third column I’ve written for The Champion and, somewhat unsurprisingly, also the third baseball-related opinion that I’d like to present.

         I say “unsurprisingly” because baseball was the sport I grew up with. I played tee-ball all the way until I was a senior in high school, and I have been a Philadelphia Phillies fan for as long as I can remember. When I was a teenager, nearly every spring and summer night consisted of flipping back and forth between the Phillies game and the MLB Network to keep up with all the scores around the league.

         My passion for baseball – and the spark for my desire to be a sports broadcaster or journalist – was forged in the many hours my dad and I shared watching and talking about the sport. Being back at home now because of COVID-19, our conversations have continued — about NFL free agency or whether playing the whole season in Arizona is a viable option—but the lack of live sporting events has still left a void for sports fans like us across the country.

         All is not lost, however. The time that we would normally spend watching baseball games this spring has been used instead to take in some of the nostalgic films that have etched themselves in the hearts of baseball fans everywhere.

         So, since live sports isn’t an option, I would like to present my top five baseball movies that can help fans weather this seemingly never-ending rain delay.

1. Field of Dreams (1989)

“If you build it, he will come.” I start with my personal favorite and an absolute classic. The movie tells the story of Iowan farmer Ray Kinsella, who one day inexplicably hears a voice while walking in his cornfield. The voice tells him that if he builds a baseball field on his farm, the legend “Shoeless” Joe Jackson will come and play there. Kinsella’s seemingly insane mission has always struck a chord for me, and the movie is one of the most iconic baseball films ever made. If you want a glimmer of hope during this hard time, definitely start with this one.

2. The Natural (1984)

“Go pick me out a winner, Bobby.” Another classic baseball movie with an unforgettable line, “The Natural” stars Robert Redford in the comeback story of once-phenom Roy Hobbs. Similar to “Field of Dreams,” the soundtrack of the movie is unforgettable, and the storyline is gripping. If you haven’t already, check out these two gems from the 1980s.

3. Moneyball (2011)

For baseball fans searching for a more recent film, “Moneyball” is the place to look. Brad Pitt plays as Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane in the fascinating story of the penny-pinching franchise that challenged baseball traditions in the early 2000s. The movie tells the true story of Beane’s reliance on numbers and metrics to transform the A’s from an underdog team short on money and talent into serial winners with their own place in history—winning 20 games in a row during the 2002 season. This one will make you think.

4. The Sandlot (1993)

A list of the top five baseball movies would not be complete without “The Sandlot.” Nearly every baseball fan who is currently a young adult probably grew up watching this movie. If you are in need of laughter or just want some baseball nostalgia, take some time to watch this fun-loving movie about a group of young baseball fanatics and their summer adventures.

5. 42 (2013)

I end this list with a film that has so much historical significance beyond baseball. Most years, every MLB player wears No. 42 on their jerseys on April 15 for what has become known as Jackie Robinson day. Missing that tradition this past Wednesday was very unusual for baseball fans. Although we couldn’t celebrate in the usual way, I’d encourage everyone to check out this award-winning film about the man who endured much resentment to help break the color barrier in the game of baseball. A legendary man and a fitting movie to remember his importance.

         I would be remiss to not include several honorable mentions, so here they are: “A League of Their Own” (1992), “Eight Men Out” (1988), “Sugar” (2008), “Angels in the Outfield” (1994) and “Trouble with the Curve” (2012) are a few other personal favorites worth watching during this time of quarantine.

         “God, I just love baseball.” That was the sentiment of Roy Hobbs in The Natural (1984), yet I am constantly reminded of this truth these days. Although I miss the real thing, I certainly am glad for the films that bring me back to the sport I love. I hope the same can be said for you.

Christian Weaner is a sports reporter. Follow him on Twitter @christianweaner

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