As summer turns to fall, the baseball season hits the home stretch into the playoffs and the hunt for the World Series. And while America’s pastime may now find itself replaced by the NFL in terms of prominence, its baseball movies that hold higher regard in the world of sports movies.
For what it’s worth, we also put together a list of the best football movies for those of you who are sports junkies. But while the picks on that list are great — I should know since I picked them myself — I’d be hard-pressed to find a single one I’d recommend over any of my picks for the best baseball movies. For some reason, the baseball movies are simply better crafted, and frankly there were some great ones I had to leave off this list.
So whether you love going out to the ball game or just enjoy watching a great sports movie, here’s a list of baseball movies you can watch right now, all available on the best streaming services or video on demand.
A League of Their Own
There may be no crying in baseball but you’ll be crying tears of laughter after watching A League of Their Own. This movie tells the (mostly) true story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that started up during World War II. In particular, it focuses on the Rockford Peaches, one of the founding members of the league. And while the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League may have been short-lived, this movie continues to live on as one of the best sports movies of all time.
A League of Their Own has a star-studded cast of actresses playing members of the Peaches, including Geena Davis as Dorothy "Dottie" Hinson, Madonna as "All the Way" Mae Mordabito, Lori Petty as Kit Keller and Rosie O’Donnell as Doris Murphy. It also features an excellent performance from Tom Hanks as manager Jimmy Dugan. The movie also inspired a short-lived but well-liked Amazon Prime Video TV show that unfortunately had its run cancelled far too quickly.
Watch on Netflix
Before Field of Dreams, Costner played Lawrence "Crash" Davis in Bull Durham. In Bull Durham, Davis, a career journeyman is sent to the minor league baseball team Durham Bulls to fix the pitching of rookie sensation Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh (Tim Robbins).
But while Bull Durham is an enjoyable baseball movie that does a good job portraying the sport it's about, it’s also more than that. The love triangle between Crash, Nuke and Annie Savoy, a “baseball groupie” played by Susan Sarandon, makes Bull Durham truly special — and an excellent romantic comedy. Plus you get a younger version of Kevin Costner fully displaying what made him such a box office star.
Watch on Max
Field of Dreams
You can’t have a list of the best baseball movies without including Field of Dreams. If Bull Durham is arguably more of a romantic comedy than a baseball movie, Field of Dreams has no such caveats. But what it does have is a ton of memorable scenes and quotes, including the iconic “If you build it, he will come.”
Unlike in Bull Durham, Kevin Costner isn’t playing a pro in Field of Dreams. Instead, he plays Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer with regrets about his poor relationship with his baseball-loving father. One night, he hears the now-famous words “If you build it, he will come” in his head and from there, the movie turns into a sentimental fantasy espousing the glory and importance of baseball. Field of Dreams may lack the scrappiness of the other baseball movies on this list and is far more serious than Bull Durham, but it's an excellent Costner performance and one of the quintessential baseball movies of all time.
Watch on Peacock
Major League is basically based on the same premise as Ted Lasso, or more accurately, Ted Lasso is basically based on the same premise as Major League. The film focuses on the struggling Cleveland Indians (now Cleveland Guardians) and their new owner Rachel Phelps’ (Margaret Whitton) desire to tank the team so she can move it to Miami. To do this, she assembles a team comprised of losers, misfits, and in the case of pitcher Ricky Vaughn (Charlie Sheen), actual ex-convicts.
But unlike Hannah Waddingham’s Rebecca Welton, who comes round to Ted and finally believes, Phelps never warms to her band of underdogs. Instead, they are forced to do everything they can to win despite her efforts. Alongside Whitton and Sheen, Major League stars a cast of Tom Berenger as catcher Jake Taylor, Wesley Snipes as center fielder Willie Mays Hayes and his hilarious from start to finish. If you want to have your laughs go into extra innings, this is the movie for you.
Rent now on Prime Video
If you’re an Oakland A’s fan, Moneyball is a bittersweet memory of when that team succeeded despite poor ownership. But for the rest of us, it’s the tale of how one team changed how the game of baseball is played. Based on the Michael Lewis book of the same name, Moneyball is the dramatic retelling of how A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) transformed the A’s from a team that nobody believed could afford to field a competitive roster into a team that changed how every Major League Baseball team evaluates talent.
Moneyball may get things wrong at times — it notably leaves out that the team had the “Big Three” of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito on the mound alongside other fellow All-Star caliber players Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada. But once you start watching, even the most orthodox baseball fan will set that to the side. Pitt’s performance as Beane is incredible, only to be matched in every scene by Jonah Hill’s Peter Brand, who was based partially on real-life Beane assistant Paul DePodesta. Both Pitt and Hill would be nominated for Academy Awards for their roles and the film itself was nominated for Best Picture.
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Unlike Moneyball, The Natural is essentially a total work of fiction. While Robert Redford’s Roy Hobbs may claim in the movie that he can be the best baseball player there ever was, in real life, Hobbs never existed. But like Moneyball, The Natural did garner critical acclaim and a handful of Academy Awards when it debuted in 1984.
And while the cast is loaded with acting talent — Robert Duvall, Glenn Close and Kim Basinger just to name a few — it’s the set pieces and score that make the film so iconic. Even if you’ve never seen The Natural before, you’ve likely seen nods to its climactic scene or Hobb’s bat “Wonderboy” elsewhere in pop culture even if you didn’t understand the reference. But I promise you, you need to go and watch the real thing.
Watch on Starz
Go to any Major League Baseball park in America and you’ll see the number 42. That’s because Jackie Robinson was so important not just to the history of baseball, but to the history of America that his number is retired by every single team in the league. The only time you’ll see a baseball player where the number now is on April 15, when the league honors Robinson’s historic achievement of becoming the first Black baseball player in Major League Baseball.
But 42 isn’t about the lasting legacy of Robinson, it’s about the story of how he got to such an important moment. And it perfectly cast the late Chadwick Boseman in the role of Robinson, alongside Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. 42 is worth watching for its historical significance alone, but its the performances of Boseman and Ford that truly cement its place on the list of the best baseball movies ever.
Watch on Max