Under normal circumstances, Major League Baseball’s 2020 season would already be well underway. But as you’re no doubt well aware, we aren’t currently living under normal circumstances.
So with that in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite nostalgia-laden baseball movies to help get fans through the postponement of major league baseball. These movies can help us remember a simple pleasure from a simpler time, and help keep us optimistic about better days ahead.
While The Sandlot (1993) is certainly a nostalgic baseball movie, the film focuses just as much on the joys of adolescence as it does on America’s Pastime.
When a young boy named Scottie Smalls has his life upended after moving to Los Angeles in the early 1960s, the now-friendless fifth grader is forced to start a new social circle from scratch. Despite some initial setbacks and his lack of athletic talent, he eventually befriends some neighborhood boys who play regular baseball games at the local sandlot. Once accepted, Smalls and his new crew share a series of innocent summertime adventures that will make even the most jaded viewers yearn for their childhoods.
Babe Ruth is considered by many to be the greatest player in MLB history. And while some may debate Ruth’s GOAT status in MLB, there’s no denying that The Babe (1992), a nostalgia-heavy biopic about his life, belongs on this list.
The film begins by chronicling Ruth’s awkward, troubled childhood at a Catholic reformatory school in Baltimore where he eventually discovers his remarkable talent for playing baseball. After honing his skills on the school’s team, Ruth (played as an adult by actor John Goodman), works his way up to the majors and becomes the most prolific player of his era. While the plot is certainly not light on schmaltz, it also doesn’t shy away from the darker side of Ruth’s story, and focuses heavily on the downward spiral that eventually overtook both his professional career and personal life.
Set mainly in the 1930s and 1940s, The Natural (1984) follows the exploits of Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford), a young man from Nebraska who makes it big in the Majors with the help of a magic baseball bat. If that sounds like a pretty ridiculous plot, that’s because it is. But it serves its purpose as a heartfelt homage to the golden age of baseball. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, so even if you’re not a baseball fan, the superb acting and all-star cast is sure to impress.
Field Of Dreams
If you thought the plot to The Natural was a little “out there,” you obviously aren’t familiar with Field of Dreams (1989). The film chronicles a struggling Iowa farmer played by Kevin Costner as he attempts to turn his cornfield into a baseball diamond in order to appease the voices in his head. As if that wasn’t odd enough, the plot also involves the ghosts of the much maligned 1919 Chicago “Black Sox,” a trip back in time to visit an obscure minor-leaguer who missed his chance at the big time, and a (SPOILER ALERT) heartwarming game of catch with the protagonist's dead father (END SPOILER ALERT).
But what’s even weirder about this film is that all of that craziness somehow works as a coherent, enjoyable film, which is why Field of Dreams is still widely regarded as one of the best baseball movies of all time.
Even casual baseball fans are probably familiar with Jackie Robinson, the black player who broke MLB’s unofficial yet long-held color barrier by signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946. But even fans who are well versed in Robinson’s story will enjoy 42 (2013). In the film, actor Chadwick Boseman brings Robinson’s fight to desegregate MLB to life. Harrison Ford also co-stars as Branch Rickey, the Dodgers’ general manager who paved the way for Robinson to join the team.
While 42 certainly covers a pivotal moment in MLB history, it might stand out as an odd choice for a list of "nostalgic" baseball films. However, it does serve as an important reminder that while there’s certainly no harm in reminiscing about the past, it’s important not to let nostalgia obscure the fact that those so-called “simpler times” usually weren’t so simple to begin with.