Here are the eight best baseball movies of all time, for those who’d rather watch a film than a game on Opening Day

Even if you're not obsessive about MLB, these eight baseball movies are home runs

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Play ball! It's Opening Day for Major League Baseball, and while the Yankees won't be appearing at home until April 7 (against the Orioles), the Mets are starting today against the Nationals, weather permitting. Even if you hate our national pastime—we know you're out there–there's no denying that baseball has inspired some terrific sport movies, ones that conveniently cut out those long, boring stretches. Here are our eight favorites, ranked.

  • 8. Eight Men Out (1988) 

    Because it’s a John Sayles movie, you can expect the director’s heady brand of politicized entertainment. Still, the real-life scenario—about the infamous Chicago “Black Sox,” who threw the 1919 World Series—makes the stridency go down in riveting fashion, as does a dynamite cast led by John Cusack.—Joshua Rothkopf

  • 7. Field of Dreams (1989) 

    Kevin Costner had already strutted his stuff once in Bull Durham, but Phil Alden Robinson’s sentimental tale of a man building a playing field in his backyard proved that the star was Hall of Fame material. Here, baseball isn’t just a game; it’s a chance for fathers, sons and even dead legends to have one last crack at redemption.—David Fear

  • 6. A League of Their Own (1992) 

    Penny Marshall’s funny and moving dramedy about a WWII-era women’s ball team has an A-list roster (Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna), some stellar pinch hitters (hey, Rosie O’Donnell) and memorable one-liners (“There’s no crying in baseball”) that’ll have you choking on your chewing tobacco.—Keith Uhlich

  • 5. Sugar (2008) 

    For every Adrián Beltré success story (he was signed to the Dodgers at age 15 and transitioned well), there are a dozen Dominican players like the fictional composite Miguel “Sugar” Santos—a talented pitcher hacking it out in the U.S. minor leagues. Filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden lay on the culture clashes beautifully, but it’s the dangling promise of the American Dream that really gets this movie hitting fly balls over the fence.—David Fear

  • 4. The Natural (1984) 

    This is the moment when baseball becomes golden-hued pageantry onscreen, the diamond dappled with sunbeams and the promise of redemption. Even if the film changed the ending of Bernard Malamud’s classic novel, there’s no doubting the genius of cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (Zooey’s dad) and effortless star Robert Redford.—Joshua Rothkopf

  • 3. The Bad News Bears (1976) 

    Not a small number of film lovers—those who see themselves in these foulmouthed little-leaguers—would call this one of the key movies of the ’70s. They wouldn’t be wrong: subversively, it’s a comedy that revels in the dirty nature of American competition, criticizing it as well as celebrating it to the operatic strains of Carmen.—Joshua Rothkopf

  • 2. The Pride of the Yankees (1942) 

    Fans were still mourning the death of legendary pinstriper Lou Gehrig when Sam Wood’s film about the first baseman hit screens, barely a year after his passing. This tip of the cap was the perfect salve to their grief. Gary Cooper’s “luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech captures the dignity, grace and resolve of one of the game’s true MVPs.—David Fear

  • 1. Bull Durham (1988) 

    Baseball’s finest comedy celebrates the sport in ways that are often overlooked: the long stretches of bum luck, the wispiness of job security, the transient thrill of a valiant at-bat. (Writer-director Ron Shelton had played in the minors and became the go-to guy for authentic scripts.) The movie sets up its themes via three wonderfully complex characters: Catcher “Crash” Davis (Kevin Costner at the peak of his likability) is the aging also-ran, clutching to memories of a 21-day stint in “the Show” while struggling to stay relevant as a leader in the single-A leagues. Annie (Susan Sarandon) is the superfan, luring fresh players to her bed while depositing serious wisdom. And “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) is the goofy hotshot pitcher, undisciplined and the future of the game. The three of them make up a triangle of need and resentment, undergirding a movie of rare grace. (It’s really about the game of life.)—Joshua Rothkopf

8. Eight Men Out (1988) 

Because it’s a John Sayles movie, you can expect the director’s heady brand of politicized entertainment. Still, the real-life scenario—about the infamous Chicago “Black Sox,” who threw the 1919 World Series—makes the stridency go down in riveting fashion, as does a dynamite cast led by John Cusack.—Joshua Rothkopf


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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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