Baseball movies that capture game?s spirit

Now that the NBA Finals have concluded and a form of the Big XII has been saved (for now), sports fans can focus on America?s pastime.

With the steroid era over, the power offenses no longer dominate the game and baseball has returned to the game that had unparalleled popularity through most of the 20th century.

Also unparalleled are the stories produced from unusual elements of baseball. With its unique season, players, coaches and traditions, baseball provides countless opportunities for stories told from local barber shops to Hollywood studios.

While most of the Hollywood baseball motion pictures are not based on true events, baseball?s spirit is well represented on the big screen. I have compiled five movies I think capture the spirit of our summer past time.

? No. 5: ?The Rookie.? Dennis Quaid plays Jim Morris, a high school baseball coach in Texas. Morris promises his team if they make the playoffs he will try out at an upcoming Tampa Bay Devil Rays scouting camp. The team reaches the playoffs and the 35-year-old impresses the scouts enough to earn a minor league spot.

Based on real-life events, this 2002 film shows the Morris family?s struggle to adjust to life on the road and Morris?s doubt about his decision to chase a dream. ?The Rookie? is a good movie for family night or if you are craving an inspirational story.

My rating: 4 out of 5 rosin bags.

? No. 4: ?The Babe.? Based on the life of George Herman ?Babe? Ruth, this 1992 release starring John Goodman depicts the early 20th century slugger as he has never been shown before.

Focusing on the night life and upbringing of the longtime career home-run record holder, ?The Babe? shared a perspective on Ruth?s orphanage upbringing and relationships with his wives and family. Ruth?s later years in baseball are also portrayed, giving a human element to the troubled superstar?s storied career.

If you like baseball biographies, this is the movie for you. It is also a good family night flick.

My rating: 4 out of 5 rosin bags.

? No. 3: ?The Sandlot.? The ?Stand by Me? of baseball. Being new in town is never easy for any kid, but baseball can ease the transition. Serving as narrator, adult Scotty Smalls tells the tale of a summer in a new town.

Smalls learns how to play baseball in the local sandlot game where chasing a home run can be life threatening. The summer proves to be adventurous for these boys of summer.

?The Sandlot? is guaranteed to trigger nostalgic feelings of childhood summers and is a great film for family night.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 rosin bags.

? No. 2: ?Field of Dreams.? An obvious choice. Kevin Costner?s character Ray Kinsella bets the farm because of a voice in his head. The voice prompts Kinsella to plow his corn and build a baseball field for ?Shoeless? Joe Jackson.

Sixties writer Terrance Mann (played by James Earl Jones) joins Kinsella on an insane mission. Another good family night movie.

My rating: 5 out of 5 rosin bags.

? No. 1: ?Major League.? An all-star cast created a baseball and comedy classic all in one. Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, Corbin Bernsen and Tom Berenger go worst to first as members of a made-to-lose Cleveland Indians team.

Manager Lou Brown (played by James Gammon) learns of a plot by Indians owner Rachel Phelps? to throw the season and move the team to Miami. Brown uses the former showgirl?s plan as a motivational tool as these recruited losers learn how to win.

Rene Russo plays the recently engaged, ex-girlfriend of veteran catcher Jake Taylor (Berenger). Taylor tries to rekindle an old flame.

Not for young children, contains adult language and situations.

My rating: 5 out of 5 rosin bags.

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