by Julian Spivey
With today being the opening day of the Major League Baseball season I’ve compiled my All-Movie Baseball Team roster of the greatest movie baseball players of all time. This team is very unique in that it incorporates both real-life baseball legends and fictional movie characters on the same team. Check out which movie players made the cut and let us know in the comments section below which changes you’d make to the team …
1. CF- Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes) – “Major League”
You want extreme speed leading off your lineup and there might not be anybody faster in baseball movie history than the Cleveland Indians center fielder Willie Mays Hayes in “Major League.”
2. 2B – Jackie Robinson (Jackie Robinson) – “The Jackie Robinson Story”
I’ve never had the opportunity to see Jackie Robinson star as himself in the 1950 film “The Jackie Robinson Story,” but I know with all certainty that there’s no better two-bagger in baseball film history than the legendary barrier breaker.
3. 1B – Lou Gehrig (Gary Cooper) – “The Pride of the Yankees”
You want your best power hitting combo in the number three and four spots in your lineup and there’s never been a better power combo in baseball history than Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of the Murderer’s Row New York Yankees. Both are featured in the Oscar-winning “The Pride of the Yankees.” I have Gehrig batting third in the order. Legendary Gary Cooper was nominated for an Oscar for portraying “The Iron Horse” in the 1942 film.
4. RF – Babe Ruth (Babe Ruth) – “The Pride of the Yankees”
Babe Ruth is considered by most baseball experts to be the greatest baseball player of all time. He’s been portrayed multiple times on film, including by John Goodman in 1992’s “The Babe.” But, why not have the real Babe himself. Ruth was featured as himself in “The Pride of the Yankees” about his teammate Lou Gehrig.
5. LF – Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) – “Field of Dreams”
The infamous “Shoeless Joe” Jackson has also been portrayed multiple times on film, in John Sayles’ “Eight Men Out” by D.B. Sweeney and in Phil Alden Robinson’s “Field of Dreams” by Ray Liotta. I’ve selected Liotta’s “Shoeless Joe” for my lineup primarily because “Field of Dreams” is my favorite baseball movie of all time.
6. 3B – Buck Weaver (John Cusack) – “Eight Men Out”
The third bagger on my All-Movie Baseball Team was also a real life player. It’s Chicago White Sox third baseman Buck Weaver, played by John Cusack in “Eight Men Out,” who was one of the eight players banned from the 1919 Black Sox team. You really feel bad for Weaver after watching this film, because it doesn’t seem he had much to do with throwing the series.
7. C – Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) – “Bull Durham”
Catcher is the most packed position on my All-Movie Baseball Team as Kevin Costner’s minor league legend Crash Davis from Ron Shelton’s “Bull Durham” just barely edged out Rockford Peach catcher Dottie Hinson from “A League of Their Own” and Cleveland Indians catcher Jake Taylor from “Major League.”
8. SS – Benny “Jet” Rodriguez (Mike Vitar) – “The Sandlot”
Despite its popularity among people of my generation I’ve always found the children’s baseball movie “The Sandlot” to be just that … a children’s movie and overrated in general. However, because shortstop is (believe it or not) the weakest position in baseball movie history the best kid from the sandlot, who grew up to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez just barely cracks my lineup.
9. P - Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) – “For Love of the Game”
Kevin Costner’s Billy Chapel, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, is not the first baseball movie pitcher that probably comes to mind for most people (most probably think of Ricky Vaughn from “Major League”), but he’s my starter. Can you really blame me? The dude throws a perfect game in the movie. Also, quite possibly the most interest tidbit of my All-Movie Baseball Team is that the starting battery is entirely Kevin Costner.
Ricky Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) – “Major League”
Charlie Sheen’s Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn from “Major League” is probably the most memorable pitcher in baseball movie history. Vaughn would most likely lead my All-Movie Baseball Team in both strikeouts and suspensions.
Eddie Cicotte (David Strathairn) – “Eight Men Out”
Eddie Cicotte is another one of the unfortunate victims of the 1919 Black Sox. Everybody knows that Joe Jackson should’ve been a hall of famer if not for his banishment, but I believe Cicotte should be a hall of famer, as well. David Strathairn’s painfully torn portrayal of Cicotte in “Eight Men Out” is one of the highlights of that movie.
Chet Steadman (Gary Busey) – “Rookie of the Year”
“Rookie of the Year” is the story of a teenage boy who breaks his arm, develops a “rocket arm” as a result of his injury and becomes a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. It’s a pretty stupid scenario and movie. However, Gary Busey’s grizzled veteran pitcher Chet Steadman actually stands out as a pretty good character. I’d like to add him to my rotation.
Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid) – “The Rookie”
Jim Morris made national news in 1999 when he made his major league debut with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at age 35. His journey from high school baseball coach to the majors was the focal point of Disney’s 2002 film “The Rookie” with Dennis Quaid starring as Morris. Morris’ major league career was very short-lived as he only appeared in 21 games, but that’s good enough to make the All-Movie Baseball Team rotation.
Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) – “Bull Durham”
Nuke LaLoosh, played by Tim Robbins in “Bull Durham,” probably has the most talent of any of the pitchers on this All-Movie Baseball Team, but he also has the biggest ego.
Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) – “The Natural”
This is a crime, I know, but I’ve managed to go this far into my life without ever seeing “The Natural.” Despite this horrendous fact, I know enough about Robert Redford’s Roy Hobbs to know that he’d easily make my opening day roster.
Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) – “A League of Their Own”
Geena Davis’ Dottie Hinson has the distinct honor of being the only female baseball player on the All-Movie Baseball Team as the star of the Rockford Peaches in Penny Marshall’s 1992 film “A League of Their Own.” She’s on the bench behind Costner’s Crash Davis, but she’ll definitely see her fair share of playing time.
Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) – “Major League”
Tom Berenger’s grizzled, hobbled veteran catcher Jake Taylor in Davis S. Ward’s 1989 comedy “Major League” is certainly not the flashiest character in that film, but he’s always been my favorite. If there was one fictional baseball movie character that I’d most like to be like it’d probably be Jake Taylor.
Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert) – “Major League”
Dennis Haysbert’s Latin, voodoo slugger Pedro Cerrano is incredibly the fourth player from “Major League” on my All-Movie Baseball Team, making that movie the most represented on my list, by far. Cerrano would make a great designated hitter, but I don’t care for that rule, so he’ll be the number one option in the late innings off the bench to knock one out of the park.
Jack Elliott (Tom Selleck) – “Mr. Baseball”
There are a ton of old dudes on this team between Jake Taylor, Billy Chapel, Roy Hobbs, Crash Davis and Chet Steadman, but I’m going to add yet another one in the form of Tom Selleck’s first baseman Jack Elliott from “Mr. Baseball.” Is it the most well-known baseball movie? No. Is it the best baseball movie on this list? No. But, I do like Selleck and his Elliott quite a lot.
Manager: Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) – “A League of Their Own”
I really love James Gammon’s skipper Lou Brown from “Major League” and believe he’d be the manager of many people’s teams if they were selecting this roster, but my favorite baseball movie manager is definitely Tom Hanks’ Jimmy Dugan from “A League of Their Own.” Dugan taught us one of the best lessons when it comes to the sport … there’s no crying in baseball.
General Manager: Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) – “Moneyball”
Upon seeing Bennett Miller’s great film “Moneyball” last year I felt the need to add a general manager for my All-Movie Baseball Team in the form of Oakland Athletics’ GM Billy Beane. Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Beane was one of the finest performances of 2011 in film and one of the greatest baseball movie performances of all time.