Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Filipino's Guide to 5 Hollywood Baseball Movies

Are you looking for something to watch this weekend? Keep reading and you might get some movie inspiration.


Filipinos are not known as baseball fans. We're more of a basketball-watching nation. We never got the hang of baseball even if it was introduced in the country a century ago by American soldiers. Unlike Japan or South Korea which have baseball leagues, baseball just faded away in the collective memories of Filipinos.

But baseball is very much alive in movies that we get to see. Depending on the story or who stars in it, baseball movies might get popular with Filipino viewers.

Here are 5 Hollywood Baseball movies that I recommend you watch to start appreciating America's national pastime.

Batter up!


1. Field of Dreams (1989) - "If you build it, he will come."

Talk about classic Hollywood baseball movie. This fantasy-drama starred Kevin Costner, Burt Lancaster, Ray Liotta and James Earl Jones.

The movie was adapted from "Shoeless Joe" written by W.P. Kinsella. It tells the story of Iowa farmer, Ray Kinsella and the baseball field that he built after hearing a voice while walking through his cornfield. It's part drama with a twist of sci-fi. It's a story of redemption and second chances. A father-son relationship and their love for baseball.

Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams



2. 61* (2001) - It's the 1961 baseball season and the New York Yankees has 2 superstars, Mickey Mantle, and Roger Maris. Both are vying to break Babe Ruth's 60 home runs in one season. One is the darling of the press --- charismatic and a character. The other, a brooding and serious man. 61* chronicles the varying struggles that Maris and Mantle went through that year. 

I liked the movie a lot. It shows the human side of baseball --- the relationships, baseball politics, families, addictive tendencies, stress, tension. This HBO movie was directed by a baseball fan, Billy Crystal. 

The narrative is easy and engrossed in Yankee sentiment since Crystal is a true-blue fan of the team especially of his hero, Mickey Mantle. 

Thomas Jane and Barry Pepper portray the M&M boys.There's even a clip of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, where Crystal met Mickey Mantle in person. As always, if it's HBO then it must be good.

Billy Crystal is an executive producer


3. The Natural (1984) - This drama stars Robert Redford and a bevy of talented and beautiful co-stars; Glenn Close, Barbara Hershey, and Kim Basinger. Redford plays Ray Hobbs, a baseball phenom, and natural ballplayer, on his way to achieving his dream of playing in the Majors but, unfortunately, encounters a femme fatale (Hershey) who puts a stop to his career with a silver bullet. 

Hobbs survives the shooting but never fully recovered from the experience. He's given another shot to play in the Majors but nothing is ever easy for him. Bribery, scandal, an alluring and deceitful woman, and a lover from the past crowds his present consciousness and ambition. 

As with all stories of love and redemption, everything works itself out in the end. For some viewers, this film might be considered more of a romanticized look at baseball but it sure packs a lot of wallop in the tearjerker category. It's not a manly-man type of sports movie.

Robert Redford atars with a bevy of talented and beautiful actresses.

4. Million Dollar Arm (2014) - What happens when you combine Indian cricketers, an American sports agent, a Chinese investor, a talent show and baseball? You get The Million Dollar Arm contest! The movie tells the story of a sports agent, J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) who realized that India is an untapped resource for baseball talent. 

He reasons that a cricketer can be converted to play baseball. He sets out to India to find talents through a reality-type contest. He was able to recruit 2 teenagers and brought them to Los Angeles to begin their baseball training. 

Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel became the first Indians to professionally play in the Majors when the Pittsburgh Pirates signed them on. The film also chronicles Rinku's and Dinesh's acclimation to American culture.

Jon Hamm is Mad about Baseball


5. A League of Their Own (1992) - "There's no crying in baseball." 

An all-star cast headed by Geena Davis, Madonna and Tom Hanks, this film is a composite portrayal of the first women who joined the All-American Professional Girls League in the 1940's. It tells the story of how the AAPGL was created to fill the void that World War II created in the baseball league. It's a sentimental journey that combines comedy and light drama. 

It's a feel-good movie. The credits show the actual women who played in the league during its existence. And it also doesn't hurt that Madonna sings her hit song, "This used to be my playground", in the end credits. 

This film never gets old



I hope you've enjoyed my list of baseball movies. If you have additional films in mind, don't hesitate to add them to the comment box. 

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