June 14, 2014
Hitting a Homerun with Fun Baseball Flicks
With my hubby, Dale, at a Cleveland Indians-Baltimore Orioles baseball game
at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
Last weekend was a Baseball Flick Week-end. A marathon of my baseball movies of choice had been running for two days at my house. It was such fun! As an ode to summer and a nod to Father’s Day (Happy Father’s Day!), I would like to enthusiastically share with you, MY baseball movie favorites. Please, read along, and you may discover a new (to you) baseball film to enjoy!
Annette’s Top Baseball Movie Picks
Rhubarb is probably the least known of all my baseball movie picks, yet it is one of the most enjoyable. Rhubarb features a feral/stray cat who is adopted by eccentric millionaire, TJ Banner (Gene Lockhart). With Banner’s passing, the majority of his estate is willed to Rhubarb, including a professional baseball team. William Frawley, Fred of I Love Lucy fame, is the team’s manager, and look for Leonard Nemoy, Spock of Star Trek, as one of the ball players. Ray Milland stars as Rhubarb’s, often frustrated, guardian. This fun film is a “home run” from start to finish!
To read more about Rhubarb, please click on the links below.
It Happens Every Spring (1949)
Before there was Rhubarb, Ray Milland starred in another baseball comedy, It Happens Every Spring. This time, Milland is a college professor who invents a formula, which acts as a wood repellent. Armed with his secret potion, the professor embarks on a successful second career as a major league pitcher. (The major league baseball commissioner, at the time, frowned upon this plot, due to the “cheating/formula” element, and did not sanction this film.) Paul Douglas stars as Milland’s catcher and buddy, and Jean Peters, (at one time, the millionaire Howard Hughes’s real life wife) plays Milland’s girlfriend. This film is a silly joy to watch.
To read more about It Happens Every Spring, please click on the links below.
Angels in the Outfield (1951)
The last in my trio of baseball black and whites is the 1951 classic, Angels in the Outfield. Paul Douglas (who also was in the film mentioned above) stars as the fictitious Guffy McGovern, the salty manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. When orphan Bridgett White (Donna Corcoran, was discovered for this film.) begins praying for the team and its manager, a guardian angel is sent to help out. Janet Leigh stars as the sports reporter, who first breaks the story. Cameos are provided by some of the ball players of the day and Pirate’s part owner, Bing Crosby. Take note of the manner in which the manager’s swearing is unrecognizably garbled, a technique later famously used in the holiday favorite The Christmas Story. This entertaining baseball movie was remade forty-three years later with the same name. (The 1994 Disney remake is worth a look, as well.)
To read more about Angels in the Outfield, please click on the links below.
Rookie of the Year (1993)(PG)
I love this film! When my kids were growing up, it was a family favorite. Recently, I was overseas, and a bit homesick, and when this movie came on, all was well again. :o) Thomas Ian Nicholas’s character is so very likable, and despite the fantasy of the situation, one is easily drawn into the premise. Henry Rowengartner (Nicholas) is a twelve year old who breaks his arm, and finds that his tendons have healed a “little tight”. This abnormality enables Henry to throw over 100 miles per hour, so of course, he becomes the MBA’s youngest player ever, when signing on with the Chicago Cubs. Gary Busey stars as Henry’s mentor, and fellow Cub, Chet Steadman. John Candy adds extra comic relief as the long-suffering Cub’s announcer. Cameos of players of the 1990’s include a slender Barry Bonds.
To read more about Rookie of the Year, please click on the link below.
The Sandlot (1993)(PG)
Another family favorite around my house, The Sandlot rates high in baseball fun. When first viewing this movie upon its release in the theatre, I discovered that my sense of humor differs from much of the film going population. I was laughing, somewhat loudly, during one particular scene, while others in the audience were grimacing at the grossness. (Not THAT gross. I will not say more, as I do not wish to spoil the movie for your first timers.) I also love the early 1960’s vibe throughout the film. :o) Tom Guiry stars as Scott “You’re killing me” Smalls with a cast of talented youths, Karen Allen (Raiders of the Last Ark) and James Earl Jones (Voice of Darth Vader and Terence Mann in Field of Dreams) as Mr. Mertle.
To read more about The Sandlot, please click on the links below.
Little Big League (1994)(PG)
The third in a trio of early 1990’s baseball films, Little Big League rounds out the set. Minneapolis is the setting for this amusing baseball flick. Luke Edwards stars as Billy Heywood, grandson of the owner of the Twins. When his grandfather unexpectedly dies, Heywood becomes the eleven-year-old owner of the team. Timothy Busfield, who also starred in Field of Dreams, plays Twins player Lou Collins. Several major league players of the day make cameos, including Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr.
To read more about Little Big League, please click on the links below.
Field of Dreams (1989)(PG)
The final movie on my “Baseball Movie Hall of Fame” list holds a special place in my heart. Field of Dreams setting is an Iowa cornfield, and having grown up in Iowa, I can not help but feel a sentimental attachment to it. I love the verbal exchange between the movie’s characters Ray Kinsella and his father, John.
John Kinsella: “Is this heaven?”
Ray Kinsella: “It’s — it’s Iowa.”
John Kinsella: “I could have sworn it was heaven.”
This baseball fantasy makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, and having visited the site of its filming, twice, makes it even more precious. What a joy it is to watch this sweet tale of baseball interwoven between various relationships, past and present, as they pertain to farmer, Kevin Costner/Ray Kinsella.
A touching favorite, it is no wonder that the 25th anniversary of this film is being celebrated this Father’s Day weekend.
Our two youngest two, Chandler and Martese, explore thee cornfield in
Dyersville, Iowa, site of the movie, Field of Dreams
Is this Heaven? By Lisa Johannes
I love this print! -A souvenir from our 2009 visit to the Field of Dreams site.
To read more about Field of Dreams, please click on the links below.
That Touch of Mink (1962)
Although not a baseball film, I had to include this cute Doris Day/Cary Grant film for one scene that takes place in the Yankee’s dugout. Baseball greats Yogi Berra’s,
Mickey Mantle’s and Roger Maris’s cameo in That Touch of Mink is great fun to watch.
To see this clip, click this link https://youtu.be/-nuEZAZyfGs
Annette’s Classic TV Baseball Picks
(Leo Durocher, Los Angeles Dodger manager in the early 1960’s, made guest appearances in all three of these.)
The Munsters: Herman the Rookie: Season 1, Episode 29 (April 8, 1965)
Funny!!! Herman Munster meets baseball! (Herman is similar to Frankenstein, only family friendly. The Munsters creators also were responsible for Leave it to Beaver.) Herman gets a tryout with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and mayhem ensues.
To watch a clip of Herman the Rookie, please click on the link below.
Mister Ed: Leo Durocher Meets Mister Ed: Season 4, Episode 3 (September 29, 1963)
Mr. Ed, the talking horse, visits the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Several players of the day have cameos, including Sandy Koufax and announcer Vince Scully.) Watching Mr. Ed hit the ball, run the bases, and slide into home is a hoot, and makes watching this episode well worth your time!
For a clip of Mr. Ed sliding into home plate, please click on the link below.
Beverly Hillbillies: The Clampetts and the Dodgers: Season 1, Episode 29 (April 10, 1963)
While on the golf course, Jethro impresses Dodger manager Leo Durocher with his throwing arm. Silliness is the result when Jethro gets a tryout with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
To watch The Clampetts and the Dodgers episode, please click on the link below.
MLB Stars Make an Appearance on Classic Television
The Brady Bunch: The Undergraduate, with Wes Parker (First Baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers and broadcast announcer.) Season 1, Episode 17 (Jan 23, 1970)
The Brady Bunch: The Dropout, Don Drysdale (Pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Broadcast announcer.) Season 2, Episode 1 (September 25, 1970)
To watch a clip of Don Drysdale in The Dropout, please click on the link below.
Bewitched: Twitch or Treat, Willie Mays (Center fielder with the New York Giants, San Francisco Giants, and New York Mets.) Season 3, Episode 7 (Oct 27, 1966)
Why not, grab yourself some peanuts and Cracker Jacks ala Take me Out to the Ball Game, and watch one of these entertaining baseball movies, right now?
For my Cracker Jack/Carmel Corn recipe, please click on the link below.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
To hear Take Me Out to the Ballgame in some interesting forms, including one from the 1955 episode of I Love Lucy, please click on the link below.
Thanks for reading! :o)
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Our youngest, Chandler, sliding into a base during a Little League game
I’m not a big baseball fan, but your blog made me want to check out all these movies.
I loved the Mr. Ed clip, and also the photos of your kids.
Thank you! Let me know how your like the movies, when you watch them. Mr. Ed playing baseball is a memorable sight! All four of my kiddos played baseball/softball in one form, or another, over the years. I even coached T-ball!
Sandlot is one of our favorites! We also like Field of Dreams and Bull Durham. Thanks for the memories!
:o) Thanks for reading, Dana.
Liked the picture of Chandler sliding into the base.
The photo of Chandler was taken by our local paper, who was attending the game. A fun shot! :o)
Hi, was looking for more info on the is this heaven print. We’re they only sold there? I bought one here in Illinois about 7 years ago from a garage sale for $10. It’s one of my absolute favorite pieces. I believe mine is 334/2000. Any info you have would be great!!
Hi, William! I will do a bit of research and get back to you by this weekend. I, too, love this print, although I did not get it for the bargain price that you did. :o). (I think I paid around $50 several years ago.). Did you hear that there will be an actual MLB game played at “The Field of Dreams”, next year?! Talk to you again, soon. Annette
“The Field of Dreams” no longer has copies of this piece, but I did a little sleuthing, and found some copies of the late artist
Lisa Johannes’s “Is this Heaven” available for $50 each. (See the email address and phone number below.)
(BTW, my copy is #1575/2000.)
I would love to see a photo of your print, and if you purchase another, that too. You can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope this helps,
3318 First Avenue NE Suite A
Cedar Rapids, IA. 52402