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7 Times Baseball Swung for the Film Fences

, | April 8, 2024 | By

It’s spring, and for baseball fans, that means a new season. As the teams hit the diamond all around the country, it’s a good time for families to enjoy the game in the comfort of their homes with a good movie.

There are so many great films about baseball that it’s difficult to put together just a short list. But, batter up!

The Hill (2023 PG)

Based on the true story of Rickey Hill, The Hill shows how determination and work can triumph over adversity.

Rickey has a debilitating disease that affects his bones. As a kid he was taunted and ridiculed about his leg braces. He wasn’t supposed to walk, but he did. And he went further and played the game that gave him joy, even though he could have a physical setback at any time.

He could hit a ball better than anyone, but his legs would be the drawback. What would you do if all you wanted was to play baseball, and everyone was telling you it was a mistake?

Praying for his chance Rickey was able to attain his dream of playing Major League baseball. Triumphing over adversity, Rickey proved himself to the naysayers.

The film is currently on Netflix.

As a review in Catholic Link describes this film,

It is a movie about cooperating with the gifts God has given you and finding the motivation never to stop pursuing that dream God has put in your heart.


Angels in the Outfield (1994 PG)

This 1994 version of the story has plenty of emotion as Roger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) prays for a real family -- and for the California Angels to win the pennant.

He and his friend JP (Milton Davis Jr.) reside in a foster home and love the California Angels. After hearing Roger’s prayer, angels are dispatched to help him. Roger is amazed when he actually sees angels helping the Angels, led by the head angel Al (Christopher Lloyd).

The team manager George Knox (Danny Glover) learns of Roger’s ability to see the angels and soon he befriends the two boys, as the California Angels advance in the standings.

It’s not their winning that is as important to Knox as it is the boys. Winning is wonderful, but these two amazing children have given him a new zest for life, and he ends up adopting them. What a heartfelt and fun film.


The Natural (1984 PG)

According to Spirituality and Practices:

The Natural is a mythic and mesmerizing movie about America’s national pastime and the heroism of a lonely individualist. The value-laden story tells of pride, love, suffering, initiation, and resurrection.

This sentimental story of second chances has Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) fulfilling his dream of being a big league ball player after many years and major obstacles along the way -- mainly a bullet. When he finally gets his chance, he grabs it with gusto.

This “middle aged rookie” is told, “You don’t start playing ball at your age, you retire.” But he doesn’t listen. Roy knows he can play if given the chance. Age is not an obstacle for him. He plays with the bat he made from a tree that was struck by lightning and subsequently killed his father, who had always given him encouragement and love.

The bat was named “Wonderboy,” and that is exactly what Hobbs becomes. Better late than never. This heartwarming story shows Roy becoming a hero to the fans but more importantly, to his own son.


Field of Dreams (1989 PG)

As mentioned in Covenant:

Field of Dreams is suffused with Judeo-Christian religious concepts, and the redemptive climax of the movie is a moment that shows the working of grace. Consciously or not, the makers of the movie drew upon these religious themes.

Iowa corn farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears a voice saying, “If you build it, he will come.”

He looks and sees a vision of a baseball diamond with “Shoeless” Joe Jackson standing there. Jackson was involved in the "Black Sox" game-fixing scandal involving the Chicago White Sox and the 1919 World Series.

Guided by Jackson, Ray plows up his cornfield and builds a baseball diamond for his new “friends” -- the deceased baseball players of the past.

Ray had had a fallout with his father when he was young about the infamous scandal, but (spoiler alert) the “he” in the famous quote, unbeknownst to Ray, ends up being his father. This is another baseball film with a nod to fathers and sons and how baseball is a bond they share.

At the end Ray sees his long-deceased father, and they once again play a game of catch, just like old times. For more on the bribery scandal, check out the film Eight Men Out (1988 PG).


Charlie Brown’s All Stars! (1966)

Charlie Brown’s All Stars! is all about the love of the game. As good ol’ Charlie Brown says, ‘It’s not the winning that counts. The fun is in the playing,” but his team wants to win.

When a local businessman offers to sponsor the team and put them in a regular league complete with uniforms, the despondent players rally around their manager, Charlie Brown. Then Charlie Brown discovers to play in the league he would have to let go of the girls (Lucy, Freida, Violet, and Patty) and Snoopy. No girls or dogs are allowed in the league. How rude!

Being a loyal friend, Charlie Brown turns down the offer, the team loses another game, and they all reject their manager - again. Then Linus reveals the reason for Charlie Brown’s decision and once again they rally around their intrepid leader.

As Freida stated, “Baseball is supposed to build character.” And character is what they all have.


Everyone’s Hero (Animated - 2006 G)

Little Yankee Irving loves baseball but isn’t a great player. When Babe Ruth’s famous bat is stolen, the little boy takes off to find the culprit and return the bat to Ruth before the big game.

With a talking baseball and a talking bat, this kid has everything he needs to get the job done. No matter what obstacles he encounters, he never gives up. His one goal is to return the bat to Babe Ruth. What a great and fearless little guy.

According to Christian Answers:

Yankee’s loving parents instill in him that he should never give up and always keep on swinging!


Moneyball (2011 PG-13)

Brad Pitt stars as Oakland As general manager Billy Beane in screenwriters Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List) and Aaron Sorkin's (Sports Night, West Wing, The Social Network) adaptation of Michael Lewis' 2004 nonfiction book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.

Beane, the divorced but loving father of a young daughter (Kerris Dorsey), is faced with a losing, unmotivated team and a limited budget with which to turn it around. He meets a young economics expert (Jonah Hill), who has radically different ideas on how to evaluate players, based on goals and statistics.

Beane's challenge becomes, can a computer assemble a winning baseball team from undervalued and overlooked players (including one played by Christian actor Chris Pratt)?

Says Catholic deacon and film reviewer Steven Greydanus:

Like last year’s The Social Network, with which it shares screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s crackerjack dialogue, Moneyball is really the story of a revolution: the story of a visionary, or a pair of visionaries, who see a world that no one else sees yet, and whose vision turns the world upside down so dramatically that those behind the curve struggle to grasp how the rules have changed.

There are instances of crass language and some sexual references. Best for high-schoolers and up.


The Seventh-Inning Stretch

Baseball has been a stock of Hollywood for many decades. For more films to put in your dugout, check out Major League Baseball's list of the top 25 of all time):

Image: 'The Hill,' Briarcliff Entertainment

Francine Brokaw is a longtime journalist, covering entertainment, product reviews and travel, and is the host of Beyond the Red Carpet on Village Television and YouTube.

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