October 24, 2005

Viewer Discretion Advised

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With the World Series in full swing I thought it would be appropriate to acknowledge the best baseball films. However, on second thought there have been about a billion lists about the top baseball flick (Bull Durham, The Natural, etc.) so to switch things up I thought I would focus attention on films that have some sort of baseball aspect to them but aren’t centered around the sport. So without anything further here’s the rundown of “best baseball moments in movies that aren’t about baseball.” I know it may seem as stupid as those White Sox uniforms from the 1970s, but don’t blame me for trying.

5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

“Hey batta batta batta hey batta batta batta SWING batta!” It’s not surprising that native Chicagoan John Hughes would include a trip to Wrigley Field in Ferris’s much storied day off. Seriously, what is better than skipping school on a perfect day and taking a game? Just don’t be like ultimate party pooper Ed Rooney:

-“What’s the score?”

Other Guy: Nothin’ nothin’.

-Who’s winning?

Other Guy: The Bears.

4. Finding Forrester (2000)

William Forrester and Jamal Wallace seem to have nothing in common besides a skill in writing and living on the same street-corner. However when they share a quiet moment on the field of Yankee Stadium long after the players and crowd have left, you sense the immense generation and culture gap that has been bridged between the two. For this reason alone, this careful and pensive scene provides one of the great subtle tributes to the sport of baseball.

3. Super Troopers (2001)

“Will you move that gigantic cotton candy?” OK, this highlight of little-league baseball spectator angst has little to nothing to do with baseball, but that doesn’t stop it from being hilarious now does it? This is probably the funniest thing to happen at a little league game since I tried to play T-ball in Kindergarten (I failed miserably just to let you know). Oh well, “How’s the view from sugar heaven, bitch?”

2. City Slickers (1991)

Leave it to huge baseball fan Billy Crystal to deliver some of the best tributes to the sport. When Crystal describes his “best day” of his life as a young boy going to a game in Yankee Stadium (his first one in color as he describes it), it gives a poignant reminder of why baseball is so magical; it provides an experience that can be shared with others. Even more interesting is the fact that Crystal’s story isn’t scripted; he actually is reminiscing about his first ball game with his dad.

1. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)

This film’s climactic baseball scene is hands down the best baseball (probably all of sports) moment in a non-sports movie. I mean, it has everything you can ask for in a great comedic tribute to baseball. In an attempt to stop an assassination Leslie Nielsen disguises himself first as opera singer Enrico Pallazzo to bungle the national anthem then the home plate umpire as he finds nearly every type of baseball contraband imaginable but no gun. This is all followed by a huge bench-clearing brawl and a brainwashed Reggie Jackson attempting to kill Queen Elizabeth II. My personal favorite aspect of this scene occurs as Nielsen progressively gets more theatrical in calling strikes eventually capping of his performance with a moonwalk and split.

Archived article by Mark Rice
Film Editor