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Shane’s Shelf: Favorite Baseball Films

Baseball

2. Field of Dreams (Dir. Phil Alden Robinson)

Field of Dreams is one of those films I wore out on VHS.  I was always fascinated with the idea of building a baseball field in my yard.  I often daydreamed of having a field for me and all my buddies to practice on.  I mean what Little Leaguer wouldn’t?  The film has the ultimate albeit whacky premise.  Ray Kinsella, a farmer, hears a voice stating, “If you build it he will come.”  Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, decides to do just that.  Build a baseball field on his property in the hopes that iconic ballplayers from years past will come out to play.  After building the field, players do come.  Shoeless Joe Jackson, his teammates, and various players from the era come out to play ball.  But, the journey is far from over as Costner continues to hear a voice nudging him along.  That voice eventually leads him across the country and back trying to find the true meaning of why he was called to build this field.  Field of Dreams is a slow burn about family, baseball, friendship, and the bond between a father and son.  In the final frames of the film, Ray finally understands what the voice means when he is visited by a mysterious ballplayer.  This is the most powerful 6 minutes in any baseball film; two men talking about baseball, life, and having a catch.  As the years have passed this scene has become more and more meaningful, having gone from a ballplayer to the Father of a ballplayer.  The last line uttered in the film gets me every time.  So simple but means the world to me; “Hey Dad, you wanna have a catch?”

  1. Moneyball (Dir. Bennett Miller)

Moneyball is my favorite film about baseball.  It’s a behind the scenes look into the 2002 Oakland A’s season as seen through the lens of GM Billy Beane.  Brad Pitt, playing Beane, is the best he’s ever been.  So good he should have won the Oscar.  The film champions Beane’s use of sabermetrics in player evaluation.  At the time the use of analytics was revolutionary and partially dismissed the work that professional scouts had been doing for years.  What Beane did with the 2002 A’s was groundbreaking.  Forever changing baseball’s approach to advance scouting, player development, and drafting.  The film itself is incredibly rewatchable with scene after scene of sharp dialogue penned by the incomparable Aaron Sorkin.  So many great lines about the passion and romanticism of baseball within the framework of a highly engaging, smart, and realistic take on the sport I can’t help but get romantic about.  As Pitt’s Billy Beane says in the film; “It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball”.

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