Baseball Wisdom on the Big Screen
Name 10 films about football.
You likely got to five pretty easily: Rudy, Brian’s Song, The Blind Side, Friday Night Lights, Remember the Titans, We Are Marshall, Any Given Sunday, etc. Now, do the same for baseball. If you’re like us, you got to 10 pretty quickly—and then 10 more scenes about baseball in films having absolutely nothing to do with the sport.
That’s because filmmakers are in the business of conveying messages—and those messages must be relevant and relatable to the audience.
It’s understandable, then, that over the last century, 87 films have been made about baseball. After all, the fundamentals of America’s pastime—the sacrifice, the rally, dusting yourself off, patience, the marathon vs. the sprint—are also the fundamentals of being an American gentleman.
Baseball on the Big Screen: 15 Life Lessons…
15. Country first.
“Walt Whitman once said, ‘I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.’ You could look it up.” —Annie Savoy, Bull Durham
14. Find a respite.
“Baseball is great. It’s the only sport in the world that you can play while taking a nap.” —Ash Correll, The Forgotten
13. Relish your childhood.
“Baseball should be the only thing on an eight-year-old boy’s mind.” —Joe O’Malley, Stolen Summer
12. History is written in many different ways.
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and could be good again.” —Terence Mann, Field of Dreams
11. The end of summer stings, every time.
“Tonight, he will make the fateful walk to the loneliest spot in the world, the pitching mound at Yankee Stadium, to push the sun back into the sky and give us one more day of summer.” —Vin Scully, For the Love of the Game
10. Laugh it off, even when you fail.
“Remember, fans, Tuesday is Die Hard Night. Free admission for anyone who was actually alive the last time the Indians won the pennant.” —Harry Doyle, Major League
9. Everyone’s got a weakness—even God.
“Ahh, Jesus, I like him very much, but He no help with curveball.” “Are you trying to say Jesus Christ can’t hit a curveball?” —Serrano and Harris, Major League
8. Be thankful for the little things.
“Do you know what we get to do today, Brooks? We get to play baseball.” —Jim Morris, The Rookie
7. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.
“I’m an escaped car thief. I broke out of prison to see the Cubs in the World Series.” —Jimmy Dworski, Taking Care of Business
6. Keep it simple.
“A good friend of mine used to say, ‘This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.’ Think about that for a while.” —Nuke LaLoosh, Bull Durham
5. Teamwork saves lives.
“What is it that gives me joy? Baseball. A man stands alone at a plate. This is the time for what? For individual achievement. There he stands alone. But in the field, what? Part of a team. Looks, throws, catches, hustles, part of one big team. If the team don’t field, what is he? No one? Sunny day, full of fans, what does he have to say? I’m going out there for myself. But. I get nowhere, unless the team wins.” —Al Capone, The Untouchables
4. Anything worth doing is hard to do.
“Baseball’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” —Jimmy Dugan, A League of Their Own
3. Get clear on your belief system.
“I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman’s back, the hangin’ curveball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot. Soft-core pornography. Opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve. And I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days. Goodnight.” —Crash Davis, Bull Durham
2. Family first.
“Hey, Dad? You wanna have a catch?” —Ray Kinsella, Field of Dreams
1. Die with no regrets.
“I have been walking on ball fields for 16 years, and I’ve never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. I have had the great honor to have played with these great veteran ballplayers on my left—Murderers’ Row, our championship team of 1927. I have been given fame and undeserved praise by the boys up there behind the wire in the press box—my friends, the sports writers. I have worked under the two greatest managers of all time, Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy. I have a mother and father who fought to give me health and a solid background in my youth. I have a wife, a companion for life, who has shown me more courage than I ever knew. People all say that I’ve had a bad break. But today—today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” —Lou Gehrig, The Pride of the Yankees
We’ll leave you with one final scene—and while it’s a bit more difficult to pinpoint the life lesson in a cop impersonating a major league umpire in order to casually frisk every player on the field in the name of saving the life of the Queen of England, we’re confident you’ll be a slightly happier person after revisiting what, in our opinion, is one of the finest comedic performances ever on the baseball diamond.
- — C. Brian Smith