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Take me out to the ballgame

Date Posted: 1999-04-02

Americans can tell when the spring is in the air, but not by flowers blooming, nor allergies, nor even the warming weather. They can tell because it's the beginning of the baseball season. This week in behind the scenes we take a look at some of the movies based on America's favorite pastime, which contrary to popular belief is not watching Jerry Springer referee a battle between two 300-lbs. transvestites on his talk show. Let's start off with Pride Of The Yankees. This 1942 movie directed by Sam Wood will bring a tear to the most manly of men due to Gary Cooper's outstanding performance as Yankee legend Lou Gehrig and his battle with the disease which today bears his name. Baseball has had several dark moments in its long history and one of the darkest periods was the exclusion of the Negro leaguers from playing mainstream white baseball. The first man to cross this idiotic color barrier was of course Jackie Robinson. The hall of famer starred in this touching 1950 movie about himself directed by Alfred E. Green. Folks if you want to see a movie about one of America's most important events The Jackie Robinson Story is a must see.

On a different note is the story of Rhubarb, who inherits the Brooklyn Loons, which is not a problem except that Rhubarb is a crusty old cat! This 1951 classic starring Ray Milland is great family fare and well worth the hunt if you can find it! If you though that 1994 Angels In The Outfield was a new idea・ell out!!! In 1951 director Clarence Brown and screenwriters Richard Conlins & Dorothy Kingsley wrote the original story of the same name about the out of luck Pittsburgh Pirates who get a little divine intervention. Great shots of old Wrigley Field In Los Angeles; Forbes Field in Pittsburgh And New York's Yankee Stadium were used as backdrops. Rent 駑 both and see what was changed in the new version! Spawning two sequels and a TV series, 1976 's The Bad News Bears starred Walter Matthau as the ill-tempered Coach Buttermaker, Tatum O'Neal as the fastball slinging Amanda Whurlitzer, Vic Morrow as the villainous Coach Turner and the most hilarious group of baseball misfits before 1989's Major League. This movie is a must see, as it the closest thing to real baseball, and I should know, I coached a couple of Little Leaguers in my younger days and they made the Bad News Bears look tame.

Robert Redford stars in The Natural. This 1984 fantasy directed by Barry Levinson is in the same vein as Phil Alden Robinson's 1989 tear jerker, Field Of Dreams starring Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones, and one of my favorite actors Burt Lancaster in a small but powerful role. Babe Ruth got the Hollywood treatment in 1992's The Babe, which starred John Goodman in a prefect casting role as the NY Yankees undisputed sultan of swat. Rookie Of The Year takes every little boy's dream and makes it into a full-fledged fantasy. This 1993 movie starred Thomas Ian as a boy who through some freak accident ends up pitching for the Cubs in the World Series! Great escapism, especially for the little leaguer in the house.

Tommy Lee Jones plays Cobb the 1994 movie based on the life and times of one of baseball's most hated players, Ty Cobb. One of the greatest legends of baseball gets the documentary treatment in Hank Aaron: Chasing The Dream. What can be said about the man who broke The Babe's record? Hey Hollywood make a movie about this guy will ya? Also Ken Burns Magnum Opus Baseball is a must see for any fan of the sport.

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