Brewster’s Millions (1985)
The Pitch: Based on George Barr McCutcheon’s 1902 novel, this Walter Hill adap stars the irrepressible Richard Pryor and John Candy as buddies who are bailed out of jail by a stranger, who reveals that Brewster (Pryor) has been left a massive fortune by his dead great uncle.
Home Run? Though critics were a little sniffy back in the ’80s, the Pryor-Candy combo is pure magic.
Their manic energy ensures that even if some of the jokes don’t land perfectly, you’ll have a ball watching them stumble from one stitch-up to the next.
Mr 3000 (2004)
The Pitch: Conceited baseball champ Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) chucks it all in when he smashes his 3,000th hit, only to discover that he was actually three hits away from that record-breaking figure.
Which means heading back to bat for a team that, well, doesn’t exactly want him back…
Home Run? Though your enjoyment of the film sort of depends on if you’re a fan of Bernie Mac’s breed of comedy, Mr 3000 contains some impressive baseball action scenes and keeps its humour on the more ‘grown-up’ side of the fence.
Mr Baseball (1992)
The Pitch: ‘He’s the biggest thing to hit Japan since Godzilla’ claimed the film’s tagline, referring to first baseman Jack Elliot (Tom Selleck).
He’s sold to the Chunichi Dragons and discovers that things are done a little differently there.
Home Run? Yes, it’s up-front silly and yes, Selleck mostly acts through his moustache, but its all-out cheesiness has ensured that Mr Baseball has become a cult classic almost despite itself.
Definitely worth a punt.
The Babe (1992)
The Pitch: Biopic centring on the titular baseball player, Babe Ruth, played by John Goodman.
We follow him from his childhood in 1902, when he’s raised by Catholic missionaries, through his emergence as a baseball hero and into his gradual decline.
Home Run? Goodman may have stated that he wasn’t happy with his performance in the film, but don’t listen to him. He’s fantastic in this immensely likable drama.
True, it’s not as sturdy as the big-hitters on this list, but it’s a largely unbiased portrait of a troubled hero that never gives in to sentimentality.
Angels In The Outfield (1951)
The Pitch: A baseball spin on It’s A Wonderful Life (sort of), as nasty-piece-of-work Guffy McGovern – the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates – starts hearing the voice of an angel who promises to turn his team’s fortunes around if he mends his ways.
Home Run? It didn’t do much in terms of box office returns, but Clarence Brown’s film is a charming, timeworn must-see for baseball fanatics.
Disney’s remake (featuring a young Matthew McConaughey) relied on saccharine campiness. Not so this classy original.
The Pride Of St Louis (1952)
The Pitch: Fact-based biopic of the life of Dizzy Dean, the Major League player who was the last pitcher to win 30 games in just one season.
Dan Daily plays Dean in a film that spans the player’s career from start to finish.
Home Run? As entertaining as you’d expect a film to be that focuses on “one of the most colourful characters of our time” (as the film’s opening crawl announces), this benefits from a grandstanding performance by a cheeky-grinned and charming Daily.
Fever Pitch (2005)
The Pitch: Loosely based on Nicky Hornby’s book (which was about football, not baseball), the Farrelly brothers’ romantic comedy takes a look at couple Ben (Jimmy Fallon) and Lindsay (Drew Barrymore), whose relationship is suffering thanks to Ben’s obsession with the Boston Red Sox.
Home Run? Barrymore and Fallon boast serious chemistry, even if the film’s a mixed bag of hits and misses.
Happily, it’s a more adult-friendly comedy from the Farrelly’s, who set aside the fat suits and toilet humour in favour of something a little more nuanced.
The Stratton Story (1949)
The Pitch: Classic sporting drama and the first film to pair up Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson. Sam Wood’s film tells the true story of Chicago White Sox pitcher Monty Stratton.
Home Run? The Academy certainly thought so – it awarded the film a golden baldie for its screenplay.
Meanwhile, Stewart sparkles in a role that the real-life Stratton applauded. Praise doesn’t come much better than that.
The Pitch: Tommy Lee Jones smokes cigars and looks sinister as baseball player Ty Cobb in this adaptation of Al Stump’s book.
Robert Wuhl plays the author, who’s hired by Cobb to write his memoirs as he prepares for his deathbed.
Home Run ? Part buddy picture, part biopic, Cobb finds Jones on blistering form, ensuring that the titular anti-hero isn’t watered down for the big screen.
Thanks to him, Cobb is as funny as it is daring.
Damn Yankees! (1958)
The Pitch: Faust gets a baseball spin in an all-singing, all-dancing musical that pits the New York Yankees against the Washington Senators.
It’s based on the 1955 Broadway show, in which a baseball fan makes a pact with the Devil to end his team’s losing streak.
Home Run? The premise alone is enough to have us singing baseball songs at the top of our lungs.
With its tongue-in-cheek reimagining of Faust, this is lively, hugely entertaining stuff that benefits from the fact that most of the original Broadway performers took their roles to the screen.