Ranking Baseball Movies with Josh Wilker
Josh Wilker is the proprieter of the Cardboard Gods website (“Voice of the Mathematically Eliminated”: best website tagline ever), in which he searches for meaning, both personal and historical, and often finds it, from his mostly 1970s baseball card collection. He's also the author of “Cardboard Gods: An American Tale,” one of the my favorite recent books, and a short, smart analysis of the movie “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training,” part of the “Novel Approach to Cinema” series. His defense of the second, horrible “Bears” movie, his No. 1 pick below, is something close to a work of art.
Josh's Baseball Movie Rankings
1. The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977)
2. The Bad News Bears (1976)
3. Sugar (2008)
4. The Natural (1984)
5. Ken Burns’ Baseball (1994)
6. Bull Durham (1988)
7. Major League (1989)
8. Eight Men Out (1988)
9. The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998)
10. Field of Dreams (1989)
11. A League of Their Own (1992)
12. Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)
13. Fever Pitch (2005)
14. The Rookie (2002)
15. Fear Strikes Out (1957)
16. Bad News Bears (2005)
17. The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978)
Let them play.
Further comment via email
My #1 film is surely unique, but think about this--if all the full casts of all the movies (not counting documentaries) had to play a tournament, my film would coast to a championship (picture Kevin Costner trying to hit against JR Richard).
As for why “Breaking Training” is first on his list and “Go to Japan” last?
My memory of “Go to Japan” is pretty vague, but I remember it was the worst movie ever made. There was very little baseball, for one thing—it was mostly focused on a waxen Tony Curtis, who seemed to have very little connection whatsoever with the team. Tanner and Ogilvie were missing, as was “Breaking Training” catalyst Carmen Ronzonni, and Kelly was horribly neutered by a weak romantic subplot. I saw an interview with David Pollack (Rudi Stein) somewhere where he talks about how the first two movies were a blast to make, but the third movie was a joyless, pointless chore. It shows.