The World Series, Hollywood Style
America’s Pastime, baseball, has been the subject of many movies. In the late 1980s, Kevin Costner practically made a career out of baseball movies, with “Bull Durham” and “Field of Dreams” ranking as two of the best movies of all time about the sport. For all baseball movies, there is an ultimate goal that the main characters try to reach. For some, like in “Bull Durham,” that goal is simply making it to Major League Baseball (MLB), no matter what happens after. For others, the characters have already made it into MLB and now their goal is the playoffs, and ultimately, the World Series.
Though many baseball movies have the World Series as the ultimate prize, surprisingly few of them actually feature World Series games. Many mine the drama leading up to a Fall Classic appearance for their plot instead of actually featuring the games. But there are a few standouts that do have a World Series theme.
“Eight Men Out” is not only about World Series baseball, but also about a betting scandal that rocked the entire country. The film is set in 1919, when the Chicago White Sox made it to the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Usually an appearance in the Series means big money bonuses and other lavish prizes. Unfortunately, the owner of the team is cheap, so a betting magnate who gets wind of the owner’s miserly ways proposes a devious plan. If the team purposely loses, they will be rewarded with riches from illegal sports betting. The film is based on the true story of the infamous 1919 “Black Sox,” as they were later known.
In the 1995 comedy “The Scout,” Al Brooks stars as the titular scout who is banished to Mexico by the Yankees after his hyped-up prospects fail to make an impression. There, he finds a young man played by Brendan Fraser, who not only has a cannon for an arm, but also swings a bat like Babe Ruth. The scout brings the man to New York, where the fish-out-of-water tries to help the Yankees win the World Series.
In 2007, ESPN aired an original dramatization of the 1977 World Series, won by the New York Yankees. At the time, the Bronx Bombers were owned by the infamous George Steinbrenner, who valued winning a championship above everything. At the time, the city was reeling from widespread crime, riots, and the Summer of Sam killing spree. A sports title would help heal the wounds, which only added to the pressure that the players felt. The film shows them rising to the occasion in triumphant form.
There are very few animated films that feature baseball, much less the World Series, but “Everyone’s Hero” manages to do both. It tells the story of a boy named Yankee Irving, who treks across the country to help Babe Ruth and the Yankees win the title. Though the film mainly focuses on Yankee’s journey, it does give glimpses of the actual games being played, albeit in cartoon form.
Not all films about the World Series have male players in them. In “A League of Their Own,” Geena Davis leads the Rockford Peaches to a championship berth against the Racine Belles, who have her sister as their star pitcher. The story is based on the true story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), who took over baseball while the men were at war. Though the drama is fiction, it is based on the true stories of those women, who were eventually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
In another unusual film about the World Series, “Perfect Game” recounts the true story of a team of Mexican little leaguers who made it to the Little League World Series (LLWS) in 1957. It shows how the team made the Series against all odds, and then won in spectacular fashion with one of their pitchers tossing a no-hitter. That no-hitter still stands as the only one in LLWS history, forever cementing the ragtag group’s place in history.