Dennis Quaid portrays Jimmy Morris, The Rookie’s title character, who is a middle-aged high school coach, married with kids, and living in a small Texas town. His pro baseball aspirations have long been forgotten, and yet, he has this amazing pitch. Jimmy’s players take notice and challenge him to try out for the major leagues. Based on a true story, this is one of those movies that reminds us that strange and wonderful things happen in real life.
We’ve also got other baseball movies and sports documentaries.
In this baseball comedy, Guffy McGovern (Paul Douglas), the manager of a very awful Pittsburgh Pirates team, is foul mouthed, hated by his players, ridiculed by the fans, and regularly badmouthed by the Pirates radio announcer (Keenan Wynn). Newspaper reporter Jennifer Paige (Janet Leigh) is assigned to cover the Pirates and give a woman’s perspective on the team. When she initially tries to interview McGovern, he gives her a very impolite brushoff.
A short time later, an angel contacts McGovern, and tells him that someone has been praying for him and the Pirates. If McGovern can control his temper, the angel and some of his friends will help the Pirates win a few games. McGovern agrees and suddenly this heretofore awful Pirates team are playing great baseball.
Bridget White (Donna Corcoran), an orphan who is hoping to be adopted, has been praying for the Pirates. One day, the girls at the orphanage are brought to the ballpark by two nuns (played by longtime character actors Spring Byington and Ellen Corby). During the game, Bridget witnesses the angels helping the Pirates. Nobody else can see the angels. Paige writes a story about Bridget, which causes a lot of complications for all involved. But it also leads to lot of good things including an unlikely romance between McGovern and Paige.
Angels in the Outfield has a lot of laughs and a lot of heart, plus a few cameo appearances by Bing Crosby, baseball greats Ty Cobb and Joe DiMaggio, and famous songwriter Harry Ruby. It also has some stock footage showing old Comiskey Park.
This is my favorite baseball movie and I hope you enjoy it too. You can also peruse our list of other baseball films.
This exciting and thrilling movie follows self-destructive playboy British auto racer James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and serious Austrian auto racer Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), competing in the 1970s to become the Formula 1 champion. There is intense rivalry between the two drivers, and the race scenes had me on the edge of my seat.
Rush is based on a true story and is directed by the renowned Ron Howard. Check out an interview with Lauda.
Other auto racing movies you might want to check out are Grand Prix and Le Mans.
Before The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin created Sports Night. My only complaint for the snappy series is that it only lasted two seasons…but what an entertaining 45 episodes. Sports Night focuses on a group that produces a lives sports newscast, much like ESPN’s SportsCenter.
The snappy, rapid-fire dialogue, the witty banter, and the entertaining cast of characters will make the episodes fly by. And this isn’t just for sports fans – while the events of the show are centered around sports, it’s more about the characters and the clever dialogue. I’ve gotten friends who don’t follow sports hooked on Sports Night. Warning: if you try an episode or two, you may be compelled to finish the series immediately. Enjoy!
Oh, and if you need a bit more convincing…you’ll find Felicity Huffman pre-Desperate Housewives, Peter Krause before Six Feet Under and Parenthood, Josh Charles before The Good Wife, Joshua Malina pre-The West Wing and Scandal, plus Robert Guillaume.
We’re entering the dog days of summer and with that comes the mid-point of the season of America’s game. If the Cubs and Sox aren’t enough for you, here are two recent baseball films we loved.
Trouble with the Curve (2012) PG-13
Clint Eastwood movies are always good and this one is no exception. In this heartwarming story, he is an aging baseball scout whose vision is starting to fail. Enter Amy Adams, his estranged daughter, to help her dad. Trouble with the Curve explores the very special relationship between fathers and daughters.
Moneyball (2011) PG-13
Moneyball was a great movie which provided insight into the behind-the-scenes world of baseball. For the story behind the film, check out Michael Lewis’ Moneyball: the art of winning an unfair game.
For more baseball films, check the list on our website.
For five brief seasons, this emotionally rewarding television series gave us the trials and triumphs of high school football coach Eric Taylor. Set in a mid-sized town in Texas for which the high school football team’s success is everything, we get to know all the regulars, the coach’s high school guidance counselor wife, the head of the boosters, the football player stars and hopefuls, and the girls that date them. For many of these players, success on the football field means a scholarship and the hope for something more than life in Dixon, Texas.
One of my favorites is Tyra, who is from a family of women who live by finding a man to take care of them but who wants to go to college and make a change. Sweet Matt gets thrust into the role of QB1. Not the most talented athlete, he uses his brains to take his team to the state finals. And of course Tim Riggins, the bad boy we all had crushes on in high school, a well-intentioned and noble character from the wrong family. And Coach Taylor and his happy marriage to Tami hold the whole series together.
Enjoy all five seasons of Friday Night Lights.
Based on a true story of the Abbate family, a young man leads his college football team to a winning season in memory of his youngest brother, who was killed in a tragic car accident. It’s a very touching movie; you may need to grab the box of tissues.
For more on the family behind the story, visit the Luke Abbate 5th Quarter Foundation website.
Find the movie The 5th Quarter at the library.
Even if you’re not a baseball fan, you’ll enjoy this true story of the Oakland Athletics and their general manager, Billy Beane (and check out the book by Michael Lewis). It’s the story of Beane (Brad Pitt) and the unorthodox methods he used to rebuild his team.
The film, which earned Academy Award nominations for Best Film, Best Actor (Pitt), and Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), offers a heartwarming tale of determination, dedication, and love of the game.
Add your name to the waiting list in our catalog or join us on Friday, March 16 at 7pm for Movies & More as we begin our celebration of 2012 Academy Award-nominated movies with Moneyball. Fresh popcorn will be provided. Register at calendar.ippl.info. The series continues with The Help on Friday, April 20.
Secretariat (2011) PG
The whole family will enjoy this inspiring story about Secretariat, perhaps the greatest racehorse ever, and the woman, Penny Chenery Tweety (Diane Lane) who had faith in him. When Penny’s father, a horse breeder, became ill and died, Penny took over the decision making.
After Big Red’s (Secretariat) birth, she stood up to her many detractors to keep, train, and race him. She hired flamboyant trainer Lucien Laurin (played excellently by John Malkovich) and a jockey who ran a horse so hard that his heart burst. Those who cared so much about him – the owner, the trainer, the groom, and the jockey – went beyond what anyone thought was possible, and Secretariat did something incredible that no one thought was conceivable.
Take time to watch one of the special features, Heart of a Champion, which shows actual footage of Secretariat, Penny, and some of the other people who surrounded him.
To learn more about Secretariat, check out the books The Horse God Built: the untold story of Secretariat, the world’s greatest racehorse by Lawrence Scanlan (2007), Secretariat’s Meadow: the land, the family, the legend by Kate Chenery Tweedy (2010), plus And the Crowd Goes Wild: relive the most celebrated sporting events ever broadcast by Joe Garner (1999).
Other movies you might want to watch include Seabiscuit (2003) and Dreamer (2005).
Invictus (2010) PG-13
An inspiring film set in the early days of post-apartheid South Africa. Newly elected President Mandela confronts the deep distrust that resides within the country. Mandela uses an unlikely focus to unite the country– the South African rugby team. Though the whites and Afrikaners love the team, they are loathed by the blacks as a lingering symbol of apartheid. Mandela skillfully uses the team’s unlikely bid for the World Cup to unite the country and inspire the team. Wonderful acting makes this a must-see uplifting movie!