For some reason I haven’t seen “Long Gone,” which is well-regarded by baseball fans. I doubt it would supplant my top two, though maybe number three. Anyway, here’s my list:
1. “Eight Men Out” The final scene, where an incognito Buck Weaver watches former teammate Joe Jackson playing for the then-equivalent of the Long Island Ducks, breaks your heart. John Sayles’ classic can be appreciated by purists and non-baseball fans alike.
2. “The Bad News Bears” Of course I’m not talking about the Billy Bob Thornton remake. I haven’t seen it, and won’t. The original is an essential — a crassly unsentimental view of an enduring slice of Americana. It also contains the greatest line ever delivered in a baseball movie: “Hey Yankees. You can take your apology, and your trophy, and shove it straight up your ass.”
Tanner Boyle for commissioner.
3. “The Natural” Hokum, done well, can work. Robert Redford wasn’t exactly convincing as the greatest hitter of all time, but at least we weren’t forced to wallow in the hippie/yuppie angst that makes “Field of Dreams” so unwatchable.
I was a Pony Leaguer when “The Natural” came out, and the next day I broke out of a career-long malaise with three doubles.