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Is this heaven? No, it’s the all-time baseball movie lineup


IndianaTwin

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Hey, it’s the Christmas season and there’s no real baseball on TV. Nor is there any real baseball news, and I don’t want to discuss one more time whether the Twins are in rebuild or retool mode.

But it’s a wonderful life, and there are movies to watch. On a recent road trip with my son, we tried to come up with the starting lineup on the All-Time Baseball Movie team. These are the fictional guys. It would be too easy to insert Lou Gehrig from Pride of the Yankees and Babe Ruth from any number of films.

Here’s what we’ve got. Add your comments and rebuttals below.

Leading off and playing center field, we have to go with the speedster Willie Mays Hayes from Major League. The original version, not Major League II, III or whatever they’re up to by now. When you hit like Mays and run like Hayes, you gotta be in the lineup. Hayes is a tough call in center over Kelly Leake from Bad News Bears and Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez from The Sandlot, but you clearly gotta keep the latter on the roster as a pinch runner.

Batting second and playing left field will be Shoeless Joe. I know that I said this is fictional and Joe Jackson was real, but the movie is clearly a fantasy, and we’re talking about perhaps the best-known character in the genre. With that line drive back through the box off Ray, he’s clearly adept at going with the pitch, a skill we’re looking for in our No. 2 hitter.

Batting third, where we want one of our best hitters, we have to go with The Natural, Roy Hobbs. He plays rightfield and has the lineup’s best walk-up music. If you don’t believe that, just stay after any minor league game for the fireworks show and you’ll get a listen.

It’s not intentional to have worked our way around the outfield with top three spots in the order, but it came out that way. We’re kinda going to continue that by finding a way to get Major Leaguer Pedro Cerrano’s bat in the lineup, which we’ll do in the cleanup spot as the DH. Movies don’t tend to have the DH in a starring role, but Jobu hits the fastball very much. Oh, and don’t steal his rum.

Catcher is tough. Some of the genre’s best characters are behind the plate. I know I’m going to get flack for not choosing Crash Davis from Bull Durham, but the dude’s a career minor league. Stay tuned, I’ve got a spot for him. Similarly, Jake Taylor from Major League is a gamer, a masterful bunter and a great handler of a pitching staff. And then there’s Hamilton Porter from The Sandlot. I don’t think I can go with him, but we need him on the bench – there can’t be a better bench jockey and trash talker in the league.

But all those pale compare to the one who truly was in a League of her (Their) Own, Dottie Hinson. She’ll woman the backstop and bat fifth.

Following her in the lineup and batting sixth is her teammate. Playing second base, we have the window breaking slugger, Marla Hooch.

First base is a hitter’s spot, but it’s actually a little weak in the movies. Granted, Clu Heywood leads the Major League in most offensive categories, including nose hair, but we only want the good guys on our team, so we can’t use him. Similarly, Mr. 3000 is just such a bad movie that I’m not going to use Stan Ross. That leaves us with another aging slugger, back from Japan, Mr. Baseball Jack Eliot, and he’ll bat seventh.

Third base is another sparse one. The potentially obvious choice here is Roger Dorn, but he pretty much showed himself a clubhouse cancer throughout Major League, so we’ll have to pass. Instead, we’ll go with our third pick from League of Their Own, Doris Murphy. She can rub teammates the wrong way, as witnessed by her taking on Kit Hinson after a rough game, but she’s clearly a gamer, the kind of player who want as a spark batting near the bottom of the lineup at No. 8.

Finally, we need a shortstop. Amazingly with such a glamour position, I couldn’t come up with a good standout shortstop from a baseball movie. I mean, with his way of coaching up teammates, it seems likely that “The Jet” Rodriguez could pull out his inner Cesar Tovar and play there, but I don’t think he actually does in the movie.

But I’ve got an unnamed sleeper. Unnamed in that I couldn’t remember his name ever being used in the movie. But you need defense up the middle, and with that final play to come in and bare hand the tipped ball to preserve the perfecto at the end of “For Love of the Game,” this unnamed guy will play short and bat ninth.

By contrast, though it may seem that the lineup is a bit weak at the bottom, we’ve got a loaded rotation. He is, by definition, a Rookie (of the Year), but with the bionic arm, Henry Rowengartner is in the mix. I like to work young guys in slowly, so I’m going to start him at No. 5 in the rotation.

And speaking of youth, we’ll have another youngster in the No. 4 spot, Amanda Wurlitzer from the Bad News Bears. Despite her youth, she does have championship experience, leading the Bears to the title game. At No. 3, we’ll go with Bingo Long from his Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings. He’s based on Satchel Paige, so that’s impressive.

Picking between the top two spots were tough, but I had to go with experience. I like Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh’s million dollar arm in Bull Durham, but I don’t want someone with a five-cent head getting the start on opening day, so he’ll have to wait for game two.

Which means that our opening day starter will be Billy Chapel from For Love of the Game. When you wrap up your Hall of Fame career with a perfect game and demonstrate that “the cathedral that is Yankee Stadium belongs to a Chapel,” you’ve shown you have the moxie to get the Opening Day start.

There’s several noteworthy candidates to fill out the staff while pitching out of the bullpen, including Kit Hinson from League of the Their and Eddie Harris from Major League, but we know that it will be the Wild Thing, Ricky Vaughn from Major League, marching out of the bullpen to close games after a stellar career in the California Penal League. The team’s top pitching prospect is the newly signed Rigo (“Peanut Boy”) Sanchez from Trouble with the Curve.

So there’s the roster. But before we get away, we have to recognize that it takes more than players to run a team. You need a coaching staff, for example, and baseball movies have given us a few. Because they formed the best manager/coach duo, our team will be led by Pop Fisher and Red Blow from The Natural. There are other noteworthy coach/managers who can fill out the coaching staff, namely Frank Perry (For Love of the Game), Jimmy Dugan (League of Their Own) and Lou Brown (Major League). I’m big on character, so it’s against my better judgment, but I did save a spot for Morris Buttermaker from the Bad News Bears. Also in the dugout will young Bobby Savoy (The Natural) as our batboy.

Billy Heywood from Little Big League was a choice for the coaching staff, but I realized that he has to be the team owner, since several other of the team owners portrayed are dirtbags. Think of Rachel Phelps from Major League and The Judge from The Natural. Heywood’s more seasoned ownership partners include Gary Wheeler (For Love of the Game) and candy bar mogul Walter Harvey (League of Their Own).

Also in the team’s administration is GM Ira Lowenstein (League of Their Own). He oversees a scouting staff that includes by Gus Lobel (Trouble with the Curve) and Ernie Capadino (A League of Their Own). The latter is known for his skill in negotiating contracts, as demonstrated in signing the Hinson sisters. For astutely observing how much better Pete Taylor has been playing since his parents came to visit, Pete Klein (Trouble with the Curve) will head the team’s analytics department. Heading the scouting staff, and likely working her way up to GM on her own, is Mickey Lobel from Trouble with the Curve.

With such a varied range of experience on our team, there are bound to be injuries, and we’ve got the best possible medical staff in place. Heading the group is Doc Archibald (Moonlight) Graham from Field of Dreams. Assisting him, with specializations in providing CPR and overseeing the pool at the training facility is Wendy Peffercorn from The Sandlot.

A team like this needs a place to play, and fortunately they have stadium architect extraordinaire Ray Kinsella (Field of Dreams). As noted above, I do have a backup plan for Crash Davis. He’ll assist Ray as groundskeeper, with particular expertise in managing the irrigation system. Also of note in game day management is Frank Drummond (Naked Gun), who will serve as stadium security. He’s also been known to fill in for Enrico Polazzo in singing the National Anthem.

A team like this certainly deserves media coverage. Again, there’s lots to choose from in the broadcasting department, since using an announcer is often part of what helps the plot flow in sports movies. They’re playing themselves, so our rules keep us from naming John Gordon (Little Big League), Vin Scully (For Love of the Game) and Curt Gowdy, Jim Palmer, Tim McCarver, Mel Allen, Dick Enberg and Dick Vitale, all from Naked Gun. But even if that rule didn’t apply, the broadcasting gig would still have to go to Harry Doyle from Major League.

And finally, we need someone to wax eloquent and write Roger Angell-like essays. The clear choice for that would be Terrance Mann.

So, how’d I do? Who’d I miss?

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I had to 'clear the mechanism' and reread this. It is absolutely fantastic, especially some of the extra little notes that really make it. 

Twins scout Jack Powell is also in Trouble with the Curve. I'd have to include him.

The first baseman/mom's boyfriend in Little Big League has to be considered.... And that team's shortstop was Kevin Elster, so he has to be considered, as does former Saints hitter Leon "Bull" Durham. 

I was going to say Jim Morris as a lefty-reliever, but he's real. 

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Wonderful wonderful way of bringing back baseball film memories. I always wondered what it would be like if you actually did have co-ed players on major league teams. 

 

Someday.

 

Of course you leave out any of the singing fellas from Take Me Out To The Ball Game and Damn Yankees. Someone has to smuggle Lola into the locker room to give Annie a run at supplying concessions to the team.

 

 

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On 12/27/2021 at 11:02 PM, Seth Stohs said:

I had to 'clear the mechanism' and reread this. It is absolutely fantastic, especially some of the extra little notes that really make it. 

Twins scout Jack Powell is also in Trouble with the Curve. I'd have to include him.

The first baseman/mom's boyfriend in Little Big League has to be considered.... And that team's shortstop was Kevin Elster, so he has to be considered, as does former Saints hitter Leon "Bull" Durham. 

I was going to say Jim Morris as a lefty-reliever, but he's real. 

Good call on Lou Collins from Little Big League. I did consider him, but didn’t include him in the writing. 

I didn’t take into account who was playing the character, so that didn’t help Elster and Durham. That would be an interesting take in its own right — an all-star team of MLB players who played someone (other than themself) in a movie. I always make it a point to watch the credits at the end of baseball movies to see what names I recognize. Pete Vuckovich was Clu Haywood in Major League, for example. I wasn’t aware of Jack Powell, however. 

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5 hours ago, Rosterman said:

Wonderful wonderful way of bringing back baseball film memories. I always wondered what it would be like if you actually did have co-ed players on major league teams. 

 

Someday.

 

Of course you leave out any of the singing fellas from Take Me Out To The Ball Game and Damn Yankees. Someone has to smuggle Lola into the locker room to give Annie a run at supplying concesion to the team.

 

 

I confess that I’ve not seen either of the musical films, but I gotta have heart and track them down.

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That was fun! Great detail and fantasy. My owner would be Jules James from Brockmire, which was an irreverant delight and didn't make the OP in even a mention, but then, Brockmire was a series and not a movie. (Same with Kenny Powers on the mound from Eastbound & Down, an HBO series.) I would have to make an exception and get a trio from Brockmire in the game. Pedro Uribe as a DH from Brockmire, too. And the broadcaster...... why, Jim Brockmire, of course. After all, he even had not one, but two "things" named after him that reached into real life. "Keeping it Brockmire" and being "Brockmired". Ouch.

And seriously, Crash Davis not the catcher? "Oh my".

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Great article - fun topic. 
 

My one adds could be batting eighth and playing catcher Robert Dinero playing Bruce Pearson or joining the pitching staff Michael Moriarty as Henry Wiggen - both in Bang the Drum Slowly. That is an awesome baseball movie. Makes me cry every time. 

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No specifics but I feel like League of their own is over represented and Bingo Long is under represented.  I don't know how you can keep the professor pitcher from It Happens Every Spring out of the rotation.   

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21 hours ago, Nashvilletwin said:

Great article - fun topic. 
 

My one adds could be batting eighth and playing catcher Robert Dinero playing Bruce Pearson or joining the pitching staff Michael Moriarty as Henry Wiggen - both in Bang the Drum Slowly. That is an awesome baseball movie. Makes me cry every time. 

I was hoping someone would mention Bang the Drum Slowly. That’s probably No. 1 on the my need-to-watch list.

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6 hours ago, Dantes929 said:

No specifics but I feel like League of their own is over represented and Bingo Long is under represented.  I don't know how you can keep the professor pitcher from It Happens Every Spring out of the rotation.   

Yeah, Hooch and Murphy are primarily there because I couldn’t find good alternatives.

And thanks for adding It Happens Every Spring — I’ll add it to my list as well. 

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On 1/1/2022 at 7:41 PM, IndianaTwin said:

I was hoping someone would mention Bang the Drum Slowly. That’s probably No. 1 on the my need-to-watch list.

It's been decades since I have looked at either but I have vague recollections of the book being better than the movie.   I also remember thinking Harris' first book The Southpaw was better than Bang the Drum Slowly though I enjoyed both.    If you are a reader I would read The Southpaw before reading or watching the sequel.

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Excellent premise, and well done. You even left shortstop open for us to argue about. Since you put a lot of weight on clubhouse presence and fighting spirit, my vote goes to Tanner of the Bad News Bears, who probably was the model for the real life AJ Pierzynski.

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It Happens Every Spring VHS.jpg

A college professor is working on a long-term scientific experiment when a baseball comes through the window, destroying all of his glassware and spilling the fluids that the flasks and test tubes contained. The pooled fluids combine to form the chemical "methylethylpropylbutyl," which then covers a large portion of the baseball. The professor soon discovers that the fluid, along with any object with which it makes contact, is repelled by wood (cf. Alexander Fleming's serendipitous discovery of penicillin).

Suddenly, he realizes the possibilities and takes a leave of absence to go to St. Louis to pitch in the big leagues, where he becomes a star and propels his team to the World Series.

 

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