Last year—before the Academy Awards—I compiled my list of top baseball films. This year, with the Oscars again coming up fast (Sunday night), I’m taking a different tack and ranking my favorite baseball scenes in non-baseball films. The national pastime is so deeply ingrained in Americana that it often pops up in cinema not expressly devoted to it.
I’ll jump right into the proceedings, because Juror #7 has tickets to the game tonight, you know. Here are my favorites...
#5: Good Will Hunting
In trying to help young Will (Matt Damon), therapist Sean (Robin Williams) recounts the story of how he had tickets to Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. He didn’t make it to Fenway for Fisk’s home run, though, because he “had to go see about a girl”.
#4: Tom Cruise Trio
Mr. Cruise seems to have an affinity for baseball scenes in his dramas. Lt. Kaffee hits some grounders while being chastised for his judicial performance. Charlie Babbitt gets frustrated when savant brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) quotes Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s On First” routine while nervous. Deadbeat dad Ray Ferrier tries to bond with his son over a game of catch, only to realize the youngster is a Red Sox fan in contrast to his father’s Yankees allegiance.
#3: City Slickers
Whenever I feel the need to explain my obsessive baseball fandom to someone, this is the scene I turn to. In the words of Bruno Kirby’s Ed: “No contest...we win. If that were as interesting as baseball, they’d have cards for it and sell it with gum.”
#2: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Petty thief Randall Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) has just won a major battle on the psych ward in which he is imprisoned. He garnered enough votes to get the World Series game on the TV. Unfortunately, the sadistic Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) pulls “that hen house [bleep]” and does not comply. Undeterred, McMurphy puts on his own Series-watching performance as all the residents marvel at the scene.
Hook is one of my favorite films of all-time. Question me on this, and I will fight you. Upon stealing the children of a grown Peter Pan—er—Banning (Robin Williams), Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) concocts a campaign to turn them into loyal Pirate underlings. For young Jack, this means being there at his baseball games, something workaholic Peter could never accomplish. Not only does this scene feature absurdist humor—Hook’s detachable glove and the Pirate baserunner literally “gunned down” trying to steal second base—but it also contains a poignancy (“My Jack”) backed by a soaring John Williams flourish that brings tears to my eyes every time I view it.
Did I miss anything? Comment below if you have some favorite baseball scenes from differing film genres.