Following last week’s reveal of the four number one seeds in our Baseball Movie Bracket Challenge, it’s now time to dig even deeper. Now we bring you the four movies who fell just behind the top seeds as we bring you the number two seeds for each region.
Major League (1989)
This is undoubtedly one of the few movies baseball players themselves would put as a unanimous number one. Originally debuting in 1989, the Major League franchise swept the baseball nation and turned in a whopping $120 million in gross money while earning an 83 percent rating by Rotten Tomatoes. No matter what your thoughts are on production, the team setting (Cleveland Indians), or anything else, Major League is a movie (or set of movies) that even the most casual baseball movie fan can recall. It spans generations as it follows the story of the Cleveland franchise under new ownership that intends on shipping the team off to Miami. But in the process of putting together a rag-tag group like near blind pitcher Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) and injury prone catcher Jake Taylor (Tom Bergener), the team finds winning ways, ultimately saving ticket sales from plummeting and the team heading south.
Considering the fact that it was released the same year as the Field of Dreams movie, it’s impressive to have received the praise and attention it did. From Jobu to the iconic phrase “just a big outside”, the Major League movies have surely cemented themselves as some of the most rememberable sports movies in cinema history.
The Natural (1984)
Adapted from the Bernard Malamud novel, the Natural is another one of those comeback tales that relates to the heart of sports, let alone baseball. It follows a comeback story of Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) as he makes his way back to baseball following a 16 year absence. It’s a film that still has a lot of weight to it as it still the fifth highest money making baseball movie in history ($126 million). That number sure came with a lot of effort thrown in as the producers ponied up half a million dollars just to spruce up the Buffalo field where the movie was filmed. There was no shortage of extras put into the production as nearly 3,000 western New Yorkers were used.
The All-Star cast of Redford, Wilford Brimley, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close and more really helped to seal the deal for this film, and make it an icon for years to come. It is a movie worth watching a second time and one that finds itself in one of our number two seeds for the tournament.
The Sandlot (1993)
Could you get more iconic than the Sandlot? A movie that may be a little overly nostalgic but so relatable to so many across the baseball world. Nearly every scene tied into the lives of so many from their younger days. Some have dubbed the film the “most American film” out there which still stands to this day.
There’s so much to like about this film as it brings a coming of age story surrounding the great game of baseball. Learning the ropes and enjoying America’s pastime doesn’t have to be on a million dollar field, but where you make the magic happen. Speaking of magic, writer and director David Mickey Evans sure put on a magic trick when he put in a mere $7 million to produce a mark of $34 million at the box office. Looking back at it all, with so many iconic lines and scenes, it’s hard to imagine that one of the most beloved baseball films of all time took just 42 days to complete, adhering to strict child labor laws in the process. The movie also made it big despite two things Hollywood directors normally refuse to work with in tandem; children and animals. The Sandlot movie did both, sporting the nine kids and (in total) four different dogs.
In the end, this film brings us the power of baseball in bringing newcomers and longtime residents together for one common cause. It’s an inclusive sport that welcomes all and The Sandlot highlights that for both kids and parents alike to love for years and even decades to come.
Bad News Bears (1976)
Although recency bias may have some with sights on the 2005 version, it’s the one 29 years earlier that takes our spot as number two on the list. Walter Matthau (Morris Buttermaker) put on a performance that has stood the test of time playing an ex-minor league hopeful who has been on the wrong side of some drinking issues and who grumpily agrees to coach a Little League team at the behest of lawyer-councilman Bob Whitewood (Ben Piazza), who has a vendetta against the league for excluding his marginally talented son from play.
It was such a strong performance that it posted over $32 million at the box office while grossing a total of $155 million. It even became the 11th highest grossing American film of 1976, outpacing movies such as Taxi Driver. It has been dubbed one of the best sports movies of all time, it certainly ahead of the curve in several ways. One such way (interestingly enough) was engaging in product placement before it was even a thing. Matthau’s character in Buttermaker drank seven different kinds of beer on set including Budweiser, Mickey’s malt liquor, Miller High Life, Schlitz, Coors, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Lucky Lager.
Overall, it was a movie that seemed to get everything beautifully, hilariously and even painfully right. It put humor and sarcasm together in a beautiful medley and why it has solidified the number two spot in a tight South Region.