“I’m pretty sure he would’ve tossed 50 straight strikeouts if baseball had 19-plus innings and the script needed more sappy bullshit.”
There’s nothing like a great baseball film, unless it’s a movie that is worse than a dozen Dingers at a furry convention. The NFL might be America’s most popular game, but baseball is our national pastime and is the most popular subject for filmmakers to transpose the drama and comedy on the diamond onto the big screen. But what happens when a comedy misses the mark completely and the jokes in a screenplay are as painful as a fastball to the head?
It’s easy to make a list of my favorite baseball films. We all love The Natural and Bull Durham, but it takes real guts and self-loathing to reminisce about the worst baseball movies of all time.
My top 5 Worst Baseball Movies:
-Major League 2
1.) Ed (1996)
Matt LeBlanc plays a farm boy who makes his way onto a minor league team and bunks with Ed, another newcomer who happens to be a chimpanzee. The two become best buddies and during all the shenanigans, LeBlanc’s character finds love in between stints on the mound. Things run afoul after the shifty owner sells Ed to make some extra cash. LeBlanc saves his buddy but the chimp somehow ends up in a truck of Frosted Bananas (I’m not making this up). In the end LeBlanc has a chance to pitch his way to the Show and gets some much needed confidence when Ed and his new family arrives to make him feel special. Even in a film that co-stars a chimpanzee, LeBlanc is still the worst actor on-screen. The audience might pull a muscle with all the reality they have to suspend to accept that chimps are allowed to play baseball.
2.) The Babe (1992)
The story of Babe Ruth is worth being told, but The Babe doesn’t hold up for the Sultan of Swat. John Goodman plays the role he was built for by portraying one of baseball’s legends but doesn’t dive deep into the man behind the myth. Baseball fans know the exploits of Ruth: the womanizing and drinking that would make Johnny Manziel blush. We also know about Ruth’s heroic moments like the called shot and hitting two home runs for a sick kid but the film doesn’t really go beyond these accounts other than a cursory pass. If you want to learn more about Babe Ruth, I suggest watching an episode of Ken Burns Baseball documentary that sifts the legend from the man and finds that he would have a hard time avoiding the spotlight in this social media day and age.
3.) The Scout
In this movie, Albert Brooks’ character is a disgraced baseball scout that is relegated to Mexico after his latest prospect melts down during his debut at Yankee Stadium. While south of the border, he finds a pitching phenom named Steve Nebraska who appears to be a pitcher created by the gods. But all is not well for the young prospect who has deep-seeded psychological issues and Brooks spends the movie working with Nebraska to get him ready to play for the Yankees and another shot at scouting redemption. The Climax of the movie shows Nebraska reluctant about his debut in the house that Ruth built, but Brooks is able to coerce the star pitcher to make that start and what a debut it was with Nebraska tossing 27 strikeouts: spoiler alert. I’m pretty sure Nebraska would’ve tossed 50 straight strikeouts if baseball had 19-plus innings and the script needed more sappy bullshit.
4.) Summer Catch (2001)
Freddie Prinze Jr. plays a hometown boy, turned major league prospect who has to find the mental chops to make it to the next level. Summer Catch also stars Jessica Biel playing the wise love interest and Matthew Lillard, who seems to be attached to every Prinze Jr. movie ever made (Think Wing Commander and Scooby Doo). Prinze Jr. plays for the Chatham Athletics, a team that he’s followed his whole life, but now he’s the big shot who gets a chance at making it as a pro ball player. There are also cameos from Doug Glanville, Pat Burrell and Ken Griffey Jr. to spice things up. Summer Catch has all the typical troupes of a zany pre-9/11 sports film with the unsure sports star guy, buddy sidekick, hot rich girlfriend and dysfunctional family that eventually supports sports star guy in this horrible mess.
5.) Major League 2
Remember everything you loved about Major League? Well forget about all of that since the sequel turns a campy baseball comedy into a tired, formulaic epilogue. It was a movie concept so bad that they couldn’t even get Wesley Snipes back to play Willie Mays Hays and attempted to sneak in Omar Epps as a replacement (Hey Hollywood, we did notice that, you guys). The Cleveland Indians are back for more antics and another run at winning the pennant for America’s second-most lovable losers. But the season (and film) goes flat as Wild Thing Vaughn is demoted to the bullpen and the manager suffers a heart attack, which forces Jake Taylor to take over the team. New props/characters added to the franchise include Japanese import player Tanaka and Rube Baker who needs to read lingerie magazines to concentrate behind the plate. Just a horror show.