PLAYED BY Brad Pitt
MOVIE Moneyball (2011)
POSITION General Manager
TEAM The small-market Oakland A’s, led by failed pro Billy Beane, discard conventional baseball wisdom and invest their meager payroll in overlooked players who do the little things that build a team to compete with the sport’s biggest spenders.
STATS Stats? It’s all about stats, especially the Holy Grail for baseball number-crunchers, on-base percentage.
ACCURACY Hollywood took a ton of liberties, big and small, with the A’s underdog story, but the biggest inside-baseball complaint was that the movie gave all the credit to Beane’s reliance on new batting metrics and totally ignored the fact that his pitching staff at the time was one of the best in the game.
MEMORABLE MOMENT Scott Hatteberg (Chris Pratt), one of Beane’s finds from the ”island of misfit toys,” slugs a dramatic home run to break the record for consecutive wins.
KLEENEX FACTOR 2 out of 10 hankies
RICK ''WILD THING'' VAUGHN
PLAYED BY Charlie Sheen
MOVIE Major League (1989)
TEAM The Cleveland Indians, here a group of broken-down misfits (including aging catcher Tom Berenger, left) recruited precisely for the likelihood that they’ll drive down ticket sales, giving the owner an excuse to move the team to Florida.
STATS He’s called ”Wild Thing” because of pitches that fly at 100 mph but are liable to hit anything but the strike zone. (Those thick specs don’t seem to help much.) He’s also a pot-smoker and convicted carjacker.
ACCURACY Well, pot-smoking ex-cons aren’t completely unknown to baseball, and Sheen, well known for his own offscreen career as a Wild Thing, gives one of his best comic performances.
MEMORABLE MOMENT The entire stadium sings along to the Troggs’ ”Wild Thing” as Vaughn pitches in a championship game.
KLEENEX FACTOR 2 out of 10 hankies (10 out of 10 if you’re an Indians fan)
GEORGE ''BUCK'' WEAVER
PLAYED BY John Cusack
MOVIE Eight Men Out (1988)
POSITION Third base
TEAM The Chicago White Sox, whose 1919 lineup would be known after the scandal as the Black Sox
STATS When his team is accused of throwing the 1919 World Series, it’s Weaver who most steadfastly maintains his innocence.
ACCURACY Could the real White Sox have been this obvious, making such blatant errors?
MEMORABLE MOMENT Watching an obscure outfielder at play, Weaver is asked if that could really be his disgraced teammate Shoeless Joe Jackson playing under an assumed name. ”Nah,” he says, ”those fellas are all gone now.”
KLEENEX FACTOR 10 out of 10 hankies (”Say it ain’t so, Joe. Say it ain’t so.”)
PLAYED BY Jackie Robinson
MOVIE The Jackie Robinson Story (1950)
POSITION Second base
TEAM The Brooklyn Dodgers, though there’s also his personal support team: wife Rachel (Ruby Dee) and Dodgers president Branch Rickey (Minor Watson)
STATS Robinson is best remembered for his courage as the first African-American major leaguer of the 20th century, but the film is an artifact of its time, tending to ignore racial issues in order to focus on Robinson’s athletic prowess and star quality.
ACCURACY Robinson’s no actor, but his quiet courage and dignity are apparent, and there’s surely no one who could better reenact his feats on the field.
MEMORABLE MOMENT Robinson faces a potentially violent confrontation with some white hecklers.
KLEENEX FACTOR 7 out of 10 hankies
PLAYED BY Anthony Perkins
MOVIE Fear Strikes Out (1957)
POSITION Right field
TEAM The Boston Red Sox
STATS Piersall, a promising player whose career is cut short by a nervous breakdown, fights his way back to mental health, and back to the outfield.
ACCURACY The real Piersall wrote the book that inspired the film, but he disowned the movie, complaining that the pre-Psycho Perkins made him look like a sniveling wuss.
MEMORABLE MOMENT Piersall finally confronts the well-meaning but bullying dad (Karl Malden) whose pressure to perform may be what made him crack.
KLEENEX FACTOR 9 out of 10 hankies
PLAYED BY Tatum O’Neal
MOVIE The Bad News Bears (1976)
TEAM The Bears, a team of pint-size, potty-mouthed misfits
STATS Brought in as a ringer by Coach Buttermaker (Walter Matthau), she helps turn the Little League team’s fortunes around.
ACCURACY O’Neal is like a little adult; she’s the most mature person on the team, including the coach. Given the revelations in O’Neal’s memoir, the character probably wasn’t a stretch.
MEMORABLE MOMENT She’s the only girl on the team, but Amanda wins the Bears over on her first day of practice with a few well-placed fastballs.
KLEENEX FACTOR 6 out of 10 hankies
PLAYED BY Robert Redford
MOVIE The Natural (1984)
POSITION Right field
TEAM The fictional New York Knights
STATS Hobbs should have been a star in his youth, but he was brought down by his own hubris and a wicked temptress (Barbara Hershey). Sixteen years later, as an aged rookie wielding an invincible bat of his own making (dubbed ”Wonderboy”), the slugger seeks redemption and the glory he’d swung at and missed the first time around.
ACCURACY Hobbs’ fortunes take a very different path in the Bernard Malamud novel that is the movie’s source.
MEMORABLE MOMENT With a mighty blast, Hobbs knocks out every light in the ballpark.
KLEENEX FACTOR 9 out of 10 hankies
SHOELESS JOE JACKSON
PLAYED BY Ray Liotta
MOVIE Field of Dreams (1989)
POSITION Left field
TEAM In life, the Chicago White Sox; afterward, the ghostly crew who play pick-up games in the Iowa cornfield owned by Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner, right)
STATS Jackson was one of the game’s great hitters, but he was barred from baseball after the Black Sox scandal (as depicted in Eight Men Out).
ACCURACY Jackson threw right-handed but batted southpaw. Liotta, however, bats righty in the movie.
MEMORABLE MOMENT Jackson tells his host, ”Man, I did love this game. I’d have played for food money. It was the game…. The sounds, the smells… Shoot, I’d play for nothing!”
KLEENEX FACTOR 10 out of 10 hankies
PLAYED BY Gary Cooper
MOVIE Pride of the Yankees (1942)
POSITION First base
TEAM The New York Yankees, in what may have been the team’s greatest dynastic period — they won six World Series in the 17 seasons Gehrig played.
STATS Known for his work ethic, the ”Iron Horse” played 2,130 consecutive games, a record that lasted six decades until broken by Cal Ripken Jr. He was also a top infielder and strong slugger, hitting four home runs in one 1932 game.
ACCURACY Moderate, despite the presence of many of Gehrig’s real-life teammates in the cast (most notably Babe Ruth). Since Cooper couldn’t bat left-handed, he shot his scenes in mirror-image, wearing a reverse-lettered uniform and running to third base instead of first, and the footage was then flipped in the editing room.
MEMORABLE MOMENT After being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the future Hall of Famer retires, famously telling the Yankee Stadium crowd: ”Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
KLEENEX FACTOR 10 out of 10. Anyone who doesn’t weep at Gehrig’s farewell speech is a stone.
DOTTIE HINSON and JIMMY DUGAN
PLAYED BY Geena Davis and Tom Hanks
MOVIE A League of Their Own (1992)
POSITIONS Catcher (Hinson) and manager (Dugan)
TEAM The Rockford Peaches, a real team in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which lasted from 1943-1954
STATS Hinson is the best player in the women’s baseball league that starts up while the men are overseas during World War II. Jimmy, a potential Hall of Fame hitter whose career was cut short by a drinking problem, proves an adept manager, leading his team to the women’s World Series — with a lot of managerial help from Hinson.
ACCURACY Director Penny Marshall supposedly made sure she cast actresses who could really field and hit. The old women playing baseball at the Hall of Fame sequence at the end of the film are real-life alums of the AAGPBL.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS Dottie does a split while catching a pop fly. And an apoplectic Jimmy tells a bawling player, ”There’s no crying in baseball!”
KLEENEX FACTOR 3 out of 10 hankies, until the coda with the survivors gathered at the Hall of Fame — then it’s an 8
CRASH DAVIS and EBBY ''NUKE'' LALOOSH
PLAYED BY Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins
MOVIE Bull Durham (1988)
POSITIONS Catcher (Davis) and pitcher (LaLoosh)
TEAM The Durham Bulls, minor-league misfits whose fortunes improve along with Nuke’s pitching
STATS Davis, a seasoned catcher who’s quietly chasing a minor-league home-run record, is brought in to teach discipline to rookie LaLoosh, a prospective major leaguer with ”a million-dollar arm and a five-cent head.” The two find themselves in a romantic triangle with groupie supreme Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon).
ACCURACY Writer-director Ron Shelton was a minor-league player himself, so dialogue like ”You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes” has a ring of truth.
MEMORABLE MOMENT Crash teaches Nuke how to spout bland clichés when sportswriters interview him.
KLEENEX FACTOR 1 out of 10 hankies (Unlike most baseball movies, Durham isn’t the least bit sentimental.)
PLAYED BY Tony Danza
MOVIE Angels in the Outfield (1994)
TEAM The California Angels
STATS As the Angels struggle, Clark?s health and play are on the decline, but it’s his confidence that has taken the most brutal hit. A little bit of faith goes a long way in his return to form and the team?s newfound success.
ACCURACY Clark’s resurgence comes at the hands of young fan Roger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who sees angels (Christopher Lloyd and Co.) in the stands and on the field. Roger is desperate for his team to win so he can be reunited with his father. It’s probably not the best parenting tactic to let the fate of your child’s custody rest on whether your favorite baseball team wins the pennant, but regardless, it gives him reason to believe in his struggling Angels and perhaps something more.
MEMORABLE MOMENT The whole stadium flapping their wings in support of the team, thanks to Roger and Al “The Boss” Angel (Lloyd).
KLEENEX FACTOR 6 out of 10 hankies. Cute kids. Angels. Baseball. Come on!
PLAYED BY Thomas Ian Nicholas
MOVIE Rookie of the Year (1993)
TEAM The Chicago Cubs, who are on the cusp of making the playoffs but are plagued by a deteriorating pitching staff, led by Henry’s aging idol Chet ”Rocket” Steadman (Gary Busey).
STATS A broken arm leaves 12-year-old Rowengartner with superstrength and speed; he gains recognition when he throws a foul ball from the outfield bleachers all the way to home plate at Wrigley Field.
ACCURACY Henry is living every young baseball fan’s dream when he finds himself playing for his beloved Cubbies and his reaction to his teammates’ locker room talk and behavior on the road is exactly the fish-out-of-water kind of thing you’d expect from a 12-year-old in a room full of men.
MEMORABLE MOMENT Losing his superstrength, Rowengartner still manages to record his final strikeout with an underhanded floater to seal the win for the Cubs heading into the postseason.
KLEENEX FACTOR 1 out of 10 hankies
PLAYED BY Dennis Quaid
MOVIE The Rookie (2002)
TEAM Orlando Rays (AA), Durham Bulls (AAA), Tampa Bay Devil Rays
STATS A high school science teacher, 35-year-old Morris can throw a baseball at 98 mph, making him extremely attractive to Major League scouts.
ACCURACY Quaid’s character was based on the true story of Jim Morris, who successfully went on to play two seasons of major-league baseball while in his late 30s.
MEMORABLE MOMENT Jimmy, alone, on the side of the road, throws past a highway speedometer, whose lights slowly flicker to reveal 96 mph.
KLEENEX FACTOR 8 out of 10 hankies
PLAYED BY Tab Hunter
MOVIE Damn Yankees (1958)
TEAM The Washington Senators
STATS After long-suffering Senators fan Joe Boyd makes a deal with the devil (Ray Walston), he is transformed into Joe Hardy, the slugger who can salvage the team?s season and help beat those ”damn Yankees.”
ACCURACY Winning seven championships from 1949 to 1958, the Yankees were the envy (or enemy) of all of baseball. The Senators’ struggles aren’t far from the truth either. As any D.C.-area baseball fan will tell you (especially after the Nats’ recent string of failed postseason efforts), Washington baseball is not for the faint of heart.
MEMORABLE MOMENT Lola (Gwen Verdon), the devil’s temptress, sings ”Whatever Lola Wants” in the players’ locker room to try to secure Hardy’s damnation.
KLEENEX FACTOR 1 out of 10 hankies (unless you’re from D.C.).
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN ''BENNY THE JET'' RODRIGUEZ
PLAYED BY Mike Vitar
MOVIE The Sandlot (1993)
TEAM The Sandlot gang
STATS Benny is the only neighborhood player who can bust the stuffing out of a ball, and fittingly, he goes on to make it in the majors, while carrying the hopes of his friends on his shoulders.
ACCURACY There?s no other group of foulmouthed kids you?d rather be a part of. Just make sure you know your baseball references and how to make a s?more.
MEMORABLE MOMENT The boys have their first run-in with chewing tobacco — ?baccy man! — followed by a ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl. Collective embarrassment and vomiting ensue.
KLEENEX FACTOR 1 out of 10 hankies (unless those tears come from laughter)