Baseball is America's pastime. Before there were cars or movies or a President named Roosevelt, ballplayers were swiping bags and hitting bombs.
Throughout its 100 plus years, few things have changed about the sport, even down to fights over wounded pride. It didn't take long for Hollywood to glom on to the drama, and the baseball genre was brought to new heights with the 1942 classic "Pride of the Yankees." This Friday, Disney brings us the latest baseball-themed movie, "Million Dollar Arm," starring Jon Hamm as a sports agent determined to turn Indian cricket players into baseball stars.
In honor of the greatest fictional baseball figures, from movies like "Bull Durham" and "Major League," we've assembled our own Dream Team.
Gallery | Baseball Movie Dream Team
- Catcher - 'Crash' Davis ('Bull Durham')
This is a no-brainer. People could try to make the case for over-the-hill Jake Taylor from "Major League," but Crash is one of the greatest
sportscharacters in arguably the best baseball movie of all-time. While Taylor cried about his bum knees and lost love, the (also) aging Crash hit bombs, sculpted a dumb-as-rocks prospect into a legitimate star, and got a sultry Susan Sarandon to crawl to him just by "playing it cool." Ron Shelton, writer and director of "Bull Durham," is a master storyteller and Kevin Costner's "Crash" Davis is his chef d'oeuvre.
- First Baseman - Jack Elliot ('Mr. Baseball')
Elliot aka Tom Selleck was a selfish, past-his-prime baseball star sent to Japan to play ball, but overseas he saw the value of camaraderie and became a team-player. Admittedly, the movie is a little sappy in that respect, though, Elliot's raw power, paired with his eventually unselfish play, speaks for itself when picking your Dream Team. Also, that mustache belongs in the hall of fame.
- Second Baseman - Marla Hooch ('A League of Their Own')
Let's face it, she can flat out swing it. Marla Hooch is nearly passed up by the recruiting scout because she doesn't have the feminine requirements for the all-women league, but superstar Dottie (Geena Davis) stands up for her and gets her on the club. An absolute slugger, Marla was practically the Babe Ruth in the league and rightfully earns a spot on our Dream Team.
- Shortstop - Benny 'The Jet' Rodriguez ('The Sandlot')
It's no secret Benny "The Jet" could straight-up fly having outran the legendary Beast and, eventually, even stealing home with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he also was a man (or boy) of character. He was the undisputed best player among his sandlot teammates for his all-around game, yet he never big-leagued his friends, no matter how less talented they were. He did it for the block and, for that, he's the unanimous decision at shortstop.
- Third Baseman - Ray Mitchell ('Angels in the Outfield')
Real slim pickings for this one. It came down to no one, Ray Mitchell (who?), and Roger Dorn. While Roger Dorn is the most notable name, it's no secret he was as selfish as they come and a notoriously bad fielder. He got paid, cashed out, and really pissed off his teammates -- though, admittedly, he was a helluva entertaining character. Mitchell, on the other hand, could really hit and was the only bright spot in the Angels lineup prior to the heavenly angels stepping in. Dorn may be notorious, but I'm giving this to the not-so-famous Mitchell.
- Centerfield - Willie Mays Hayes ('Major League')
He's as flashy as he is fast, and as confident as he is persistent, and that's why Willie Mays Hayes is the best fictitious center fielder out there. In "Major League," Hayes has no invitation to spring training, but what does he do? He acts like he's been there before, dressed to the nines. When the organization catches on to Hayes's con, he displays his elite speed and, effectively, steals a spot on the squad. In short, Hayes is the man, and you'd be hard pressed to find a flaw in his game.
- Left Field - Kelly Leak ('Bad News Bears')
This little badass liked his cigarettes and motorcycles, but no matter what you think of his rebellious behavior, the kid could downright play. The best position player on his team, Kelly had great outfield range and offensive talent, and was a team player deep down. He inspired his teammates to reach the championship against the Yankees and now he's reached the Dream Team.
- Right Field - Roy Hobbs ('The Natural')
First, he was a star pitcher, then, he became a slugging sensation; needless to say, Roy Hobbs was a natural. Played by Robert Redford, Hobbs overcame a near-fatal shooting and, subsequently, a dramatic position change to shockingly become one of the best hitters in the game and lead the Knights to the pennant. The movie may have been a little dry and "Hollywood" compared to the book, but Hobbs is still a stud no matter how you cut it.
- Starting Pitcher - Billy Chapel ('For Love of the Game')
Chapel was a hard-working, naturally talented, and classy ballplayer, who also was "Crash" Davis's twin brother. While we only see him playing once, (spoiler alert!) he throws a perfect game in his final start of a sure-to-be Hall of Fame career. And, after perhaps the greatest sports achievement of his life, Chapel then babysits a drunk John C. Reilly. Put that all together, and he's our first ballot Dream Team pitcher.
- Closer - Rick 'Wild Thing' Vaughn ('Major League')
He may have been a loose cannon fresh from prison, but Vaughn had one of the livest arms ever seen on the silver screen. Played by Charlie Sheen, the pitcher dominated after getting glasses and performed big when it truly mattered. He may have his demons, but anyone who wants the ball in the clutch is most definitely a top choice.
- Manager - Lou Brown ('Major League')
One of the most lovable characters (just look at that smile!), Lou Brown is the ultimate players coach. Provided with a bunch of players meant to finish dead last -- some even fresh out of jail -- Brown was able to rally his troops around a shared hatred for the cunning new owner. Getting the best out of his guys, the Indians eventually stuck it to ownership when they went on to win the division.
- Bench Coach - Morris Buttermaker ('Bad News Bears')
He may not have any professional coaching experience, but Buttermaker is an absolute legend. Sure, you may see a drunken hooligan who acts like a little league diamond is his personal bar, but I like to see a maker of fine young boys and girls. Despite coming off harsh at times, his unorthodox tell-it-like-it-is approach prepares kids for the adversity of the game and the unfairness of life in this landmark 1970s film. Walter Matthau absolutely nails the role (one of his finest performances) and, ultimately, drives home the point that Buttermaker has plenty of good character beneath his rugged exterior.
- Honorable Mention, Catcher - Hamilton Porter ('The Sandlot')
Anyone who talks smack like this when they're in middle school deserves to be on the All-Century Team. But really, the kid made every pitcher look like Sandy Koufax just by getting in the hitters' heads. Plus, when he's not chirping away, the entertaining and lovable catcher is dropping bombs.
- Honorable Mention, Pitcher - Amanda Whurlitzer ('Bad News Bears')
This baseball starlet came from the same school as Coach Buttermaker; she was tough as nails and knew a thing or two about life being unfair. On top of that, she was the best pitcher in a boys' league and completely turned around the disastrous Bears.
- Honorable Mention, Outfield - Pedro Cerrano ('Major League')
Cerrano brought baseball superstitions to new extremes. Unable to hit a curveball, he enlisted the help of his voodoo god, Jobu, to the bewilderment of his teammates. Once Cerrano started crushing the ball, it wasn't long before they each hopped on the bandwagon and left all the rum for Jobu. A righteous man who helps his teammates? Sign him up.
Think we slighted a couple baseball characters? Let us know in the comments below!
Article photo courtesy of Everett