The crack of the bat. The roar of the crowd. The smell of ballpark franks, and we’re not just talking of the Thomas variety. At Rotten Tomatoes, we’ve cleared the benches and rushed the field with the best-reviewed baseball movies of all time!
From sentimental favorites to inside documentaries to wild comedies we’ve got a From sentimental favorites (Field of Dreams, The Rookie) to inside documentaries (Facing Nolan) to wild comedies and dramas (Bull Durham, Moneyball), we’ve got a murderer’s row of heavy hitters. Every movie here is Certified Fresh, which means critics gave their approval. Because as different as these are, they all have the one thing in common every baseball movie needs: love of the game.
Batter up! It’s time to go to bat with the best baseball movies ever!
#1 Facing Nolan (2022)
Critics Consensus: Essential viewing for baseball fans and just as captivating for the uninitiated, Facing Nolan pays persuasive tribute to one of the sport's greatest characters.
Synopsis: Nolan Ryan's numbers tell a story, but numbers alone do not capture his essence. Certain flash-points have emblazoned him onto our sub-conscience: like pitching with his jersey covered in blood, running a cattle ranch during the off season, and the iconic brawl where Nolan walloped the 20 years younger Robin Ventura. Despite mythical moments and statistical brilliance, Ryan's career is a study in extremes. Not only does he hold the record for most walks and most wild pitches, but he's also given up the most grand-slams and the most stolen bases. Many of today's baseball analysts don't consider him to be among the greats. With all this in mind, the film will pose the question: Where does Ryan fit in the ever evolving game of baseball?
Starring: Nolan Ryan, George W. Bush, Iván Rodríguez, Randy Johnson
Directed By: Bradley Jackson
#2 Bull Durham (1988)
Critics Consensus: Kevin Costner is at his funniest and most charismatic in Bull Durham, a film that's as wise about relationships as it is about minor league baseball.
Synopsis: In Durham, N.C., the Bulls minor league baseball team has one asset no other can claim: a poetry-loving groupie named Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon). As the team's season begins, Annie selects brash new recruit Ebby Calvin Laloosh (Tim Robbins), whom she christens "Nuke," to inspire with the religion of baseball. Nuke also receives guidance from veteran player Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), who settles Nuke's erratic pitching and teaches him to follow the catcher's lead.
Starring: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Trey Wilson
Directed By: Ron Shelton
#3 The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1999)
Critics Consensus: The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg is an affectionate, often very funny portrait of a baseball pioneer.
Synopsis: The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg is a humorous and nostalgic documentary about an extraordinary baseball player who transcended religious prejudice to become an American icon. Detroit Tiger Hammerin Hank's accomplishments during the Golden Age of Baseball rivaled those of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
Starring: Hank Greenberg, Alan Dershowitz, Bob Feller, Charlie Gehringer
Directed By: Aviva Kempner
#4 Moneyball (2011)
Critics Consensus: Director Bennett Miller, along with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, take a niche subject and turn it into a sharp, funny, and touching portrait worthy of baseball lore.
Synopsis: Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), general manager of the Oakland A's, one day has an epiphany: Baseball's conventional wisdom is all wrong. Faced with a tight budget, Beane must reinvent his team by outsmarting the richer ball clubs. Joining forces with Ivy League graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), Beane prepares to challenge old-school traditions. He recruits bargain-bin players whom the scouts have labeled as flawed but have game-winning potential. Based on the book by Michael Lewis.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright
Directed By: Bennett Miller
#5 Sugar (2008)
Critics Consensus: Sugar is an exceptionally-crafted film -- part sports flick, part immigrant tale -- with touching and poignant drama highlighted by splendid performances.
Synopsis: Like many young men in the Dominican Republic, 19-year-old Miguel "Sugar" Santos (Algenis Perez Soto) dreams of winning a slot on an American baseball team. Indeed, his talents as a pitcher eventually land him a slot on a single-A team in Iowa, but culture shock, racism and other curveballs threaten to turn Sugar's dream sour.
Starring: Algenis Perez Soto, Rayniel Rufino, André Holland, Michael Gaston
Directed By: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
#6 Up for Grabs (2004)
Critics Consensus: You don't have to be a baseball fan to be entertained by the absurdities, obsessions, and greed on display in this documentary.
Synopsis: During the final leg of Major League Baseball's 2001 season, Giants batter Barry Bonds scores a historic 73rd home run at San Francisco's Pac Bell Park. Victorious in the ensuing scuffle for control of the record-breaking ball is spectator Patrick Hayashi -- a notion disputed by nearby Alex Popov, who claims Hayashi wrestled the ball from him. Director Michael Wranovics examines the resulting court battle, the media circus following the event and the obsessed fans behind the controversy.
Starring: Marty Appel, Barry Bonds
Directed By: Michael Wranovics
#7 Field of Dreams (1989)
Critics Consensus: Field of Dreams is sentimental, but in the best way; it's a mix of a fairy tale, baseball, and family togetherness.
Synopsis: When Iowa farmer Ray (Kevin Costner) hears a mysterious voice one night in his cornfield saying "If you build it, he will come," he feels the need to act. Despite taunts of lunacy, Ray builds a baseball diamond on his land, supported by his wife, Annie (Amy Madigan). Afterward, the ghosts of great players start emerging from the crops to play ball, led by "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. But, as Ray learns, this field of dreams is about much more than bringing former baseball greats out to play.
Starring: Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Gaby Hoffmann
Directed By: Phil Alden Robinson
#8 Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
Critics Consensus: Nostalgic in the best sense, Everybody Wants Some!! finds Richard Linklater ambling through the past with a talented cast, a sweetly meandering story, and a killer classic rock soundtrack.
Synopsis: In 1980 Texas, a college freshman (Blake Jenner) meets his new baseball teammates (Will Brittain, Ryan Guzman), an unruly group of disco-dancing, skirt-chasing partyers.
Starring: Will Brittain, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin
Directed By: Richard Linklater
#9 Eight Men Out (1988)
Critics Consensus: Perhaps less than absorbing for non-baseball fans, but nevertheless underpinned by strong performances from the cast and John Sayles' solid direction.
Synopsis: The Chicago White Sox, who are set to play the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series of 1919, are at odds with their team's owner, Charles Comiskey (Clifton James), who pays his players unsatisfactory wages despite the team's popularity. A group of professional gamblers offers the Sox's best athletes a fortune to throw the series, and the players agree. However, their reputations and careers are ruined when the dark secret, dubbed the "Black Sox Scandal," reaches the public consciousness.
Starring: John Cusack, Clifton James, Michael Lerner, Christopher Lloyd
Directed By: John Sayles
#10 The Rookie (2002)
Critics Consensus: A heart-warming sports flick, The Rookie greatly benefits from understated direction and the emotional honesty Dennis Quaid brings to the role of Jim Morris.
Synopsis: A true story about a coach who discovers that it's never too late for dreams to come true. Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid) never made it out of the minor leagues before a shoulder injury ended his pitching career twelve years ago. Now a married-with-children high-school chemistry teacher and baseball coach in Texas, Jim's team makes a deal with him: if they win the district championship, Jim will try out with a major-league organization.
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Jay Hernandez, Beth Grant
Directed By: John Lee Hancock