Yeah, that about sums up last night’s all-time classic World Series Game 7 between the Cubs (congrats Chicago fans) and the Indians (we are so sorry, Cleveland). The game was completely nuts on its own merits, with the ultimate prize (and accompanying pressure) on the line, full of indelible and infamous moments, but also one imbued with incredible baggage because of the histories of the two teams involved. When you put it all together it’s tough to dream up a game quite as unbelievable.
But that doesn’t mean Hollywood hasn’t tried, hundreds of times over the years. So in honor of last night, we’re listing the fictional movie baseball games we most would have wanted to see in person.
Even if some of these films reference real players, we aren’t considering movies featuring the entirety of actual games, so Jackie Robinson’s historic first MLB game shown in 42 isn’t here, nor is the Red Sox win in Game 4 of the 2004 World Series seen in Fever Pitch (I will never forgive the Farrelly Brothers for letting Jimmy Fallon on the field for that by the way). We are assuming we were just people in that universe that could have attended. So these are purely fictional games that didn’t actually happen, but man oh man would it have been great to really see them.
9): Damn Yankees: Final Game, Pennant on the Line
This musical-turned-movie is about Joe Boyd, who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for helping his team beat the Yankees. The final game involves the legendary Mickey Mantle’s drive in the 9th inning being caught by the “no longer a super athlete” Joe making a diving catch.
Those ’50s Yankees were a juggernaut, and the real Yankees won the 1958 World Series (the year the film was released), so an alternate reality where they lost in heartbreaking fashion is one we wish we could have seen.
#8) For Love of the Game: Billy Chapel’s Perfect Game
There have only been 23 real perfect games in MLB history, so getting to see one is special enough, but getting to see a Hall-of-Fame pitcher in Billy Chapel, during his last game, at Yankee Stadium, would have been especially amazing (especially if you listened on headphones to legendary announcer Vin Scully calling the game). It’s also incredible because in the 9th inning his teammates suddenly started fielding like they were all Peter Parker. Bonus points because being there instead of watching the movie means none of us would have been distracted by the stupid flashbacks with Kelly Preston.
#7) A League of Their Own: Championship Game
The first championship game for an all-female baseball league had one of the greatest subplots of all-time: two sisters, the younger of whom had been traded away from her older sister’s team mid-season, battling in the final game. The game is then decided in the last at bat, where the Rockford Peaches had been winning, with two outs in the 9th, when the two sisters have a collision at home plate where the younger sister knocks the ball lose and wins the game.
This was the league’s first year, so interest might not have been as high yet, and since it was 1943, WWII was probably distracting many Americans, but still, what a game. Great clutch hitting, great pitching, tons of 9th inning excitement, and an ending befitting a Greek tragedy.
#6) Major League 2: Game 7 ALCS
A year after their improbable run to the playoffs, which ended in the ALCS at the hands of the White Sox, the Indians returned for a rematch, where they took a three games to none lead. With a trip to the World Series on the line, star pitcher Rick Vaughn gave up a walk-off home run to former teammate and jerk, Jack Parkman. The Indians then implode, losing the next two, forcing a super tense Game 7.
In Game 7, the Indians take the lead 3-2 when their catcher (and Parkman replacement) hits a surprise home run, only for Parkman to put the White Sox back up 5-3 with a home run in the 7th, but in the 8th struggling slugger Pedro Cerrano hit a three run homer himself to put the Tribe up 6-5 (seriously, this game is amazing). It ends when Rick Vaughn rediscovers his “Wild Thing” pitching mojo and comes on in relief to strikes Parkman out.
That doesn’t even include manager Lou Brown being away from the team after suffering a heart attack, or the team overcoming an on field fistfight earlier in the season, or any number of other awful developments that would have caused great public shame.
Major League 2 may have been a dissapointment after the original, but the final game was still great.
5) Little Big League: One Game Playoff
Imagine for a second that tomorrow the Minnesota Twins owner dies, leaves the team to his grandson, and that child then names himself the team’s manager. Think people would talk about that? Yeah, probably. But imagine the insanity if that kid then led the Twins to a one game playoff. That alone would be amazing and unthinkable. Now picture that game going to extra innings, where Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson was on the mound in the bottom of the 12th with a one-run lead, and ultimately fellow Hall-of-Famer Ken Griffey Jr. robs what would have been a game winning home run to end it.
Would that be the greatest play in baseball history? And would the fact the Twins managers was 12-years-old have overshadowed all of it?
What a game, what a story, what an ending.
4) Angels in the Outfield: Final Game
Here’s why this would have been nuts, beyond the great, tense game itself: before the game was played, news leaked that the Angels manager was coaching based on a child’s advice. Why listen to the kid? Because he said he could see real angels from heaven that were helping the baseball Angels win games. That news erupts right before the game, but instead of being fired, he gets to stay on. Can you imagine ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary about this?
Oh, and Tony Danza’s performance as the soon-to-be dead veteran player? His moment in the 9th inning would go down in the annals of sports history forever. No you’re crying!
3) Rookie of the Year: Final Game
It’s one thing to have a kid manager, but imagine the enormity of having a kid player, like fireball throwing pitcher and worldwide sensation Henry Rosencracker…Rutabaga? This would be number one if Henry had started this game, but it gets lowered a little because instead the nod went to veteran Cubs pitcher Chet Steadman. The game is tense, including an amazing moment when Steadman fields the ball but can’t throw it, leading to a wild dash to home plate between him and the runner at 3rd, but it’s the ending that makes this one so crazy.
Henry Rasenbagger comes in to close out the game and finally win it for the (at any point for the last 108 years before yesterday) cursed Cubs. This would burn the internet to the ground if it happened now, and that’s before Henry slipped and lost the ability to throw the ball fast, a fact he reveals to his teammates, who DON’T TELL THE MANAGER. They then proceed to play tricks on the opponents in an attempt to get the final three outs. Except for the last batter, who Henry throws a lob pitch to, one that gets him the strikeout and the win.
If this game really happened like this we’d have to cancel work for a week to come to grips with oursleves as a nation for encouraging a child to pitch in the major leagues.
2) The Natural: One Game Playoff
As my favorite movie, this would be my dream game to attend, but it is the runner up here. Three elements here put this one so high. First, it’s a one game playoff game to go to the World Series that is tightly pitched and comes down to the final at bat. That leads to the second part, the walk-off home run from Roy Hobbs that destroys the lights, bathing the field with a shower of sparks (the most famous baseball movie ending and also the most parodied). And finally there’s the backstory of Roy Hobbs himself.
This old man appeared from nothingness to become the greatest baseball player in the world. He was a myth come to life, Paul Bunyan with a baseball bat, and it was unknown if he would play at all after being in the hospital the previous three games (which his team blew to force this game). That would be enough, but then he struggled in the game, before coming up in the 9th with a chance to win it, when his mystical, magical baseball bat broke. It’s like if Kirk Gibson’s home run was combined with Ted Williams’ ability, Rocky Balboa’s first fight against Apollo Creed, and a literal, walking-among-human Zeus and his lightning bolt.
If you had attended this game you would have thought about it everyday for the rest of your life, and you would have read all 500 books written about both it and Roy Hobbs, who never played again.
1) Major League: One Game Playoff
The underdog of underdogs, the Indians went on a late season tear to tie the Yankees at the top of the division, forcing a one game playoff (Hollywood loves those one game playoffs). Just a tremendous, well played game, with huge home runs and an ending that makes last night look tame.
Late in the game, the fictional inspiration for the real life David Ortiz, Pedro Cerrano, hits a game tying home run. Then, in the top of the 9th, with the reining Triple Crown winner at bat, Wild Thing Rick Vaughn, rookie sensation and crazy man, enters, even though he had given up a grand slam to him earlier in the season. Vaughn strikes him out in a dramatic showdown, and the game heads to the bottom of the 9th.
Babe Ruth (maybe/maybe not) calling his shot in the 1932 World Series is one of the most famous home runs in history, and in the bottom of the 9th, with the winning run at second, old, broken down veteran and team leader Jake Taylor steps to the plate and points to centerfield. Instead of trying to hit a home run though he lays down a surprise bunt, which he barely beats out at first, as Willie Mays Hays comes all the way around from 2nd base with the winning run.
It’s amazing, unexpected, and there’s no other ending quite like it in baseball history.
We wish we could have been there.
The Bad News Bears: League Championship Game
Wholly entertaining team, great game, exciting moments (the horrible coach’s son refusing to throw the ball while the Bears scored is a personal favorite), and an amazing (though disappointing) finish to the real game, followed by a better post-game ending. Problem? No one gives a crap about little league game except the parents of kids involved. Without watching the movie you wouldn’t care about this game on any level. Unless you gambled on it.
Mr. Baseball: Final Game
I’m the only person I know that loves this movie with Tom Selleck as an older American baseball player finishing his career in Japan, and the final game is tense with a great subplot about him breaking his manager’s sacred home run streak record, and it also has a really dramatic (though stolen) finish.
The Sandlot: The “You Play Ball Like a Girl” Challenge Game
Same problem as The Bad News Bears game, only with less stakes and less drama, though we’d get to be close enough to the action to hear all-time trash talker “Ham” Porter at his best, which would be worth it alone.
Field of Dreams: No Specific Game
What “game” shown in this movie would you even have known about? No strangers have the urge to go to the farm until the final overhead shot, at which time the ghosts had left. So even though, in a vacuum, seeing a game between THE GHOSTS of Hall-of-Famers and disgraced stars should be number one, it doesn’t really take place in the film during a time we would have even known to go watch. Presumably whatever happens after the movie ends would be number one on this list though, cause, again, ghost baseball.
What do you think of our list? What did we get right? What did we get wrong? What did we forget? Touch base with us in the comments below.
Featured Image: Paramount Pictures
The Natural Image: TriStar Pictures