Totally Subjective Top 10 List of Baseball Movies: Number 5

Editor’s Note: In the spirit of counting down to the start of the Major League Baseball season over the next two weeks we here at Triple B will present our completely subjective ranking of the Top 10 Baseball Movies. Today we look at number 5 on the list.

Today we have a doubleheader of sorts on our totally subjective baseball movie list with two movies about the baseball scouts who travel the country evaluating talent.

Coming in at number 5 on the Triple B Top 10 Baseball Movies list are Talent for the Game and Trouble with the Curve which each shine a light on what it takes to be a Major League Baseball scout.

The number 5 movie on the Triple B totally subjective top 10 countdown of baseball movies is Talent for the Game and Trouble With the Curve. Photo R. Anderson

The number 5 movie on the Triple B totally subjective top 10 countdown of baseball movies is Talent for the Game and Trouble With the Curve.
Photo R. Anderson

Although the movies came out around 20 years apart they each do a superb job of showing the life of a professional baseball scout.

Throughout the history of baseball individuals have scoured the back roads of America looking for that hidden gem of a player that can be the missing piece of the puzzle for a team looking to have long term success.

Countless hours are spent by these scouts out on those back roads watching baseball games at Ballparks across the country trying to find players for their organization to draft.

In recent years teams have focused on international players with baseball academies in the Dominican Republic and other nations but the fact remains the bulk of Major League Baseball players are still from America and someone needs to discover them.

Of course with the addition of the internet and other factors the need for scouts to physically travel the back roads has diminished in some way over the last couple of decades as You Tube and other sources provide a way to track players nearly from the first time that they pick up a ball or a bat. Several teams have even made drastic cuts in the size of their scouting departments while ramping up efforts on the analytical side of the game.

Personally I prefer to think of baseball with the scouts as part of the game and not some area to be replaced by computers and spreadsheets.

A few years back I attended a Baltimore Orioles Spring Training game at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota and was seated in the “scout section.” Throughout the entire game I was entertained by stories from these rough around the edges baseball lifers and was given a firsthand look into a piece of the life of a scout.

Many of the stories were not politically correct but they showed insight into a brotherhood where there was a kinship among the nomadic brothers in arms despite the competitive nature that goes along with the job.

For those without access to scouts of their own, Talent for the Game and Trouble with the Curve transport the viewer into a scout’s life as they balance their love for the game with the elements of time that are encroaching to make their fate seem like that of the dinosaurs.

Edward James Olmos and Clint Eastwood each give strong performances as the scouts. Both movies also feature strong supporting casts and story lines that have one pulling for the scouts to defeat the odds and find a way to continue doing what they are doing.

Next year I plan to once again find a Spring Training seat with the scouts to hear more tales of a nomadic live on the road. Until then, Talent for the Game and Trouble with the Curve will be my guide to the life of a baseball scout in search of the next big thing.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

Totally Subjective Top 10 List of Baseball Movies: Number 6

Editor’s Note: In the spirit of counting down to the start of the Major League Baseball season over the next two weeks we here at Triple B will present our completely subjective ranking of the Top 10 Baseball Movies.  Today we look at number 6 on the list.

Last time we looked at Moneyball which showed the future of the game of baseball. Today it is only natural to balance things out a little bit by looking at the past.

Roy Hobbs and his “Wonderboy” come in at number 6 on the Triple B Top 10 Baseball Movies list with The Natural which is a tale of making the most of second chances and knocking out a few stadium lights with a handmade bat in the process.

The movie came out in 1984 and is an adaptation of Bernard Malamud’s 1952 baseball novel of the same name.

The number 6 movie on the Triple B totally subjective top 10 countdown of baseball movies is The Natural starring Robert Redford. Photo R. Anderson

The number 6 movie on the Triple B totally subjective top 10 countdown of baseball movies is The Natural starring Robert Redford.
Photo R. Anderson

Starring Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Wilfred Brimley, Kim Bassinger and Robert Duvall the movie recounts the experiences of Roy Hobbs, a player in the 1930’s with great “natural” talent, and questionable decision making when it comes to members of the opposite sex.

After being shot when he was 19 by a crazed female fan, Hobbs makes a comeback attempt in his mid thirties with the New York Knights managed by Pop Fisher (played by Brimley).

There are of course many baseball clichés included in the movie from the grizzled “seen it all manager” to the “intrepid baseball reporter” looking for a scoop, but all in all the clichés do not distract from the overall tone of the story.

And the movie’s climax is certainly one for the ages with the cascade of sparks falling down from the busted stadium lights after Hobbs hits the home run as the iconic music plays in the background.

It is an iconic scene in and iconic film and certainly one to remember.

The music from that scene can be heard at Ranger Ballpark in Arlington whenever a member of the home team sends one out of the park. I am sure there are other teams that do the same thing but the only one I have seen do it in person is the Rangers.

Admittedly I am sure many of us have hummed along to that song after achieving some feat of skill or other accomplishment while picturing a shower of sparks falling around us.

Some days just getting out of bed can be cause for humming the theme to The Natural as we make our way around the base path of life.

In addition to creating lasting memories of home runs that knock out the stadium lights the film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress (Glenn Close), and nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress (Kim Basinger).

So with all of that in its corner it would be only natural for The Natural to make the countdown.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson