Forget steroids, baseball movies good, clean fun

BILL MARTIN

Despite the fact that Major League Baseball is always mired in a did he or didn’t he, steroid induced quagmire, they did manage to get the season rolling.

So to remind everybody about the good old days of peanuts and Cracker Jack, here are four baseball movies I’d like to recommend for your hardball viewing pleasure.

I will not be recommending Major League, although I will admit that it is almost worth sitting through just to hear all of Bob Uecker’s one-liners.

The easiest one first. I’m still not sure if Field Of Dreams (1989) is a baseball movie, but there’s enough in it to qualify.

In this movie, baseball is just a backdrop for a man finding peace with his past.

I dare any man alive not to cry at the end when Kevin Costner’s character Ray Kinsella plays catch with his father.

So you say you’ve never teared up­— you’re lying.

Bull Durham (1988), on the other hand, is about baseball. Director Ron Shelton­— a former minor league player himself—nails the minor league experience through the exploits of veteran catcher Crash Davis (Costner) and air-headed rookie pitcher Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), who possesses “a million-dollar arm and a five-cent head”.

Annie Savoy, played seductively and at the same time with girlish vulnerability by Susan Sarandon, affects both players as she tries to choose between them.

The soundtrack, which uses soul and blues songs from the 40s and 50s adds to the movie’s charm and the dialogue between Costner and Sarandon is clever and snappy.

If you’ve ever played or coached Little League baseball, The Bad New Bears (1976) is probably already one of your favorites.

As a matter of fact, this movie should be required viewing for anyone who gets involved with Little League.

In the end, it teaches us all a valuable lesson about “winning at all costs.”

Saving the best for last, the little-known Long Gone (1985) stars William Peterson (CSI) as Cecil “Stud” Cantrell, Virginia Madsen (Sideways) as Dixie Lee Boxx and Delmont Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding) as Jamie Don Weeks.

I have to admit, I was probably influenced by the great character names. It’ll be difficult to find this movie and it is certainly not out on DVD. It was produced by HBO and appears there every once in a while.

Set in the 50s, this movie practically drips with nostalgia. From the 100 percent wool uniforms to the flea bag motel that Cantrell lives in, the Pink Flamingo. It is also loaded with great characters.

A precursor to Bull Durham, it’s a tale of the struggling minor league Tampico Stogies with former high school phenom Stud Cantrell as their down and out player/ manager.

When Stud picks up Miss Strawberry Blossom (Madsen) as she is badly singing the National Anthem before one of their games, his life changes forever when she shows up on his motel room doorstep a week later, claiming, “you thought you had a one night stand on your hands, didn’t you”.

Cracker-jack second baseman Jamie Don Weeks and power-hitting catcher Joe Louis Brown also show up and make the Stogies into instant contenders.

While Stud reluctantly falls for blonde bombshell Dixie Lee Boxx, Jamie Don gets involved with the preacher’s daughter, Esther.

The wedding sequence at the end of the movie is a baseball player’s dream ceremony.

The excellent soundtrack is made up of Hank Williams songs, hence the title, Long Gone.

This little movie is one of cinema’s hidden treasures.


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2013-04-18 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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