In Moneyball, Brad Pitt stars as Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, who defies conventional wisdom by fielding a successful team with less finanical resources than his pro peers. In salute to his efforts and great baseball movies and characters as a whole, we've drafted a team of all-stars that we feel give fans of the genre the maximum bang for the buck.
Catcher - Crash Davis, Bull Durham
At catcher, we present Kevin Costner as Crash Davis, a grizzled vet who's seen and done it all. Besides mentoring Tim Robbins' 'Nuke' Laloosh in a film voted the #1 Greatest Sports Movie by Sports Illustrated, Crash also woos Susan Sarandon's Annie Savoy with a speech about the things he "believes in," which include but are not limited to "the hanging curveball" and "soft, wet kisses that last three days."
Starting Pitcher - Jim Morris, The Rookie
At starting pitcher we go with Dennis Quaid as real-life phenom Jim Morris, who went from high school science teacher to major league slinger at age 35. Sure, he's a little weathered compared to most of the young hotshots, but we love his indomitable spirit, which was captured perfectly in Disney's 2002 film.
Relief Pitcher - Ricky Vaughn, Major League
When it comes to getting the fans pumped and rising out of their seats in the bottom of the 9th, nothing can cause a ruckus - in 1989 or 2011 - than the sight of Ricky Vaughn, the "Wild Thing" carried over into real life by the actor playing him. Charlie Sheen has threatened yet another Major League sequel, and if it comes to pass, we will be there.
Shortstop - Buck Weaver, Eight Men Out
At shortstop, we want someone who gives it their all on every play, and despite the bum rap his team receives in the 1919 Black Sox scandal tale Eight Men Out (brilliantly realized by filmmaker John Sayles), John Cusack is every inch the ideal player as Bucky Weaver. While many of his teammates try to throw games, Buck sticks to his guns and does his darndest to win.
Left Fielder - Shoeless Joe Jackson, Field of Dreams
At left field we start Buck Weaver's Eight Men Out teammate Joe Jackson, played with a touch of the magical by Ray Liotta in Field of Dreams. Despite accusations of throwing the World Series, Shoeless Joe led the team with 12 hits - a record at the time - and a .375 average. If that's throwing games...we'll take it. And that cool thing he does when he disappears into corn fields.
Right Fielder - Roy Hobbs, The Natural
From director Barry Levinson's beloved 1984 classic comes our right fielder Roy Hobbs (forever etched in movie history by golden boy Robert Redford). The movie and character are all about chance and second chances, and when it comes to America's favorite pastime, what could be better than that? Once you've seen the lights at Wrigley Field explode from Roy's hit from the Savoy Special, you're not likely to forget it.
Center Fielder - Kelly Leak, The Bad News Bears
While Jackie Earle Haley's Kelly Leak is still just a Harley-riding, authority-flaunting youngster in The Bad News Bears, it's hard to have more "cool under pressure" at center field than this teenage phenom. Never mind that the actor who played him eventually morphed into the modern day Freddy Krueger in a tepid remake. Back in the '70s, Kelly Leak was the guy to choose first.
First Baseman - Lou Gehrig, Pride of the Yankees
Released just a year after the legend's death, the 1942 baseball classic Pride of the Yankees features a fantastic starring turn from Gary Cooper as the first base standard of excellence bar none. The movie also includes a re-enactment of Gehrig's farewell speech, and one of cinema's greatest quotes, with the humble hero declaring, "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."
Second Baseman - Dennis Ryan, Take Me Out to the Ballgame
At second base, we feature 'Ol Blue Eyes himself. In Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Frank Sinatra as Dennis Ryan vies for the affections of his team The Wolves' new lovely owner K.C. Higgins (Esther Williams), as does his teammate and friend Eddie O'Brien (Gene Kelly). Who gets the girl? Watch and see. Either way, Sinatra's Ryan's got serious player skills.
Third Baseman - Dorris Murphy, A League of Their Own
Third base requires solid fundamentals, and the ability to stick it to runners with a tough, no-nonsense attitude. We're hard-pressed to think of any movie baseball player better suited to the task than Rosie O'Donnell as earthy Dorris Murphy in A League of Their Own. "There's no crying in baseball"? Indeed.
Coach - Conor O'Neill, Hardball
Before baseball movie fanatics lynch us for selecting Keanu Reeves' Conor O'Neill as coach, hear us out. First, we love an underdog. Second, watch Hardball again and especially the speech O'Neill gives about one of his players at the end. Check any cynicism at the door, and see if it doesn't choke you up a bit.
Umpire - Frank Drebin/Enrico Pallazzo, The Naked Gun
There's a lot of sturm und drang inherent in the baseball movie genre, so it's good to throw in some levity when it comes to the umpire. The final word there is Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin from The Naked Gun, who provides some hilariously inaccuarate calls and insanely awesome dance moves on the diamond. Seriously, who can say no to that smile? Play ball players, play ball!