Weekend Rentals: Baseball Edition
Written by Bwog Staff
In honor of the Yankee Stadium’s final season, this year’s MLB all-star game will take place in the Bronx on Tuesday. To remember some of baseball’s most interesting historical moments, Bwog Film Rental Analyst Brandon Hammer suggests you check out one (or two or three) of the following movies.
Those who yearn for the glory days of the Bronx Bombers will find comfort in this 1942 film. Starring Gary Cooper in the lead role, The Pride of the Yankees is a beautiful biopic about Columbia’s own Lou Gehrig, whose endurance to last 2,130 consecutive games (the equivalent of more than 13 baseball seasons) brought him the nickname the “Iron Horse.” Cooper’s performance is powerful; he captures the essence of a man who was known for his kindness and humility, a man who, though his life and career were cut short by a terrible disease, considered himself “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” The film also features and intriguing performance by Babe Ruth as himself, as well as a reenactment of Gehrig’s famous speech of July 4, 1939.
61* is an analysis of the more controversial elements of baseball’s past. Directed by Billy Crystal, 61* focuses on the drive to break what used to be one of the most hallowed records in baseball, the single-season home run record, which was set at 60 by Babe Ruth in 1927. The main characters are two Yankees, Roger Maris (Barry Pepper), a relative newcomer from North Dakota, and Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane), an all-star and heartthrob. While the players’ friendship withstands their rivalry to break the Babe’s record in 1961, both the baseball establishment and Yankee fans give Maris an incredible amount of grief to deter him from reaching 61 home runs. As the commissioner looks for technical ways to discount his runs, the fans go so far as to send hate mail and death threats to someone they perceive as an outsider. The film is very well directed by Crystal, as it’s not only a thoughtful exploration of this momentous and controversial time in baseball history, it sheds light on the modern state of the game and our current perceptions of records.
A League of Their Own (1992):
Starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell, the film tells the story of the origin of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was founded by Phillip Wrigley during World War II for the purpose of maintaining ticket revenues while the male players were overseas. Through their experience, the women face a contradictory scenario, as they are expected to play just like the men, but do so while wearing a skirt and appearing graceful. Extremely well-written and beautifully acted, especially by Hanks and Davis.