For millions of kids summer means baseball season. Little League on Saturdays, pick-up games in the evenings, hitting at the batting cage with mom and dad, summer is packed with baseball. And it’s great. But one cannot play baseball 24/7, particularly if your yard does not have professional stadium lighting. But those quiet childhood hours between playing baseball can be filled with the next best thing: baseball movies. Baseball movies, as a collection, are easily the most loved, most quoted, and most recognizable of all sports movies made for kids. As a simple guide to make sure your kids are getting exposed to all the essentials, please enjoy The Renaissance Fan’s list of the best baseball movies for kids.
#6 The Rookie (2002)
The Rookie is not necessarily made as a kid’s movie (more so a family movie, slight difference), but it plays very well as one. Dennis Quade is fantastic as Jimmy Morris, a high school coach with a considerable amount of untapped baseball talent. To motivate his team he promises he will try out for a pro club if they win the championship. They win, he tries out, and it goes… much better than expected. The interactions between Morris and his son Hunter (played by a still-cute Angus T. Jones) are adorable and scene stealing. Youngsters everywhere should indulge in the fantasy that perhaps their regular old dad could be a major leaguer.
#5 Field of Dreams (1989)
Your immediate reaction right now will be: “Hey! That’s not a kid’s movie!”. And you are correct. But it belongs on this list as the best available introduction for kids to the world of adult baseball movies. Field of Dreams is really pretty tame in the language (some), violence (almost none), and nudity (none) departments which makes it a much better fit for the family audience than say, Bull Durham (1988). But looking deeper than just the appropriateness, Field of Dreams introduces its audience to the idea that baseball is bigger than just a game. That’s a kind of appreciation that one is lucky to develop as a child. And even luckier to hang onto as an adult.
#4 Little Big League (1994)
Look, some kids are more cut out for management. That’s kind of the message of Little Big League where Billy Heywood inherits The Minnesota Twins from his grandfather and chooses to manage them himself. It’s a neat story and a well-made movie, but it never got as much attention as the next two on this list as it came out during the mid-90’s and toward the end of what has to be considered the hey-day of baseball movies. Ken Griffey Jr. is the villain (sort of). If that doesn’t make you want to dust off the VHS player and find a copy of this one then nothing will.
#3 A League of Their Own (1992)
Did you know that nearly half of all kids are girls? How about we celebrate one of the great female driven sports movies and offer it up as a suggestion for young girls (and boys too) who like baseball or softball. A League of Their Own is a classic and a great watch. Geena Davis is great, Tom Hanks is great, even Madonna is great in this movie. And along with some strong pro-female themes it comes with a built-in history lesson!
#2 Rookie of the Year (1993)
Rookie of the Year likely gained as much popularity as it did because it entertained one of the ultimate kid fantasies: superpowers (essentially) that make you the best baseball player in the world. After breaking his arm, Henry Rowengartner (Thomas Ian Nicholas, who later cashed in on the American Pie franchise) discovers he can throw a baseball at incredible speeds. It’s a ridiculous concept but a great vehicle for delivering a movie about sudden success, major league egos, and premature independence. Oh, and it has Gary Busey, so that’s kind of interesting in hind sight.
#1 The Sandlot (1993)
C’mon, you knew The Sandlot would be number one, right? The Sandlot has achieved cultural icon status. Your friends still quote it. Oh, and it’s a pretty darn good movie too. Told in the style of The Wonder Years with a reminiscing now-adult narrator, The Sandlot follows Scotty Smalls as he copes to life in a new place and an unfamiliar home life. There are so many elements of this movie that are universally relatable to kids: making new friends, trying new things (often forbidden things), getting in trouble, and not having a care in the world except playing outside. Watching The Sandlot as a kid is fun and entertaining, it’s a great kid’s movie. Watching The Sandlot as an adult will make you yearn to be a kid again.
Bad News Bears (1976)- strongly features kids, enjoyed by kids, but not really for kids.
Angels in the Outfield (1994)- Not a bad movie, but not a great one either. Most of the mojo of the 90’s was used up before this one came along.