Least/Best Athletic Actors in Baseball Movies

5) Ronald Reagan as Grover Cleveland Alexander in “The Winning Team”

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan loved baseball, but his punting as George Gipp was far better than his pitching as Pete Alexander.

4) Jimmy Stewart as Monty Stratton in “The Stratton Story”

Jimmy Stewart

Jimmy Stewart

This part of Stewart’s stretch pitch looked pretty good. If only he could have escaped having to go through the other motions required for the delivery of what appears to be an unhittable pitch.

3) Ray Milland as Mike Kelly in “It Happens Every Spring”

Ray Milland

Ray Milland

If only Jimmy Stewart could have seen Ray Milland try acting out the entire wind up and delivery.

2) Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in “Pride of the Yankees”

Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig

As you probably know, right-handed Gary Cooper had to wear a jersey wit an inverted # 4 and “NY” logo and then run to 3rd base when he hit the ball to make it look as though he was capable of batting left-handed when the film was then developed in reverse.

Nuff Sed.

1) Anthony Perkins as Jimmy Peirsall in “Fear Strikes Out”

Anthony Perkins (right)

Anthony Perkins (right)

Athleticism? If all human beings from the beginning of time possessed only the genetic talents of Tony Perkins, there never would have been a sport called baseball, or any other team sport, or the initiation of any regular event of competition among nations known today as either the summer or winter Olympics.

 

On the other hand, my vote for the greatest actor/athletes of all time is a three-way tie between …

1t) Burt Lancaster as Jim Thorpe in “Jim Thorpe, All American”

Burt Lancaster (R) who played the great Olympian Jim Thorpe (L).

Burt Lancaster (R) who played the great Olympian Jim Thorpe (L).

1t) Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs in “The Natural”

Robert Redford

Robert Redford

1t) Kevin Costner as Crash Davis in “Bull Durham”

Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner

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9 Responses to “Least/Best Athletic Actors in Baseball Movies”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    For a short time, Robert Redford played on the University of Colorado baseball team and was convincing as Roy Hobbs in “The Natural.” Kevin Costner, who went to Cal State Fullerton, tried out for the baseball team as a walk-on, but didn’t make it. He made several baseball movies, but for many of us is best remembered in his role as Roy McAvoy, the former University of Houston golfer in “Tin Cup.” He also is a good athlete and can play a baseball player or golfer convincingly. Burt Lancaster, a gymnast and basketball star, who received an athletic scholarship to NYU, was probably the best athlete of the actors mentioned here.

  2. Sumner Hunnewell Says:

    According to Ronnie Joyner’s _Hardball Legends and Journeymen and Short-timers_ (*plug* – take a look), Steve Yeager is quoted as saying “Charlie [Sheen] could be a pro player if he wanted to.” Joyner goes on to say that Sheen was a start pitcher & SS for his H.S. and was offered baseball scholarships.

    Believe it or not, in his book, Peirsall was much kinder about Perkins than you Bill!

  3. Cliff Blau Says:

    I was going to suggest Sheen, as well. I think some of the Eight Men Out actors had baseball experience. Too bad Kurt Russell never made a baseball movie.

    That stuff about Cooper hitting RH and running to third is a myth. See http://www.baseballresearcher.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-pride-of-yankees-seeknay.html

  4. Rick B. Says:

    John Goodman as Babe Ruth in “The Babe” gets my vote as one of the least athletic actors. Goodman can’t help but play the Babe as anything but a fat slob, when – in real life – Babe Ruth was the best player in the history of baseball.

    • Rick B. Says:

      Two more: For the least athletic/worst category, I submit Bernie Mac as Stan Ross in “Mr. 3,000”; and for the best, I’d add Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson in last year’s “42” (an excellent performance, which I expect should garner Boseman many more film roles).

      • Sumner Hunnewell Says:

        What about a worst / best acting performance by an athlete? Alex Karras as Mongo in Blazing Saddles? Jackie Robinson as (well) Jackie Robinson in the Jackie Robinson Story? Bob Uecker in everything?

  5. Pat Mulvihill Says:

    Tom Selleck deserves a positive mention for his role as Jack Elliot in “Mr. Baseball.”

  6. Peter Denman Says:

    The hardest thing for me to bear in many baseball movies isn’t the non-athlete actors – though they are a close second – it’s the way they so often have the public address announcer at the ballpark do play-by-play. It’s hard to take…

    • E.W. Says:

      Bad:

      Chelcie Ross in Major League as Eddie Harris. He was 46 at the time.

      0:55 is him throwing “fastballs”

      Good;

      Charlie Sheen as Ricky Vaughn in Major League. He pitched in High School and went to a camp for prospects. The founder of the camp said that Sheen could have played at a smaller Division 1 school.

      According to Sheen, he roided up for the role and his fastball went from 79 to 85.

      Steve Yeager was a veteran MLB catcher and an advisor for the movie and said he was pretty impressed by Sheen. Tom Berenger played the catcher Jake Taylor and said Sheen had excellent control on his pitches.
      Bad:

      Chelcie Ross in Major League as Eddie Harris. He was 46 at the time.

      0:55 is him throwing “fastballs”

      Tim Robbins’s pitching form was hilarious in Bull Durham. It was supposed to be like Fernando with the look upwards but he just looked so off.

      Good;

      Charlie Sheen as Ricky Vaughn in Major League. He pitched in High School and went to a camp for prospects. The founder of the camp said that Sheen could have played at a smaller Division 1 school.

      According to Sheen, he roided up for the role and his fastball went from 79 to 85.

      Steve Yeager was a veteran MLB catcher and an advisor for the movie and said he was pretty impressed by Sheen.

      Kevin Costner in Bull Durham, and to a lesser extent, For the Love of the Game was very believable (for an actor) as a baseball player. He switch-hit and had a pretty smooth and quick swing, definitely better than you are accustomed to seeing from actors.

      I’ve never seen Mr. Baseball but I’ve heard that Tom Selleck was an excellent baseball player for a Hollywood actor.

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