The Best and Worst Baseball Movie Actors

Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs
About to hit the most memorable homer in baseball movie history
“The Natural” (1984)

10 Best Baseball Movie Actors

  1. Robert Redford – His Monster Shot HR personifies forever – and in beautiful form – the most ancient of our sandlot dreams.
  2. Kevin Costner – His field of dreams in all three of his baseball movies was love, family, baseball, and the passion we share through our love of the game.
  3. James Earl Jones – He swung from the depths and he did on the screen what “Big Pappa” would later do at Fenway as the roar of deliverance from despair.
  4. Charlie Sheen – Maybe. Just maybe. A slight tilt in the aim of destiny and Charlie could have been – the real Wild Thing – and be going into the HOF this summer in the company of fellow eternally great closer, Trevor Hoffman.
  5. Burt Lancaster – Most athletic fine actor ever. All-Time. His Jim Thorpe portrayal convinced that he might have made it big in baseball, again, with another slight destiny-redirection.
  6. John Cusack – How could Buck Weaver have been guilty back in 1919? Not the way John Cusack portrayed him, he wasn’t.
  7. Tom Hanks – The ladies got a great one with old Tom Hanks/Jimmy Dugan at the helm. If there were any crying in baseball, it would have been over the fact that Hanks/Dugan had taken his talent to  the cause of this great ladies league memoir – and not to either of the starring male roles he could have handled in “Field of Dreams”.
  8. Robert De Niro – The guy oozes with the juice of talent – and that begins with his ability to make himself believable in any role he takes on. We don’t see him doing much actual baseball in “Bang the Drum Slowly”, but there is no doubt that he can handle those demands with great skill and competence.
  9. Louis Gossett, Jr. – If you want to be Satchel Paige, you have to convince us baseball folk that you can both throw and see like old Satch did. Gossett, Jr. did both.
  10. Paul Douglas – In my younger days, I could have hung out on the road with catcher Monk Lonigan (“It Happens Every Spring”) or manager Guffy McGovern (“Angels in the Outfield”) through all the late night steak houses we could find to shoot the (breeze) over a few cold beers, a not-too-tough steak, and some strategy and social plan discussion for the rest of the do-able night and tomorrow’s game.

There is no failure in a moment like this one.

8 Worst Baseball Movie Actors

  • Anthony Perkins – These guys were all actors who couldn’t run, throw, catch, or bat like real ballplayers, regardless of their variable acting skills. There’s no 1 to 8 list here. They all stank as baseball athletes. Take Perkins, for example. It’s impossible to find an actor credible who picks up and throws a baseball in 1957’s “Fear Strikes Out” like it’s a piece of dog excrement that he’s found in his rose garden and now intends to get rid of it as quickly as possible. (The rest are pretty much the same. If you go to IMDB.com, you will have no trouble finding the baseball movies mentioned that corroborate this same Perkins finding in some variant form for each of them as well.)
  • Gary Cooper – “Pride of the Yankees”
  • William Bendix – “The Babe Ruth Story”
  • Ray Milland – “It Happens Every Spring”
  • Ronald Reagan – “The Winning Team”
  • Dan Dailey – “The Pride of St. Louis”
  • Jimmy Stewart – “The Stratton Story”
  • Edward G. Robinson – “Big Leaguer”

We could have added two more, but saw no point. Holes don’t get filled by demonstrations of how wide they are. And most actors fall short in some way. Baseball is not an easy game to play or portray, even if you are Jackie Robinson playing yourself in the 1950 movie, “The Jackie Robinson Story.” Great as Jackie was as a ballplayer, he wasn’t much of an actor on the screen, but what non-trained actor really is that good at filmed role playing?

As a baseball movie producer, I’d prefer to place my money on a Redford, Costner, Jones, or Hanks in the key baseball movie roles than I would the actual players.

Wouldn’t you?

Gotta Love It. ~ Eat It Up.

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

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4 Responses to “The Best and Worst Baseball Movie Actors”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    Although Anthony Perkins complete lack of convincing athletic ability is hard to watch, the movie Fear Strikes Out is an interesting dramatic psychological study.

    In defense of right-handed actor Gary Cooper, he was portraying a left-handed player, Lou Gehrig, in The Pride of the Yankees.

  2. bobcopus Says:

    Wlater Mathau in the original Bad News Bears comes to mind as well.

  3. Wayne Roberts Says:

    Bill, you are superbly politically correct. Good job!

  4. Mark W Says:

    I thought Babe Ruth did a pretty good job playing himself in “Pride of the Yankees”, but that probably shouldn’t count. But maybe Chuck Connors and Johnny Berardino (later Beradino) earned their acting props, albeit not in baseball movies (that I know of.) Wait … come to think of it, I do believe Berardino played a thug in “the Kid From Cleveland”, using his original spelling. This was a 1949 baseball movie that featured many or most of the 1948 World Champion Cleveland Indians, as well as their management personnel, including Hank Greenberg, Tris Speaker, and Bill Veeck in a prominent role.

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