In 1898, Thomas Edison produced "The Ball Game," the first baseball "movie" (in actuality, a camera pointed at two teams playing) to take advantage of the new medium he had a hand in creating. By the year 1915, the emerging glow of the silent era brought moviegoers "Little Sunset" and "Right Off the Bat," the first full-length, narrative feature films about America’s pastime.
From the earliest days of the cinema, baseball became a popular setting, as the sport was experiencing an explosion in popularity paralleled only by the rise of moving pictures. The two were naturally compatible: a hitter working the count has all the tension of a Hitchcockian thriller; a home run blast can be every bit as exciting as a Michael Bay explosion; dramatic game-saving catches and big hits can turn a story around as effectively as any M. Night Shyamalan twist.
More than 120 years later (!), some of the greatest films ever made are about a game of inches; more often than not, the action on the field is saying so much more about the people beyond it. Inspirational tales of underdogs, redemptive storylines, adversity faced and the joys (and absurdities) of being a grown man playing a kid’s game for a living. At their best, baseball films can make us laugh, cry, or leave us stunned in disbelief.
From dramas and comedies to musicals and family films, these are the best baseball movies ever made, ranked from worst to best.
Updated on May 5, 2022: The baseball movie genre is still going strong, and as we get fresh takes on our favorite fastball flicks, we’ll be sure to keep this list updated with any instant classics of the American pastime.