Robert Redford in "The Natural"

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.

The Babe gets ready to swing
Bill sits in the bleachers
Three players on the field
Ben and Lindsey at a Red Sox game
Tom Selleck in "Mr. Baseball"
Keanu Reeves lin "Hardball"
Hamm and players stand on the field
Thomas Ian Nichols in Rookie Of The Year
Satchel Paige winds up
Cobb stands in to bat
Ham screams
Hopper confronts his father in the stands
Kevin Costner and John C. Reilly on the field
Jimmy and his father talk on the baseball diamond
Lola tempts Joe
Dottie and Kit stand on the field
Hobbs rounds the bases
Indians in the dugout
Simpson analyzes his experiment
Sinatra sits in the stands
Two White Sox stand on the field
Guffy leans down to talk to Bridget
Quaid stands on the little league field
Tyler Hoechlin at bat with an axe
Ray sits in the stands
Sugar stands ready to pitch
Bingo Long leads his all-stars
Jimmy Stewart stands in the dugout
Jackie Robinson in the batter's box
Bruce sits in his uniform
Mantle and Maris hold a baseball
Crash and Nuke on the field
The team in the dugout
Lou Gehrig accepts an award
Beane and Brandt talk on the field