Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Baseball Movies: Batter Up

Evolving from older bat-and-ball games, an early form of baseball was being played in England by the mid-eighteenth century. This game and the related rounders were brought by British and Irish immigrants to North America, where the modern version of baseball developed. By the late nineteenth century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball on the professional, amateur, and youth levels is now popular in North America, parts of Central and South America and the Caribbean, and parts of East Asia. The game is sometimes referred to as hardball, in contrast to the derivative game of softball.

In North America, professional Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL). Each league has three divisions: East, West, and Central. Every year, the major league champion is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. Four teams make the playoffs from each league: the three regular season division winners, plus one wild card team. Baseball is the leading team sport in both Japan and Cuba, and the top level of play is similarly split between two leagues: Japan's Central League and Pacific League; Cuba's West League and East League. In the National and Central leagues, the pitcher is required to bat, per the traditional rules. In the American, Pacific, and both Cuban leagues, there is a tenth player, a designated hitter, who bats for the pitcher. Each top-level team has a farm system of one or more minor league teams. These teams allow younger players to develop as they gain on-field experience against opponents with similar levels of skill.

In the mid-1850s, a baseball craze hit the New York metropolitan area. By 1856, local journals were referring to baseball as the "national pastime" or "national game". A year later, sixteen area clubs formed the sport's first governing body, the National Association of Base Ball Players. In 1863, the organization disallowed putouts made by catching a fair ball on the first bounce. Four years later, it barred participation by African Americans. The game's commercial potential was developing: in 1869 the first fully professional baseball club, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was formed and went undefeated against a schedule of semipro and amateur teams. The first professional league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, lasted from 1871 to 1875; scholars dispute its status as a major league.

The more formally structured National League was founded in 1876. As the oldest surviving major league, the National League is sometimes referred to as the "senior circuit". Several other major leagues formed and failed. In 1884, African American Moses Walker (and, briefly, his brother Welday) played in one of these, the American Association. An injury ended Walker's major league career, and by the early 1890s, a gentlemen's agreement in the form of the baseball color line effectively barred black players from the white-owned professional leagues, major and minor. Professional Negro leagues formed, but quickly folded; several independent African American teams succeeded as barnstormers. Also in 1884, overhand pitching was legalized. In 1887, softball, under the name of indoor baseball or indoor-outdoor, was invented as a winter version of the parent game. Virtually all of the modern baseball rules were in place by 1893; the last major change—counting foul balls as strikes—was instituted in 1901. The National League's first successful counterpart, the American League, which evolved from the minor Western League, was established that year. The two leagues, each with eight teams, were rivals that fought for the best players, often disregarding each other's contracts and engaging in bitter legal disputes.

The New York Giants baseball team, 1913. Fred Merkle, sixth in line, committed a baserunning gaffe in a crucial 1908 game that became famous as Merkle's Boner.A modicum of peace was eventually established, leading to the National Agreement of 1903. The pact formalized relations both between the two major leagues and between them and the National Association of Professional Base Ball Leagues, representing most of the country's minor professional leagues. The World Series, pitting the two major league champions against each other, was inaugurated that fall, albeit without express major league sanction: The Boston Americans of the American League defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League. The next year, the series was not held, as the National League champion New York Giants, under manager John McGraw, refused to recognize the major league status of the American League and its champion. In 1905, the Giants were National League champions again and team management relented, leading to the establishment of the World Series as the major leagues' annual championship event.

As professional baseball became increasingly profitable, players frequently raised grievances against owners over issues of control and equitable income distribution. During the major leagues' early decades, players on various teams occasionally attempted strikes, which routinely failed when their jobs were sufficiently threatened. In general, the strict rules of baseball contracts and the reserve clause, which bound players to their teams even when their contracts had ended, tended to keep the players in check. Motivated by dislike for particularly stingy owner Charles Comiskey and gamblers' payoffs, real and promised, members of the Chicago White Sox conspired to throw the 1919 World Series. The Black Sox Scandal led to the formation of a new National Commission of baseball that drew the two major leagues closer together. The first major league baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, was elected in 1920. That year also saw the founding of the Negro National League; the first significant Negro league, it would operate until 1931. For part of the 1920s, it was joined by the Eastern Colored League.

Some of the Baseball Films one can watch are:

Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch
Alibi Ike
Amazing Grace and Chuck
American Pastime (film)
Angels in the Outfield (1951 film)
Angels in the Infield
Angels in the Outfield (1994 film)
Artie Lange's Beer League

The Babe Ruth Story
The Babe
Bad News Bears
The Bad News Bears
The Bad News Bears Go to Japan
The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training
The Ball Game
Bang the Drum Slowly (film)
Baseball (TV series)
Baseball and Bloomers
Baseball Bugs
Baseball, Minnesota
The Battery (film)
Battlefield Baseball
The Benchwarmers
Big Leaguer
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings
Black Irish (film)
Bleacher Bums
Boulevardier from the Bronx
Brewster's Millions (1985 film)
The Bronx Is Burning
Bull Durham

The Cap (film)
Casey at the Bat (1927 film)
Champions of Faith
Chasing 3000
Cobb (film)
The Comrades of Summer

Damn Yankees (film)
Day of Independence
Death on the Diamond
Diminished Capacity
Dorf on the Diamond

Ed (film)
Eight Men Out
Elmer, the Great
The Emerald Diamond
Everyone's Hero

The Fan (1996 film)
Fear Strikes Out
Fever Pitch (2005 film)
Field of Dreams
The Final Season
For Love of the Game (film)

Game 6 (film)

Hardball (film)
Heading Home
Here Come the Tigers
Hero (2010 film)
How to Play Baseball

If the Sun Rises in the West
It Happens Every Spring

The Jackie Robinson Story
Joe Torre: Curveballs Along the Way

The Kid from Cleveland
Kill the Umpire

The Last Home Run
A League of Their Own
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg
List of films based on sports books
Little Big League

Major League (film)
Major League II
Major League: Back to the Minors
The Man From Left Field
Mickey (film)
Mr. 3000
Mr. Baseball
Mr. Destiny

The Natural (film)
Night Game (film)

Old MacDonald Had A Curve

Perfect Game (film)
The Perfect Game
Playing for Peanuts
The Pride of the Yankees
The Pride of St. Louis

Rhubarb (1951 film)
Rookie of the Year (film)
The Rookie (2002 film)

The Sandlot 2
The Sandlot
The Sandlot: Heading Home
The Scout
Signs of the Time (film)
Sleeping Tigers: The Asahi Baseball Story
Slide, Kelly, Slide
The Slugger's Wife
Somewhere in Georgia
Soul of the Game
Squeeze Play!
Stealing Home
Still We Believe: The Boston Red Sox Movie
The Stratton Story
Sugar (2008 film)
Summer Catch

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (film)
Take Me Up to the Ball Game
Taking Care of Business
Talent for the Game
This Old Cub
Tiger Town

Up for Grabs (film)

Wait 'til This Year
Wide Awake (1998 film)
A Winner Never Quits (TV film)
The Winning Team

I was able to find 210 images from many
of these baseball movies. Enjoy.

Glenn Buttkus

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