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When A Diamond Was A Guy’s Best Friend | EduClaytion

When A Diamond Was A Guy’s Best Friend

1907 Pittsburgh baseball team, Pittsburg NL (b...

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I used to live for baseball. Hard to believe now, but when I was a kid my life revolved around the game.

I could play with my friends in the backyard all day every day of the summer. As soon as I was old enough I joined a local team and played for years. Shoot, I’d even go inside early some nights (before the street lights even came on!) just so I could watch the Pittsburgh Pirates on TV while I dutifully kept stats in my score book.

I dreamed of being a big leaguer some day and making a living on that field they called the diamond. Just about anybody who met me after the age of 13 would probably be surprised to learn of this childhood passion of mine.

The game we once called America’s past time is more past its prime than anything these days, but few things can pour nostalgia over me like baseball. When I put on a glove and catch that first long throw in many months, the muscles in my hands and arms remember. And when I hear that thump in the glove or crack of the bat, my mind recalls a thousand days beneath a ball cap cursing the sun for blinding me in the face of a high fly ball but then begging that same sun not to go so I could have just one more turn at the plate.

Baseball is as close to poetry as I’ve ever come.

I could fill a website with personal baseball stories, so you can understand my love for many of the movies about the game. I can quickly rattle off names like Angels in the Outfield, Mr. Baseball, The Rookie, For the Love of the Game, and The Bad News Bears. One of my favorite flicks is called Eight Men Out, based on the book by Eliot Asinof about the Black Sox scandal of 1919. Even if you’ve never heard of that one you’ll definitely recognize a bunch of faces in the cast.

With apologies to many great flicks in this genre, I’m going with five heavy hitters for today’s FFF. Check out this solid lineup.

The Sandlot–Here’s your representative for kids at play. Just a pure, fun story. Don’t miss this one.

Major League–Charlie Sheen was winning as Wild Thing long before Twitter. The casting is superb, the movie uber quotable, the ending unforgettable.

Field of Dreams–Iconic as they come. I haven’t watched this one in a while but can probably quote the entire movie.

Bull Durham–The minor league representative here has a large following. Great theme of talent vs. temperament.

The Natural–Based on the brilliant novel by Bernard Malamud, the movie goes in a different direction. Roy Hobbes loomed large during my childhood. Maybe that’s because this is the first movie I ever remember seeing in a theater. That’s a big memory!

Now it’s up to you, yes you, to select the best from this batch. Swing away!

[UPDATE: Ah, the perils of blogging during finals week. I completely forgot to add A League of Their Own! It was supposed to be in here. Just realized that after Tamara's comment. What a fantastic film.]

Got any baseball memories? Who’s your favorite team/player?

The Friday Flick Faceoff features films that share a common thread. Cast your vote anyway you like and don’t worry if you’ve seen all the movies or not. Love to hear why you picked what you picked though!

If you’ve got writing chops and would like to guest post for an FFF you can reach me through the Contact page.

69 Responses to “When A Diamond Was A Guy’s Best Friend”

  1. savesprinkles1234 May 6, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    The Sandlot is such a cute movie. You’ve reminded me to watch it this weekend! :)

  2. carldagostino May 6, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    Miami finally got a baseball team 15 years ago. It was a dream come true. But now going to a game is no longer a budget item. They will probably change from Florida Marlins to Miami Marlins soon. They have the best farm team organization, I think. In the early 60′s I could recite the stats, (weekly updated) of every starter, every team. My only regret was that I never got a Mickey Mantle card. You must add “61″ to the movie list.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:46 am #

      Yeah, 61 can definitely hang. I also used to memorize stats like crazy, entire careers it seemed. I would just sort and study my cards forever.

  3. Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson May 6, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    You know I had to go Field of Dreams, right? For the simple reason that it was the book SHOELESS JOE first. A book that I have taught so many times, I can recite most of the quotes by heart.

    Did you know that I was just at Derek Jeter’s house? I was. (Well, I stood outside his front gate, as the tour buses rolled by.)

    I played a little softball – but I really liked playing baseball with the kids in the neighborhood. We played late into the night, until there was no more light or someone got beaned in the head. Either way, that’s how we knew it was time to stop: the mosquitoes kind of told us, too.

    Good times.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:47 am #

      A fine selection madame. Yeah, you name droppin. I think you should’ve delivered him baked goods and welcomed him to the neighborhood.

  4. Meet the Buttrams May 6, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    I had to go with The Sandlot. I had a mad crush on Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez.

    Although, Bull Durham made me pause. Some of my best friends in college were on the baseball team (one of the most solid Division III programs in the country, or something) and we would play wiffleball in the winter during off-season. Then we’d go back to someone’s dorm room and watch Bull Durham. That was like, every night in January.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:48 am #

      Wiffleball took up a substantial portion of my childhood. So many games, swings, days.

  5. Adam May 6, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    I played baseball growing up and in college so it has been a big part of my life and taught me many valuable life lessons. Most importantly the value of hard work.

    Favorite team would be the Atlanta Braves.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:48 am #

      Well, even though your team broke my heart in the early 90s, I appreciate your perspective. I thought about mentioning all the parallels of baseball and life. Might be a good post someday.

  6. amblerangel May 6, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    We never tire of saying “your killin’ me Smalls” – love sitting out in the sun watching baseball….

  7. Tamara May 6, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    Had to vote for the Sandlot in honor of my girlhood crush. But my favorite baseball movie of all time is A League of Their Own.

    And even when they’re sucking giant baseballs, I always have to root for my Red Sox.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:50 am #

      You would be a Red Sox fan. It’s okay, I won’t judge you. I can’t believe I left off A League of Their Own! That was one of the main picks behind this. Guess I shouldn’t craft posts so late at night.

  8. Kim Wilson May 6, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    Catchy title and great post!

    In the inaugural year of the Colorado Rockies, I lived in Denver. We went to countless games over the years that we lived there. I can remember standing outside the players’ parking lot fence after a few games, hoping for an autograph on a baseball card or hat. That’s when my love for baseball grew. I’ll always be a Rockies fan.

    I’ll also always be an Atlanta Braves fan. One year during spring break, my Grandpa and I took a trip to Orlando to catch a couple spring training games. It was the only time he and I have ever traveled together, and those are sweet memories. We always have something to talk about if we’re talking about baseball, and more specifically about the Braves.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:52 am #

      Another Braves fan eh? Okay, so they broke my childhood heart. I can live with that. Family memories are often sealed by baseball. Love that.

  9. Angela Scott May 6, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    Ahh, baseball! This post comes on the eve of having just spent 5 hours last night at the ball fields watching 3 different games. (3 kids + 1 night = 5 hours of games back to back to back).

    I love the movie Sandlot. We own, I believe, Sandlot 1 and Sandlot 2 (though #1 will always be #1).

    Even though I love Sandlot and Field of Dreams is a close second, my favorite of all time baseball movies has to be A League of Their Own. Why was that not on the list? You have something against women? :) :) :)

    That movie was fantastic. I own that movie as well and watch it quite a bit.

    Baseball is awesome. My thirteen year old is obsessed. He injured his back swinging the bat too hard, was told to take it easy, but refuses to go to his games and just cheer the team on. He plays. Last night he hit a standing triple. What a kid. Nothing beats watching your kids play.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

      I know I failed! Totally blew the League of Their Own and it’s as wonderful as everyone says. I still remember at least half the lines. Thanks for jumping in! And the triple is the most exciting play in the game.

  10. Scott May 6, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Major League, without out a doubt. I think Jake Taylor and I could be best friends.

    Major League may be the movie I’ve seen the most number of times in my life. (Smokey and the Bandit is a close 2nd.) I watch it every time it comes on USA if only for the edit of the 3rd baseman’s reaction when *SPOILER ALERT* Jake bunts.

    This has prompted me to take an official twitter poll on what movie everyone has seen the most in their lifetime.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

      Ha, the edited version of Major League definitely had its work cut out for it. What a classic.

  11. Amanda Hoving May 6, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    These are all great, but I had to go with Bull Durham. The inner dialouge going on in that flick is fabulous!

    One of my sons is a true baseball soul, and I think would agree about baseball being his life’s poetry. Well said.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

      Thanks Amanda :-) A true baseball soul, that would have described me for sure.

  12. HopefulLeigh May 6, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    I adore Field of Dreams. It inevitably gives me the chills and later makes me cry. You just can’t go wrong! Also worth mentioning are A League of Their Own (girl power!) and For the Love of the Game (cheesy but there’s the thrill of witnessing a no-no.)

    I’m obsessed with the White Sox but let’s not talk about this season.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

      I know I blew it with A League of their Own! I’m rightfully getting slammed for that one. I’ll make amends. By the way, how are the White Sox doing this season? ;-)

  13. carshissbymywindow May 6, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    I haven’t seen all the movies you have listed, but I would have to say Field of Dreams would be my pick. It reminds me of some of the greatest times of my life, like playing home run derby or catch to pass the time. Thanks for the list, I have some new movies to check out.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

      Home run derby was legendary. I broke every record in the history of MLB from my backyard. Just nobody ever knew.

  14. Ryan S. May 6, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    There have been many days when I sit and wish I was a playing in “the show”, not too long ago i entertained the idea of becoming a MLB umpire once I realized I wasn’t going to me a major leaguer. There is a point in a males life when he finds himself watching any pro sport and he comes to the realization that the people he is cheering for are much younger than him. It’s at that point, even though you deep down knew it, you realized the dream you had as a kid was over. In my eyes Baseball will always be Americas past time. Nothing gets me pumped up like baseball opening day, guess its cause I bleed Cubby blue and on opening day, they are at least .500 on the season, and the phrase “Next Year” doesn’t exist for that one day.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

      Oh, the woes of a Cubby fan. That’s one of the great things about the game, I can only give you a hard time because we know how great baseball really is. Umpire would’ve been a sweet career.

  15. kristinherdy May 6, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    I love Bull Durham. Something about Susan Sarandon’s character combining her love of teaching, baseball and, ah… just strikes me as awesome, even if she is a bit narcissistic.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

      Of course you’d like her. I won’t judge you. I wonder if in her narcissism she told everyone what an awesome voice she had. ;-)

  16. girlonthecontrary May 6, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Ummm….How about A League of Their Own??? Without a doubt my favorite baseball movie.

    But, The Sandlot is a close second……

  17. Arty (tinman) May 6, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    Well being from New York being a Yankee fan has never been hard for me, back in the late 60′s loved both the Yankees and the new kid on the block the N.Y. Mets, it was great I could go to a game almost any day of the week because if one team was away the other was home. Lived 20min. from Yankee stadium and 30min from Shea stadium. The best part was during the Amazing Met time of 1969 the Mets First baseman ED Kranepool lived 3 blocks away from me, back then no million dollar fenced homes for players they lived in regular neighborhoods. When the Mets were in town or during the off season we could go to Mr. Kranepools house and Ed Kranepool would come out and play catch with us, very seldom did he say no. That’s when players were just people like you and me and treated the fans, even the little ones like it was an honor to play for them.. Great Memory and I think that why “Field of Dreams” is my favorite..

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

      That’s sweet Arty. I bet you like that movie Frequency with Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezal. Great flick.

  18. Knox McCoy May 6, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    The Natural. The lights exploding at the end? The dude from the Diabetes commercials? Transcendent images and baffling star power.

    In high school, a kid hit a foul ball and it broke one of the field lights and it wasn’t NEARLY as awesome as it was in The Natural. Obviously, that’s because the kid wasn’t Robert Redford.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

      I actually took a magic marker and wrote Wonder Boy on my aluminum bat. I tried to do a lightning bolt too but art is hard. Some kids laughed at me. In hindsight I realize now that I should’ve bludgeoned them with my bat.

  19. Jess Witkins May 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Baseball is nostalgic for me too. My grandpa loved watching the Brewers and never missed a game. Even if we couldn’t get the channel on our old TV, he’d sit and listen to the whole thing on the radio!

    I’ve seen all of these movie picks, and could match you in quotes for Major League. Hmm, now I want nothing more to get a hotdog and sit on bleachers. Definitely a sign of summer!

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

      Dedication to the Brewers eh? I’m with you. All this talk about the game makes me want to eat hot dogs at the park.

  20. tyler May 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    pf flyers, all day every day, for-ev-er.

    yeah yeah.

    • educlaytion May 7, 2011 at 9:36 am #

      I bet you fly like the wind. Or at least one of them ridin tractors ya’ll use to get away from the police after getting busted for throwing vegetables at stuff.

  21. Leonore May 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    I had to vote for Bull Durham. I’m really not a big Costner fan except for his baseball movies, but Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins are two of my favorites. The film just hit all the right spots.

    I’m pretty apathetic overall when it comes to baseball, but there are a few negative and positive moments. I really don’t like the Yankees (their dominance in the 70s made me think they were bullies, and I liked that NY had rhyming teams) but I was excited that I had a chance to see a game in the old Yankee Stadium before they took it down. I can’t stand watching it on tv but I really enjoy going to minor league games (we’ve got a couple of teams around here).

    Basically, I like the mystique and the “Americana” of it all, but I don’t really care about the game itself. Summer for me is just the dead time between hockey and football ;)

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

      I think that’s how many people feel, that baseball is more than just a game. It’s all the nostalgia that comes along with it.

  22. Rob Shepherd May 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    What about Twilight? They play baseball in that movie. Uh wait…I hate that movie. My wife made me watch it. I promise.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

      That was the only good part of Twilght. I left the room after that part. Maybe.

  23. Zechariah Brewer May 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Gotta stick with Sandlot. It’s more quotable than Major League. That, and I read this entire post with the Sandlot narrator’s voice in my head.

    Second place goes to A League of Their Own, though. Also extremely quotable, and as a kid, it made me cry a little bit. Judge me and I’ll punch you in the face.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

      That’s great. If there’s no crying in baseball doesn’t it follow that there’s no crying while watching a baseball movie? I would never judge you. I don’t like to make anyone cry :-)

  24. writerwoman61 May 6, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    Field of Dreams…

    I grew up playing softball with my brother and his friends…I still have my first glove…a Black Diamond. My birthday present on my 11th birthday was a softball in the face…I’ve never forgotten that…

    Wendy

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

      My sister got a huge shiner once from softball. I’ve played a lot of softball over the past 7 years. Well, until the last couple years. Now I never get out anymore.

  25. Howlin' Mad Heather May 6, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    Definitely Major League. It’s not spring until I watch (then quote ad nauseum) that flick. Plus, there’s Bob Uecker as Harry Doyle, the world’s best fictional radio guy.

    As for baseball memories? I have so many. One of them was when I got to meet Tony Gwynn, who is and was a terrific guy as well as a great ballplayers. This was when I was really young, and back then, the San Diego Padres still had their Taco Bell color scheme. All I could think of to say to Tony was “I really hate those uniforms.” He smiled anyway and autographed my baseball.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

      That’s great. I remember every big leaguer I met too. Barry Bonds 1988 stands out.

  26. Chase McFadden May 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    Bull Durham for me. So many memorable scenes. Love the meeting at the mound when they’re talking about wedding gifts. And Crash’s monologue about what he believes in is classic.

    • educlaytion May 6, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

      Yup, I expected that movie to get some support for sure. Love the scene at the mound as well.

  27. Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom) May 6, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    So do you think baseball movies are the best sports flicks out there?

    I voted for Bull Durham. Such tension.

    But here’s what I have for today’s Canadian Connection: Field of Dreams was based on the book Shoeless Joe, written my W.P. Kinsella, who is Albertan. (In case anyone’s confused, that’s in Canada, eh?)

    Great writing. The word poetry makes me swoon.

    • educlaytion May 7, 2011 at 1:09 am #

      I personally find that my favorite sports movies are baseball flicks. I like the Canada connection. Sounds like a segment you should do somewhere. And always happy to get people swooning :-)

  28. Piper Bayard May 7, 2011 at 1:33 am #

    Wow. A post after my own heart. I loved Pete Rose when I was a kid, and I always rooted for the Reds. But when he bet against his own team, I lost the faith for a long time. Then, a few years back, my writing partner, Holmes, brought me back into the fold. Now, I’m a Yankees fan. Hard to say who my favorite player is. They’re all just so good. Thanks for a great post, Clay.

    • carldagostino May 7, 2011 at 1:47 am #

      He never bet against his team, If he bet on them, he bet to win, never to lose. He was a gambler but not a fixer.

  29. Larry Hehn May 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    One of my favorite baseball memories is watching the Jays win the World Series the day after my son was born back in ’92.

    Winning a free trip to the All Star game in Anaheim in ’89 was pretty cool too.

    Had to vote for Field of Dreams. I keep telling myself that James Earl Jones’ speech at the end is so cheesy, but it still gets me welling up every time.

    • educlaytion May 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

      I remember that Blue Jays win well. I was at a bowling alley. Not as dramatic as birth of a child. I also love that speech and the entire movie really.

  30. The Good Greatsby May 8, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    I know I should say Field of Dreams, but the more I thought about The Natural, the more I remembered what an outstanding film it was.

    • educlaytion May 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

      I can still hear the music in my brain. Great flick.

  31. ellieswords May 8, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    This is the cleverest title. You win the “cleverest blog title award” (only 314,978 people have been awarded it) Congrats!! I love it. Awesome FFF.

    • educlaytion May 8, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

      Thanks Ellster. (It’s official now because I called you that on my site and I used parentheses). ;-) I appreciate it!

  32. Kerry Meacham May 8, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    You’re killin’ me Smalls. ;-)

  33. jacquelincangro May 8, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    I remember being so surprised at the ending of The Natural. Not to give anything away, but it’s very different from the book, which I’d read first. It sort of changed how much I’d enjoyed the movie. How do you feel about the Hollywoodization of the book? Should the directors just give the people what they want or be true to the source material?

    • educlaytion May 8, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

      The movie is as Hollywood a change in direction as any book has ever faced. They should’ve had Hobbes in a convertible eating hot dogs and apple pie. Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie. But you are dead on: most people don’t realize the book is a story of tragedy and lost promise.

  34. thoughtsappear May 9, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    Every day I say “You’re killing me, Smalls!” or “For-ev-er.” Seriously. Every day.

    • educlaytion May 9, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

      I knew you’d appreciate the greatness that is Sandlot.

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