Baseball is older than the movies themselves, and the first baseball movies featured well-recognized baseball players as the stars themselves; in many ways, they were our first movie stars. _Right Off the Bat_, widely considered the first baseball flick ever made, came out in 1915, the same year as the morally loathsome but cinematically groundbreaking _The Birth of a Nation_, and it starred John “Mugsy” McGraw as himself. McGraw actually appeared in dozens of movies that decade. The film industry was trying to capture America, and nothing was more American than baseball.

In the more than 100 years since, some of the most beloved movies made have been about baseball, and why not? Baseball’s story is the story of our times, with heroes and villains, glory and scandal, triumph and failure, comedy and tragedy. It remains the most cinematic of our sports because it is, at its core, about human beings and their frailties and their glories. If baseball had never existed, the movies would have had to invent it.

Thus, sitting down to make a list of the best 25 baseball movies ever made is quite the challenge. You must consider their historical importance in the annals of cinematic lore … but also, hey, it’s baseball: This is supposed to be fun. I’m sure there are movies not on here that might make your list. But to me, these are the 25 baseball movies that best reflect what the sport is, both on screen and in the real world. Remember: There is no crying in baseball, but sometimes, there is crying in baseball movies.

1. Bull Durham (1988)
The conversations on the mound. The tricks for getting out of a slump. The managerial motivational tactics. Which hand to swing with in a fight. Bull Durham is a movie that understands the romance and madness of baseball better than any movie ever has, and it has an all-timer cast. The only thing better than watching this movie is watching an actual baseball game. And only barely.

2. A League of Their Own (1992)
A movie that has baseball in its bones as few other movies do, and one that tells a terrific story that few people even knew about. The cast is terrific top to bottom — even Madonna is good in it! — and the movie has the good fortune of having Tom Hanks as the crusty manager just before he became the biggest movie star in the world.

3. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
Gary Cooper is an instantly iconic Lou Gehrig — people to this day still think Gehrig looked like Cooper — and don’t forget the terrific portrayal of Babe Ruth by … Babe Ruth!

4. Field of Dreams (1989)
Dads and their kids will cry every time they hear “have a catch” for the rest of time because of this movie.

5. Eight Men Out (1988)
Writer-director John Sayles’ story of the Black Sox takes a literary, smart look at what remains the worst scandal in baseball’s history.

6. Moneyball (2011)
The movie about math and data in baseball has a cheerful love of the sport, too, and Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are an oddly perfect team.

7. The Natural (1984)
Director Barry Levinson changed the ending to let Roy Hobbs be the hero Robert Redford played him as, and while the book might have more tragic resonance, the movie sure does hit the romantic sweet spot.

8. The Sandlot (1993)
The kids classic sneaked up on people when it was released, but its nostalgia is even more powerful now. And it has the one quote you’ll surely see on a T-shirt every time you go to a game: “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”

9. Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
Underappreciated when it came out a few years ago (many people thought Richard Linklater’s follow-up to Boyhood was going to be far more serious than it was) this is one of the most purely fun, and quietly moving, looks at what it means to be on a college baseball team there has ever been. And we’ll be looking at this cast in 20 years the way we look at the cast of Dazed and Confused now.

10. Major League (1989)
This is absolutely the movie that every baseball player you know probably puts at No. 1.

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