Streampix Watch: Take Me Out to the Ballgame: Nine Innings of Baseball Movies

by | October 16, 2013 at 10:17 AM | XFINITY Streampix

"For Love of the Game." (Universal Pictures)

Put me in coach, I’m ready to play. If it’s October, it must be time for the World Series, and if the thrilling league championship battles between the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox on one side, and the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals on the other have you thirsting for more hardball, Streampix is stepping up to the plate with a variety of flicks that take place on the diamond.

From Richard Pryor’s roles in the Negro League saga, “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings” and “Brewster’s Millions” to ESPN “30 for 30” documentaries on the growth of fantasy sports (“Silly Little Game”), the 1982 Little League champs (“Little Big Men”) and the late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner (“The House of Steinbrenner”), there are no curves here, just fast balls right down the middle of the plate, so take your best swing at the following.

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings”: John Badham’s 1976 paean to the Negro Leagues of the ‘30s features an all-star cast, including Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones and Richard Pryor as Snow, who tries to sneak into the big leagues by masquerading as a Cuban and a Native American. The plot surrounds Billy Dee’s recruiting of a team outside the Negro Leagues to barnstorm around the country, where they draw crowds that rival the established teams. [Watch here]

Brewster’s Millions”: Walter Hill’s 1985 remake of the 1946 farce finds minor league baseball pitcher Richard Pryor as Brewster named as an heir to $300 million, if he can spend $30 in a month. The talented supporting cast includes John Candy, Lonette McKee, Stephen Collins, Jerry Orbach, Pat Hingle, Tovah Feldshuh, Hume Cronyn and Yakov Smirnov, with a cameo by Rick Moranis that reunites him with SCTV colleague Candy. In the course of the film, Brewster runs for Mayor of New York City in a protest campaign, urging the people to vote for “None of the Above.” He also enlists the New York Yankees to play an exhibition game against his former team, with him pitching. [Watch here]

For Love of the Game”: Directed by “Spider-Man” helmer Sam Raimi, Kevin Costner plays a Detroit Tiger pitcher who tries to pitch a perfect game while memories of a whirlwind romance float threw his head in the most unlikely performance since Doc Ellis hurled one while on LSD. The 1999 film, which also features Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly, Jena Malone, Brian Cox and J.K. Simmons, boasts cameos by L.A. Dodger announcer Vin Scully and ex-pitcher Steve Lyons. [Watch here]

The Babe”: John Goodman is the Sultan of Swat in Arthur Hiller’s 1992 biopic in broad strokes, which also stars Kelly McGillis, Trini Alvarado, Bruce Boxleitner, James Cromwell, Richard Tyson and Michael McGrady as Lou Gehrig. Chicago’s Wrigley Field stood in for Yankee Stadium during filming. As the grown-up kid who Babe promised to hit two home runs for in the hospital—and delivered—says to the now broken-down hulk, trudging to the locker room: “You are the best… you are the best there’s ever been. Too bad you can’t say the same about the movie. [Watch here]

Ed”: This 1996 lark boasts Emmy-nominated, Golden Globe-winning “Friends”/”Episodes” star Matt LeBlanc as stage-struck pitcher who overcomes his fear when he’s assigned to room with the team mascot, the titular, happy-go-lucky chimpanzee, who teaches him to relax, enjoy life and improve his performance on and off the field. From Jennifer Aniston to a mechanical monkey? The movie earned a total of four Razzie nominations for Worst Picture, Worst Screenplay, Worst New Star and Worst Screen Couple, losing out to Demi Moore’s “Striptease” in each category. [Watch here]

Stealing Home”:  Mark Harmon is a washed-up baseball player, a former high school star and minor league hopeful, in this 1988 movie about his trip down memory
lane after a trip to his hometown. Also stars Jodie Foster as his baby sitter and first love, Blair Brown, Jonathan Silverman and Harold Ramis. Helen Hunt appears in a minor role. It was would be 22 years before writer/director and SCTV album Steve Kampmann directed another film, 2010’s little-seen “BuzzKill.” [Watch here]

Silly Little Game”: This 2010 ESPN “30 for 30” documentary takes a look inside the multi-million-dollar business of fantasy sports, taking a peak at how they started, paying tribute to the group of writers and academics who started rotisseries baseball back in 1980. [Watch here]

Little Big Men”: Another ESPN entry profiles the 1982 Little League champions from Kirkland, Washington, who broke a long U.S. drought in the tournament, catching up with the team’s stars some 28 years later, including Cody Webster and other team members. [Watch here]

The House of Steinbrenner”: This ESPN documentary chronicles the colorful career of the late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, who built the team into an impressive dynasty through shrewd free-agent signings and a bluster all his own in 37 years of leadership. [Watch here]