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February 24, 2012

Ten Things About Baseball Movies and the Academy Awards

With the Academy Awards this Sunday and “Moneyball” up for six statues…you’re going to hear and read a ton about how poorly baseball movies (or sports movies in general) have fared when it comes to Oscar night.

And, well, those would be pretty fair statements.

I mean, let’s be honest, only three sports-related films (“Rocky”, “Chariots of Fire” and “Million Dollar Baby”) have taken home the top prize and, well…none of them had a lick to do with baseball.

Here are ten things you might not have known about baseball movies and the Academy Awards.

When it comes to box office totals, would it surprise you that the highest grossing baseball film is one about…women?  Then again, who wouldn’t want to head to the theater and watch eventual two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks chewing the scenery with Madonna and Geena Davis in “A League of Their Own”.  A side note on “A League of Their Own”…the story was penned by Kelly Candaele, brother of former big leaguer Casey and son of former All-American Girls Professional Baseball Leaguer Helen Callaghan.

June 29, 1905
In “Field of Dreams”, Kevin Costner’s Ray Kinsella was sent on a journey to bring Chisholm, Minnesota’s Archibald “Moonlight” Graham to Iowa.  He did.  The real “Moonlight” Graham appeared in one game for the New York Giants, but never got an at bat.  In the top of the ninth inning, Graham was on deck when Claude Elliott flied out, resulting in the third and final out. Graham played the bottom of the ninth in right field but never came to bat. That game turned out to be his only appearance in the major leagues.

Throughout “Bull Durham”, Crash Davis is chasing the Minor League home run record and, late in the film, we learn that he eclipses 246 and moves into first place.  However, the home run record is held by “The Babe Ruth of Mexico” Hector Espino  with 484.  Espino played in the Mexican Minor Leagues from 1960 to 1984.

Of all the baseball films out there…“Bull Durham” ranks the highest among all of them over at Rotten Tomatoes.  The lone rotten review among the 48 over at the site was from some guy called Walter Chaw who said, of the Oscar nominated script…“there’s too much chatter”.

Most of the baseball in the film “A League of Their Own” was shot at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  However, the Rockford Peaches played their games 83 miles from the home of the Chicago Cubs…at Beyer Stadium on 15th Avenue in Rockford, Illinois.  And, yeah, that’s a recent picture of what’s left of the stadium below.

“Moneyball” heads into Sunday night’s award show with six nominations.  In 1943, “The Pride of the Yankees” scored eleven noms…the most of any baseball-themed movie.  It won one…best editing.  Coincidentally, one of six “Moneyball” nominations?  Best editing.

One of this year’s nominees, Glenn Close, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1985 for “The Natural”, but lost to Peggy Ashcroft.  Futhermore, she’s never brought home the Academy Award…going 0-for-6.

Last year’s Best Screenplay winner Aaron Sorkin was nominated again this go ‘round for his penning of the “Moneyball” script.  And should he win, he’ll join Joseph Mankiewicz (1950 and 1951) and Robert Bolt (1965 and 1966) as the only three back-to-back award winning scribes.

Long before he was the director of “Bull Durham” and “Cobb”, Ron Shelton played minor league ball for the Baltimore Orioles.  From 1967 to 1971, the 1989 nominee for Best Screenplay, played in 478…compiling a .251 batting average.

Surprisingly, the 1976 tour de force “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings” did not garner a single Academy Award nomination.  And, yeah, I’ll go on record and say it…Bingo Long himself, Billy Dee Williams, should be honored with a lifetime achievement award for his 1980 portrayal of Lando Calrissian.

1 comment:

Chip Ramsey said...

A lot of "A League of Their Own" was shot at Bosse Field in Evansville, IN.