By Roger Weber
But actual game broadcasts are only part of baseball's story on
television. Baseball has repeatedly graced the silver screen, often to great success. These movies sometimes are as focused
and factual as documentaries but often they are made mostly for entertainment. Since "Hoosiers," a movie about high school
basketball in Indiana, was released there have been all too many "worst to first" stories about usually
fabricated teams that somehow turn their season around to win the pennant. "Angels in the Outfield" (1992) is the most hokey
but possibly most well known.
Baseball can be depicted beautifully in movies. Adding a storyline,
dialogue, music and Americana settings can help give a very positive image of baseball as America's pastime. Movies like "Field of Dreams" epitomize
this image and leave fans longing for Opening Day and a catch with their dad.
Interestingly, though, baseball movies aren't always accurate,
especially in the ballparks they show. Most of the game action in "Angels in the Outfield" was actually filmed at Oakland
Coliseum, which was, at the time a smaller ballpark and a little more intimate. Because filming a movie in a major league
stadium is a difficult task for which to get authorization the moviemakers must often resort to a second choice ballpark.
Sometimes they even choose another ballpark for whatever reason. In "Angels in the Outfield," many shots of Anaheim Stadium
appeared but actual filming was either in a studio or at Oakland's
The home ballpark in the very popular "Major League" was filmed
in County Stadium in Milwaukee, a ballpark smaller than cavernous Cleveland Stadium and with seats that were both
closer to the action and better colors for a movie about the Indians. The sequel to "Major League" was released in 1994, the
same year Jacobs Field opened. Filming was in Camden Yards, though, a similar park to "the Jake."
The less renowned "Angels in the Infield" had game action at Skydome
in Toronto. Ironically the plot involved rain delaying a game
while Skydome has a retractable roof. "Rookie of the Year" was about a 12-year old boy who pitched in the major leagues for
the Cubs. The images shown supposedly of Dodger Stadium in that movie are actually of new Comiskey
Park on Chicago's
south side. It was a shorter trip to film there, I guess.
Voted as the best baseball film ever, "The Natural", which featured
a fictional team called the New York Knights, had its game films shot at the now demolished War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo, former home of the Buffalo Bills.
One of the most interesting ballparks to visit is Bosse Field
in Evansville, Indiana. It
served as home of the Racine Belles in "A League of their Own." At the park the painting from the movie has not been altered
so signs all around the park still claim the park as the home of the team in the movies based on one of the actual women's
teams that played during World War II.
Ironically one of the recent baseball movies that actually used
the location for filming claimed in the movie was "Field of Dreams," a film that deviated greatly from the book it was based
on and even in some instances deviated from baseball truths. For example, the pitcher mentioned in the movie, "Moonlight"
Graham, actually played in 1905, not 1923 as the movie stated. And Terrence Mann, the fabricated author in the movie was in
the book J.D. Salinger, famous author of "Catcher in the Rye."
And Shoeless Joe himself is depicted as a brilliant teacher of lessons, not the uneducated rube he was.