Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

“Best” Baseball Books Adapted into Movies

March 29, 2010 by  
Filed under "Best of" Lists

The great thing about “Best of” lists is that they produce vigorous debate. I recently watched Field of Dreams for the umteenth time and that got me to thinking about which baseball books have been successfully adpated into baseball movies.  Of course, a notable example is the movie Field of Dreams which was adapted from the book Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella.  (see below for the famous People will come speech from James Earl Jones)

So I started by 1) canvassing a large number of “best baseball movie” lists, 2) computing the top movies across the lists, then 3) determining which movies were adapted from a book. 

Some popular baseball movies such as Bull Durham and A League of Their Own are not in this list because the movie wasn’t adapted from a book.  Other books such as Sandlot and Bad News Bears were adaptations from a screenplay or movie so they didn’t make the list either.

So without further ado, here’s the list, one for each inning of a game.  I suspect there will be alot of debate about both  the order of my list as well as some notable exclusions.   Which is your favorite? Let the debate begin!

  1. Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella  adpted into movie: Field of Dreams (1989)
  2. The Natural by Bernard Malamud adapted into movie: The Natural (1984)
  3. Eight Men Out by Eliot Asinof  adapted into movie: Eight Men Out (1988)           
  4. Lou Gehrig: Pride of the Yankees by Paul Gallico adpated into movie: Pride of the Yankees (1942)      
  5. Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris adapted into movie: Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)
  6. Cobb: A Biography  by Al Stump adapted into movie: Cobb (1984)
  7. The Oldest Rookie: Big-League Dreams from a Small-Town Guy by Jim Morris/Joel Engel adapted into movie: The Rookie (2002)
  8. For the Love of the Game by Michael Shaara adapted into movie: For the Love of the Game (1999)
  9. The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant by Douglas Wallop adapted into movie: Damn Yankees (1958)       


One Response to ““Best” Baseball Books Adapted into Movies”
  1. Ted Cox says:

    I’d rank “Field of Dreams” and “The Natural” among the WORST baseball adaptations. Give me “Bang the Drum Slowly,” although the great as-yet-unmade baseball movie is the adaptation of Harris’s vastly superior first novel, “The Southpaw,” far less sentimental and with themes of money and celebrity that would ring true today. And allow me to put forth the best TV-series adaptation by default: the short-lived “Ball Four” starring Jim Bouton.

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