With the 2020 baseball season on hold, fans are dying to see more of the sport. These documentaries will fill that need for you.
With Major League Baseball having delayed the start of its season until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic, saddened fans everywhere are struggling to keep morale high.
If one is down in the dumps about the sports hiatus, they should consider sampling the below-listed baseball documentaries. Especially since watching repeats of entire games can become too painful at times. But by sampling the following, they will instead learn about the game’s evolution through talking-head testimonials and archival footage bound to distract them from the current ordeal.
Hank Aaron: Chasing The Dream (1995)
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, this film notably features the current MLB career home run leader – Barry Bonds – as one of its many interviewees.
Filmed over a decade prior to his breaking the home run record himself, Bonds stated it was, “Straight impossible!” for anyone to surpass Aaron’s 755 career home run total. Thus, old school baseball purists are sure to enjoy the documentary that covers whom, due to Bonds’ alleged steroid use, many still consider the real homerun champion.
At the time, one of the film’s key subjects – Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield – was in the midst of improbably pursuing his 200th career victory. Meanwhile, his co-subject and fellow veteran pitcher, the New York Mets’ R.A. Dickey, vowed to hang on in the twilight of his career with the unconventional pitch he had recently begun throwing. Following the events of the documentary, Dickey would go on to win the National League Cy Young Award in November of 2012.
Babe Ruth (1998)
Currently streaming on HBO, Babe Ruth is known for more accurately representing baseball’s inaugural power-hitter than the 1992 biopic starring John Goodman did.
Narrating over rarely seen archival footage, Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) helped hook audiences with his distinctly deep delivery that served as ample audition for future voicework. If The Sandlot was not enough for ’90s kids to realize the respect the American sports legend required, then this documentary will most definitely awaken their adult selves.
No No: A Dockumentary (2014)
Famously so, Pittsburgh Pirate Doc Ellis threw his June 12, 1970 no-hitter – in which he had visions that President Richard M. Nixon was the home-plate umpire, and Jimi Hendrix was an opposing batter – while under the influence of LSD. Discussed at length within the documentary, the film also tackles the stunning low periods of Ellis’ substance abuse and his decades-long fight for players’ rights.
In the current age of unprecedented pitch velocity, more fans are interested in how such ultra-high, 100mph+ speeds are attained than ever before.
Currently streaming on Netflix, the documentary is narrated by noted baseball movie star, Kevin Costner (Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, For Love of the Game). It also features various baseball legends and sports scientists who join to discuss the fastest documented pitch-throwers in history. But more extensively, how the discrepancy in measuring methods across periods of time precludes there from being a definitive answer to the age-old question: who threw the fastest pitch?
Ken Burns’ Baseball (1994)
From the sport’s early roots to the then-modern ’90s (and beyond in 2010’s “Extra Innings”), Burns brilliantly unleashed the ballplayer in everyone hooked on Baseball from the very first pitch. Particularly with the early years-focused “Innings,” which from any other filmmaker may not have resonated with young audiences. To this day, fathers and sons still meet in rare agreement after binging reruns of the famed documentarian’s perfect game on MLB Network: that as is iterated in the PBS docuseries, baseball remains America’s pastime in spite of considerable push from other sports (football, basketball, etc.) in recent years.
30 For 30: Doc And Daryl (2016)
Long Island native Judd Apatow (director, Knocked Up) used his affinity for the Flushing-based, 1980s New York Mets club to reunite their two foremost superstars for his acclaimed 30 For 30 installment.
Told through the lens of the former Cy Young Award-winner and his power-slugging counterpart, Dwight “Doc” Gooden and Daryl Strawberry reflect on the drug-induced darkness that befell each of them. The pair led the ’86 Mets to World Series victory, but many argue that if not for their addiction-related dysfunction, they would have won more.
When one catches the documentary that delivers information bombshells with rapid-fire pace, they will be made privy to an essential breakdown. Screwball tells the story of how one man brought professional baseball to its knees via a second major steroid scandal.
In a power struggle with his highest-profile client and a tanner demanding to market his shady-de-aging clinic, Tony Bosch felt the walls closing in all around him. His only recourse: blowing up his life, and taking down MLB’s biggest star in the process. Bosch, his underlings, and child actor repertory players appear to authentically reflect on and reenact the too-bonkers-to-be-true, Goodfellas like craziness.
Nine Innings From Ground Zero (2004)
In times of national tragedy, the major sports leagues have proven to lead the charge in helping fans heal by way of distractive morale-boosting.
Never was this made more evident than when the US rallied around both the New York Mets and the New York Yankees in the aftermath of 9/11. If one seeks to remember the impact events like Mike Piazza’s Sept. 21 Shea Stadium home run and the Yankees’ playoff magic had on the public then-in need of a reason to smile again, then Nine Innings From Ground Zero is the film for them.
The Battered Bastards Of Baseball (2014)
They were too good, for their own good.
The Portland Mavericks defied all reason. While an unaffiliated minor league ballclub, the team – consisting of journeyman “has-beens” and eager “never-weres” – regularly competed at the top of their league. Their moving anti-establishment tale serves as the focus of the Netflix-produced documentary that garnered the rare 100 percent, certified fresh stamp of approval on Rotten Tomatoes. The film features testimonials from former Mavericks players and batboys who earned fame later on, like Kurt Russell (Escape From New York) and Todd Field (director, In The Bedroom), respectively.