The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings

A solid extra-base hit.

Following ballplayers prevented from playing in the majors by the color line, this mix of humor and social commentary is a good day at the movie ballpark.

Teaming up before they later collected those sweet, sweet Stars Wars paychecks, Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones are the headliners.

But it’s Richard Pryor who steals every scene he’s in as a stat-obsessed player.

Bouncing along county backroads, not getting the respect they deserve, our heroes seize the day, turning what could have been a broken-bat single of a film into a solid double through sheer effort.

A League of Their Own

Tears are taboo on the diamond.

A rollicking grand slam, this fictionalized look at real-life women who helped keep professional baseball going in America during World War II is as fresh today as when it hit theaters in ’92.

Tom Hanks gives one of his best performances, rumpled and sarcastic, a faded star who finds, to his abiding horror, that he actually still cares.

Geena Davis, among the most-athletic of actresses (check out Cutthroat Island for more proof), is the true star, but don’t sleep on Lori Petty as her rambunctious lil’ sis.

This lineup is loaded with Hall of Famers.

 

The Sandlot

“You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”

Is there a person alive who doesn’t enjoy this light-hearted romp?

How can you vote against a scrappy band of preteens filling their days with baseball, macking on Wendy Peffercorn, and discovering the horrors of mixing chewing tobacco with madly-spinning carnival rides?

If you do, you’re probably a crusty ol’ jerk who mixes their Wheaties with their momma’s toe jam, and should be avoided at all costs.

For the rest of us, we’ll be content to relive the summer of ’62, when Hamilton “Ham” Porter, Michael “Squints” Palledorous, and Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez ruled supreme.

 

Safe at Home!

Low-key acting reaches new heights, or is that depths, in this ’60s era curio.

Micky Mantle and Roger Maris, the homer-hittin’ heroes of the New York Yankees at the time, play themselves. Talk about typecasting.

While The Mick is all grins and biceps-poppin’ good times, Maris almost goes to sleep on the silver screen.

Decades later, he would have made an ideal zombie on The Walking Dead!

While it’s probably a good thing Maris kept the day job, this light-hearted tale of a young boy who heads off to spring training to kidnap the diamond legends is a pleasant time-filler.

Pastime

Pulling off a delicate dance between cynicism and hope, this tale of a fading baseball star is a gem.

Rock-solid character actor William Russ has the main role, as a guy slowly sinking in the minors, and he’s quietly sensational.

Paired with Glenn Plummer, as a fireball-tossin’ upstart, he tries to teach the youngster the beauty of holding on for one more day, one more game, one more pitch.

While Bull Durham was a raucous, profane blast, Pastime is content to be a gentle riff.

In its own way, the latter is just as much a winner as the former.