by Matt Sills
Spring is my favorite time of the years, and not because of flowers or rainbows or any of that stuff. It's because of baseball. It's the best professional sport on the planet, and its spring arrival is sometimes the only thing that gets me out of bed on dark, dreary winter days. Baseball has been featured in some great movies, and some of the players could easily have been the stars of Major League teams...or at least really entertaining characters on teams. In honor of the return of our national pastime, here is my lineup of favorite baseball players from movies. A few rules before we begin:
Leading off, center fielder from Major League, Willie Mays Hayes!
You've got to have speed at the top of your lineup, and Hayes has that. He lead the league in stolen bases, so you know that when he gets on the base paths, he's a threat. Of course, hitting tends to be an issue with Hayes. As his manager said, "You may run like Mays, but you hit like s--t." He's also got a bit of an ego, but hey, so did Rickey Henderson, and he's in the Hall of Fame. With that much speed at the top of my lineup, I'll take the little headaches and occasional dinky pop-ups that come with this guy.
Batting second and playing third base, from "The Sandlot", "Benny The Jet" Rodriguez!
Your number two hitter has to be a guy with a speed who gets on base a lot. For that, Benny's our man. For crying out loud, he even steals home in the twilight of his major league career. Rodriguez is an asset in the field as well, as his sandlot buddies allowed him to play every position, so we can plug him in pretty much anywhere. Most importantly, the kid has great knowledge of the game, is maybe the friendliest guy on the team, and plays with a great motto: "Man, this is baseball. You've got to stop thinking. Just have fun."
Batting third, right fielder from The Natural, Roy Hobbs!
The guy in the three hole is our masher, our Babe Ruth. Who else are you going to plug in but the man with the bat named Wonderboy? OK, yes, he's old. He's missed the prime of his career. He's been shot and almost killed! But he's also got the most raw talent on the team. And you know the guy is clutch. When the season is on the line, who else do you want up there other than the guy who, even though bleeding, can still destroy a light stanchion with a home run?
Batting fourth, from "Bull Durham", designated hitter Crash Davis!
You need your big home run hitter in the four hole. Crash Davis holds the minor league record for home runs. Yes, I know it's the minor leagues, but a home run record in any league is pretty impressive. He's also got leadership skills and an ability to bring out the best in young players. "Nuke" LaLoosh would have made this team if the rules were different, and as much of a positive influence as Annie Savoy was, it was Crash's advice that got him to the majors, and would have gotten him on this team. He's also a catcher, so he can relieve my next hitter when she needs a break.
Batting fifth and catching, from "A League of Their Own", Dottie Hinson!
She may be the only woman on this list, but that's only because of the one player per movie rule. I could have picked several of the ladies from this movie, or Amanda Wurlitzer from "Bad News Bears", but Dottie is my girl, because she might be the best all around player on this team. She can flat out rake, which would be impressive at any position, but she's a catcher, and a damn fine one at that too. She's a natural team leader who also has a flair for the dramatic. It's a rare combination when you have a player that is at the top of their game, but can also has leadership and showmanship.
Batting sixth, playing first base, from "Little Big League", Lou Collins!
In the sixth spot, I could have gone with a little more power in Jack Elliott from "Mr. Baseball", but instead, I'm going with a veteran who still has a little bit of pop in his bat. Collins is the rare ballplayer who sticks with one team for a career, so you know the guy is going to be loyal. He's also really cool under pressure. The guy is a lefty, and he almost hits a home run off of Randy Johnson in his prime during a one game playoff. That's clutch, and just the kind of presence on and off the field I want in the middle of my lineup.
Batting seventh and playing second base, from "Summer Catch", Mickey Dominguez!
Second base is a tough position to fill on this team. While I'd rather go with Marla Hooch, I've got to follow my rules, so I go with the guy played by... Fes? I could make fun of Mickey Dominguez, but as anyone who knows baseball knows, the Cape Cod League, in which Mickey plays, is only for the cream of the college baseball crop. Just getting chosen to play is an honor, so Mickey's got to be pretty damn good to just get in. He also proves to be a pretty sure handed defender, which we're going to need when you see the next guy in the lineup.
Batting eighth, your short stop, from "The Bad News Bears", Tanner Boyle!
We're at the eighth spot now, which is usually reserved for a guy who's better with the glove than the bat, so I'm willing to give up some offense. I guess I'm also willing to give up a little defense. Heck, in this case, I guess I'm willing to give up any ball playing ability whatsoever. But this is Tanner Boyle we're talking about, 4 foot something of foul mouthed fire covered in long blond hair. The kid may not have talent, but I like what he adds to the team in attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes to win, even if that means beating up opposing hitters.
And batting ninth, playing left field, from "Field of Dreams", Archibald "Moonlight" Graham!
This guy actually existed. He did only played one game and had no at bats, and he did become a doctor in Chisholm, Minnesota. I don't know much about the real Moonlight Graham, but here's what I know about Moonlight Graham from "Field of Dreams": All those years of not playing ball, and, uh...being dead, have made the guy the ultimate team player. He gets the opportunity to hit against major leaguers, and hits a sacrifice fly to score a run. Moonlight rounds out a varied team that would have a chance to win a championship, if they actually existed.