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All-Star Baseball Films

July 07, 1991|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

On Monday, baseball takes its mid-season break. The only major league action until Thursday is, of course, the 62nd annual All-Star Game, Tuesday at Toronto's Skydome.

For fans in need of a baseball fix, try one of these baseball films available on video:

The Sexiest

"Bull Durham" (Orion Home Video) scores a home run as the funniest, most erotic baseball movie of all time.

Although Kevin Costner may seem lost in Sherwood Forest, he bats a thousand in the 1988 box- office hit as Crash Davis, an aging minor-league catcher who loves soft, wet kisses that last three days. The world-weary Crash is sent to the Durham Bulls club to baby-sit a dimwitted up-and-coming pitcher (a riotous Tim Robbins) and ends up falling for the sexy baseball groupie Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon).

The Sweetest

A year after "Bull Durham," Costner starred in another baseball flick, "Field of Dreams" (MCA Universal Home Video). Though some critics and hard-core baseball fans found Phil Alden Robinson's Frank Capra-esque fantasy somewhat corny, "Field of Dreams" struck a chord with audiences.

Costner is at his Jimmy Stewart best as an Iowa farmer and baseball fanatic who hears a voice saying, "If you build it, he will come." Then he sets out to build a baseball field in the middle of his farm.

"Field of Dreams" offers fine supporting performances from Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones and Ray Liotta.

Best Bio

"The Pride of the Yankees" (Key Video), Samuel Goldwyn's lovingly produced 1942 drama, is based on the career of New York Yankee slugger Lou Gehrig.

The role of Gehrig fits Gary Cooper like a glove. He received his third Oscar nomination for his memorable turn. There won't be a dry eye in the house during Coop's farewell to his fans. Teresa Wright co-stars as Mrs. Gehrig and Babe Ruth plays himself.

Runner-up bio: Brooding Anthony Perkins starring as troubled baseball great Jimmy Piersall in 1957's compelling "Fear Strikes Out" (Paramount Home Video).

Gotta Sing! Gotta Bat!

If you love to watch baseball players singing and dancing, check out 1949's "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" (MGM/UA Home Video) and 1958's "Damn Yankees" (Warner Home Video).

Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munchin star in the bouncy first, as three buddies who play for a professional baseball team but manage to find time to dance, sing and pursue women. Esther Williams (she only swims once) plays the new owner of the team who falls for Kelly.

Adapted from the hit Broadway musical, "Damn Yankees" finds a middle-age baseball fan selling his soul to the devil (a wily Ray Walston) to become a young player (Tab Hunter) for the Washington Senators so he can lead them to a pennant victory over those damn New York Yankees.

Gwen Verdon steals the show as Walston's cohort in devilish crime, Lola. The Adler-Ross score includes "Heart" and "Whatever Lola Wants."

Have a Ball

Walter Matthau and Tatum O'Neal nearly hit a home run in the 1976 comedy "The Bad News Bears" (Paramount Home Video). Matthau is at his lovable slovenly best as the coach of a hapless Little League team. O'Neal is a female pitching whiz.

Richard Pryor, James Earl Jones and suave Billy Dee Williams headline "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor King" (MCA Universal Home Video), an enjoyable 1976 comedy about a group of black professional ballplayers in 1939 who decide to start their own team.

Buster Keaton tries his luck at baseball after he strikes out with his girlfriend in the 1927 laugh-a-thon "College" (Video Yesteryear).

On Deck

Lou Gehrig plays himself in the 1938 Western "Rawhide" (All Occasion Video). And Yankee greats Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra pop up in the 1962 Doris Day-Cary Grant romantic comedy "That Touch of Mink" (Republic Home Video).

Fielder's Choice

Audiences were split on "Eight Men Out" (Orion Home Video), John Sayles' 1988 retelling of the 1919 Chicago White Sox scandal and on the 1989 comedy "Major League" (Paramount Home Video), a poor man's "Bull Durham" starring Tom Berenger and Charlie Sheen.

"The All-Star Game" airs Tuesday at 5 p.m. on CBS.

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