Padres Editorial: Friars On Base Ranks Their Favorite Baseball Movies Part I

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Mandatory Credit:

Devin Sparks discusses #9-For Love of the Game:

For Love of the Game has long been one of my favorite baseball movies, and it easily ranks in my baseball top ten.

The movie stars Kevin Costner as Billy Chapel of the Detroit Tigers, a 40 year old pitcher playing in his of 19th major league season. The movie opens with transcendent Vin Scully calling the game, setting the stage for the story. We learn that Chapel, a former baseball great has been struggling up to this point in the season with an 8-11 record and 3.55 ERA, and could very well ride off into the sunset after this game.

The game takes place on the road at Yankees stadium where Chapel must block out an unruly Yankees crowd once he takes the mound. As he pitches, the movie cuts back in time as he reflects on his career and his love life up until that time. We learn that a few years earlier, Chapel suffered from a near career-ending hand injury that he recovered from and that his long-time girlfriend broke up with him to take a job in London just before the start of the game.

As the movie weaves through Chapel’s life, we catch glimpses of what is transpiring in the game. A knowing smile from his teammates. Chapel icing his arm on the bench, with his teammates sitting ten feet away. And then in the bottom of the eighth, Billy looks up at the score board and realizes that he is throwing a perfect game.

While the love story drags on, it ultimately culminates with Billy’s realization of what he’s done and works as a plot mechanism to explain why he is having such a hard time focusing on the game.

The baseball cinematography is excellent, and the viewer feels like they are witnessing history as the game unfolds. Vin Scully on commentary helps to cement this movie as one of my favorite baseball films of all time.