Yankees Editorial: Ranking My Favorite Baseball Movies of All-Time

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Mandatory Credit: news.moviefone.com

#9. Eight Men Out (1988)

Based upon the Eliot Azinov novel, 8 Men Out, the story attempts to take a historical look at the 1919 Chicago White Sox, later dubbed The Black Sox. The movie has always held a special place with me, because I’m a history guy, and a baseball history nut. I love period movies, and director John Sayles did a wonderful job taking us back to the dawn of the roaring twenties.

The other thing I love about the movie, is that it is loaded with familiar faces, such as John Cusack as Buck Weaver, Charlie Sheen as Happy Felsch, Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) as Bill Burns, John Mahoney as Kid Gleason, and Michael Rooker as Chick Gandil just to name a few. The plot puts us with the White Sox on the verge of clinching the American League pennant, and headed to the World Series as the heavy favorites against the National League Cincinnati Reds.

Unlike the modern World Series, the 1919 version was a best-of-nine. Several players were unhappy about their pay, including Eddie Cicotte, portrayed by David Strathairn (Also of A League of Their Own), who had been ordered benched by cheapskate owner Charles Comiskey, to avoid having to pay Cicotte performance-based bonuses.

Multiple players were on the take, as gamblers with big money backing them, saw this as an opportunity to make even more cash, by fixing the series against the underdog Reds. Cicotte and Lefty Williams both got leveled in the first two games of the series, but unfortunately for the Black Sox, their promised pay for poor play, failed to come through. The fix might have been in, but some began to backpedal, and refused to take any further part. The Sox win Game Three, which upset the gamblers and begin to put threats of violence into motion against some of the players and their families.

All while this was occurring, two of the players who eventually were banned for life, Buck Weaver and Shoeless Joe Jackson, played hard and put up excellent numbers during the series. It was their knowledge of the fix, and inability to report it, which most likely cost both their careers.

During the series, a pair of sportswriters begin to hear the whispers of the fix, and start taking notes of plays that seem hokey. By the time all was said and done, the Sox had lost the series 5 games to 3, and the baseball world was turned on it’s ear. After the eight players that were accused of being in on the fix were acquitted during their trial, the baseball owners hired and handed all-wielding power to one Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, who quickly banned all eight players for life, never to be involved in professional baseball again.

As with any historical period film, there are bound to be inaccuracies due to budget and time restraints, but the reason I love this film so much, is because it brings to light the saddest period in baseball history, while showing that some players, even having knowledge of the fix, most likely were punished much harsher than they should’ve been, like Weaver and Jackson.