As what would have been Opening Day of the 2020 season passes us by, it feels like pouring salt in the wound that coronavirus has opened by not being able to watch live baseball.
Many people throughout the country have been advised to stay at home during these uncertain times, and thus have been binging their favorite movies and shows on all the available streaming platforms.
To help cope with not watching Yankees baseball as well as refill some depleted queues, I’ve put together a list of the best movies and shows that were inspired by or are related to the New York Yankees to get you through these disappointing times.
5. “Everyone’s Hero” (2006)
Truth be told, when I started to think about doing this list, this was not a movie I would have foreseen making it, let alone cracking the top 5. But I tossed it on the other night and you know something? It was actually pretty good!
This animated feature follows Yankee Irving, a 10-year-old kid from the Bronx who loves baseball but isn’t the best player out on the sandlot. He loves the Yankees, obviously, and his idol Babe Ruth. When the Babe’s bat gets stolen during the 1932 series against the Cubs, Yankee steps up to retrieve it and goes on a wild adventure along the way. This kid’s movie has it all: talking inanimate objects, randomly placed songs by artists of the time, valuable life lessons, etc. What actually transpires at the end of the film is absurd, but it’s for the kids so it works.
It makes the top 5 because the main character is literally named Yankee and the whole movie is about helping Ruth and the Yankees win the World Series. Fun fact: this story is loosely based off an actual event, when Joe DiMaggio’s bat was stolen during his 56-game hit streak. It’s a very good watch for the whole family to enjoy, especially if you have a young Yankee fan in the making.
Available on: HBO
4. “The Pride of the Yankees” (1942)
Widely considered one of the best sports movies of all time, “The Pride of the Yankees” still manages to tug at the heartstrings over 75 years after its release. This biopic about the life of Yankees legend Lou Gehrig helped pave the way for the sports film genre moving forward.
Starring the incomparable Gary Cooper as Gehrig, this movie makes the top 5 because of its impact and its longstanding history in Yankees lore. Released only a year after Gehrig passed away from ALS, this movie hit home for all Americans following the tragic and premature loss of an iconic figure.
Look, its not a perfect movie by any means. Yes, it is in black and white and will feel out of date, which it should considering it was made a generation ago. But you will see Yankees greats such as Bill Dickey and Bob Meusel making cameos to honor their friend and teammate, not to mention the “Sultan of Swat” Babe Ruth playing himself which is wild to see. Whereas the last movie is for the young, this one is for the older folks who may feel especially lonely during these times and need a nostalgic pick me up.
Available on: Amazon Prime
3. “The Babe” (1992)
This is the third time Babe Ruth has appeared in some fashion on this list, and that isn’t surprising given the man has been an American folk hero for over a century. This movie, personally, is the definitive story of the life and career of “The Great Bambino”.
John Goodman (“The Flintstones”, “The Big Lebowski”) does a masterful job playing the larger-than-life persona Ruth was famous for. It highlights the ups and downs of The Babe’s life, particularly the low points and shows how money, success, and fame doesn’t guarantee happiness. It lands at number 3 on the list because it’s all about arguably the most famous Yankee in history, and given the roster of players over the years, that is saying something. The movie is a great history lesson for baseball fans of all ages.
Available on: Starz
2. “The Bronx is Burning” (2007)
Before anyone jumps me, I am aware this isn’t actually a movie. This was a weekly miniseries that aired on ESPN back in the summer of 2007. I watched every episode as they premiered and haven’t been able to re-watch them since. With all this time in isolation, it seems like the perfect opportunity to dive back in.
To commemorate the 30 year anniversary of the 1977 World Champion Yankees squad, this miniseries, which was based off the best-selling book by Jonathan Mahler, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning, chronicles the events that made the summer of ’77 in New York City so memorable. It intertwines the Yankees’ championship season with the series of murders committed by the “Son of Sam” that summer as well as the infamous blackout that made the city burn both literally and figuratively.
The show’s three main players are Billy Martin (John Turturro), George Steinbrenner (Oliver Platt), and the newly acquired Reggie Jackson (Daniel Sunjata). The relationship between these three personalities alone would be enough for a series, and all three actors are excellent in their portrayals of three Yankee legends. There are 8 one-hour episodes total, which will take up a good chunk of time during your quarantine.
Available on: YouTube
1. “61*” (2001)
You will find this movie near the top of most Yankees fans list. It is a movie made by a Yankee fan (Billy Crystal) for Yankees fans. Watching this with my dad and brother when it came out made our love for The Bronx Bombers that much stronger. I never let a season go by without viewing it at least once.
This film follows the home run race of 1961 by two all-time Yankees: Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane) and Roger Maris (Barry Pepper). The two were not just in a race against each other, but also against history in chasing down the record set by, you guessed it, Babe Ruth in 1927 of 60 home runs in a single season. It highlights the pressure such a feat put on the “M&M Boys” and how each handled it separately and together. It is simply a great sports movie that still holds up for any Yankee fan with a sense of history. Watch “61*”. You will not be disappointed.
Available on: HBO
That is my top 5, but it may not be yours. Comment below and let me know what I missed or what I need to check out. Wash your hands, stay inside, and we’ll get through this together!