Netflix has made headlines recently for pouring money into new acquisitions and development. Although not known for the sports content in their library, the streaming site is home to some hidden gems.
Baseball Content Available on Netflix
Netflix Original Content
Battered Bastards of Baseball
Easily one of the best sports offerings available on the site, Battered Bastards of Baseball tells the story of the Portland Mavericks, 1973-77. The Mavericks were an independent team playing in the short-season Class A Northwest League founded by Bing Russell, father of renowned actor Kurt Russell. This story has it all, underdog/outsider versus the world, plenty of laughs, and lots of baseball.
Although many players were on the team were not MLB-level talent, several did make their way to The Show. The Mavericks’ most famous alumnus was Jim Bouton, who was blacklisted from the MLB for writing a book that did not reflect well on the league. Jeff Cox eventually worked his way up to play for the Oakland Athletics and had a lengthy coaching career for a number of MLB teams. The teams also featured pitchers that had previously played with Major League clubs — Larry Colton of the Philadelphia Phillies and Dick Rusteck of the New York Mets.
The Ridiculous Six
Although a Western slapstick comedy, the Ridiculous Six features an amazingly hilarious four-minute scene in which the main characters come across Abner Doubleday as he is inventing the game of baseball. Doubleday is seen making up rules on the spot, rules that are advantageous to himself. Although a completely historically inaccurate look at the invention of the sport, the clip is sure to elicit chuckles from any baseball fan.
Netflix Acquired Content
The 2013 critically-acclaimed biographical/drama is the story of Jackie Robinson told through his experiences. Although highly dramatized, the film does well with capturing baseball both on and off the field as well as the atmosphere of the time. This movie is a must watch for anyone who appreciates the history of the game. Additionally, the film features incredibly beautiful (and accurate) renderings of baseball stadiums that are no longer in existence.
Just added this April, this Jon Hamm narrated documentary of the Splendid Splinter is a fascinating look at one of baseball’s best hitters. The hour-long video is an episode of the PBS series American Masters and was produced in association with the MLB and fellow Red Sox hero David Ortiz’s production company, Big Papi Productions. The documentary does a great job discussing off-the-field topics and the many tensions faced by Williams.
The 2006 sports-comedy, although far from a cinematic masterpiece, is a classic baseball film. The movie follows the hijinks of three unathletic adults returning to play the “kids game” against actual children. A hilarious underdog story unravels as the three play against the meanest Little League teams and meanest coaches in the state for the chance at a new ballpark. The movie is lighthearted, PG-13 fun with a happy ending guaranteed to be enjoyable for the whole family.
Another classic baseball film, the 1988 rom-com/sports movie was rated by Sports Illustrated as the best sports movie of all time. The movie stars Kevin Costner as Crash Davis, a catcher/mentor for upcoming pitcher Nuke Laloosh. As the two work together hoping to make their return (Crash) or debut (Nuke), they also face a distraction in the form of a baseball groupie.
The 2006 sports-drama revolves around a sports therapist’s attempts to help a pitcher recover his groove while dealing with the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. Despite the pitcher on the mound depicted on the movie’s cover and its classification as a sports movie, there is very little baseball action to be found.
The story of Chien-Ming Wang, this 2018 documentary covers the Taiwanese pitcher and his seemingly endless struggles to remain healthy. A fascinating and baseball-intensive watch, this movie also captures Wang’s emotions on his journey to return to the Show. This documentary is an interesting look at an interesting player going through a journey much different than most other athletes.