#1 Major League vs. #8 The Bingo Love Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings
Major League (from Alex Remington):
A classic R-rated ’80s comedy, Major League is basically baseball’s Slap Shot: a team of misanthropic misfits from Cleveland somehow starts winning, despite how much everyone hates them. Written by the guy who won the Oscar for The Sting, it’s a great ensemble piece, with a truly stellar cast including Tom Berenger, Wesley Snipes, Charlie Sheen, and Rene Russo, and it features an all-time great performance by Bob Uecker as the Cleveland announcer.
It’s not perfectly P.C., right down to the real-life name of the team the movie is about, but it’s one of the best underdog sports movies. (It’s definitely the best underdog baseball movie about a team of adults.)
The Bingo Love Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (from IMDB):
Tired of being treated like a slave by team owner Sallison Potter (Ted Ross), charismatic star pitcher Bingo Long (Billy Dee Williams) steals a bunch of Negro League players away from their teams, including catcher/slugger Leon Carter (James Earl Jones) and Charlie Snow (Richard Pryor), a player forever scheming to break into the segregated Major League Baseball of the 1930s by masquerading as first a Cuban (“Carlos Nevada”), then a Native American (“Chief Takahoma”). They take to the road, barnstorming through small Midwestern towns, playing the local teams to make ends meet. One of the opposing players, ‘Esquire’ Joe Calloway (Stan Shaw), is so good that they recruit him. Bingo’s team becomes so outlandishly entertaining and successful, it begins to cut into the attendance of the established Negro League teams. Finally, Bingo’s nemesis Potter is forced to propose a winner-take-all game: if Bingo’s team can beat a bunch of all-stars, it can join the league, but if it loses, the players will return to their old teams. Potter has two of his goons kidnap Leon prior to the game as insurance, but he escapes and is key to his side’s victory. As it turns out, there is a major league scout in the audience. After the game, he offers Esquire Joe the chance to break the color barrier; with Bingo’s blessing, he accepts. Leon glumly foresees the decline of the Negro League as more players follow Esquire Joe’s lead, but Bingo, ever the optimist, cheers him up by describing the wild promotional stunts he intends to stage to bring in the paying customers.
During World War II when all the men are fighting the war, most of the jobs that were left vacant because of their absence were filled in by women. The owners of the baseball teams, not wanting baseball to be dormant indefinitely, decide to form teams with women. So scouts are sent all over the country to find women players. One of the scouts, passes through Oregon and finds a woman named Dottie Hinson, who is incredible. He approaches her and asks her to try out but she’s not interested. However, her sister, Kit who wants to get out of Oregon, offers to go. But he agrees only if she can get her sister to go. When they try out, they’re chosen and are on the same team. Jimmy Dugan, a former player, who’s now a drunk, is the team manager. But he doesn’t feel as if it’s a real job so he drinks and is not exactly doing his job. So Dottie steps up. After a few months when it appears the girls are not garnering any attention, the league is facing closure till Dottie does something that grabs attention. And it isn’t long Dottie is the star of the team and Kit feels like she’s living in her shadow.
Story of the Tampico Stogies, a low minor-league baseball team, and its star player and manager, Stud’ Cantrell, as they battle for the league championship amidst the corruption and racism of the American south.