The 13 Best Baseball Documentaries

Great baseball documentaries come in many shapes and sizes. They can take a broad, historical view of the game, or focus on a single-player or event. They can tell the stories of the legends of the game, or of those forgotten by time.

These films can educate you, inspire you, amuse you, or cause you to question what you thought you knew. There have been so many excellent films about baseball that it was hard to narrow down the thirteen best baseball documentaries.  

These baseball documentaries are sure to entertain fans of all ages.

The Best Baseball documentaries (and where you can watch them)

Here is a list of our favorite baseball documentaries and how you can get your hands on them. 

My favorite Baseball documentary is Catching Hell. I love all of the ESPN 30 for 30 films, and Catching Hell is incredibly well done. However, all these films are great at diving into their topics.

Our Fav Baseball Documentaries

Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns 2010 Boxed Set (Includes The Tenth Inning)

Any list of the best baseball documentaries must include Ken Burns’ Baseball, a fascinating nine-part, 19-hour film on the history of baseball from its 19th-century origins up to 1990 (a 2010 addendum, aptly named the “Tenth Inning,” covers the 1990s and early 2000s).

Burns covers nearly every significant event in baseball history and tells the stories of the people who have defined the game. Burns’ documentary is a must-watch for any baseball fan or anybody interested in American history. You can see the full price on Amazon here.

Our Fav Baseball Documentaries

When it Was a Game: The Complete Collection [Blu-ray]

So much of baseball’s past can only be seen in grainy black-and-white footage. But the When It Was a Game series brings baseball heroes from the 1930s through the 1960s to life using the brilliant color footage from home movies taken by players and fans.

It shows game action, including the 1938 World Series, but its most exciting parts are close-ups of players warming up before the game, joking around in the dugout, making faces for the camera, or hanging around outside the ballpark in their healthy life. You can buy the DVD set on Amazon.

Our Fav Baseball Documentaries

Ballplayer: Pelotero

Baseball is known as America’s pastime, but no country loves baseball more than the Dominican Republic. Baseball is a way of life there and kids dream of becoming the next Pedro Martinez and Vladimir Guerrero. Major league teams search the island for talent, and young players do everything they can to receive a contract.

Ballplayer: Pelotero follows two 16-year-old Dominican players, including current Minnesota Twins All-Star Miguel Sano, as they prepare to sign with major league teams.

The film shows how much corruption, lying, and lack of trust there is in the process of scouting and signing players. You can watch the movie on DVD, or on Amazon Prime.

Our Fav Baseball Documentaries

No No: A Dockumentary

Dock Ellis was a colorful and fearless pitcher of the 1970s who is best remembered for pitching a no-hitter while—if you can believe him—high on the drug LSD.

No No: A Dockumentary covers Ellis’ famous no-hitter, but it is more interested in what he did off the field.

He was an outspoken advocate for racial justice during his career, and after his retirement, he became sober and became a counselor to help others beat their addictions. If you want to learn more about the movie, click here.

Our Fav Baseball Documentaries

The Brooklyn Dodgers - The Original America's Team

So much has been written about the Brooklyn Dodgers—from their signing of Jackie Robinson to their many heartbreaks at the hands of their more prosperous neighbors, to their eventual move to Los Angeles—that it is difficult for a documentary to find new things to say.

The Ghosts of Flatbush manages to do so as it interviews many Dodger fans who explain how the team, known lovingly as “Dem Bums,” was a representation of the multicultural Brooklyn of the 1940s and ‘50s.

Our Fav Baseball Documentaries

ESPN Films - Catching Hell (Alex Gibney)

In the 2003 NLCS, with the Chicago Cubs closing in on their first World Series appearance in 58 years, Cubs fan Steve Bartman reached for a foul ball heading toward him, getting in the way the Cubs outfielder trying to make the catch. The Cubs went on to allow 8 runs that inning, losing the game and eventually the series.

Bartman was blamed for the loss and needed to go into hiding as he received death threats. Catching Hell interviews players, media members, and fans who were at the game.

Many regret how they reacted toward Bartman and believe that he was oppressed by the whole city for his honest mistake. One of ESPN’s acclaimed ’30 for 30′ series, Catching Hell is a personal favorite of mine. Check out the Amazon search for a DVD copy here.

Our Fav Baseball Documentaries

Fastball

The fastball is baseball’s most common pitch, the only one thrown by every pitcher. You might think you already know everything there is to know about it, but Fastball examines the science behind the fastball and tries to determine the fastest pitch ever thrown.

Surprisingly, it’s not the 105 mile-per-hour (169 km/h) pitch thrown by Aroldis Chapman, which is officially the highest ever recorded by a radar gun. So who did throw it? You’ll have to watch to find out. You can watch it on Amazon Prime today.

Our Fav Baseball Documentaries

Knuckleball!

So now that you’ve learned about the fastball, it’s time to turn to baseball’s weirdest pitch: the knuckleball. Knuckleballers throw the ball without spin, causing it to it flutter unpredictably. It is hard to control, harder to catch, and even harder to hit.

Knuckleball! follows Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey, the only two knuckleballers pitching in the majors in 2011, and learns how they can throw such a unique pitch. The film is an inspiring look at these two pitchers who never gave up on their careers and became successful after being told they would never make the major leagues. Catch the film here.

Our Fav Baseball Documentaries

Viva Baseball

Viva Baseball interviews dozens of Latino ballplayers from different eras.

Many speak of how they struggled to adjust to life in the major leagues, having to learn a new language and new culture while facing discrimination from teammates and fans.

But the film also includes many positive stories and celebrates the impact that Latino players have made on the game.

Our Fav Baseball Documentaries

Brothers in Exile

Brothers in Exile tells the fantastic stories of half-brothers Livan and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. Each brother made a harrowing escape from Cuba and made it to the major leagues, where they each led teams to World Series victories. The documentary includes rare footage of the brothers playing in Cuba.

Our Fav Baseball Documentaries

For The Fun Of The Game

The St. Paul Saints entered Minnesota in the early 90s. Most people believed that this small fun side wouldn’t last past twelve months. Instead, they have brought millions of people joy, laughter, and memories.

Take a journey through the past 25 years of the Saints and see how they became one of the most successful minor league baseball teams of all time.

You can see the film on Amazon Prime.

Our Fav Baseball Documentaries

Long Time Coming: A 1955 Baseball Story

The Pensacola Jaycees All-Stars were the first all-black Little League team in Florida. In 1955, their first season, every all-white team in Pensacola refused to play them. At the state finals, only one club, the Orlando Kiwanis, agreed to play.

Long Time Coming interviews members of both teams to discuss their actions in desegregating Little League baseball in the deep south. You can watch the documentary here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Moneyball a true story?

Moneyball, the movie, is based on the Michael Lewis book of the same name. Both the book and film are based on true events and the Oakland Athletics’ strategies to stay competitive in the MLB. However, certain aspects were changed from the book when creating the movie.

What baseball movies are on Netflix?

There’s some classic baseball movies on Netflix including The Sandlot (1993), Take Me Out to the Ballgame (1949), The Natural (1984), Field of Dreams (1989), A League of Their Own (1982), and Bull Durham (1988)

Is bottom of the ninth a true story?

No, the film ‘Bottom of the Ninth’ is not based on a true story.

How many movies are there about baseball?

There are well over 200 films about baseball, making the sport more than America’s past time. One of the first films was 1915’s Right Off the Bat, however the first acclaimed baseball movie was 1942s Pride of the Yankees

Final Thoughts

No matter what part of baseball you’re interested in, there’s going to be an excellent baseball documentary that will entertain and inform you.

These are just the 13 best baseball documentaries, but there are many more out there. Tell us what we’ve missed; we’d love to know which baseball documentary is your favorite.

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