MovieChat Forums > Eight Men Out (1988) Discussion > The Most Authentic Ballplayers Ever

The Most Authentic Ballplayers Ever


The thing that really stuck with me watching this movie was how realistic the actors looked as ball players. We all know from Major League that Charlie Sheen has perfect form as a pitcher, but who knew that we would see the same from John Cusack, DB Sweeney, Michael Rooker, and especially David Strathairn as Pitcher Eddie Cicotte? Going back to Major League- as good a movie as it was, you can see that Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, and even Wesley Snipes looked a bit awkward in their movements on the diamond. In 8 Men Out, these guys were all smooth as silk. John Cusack looked like a real 3rd Basemen out there, picking up grounders and throwing to 1st with a natural, athletic motion. I thought it was by far the most realistic I have ever seen actors look as ball players.

reply

Yeah, the on-field scenes were really something. To prepare for shooting, Cusack trained with a former major league third baseman. Sweeney went through spring training with a minor league team, if I recall correctly.

reply

Were any of them baseballers before? (At school or wherever)

---
It's not "sci-fi", it's SF!

reply

I know Charlie Sheen played quite a bit of ball in his day.

reply

So did D. B. Sweeney.

reply

Sweeney also played an ex-hockey player recruited to partner a figure skater. While very improbable, that he could skate and act convincingly says a lot.

reply

I played ball through college (pitcher and 1B), my grandpa and uncle pitched in the Show, another uncle in the Minors, and I still play semi-pro for the fun of it... I enjoyed this film but, honestly, they had horrible baseball form. The best were easily Charlie Sheen and DB Sweeney (who has great sliding form and natural in the field)... the rest looked like actors playing baseball. Their throwing motions were totally limp and wrong (pushing the ball from through shoulder, no snap), their swings were absolutely terrible (barely stepping, leaning and slapping at the ball). Even the catcher blocking the ball was wrong; a catcher will shift his entire body to block it, not poke his arm out.

Again, I thoroughly enjoyed this film but, no, they didn't play like ballplayers... they looked like them for sure though.

reply

That makes sense. Sheen pitched through high school, which came in handy for Major League. At one point he was able to reach 85 mph.

Sweeney actually played outfield at Tulane while in college.

reply

I thought Strahtarin looked like an olde tyme pitcher of that era. His form looks awkward compared to modern pitchers, but when you look at footage of pitchers from that time, he looked very plausible to me. I don't remember him doing anything on the field besides pitching, but I found him plausible for that time.

Sweeney was very serious about baseball and apparently wanted to play pro, but was injured in a motorcycle accident so never had a chance to really go all the way with it.

I'd have to watch again to evaluate the others (Sheen, as others have noted, is quite good). I played baseball pretty seriously into high school and might have played into college if some very bad shoulder problems hadn't slowed me down. I was pretty good, but never had the talent to go pro.

_________________

Brude
asoiaf.westeros.org

reply

sweeney's naturally a righty but learned how to hit left handed to accurately portray jackson (something ray liotta didn't do in 'field of dreams" & it drove me nuts as a baseball fundamentalist) in the film

overall the play on the field was believable - which is what you want...they don't hafta look like professional ball players - they just need to get you as a viewer to suspend your disbelief just enough to buy the story being told

reply

Ray Liotta as Joe Jackson. Now that was funny. Illiterate, southern country bumpkin with a New York accent.


This will be the high point of my day; it's all downhill from here.

reply

I thought Strahtarin looked like an olde tyme pitcher of that era. His form looks awkward compared to modern pitchers, but when you look at footage of pitchers from that time, he looked very plausible to me.
I don't know, I didn't find Strathairn's delivery believable at all. Footage of that era isn't really a good guide because of the use of hand-cranked cameras, which tend to really chop up the motion. There are a few good snippets of pitching footage from then, one of Three Finger Brown comes to mind (if anyone remembers Rick Sutcliffe, the deliveries are remarkably similar), but most of it is too choppy for me to trust.

Brown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzkyW7WcybU

reply

Very few actors to me really are convincing as ballplayers (maybe because I did play). Costner in For Love Of The Game was the most realistic actor playing a ballplayer that I can recall. Besides, was there anyone ever worse than Gary Cooper in Pride Of The Yankees?

reply

William Bendix and John Goodman as Babe Ruth. Anthony Perkins as Jimmy Piersall. Robert De Niro in Bang The Drum Slowly. They were all pretty awful. Then there's theee worst movie involving baseball; It Happens Every Spring. Oh, and Jimmy Stewart in Strategic Air Command was pretty bad, too. And, even though it's one of my favorite baseball movies, every member of the AAGPBL. Dang, what's his name in Mr. 3000, too, he was a joke. Tony Danza and Tony Longo in Angels in the Outfield, were gawd awful. The list goes on and on.

Robert Redford was a good ball player, he went to the University of Colorado on a baseball scholarship and played on the same high school team as Don Drysdale. Tom Sellack was pretty good in Mr. Baseball. In an interview, Tim Robbins claims he got it up to 85, but with his motion, I kinda doubt that, and, from what I heard, he couldn't hit water if he fell out of an effing boat.

Although, the best baseball playing actor never made a baseball movie. Kurt Russell made it to AA ball in the Angel's organization. He hit .292 in three seasons before an injury ended his career. According to IMDB, Shelton wrote the part of Crash Davis for him, but the studio wanted Costner.


This will be the high point of my day; it's all downhill from here.

reply

Chuck Connors was a major league player, on the Brooklyn Dodgers. I don't think he ever made a baseball movie, though.

reply

He played one game with the Dodgers, 66 with the Cubs. And Charlie Sheen looked good in Major League. You could tell he played ball.

reply

Yep, Connors played most of his Major League games for Chicago. Thanks for reminding me, that helps make my point. Charlie Sheen looked good because he played ball, but he wasn't a Major League player. If Connors had made a baseball movie (I'm not certain whether he ever did or not) it's a sure thing he would have been totally authentic.

reply

Yes, John Goodman as Babe Ruth.

reply

Yes, John Goodman in the "The Babe".

reply

I thought I'd reply to your post. Wouldn't want you to have to wait 11 months before resuming your conversation with yourself.

108 193 23 8114 246* 47.73 22 42

reply

What bothered me the most was how sloooowwww the pitching was in the movie. Old time pitchers like Walter Johnson could really fling it in there.


Then again, most of the pitching in this movie were players deliberately floating softballs over the plate to tank the game. And during those live game sequences, the actors do have to be able to hit the ball to put it into play.


Agreed that John Cusack, DB Sweeney, and Charlie Sheen looked most authentically athletic. David Straithairn had good form and motion for a pitcher, if not necessarily speed. Gordon Clapp looked plausible as a catcher. (Side question: Did Shoeless Joe run with wild abandon the way Sweeney rounded the bases, or does DB just look kind of goofy when he runs?)

Bill Irwin is a human rubber band with freakish agility, so even though he wasn't as heavily featured (Collins, 2B) it wouldn't surprise me if he had some skills as well. Beyond that, I thought they did a good job of training and/or cutting around the rest of players. Physically they all looked like they could plausibly be athletes of the era.

The worst example I've ever seen in film/TV of an actor with zero baseball skills? In an episode of the X-Files called "The Unnatural", Jesse Martin plays "Exley", supposedly one of the best players in the Negro Leagues. He's jaw droppingly terrible. Watching him even try to throw the ball was an exercise in complete frustration.

What a stellar line up of acting talent "Eight Men Out" is though. Still early in Cusack / Sheen / Sweeney's career....David Straithairn, a Sayles favorite, is always good...Bill Irwin, beyond talented in every understated thing he does...John Mahoney, enough said.....Michael Rooker, for whom less is always more....Gordon Clapp, nearly perfect as the excitable catcher....James Read (so effective in "North and South" but then....not much after this)...Michael Lerner, Christopher Lloyd, Studs Turkel (!!) and even Sayles himself. Top notch.


reply

Side question: Did Shoeless Joe run with wild abandon the way Sweeney rounded the bases, or does DB just look kind of goofy when he runs?


I don't know if Jackson ran that way, but I always thought Sweeney ran like he was trying to look "old tymey".

reply

[deleted]