What was the highest-grossing baseball movie of all time?

By Scott A. Rowan

There may be no crying in baseball, but there sure is a lot of money to be made from films about the sport.

This excerpt is from “The Cubs Quotient: How the Chicago Cubs Changed the World” by Scott A. Rowan. Available now at Amazon and SherpaMultimedia.com.

The 1992 movie A League of Their Own, directed by Penny Marshall, changed the world of entertainment in several ways. Cubs owner Philip Wrigley created the real women’s baseball league that the movie was based on, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which existed from 1943 to 1954. While the league was relatively short-lived, Marshall’s film will live forever in the minds of future generations of baseball fans and in the record books. A League of Their Own is the highest-grossing baseball film of all time, with a lifetime gross of $107 million as of 2013.17 Moneyball (2012) and The Rookie (2002) tie for a distant second at $75 million each.

The Chicago Cubs also have a direct connection to yet another top grossing baseball film. Daniel Stern’s 1993 directorial debut, Rookie of the Year (about a young boy who pitches for the Cubs), claims sixth place with $53 million in gross receipts. The other top 10 grossing baseball films are Field of Dreams (1989), with $64 million; The Benchwarmers (2006), with $59 million; Bull Durham (1988), with $50 million; Angels in the Outfield (1994), with $50 million; Major League (1989), with $49 million; and The Natural (1984), with $47 million.

In case you’re wondering, the highest-grossing sports film overall was Forrest Gump” (1994), with $329 million, followed by The Blind Side (2009), which raked in $256 million. (For the record, Forrest Gump is classified as a football film.)

Poster for “A League of Their Own”

Tom Hanks has another claim to sports immortality other than starring in the film with the top sales. “There’s no crying in baseball!” was the famous line from Hanks’ character, baseball coach Jimmy Dugan, in A League of Their Own. When the American Film Institute released its list of the top 100 movie quotes of all time, Dugan’s famous admonishment to ballplayer Evelyn Gardner (played by Bitty Schram) was No. 54 on the list.

Hanks’ character Dugan was loosely based on former Cub Jimmie Foxx who, like Dugan, allowed a drinking problem to shorten his career. Wrigley hired Foxx to manage in the AAGPBL as a way to help Foxx stay in baseball and pay his bills. At the end of A League of Their Own, Geena Davis’ character, Dottie Hinson, comes across the Hall of Fame plaque for Dugan, which states that he hit 58 home runs in 1936 for the Chicago Cubs. In real life, Foxx hit 58 home runs for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1932. He played only two seasons for the Cubs at the end of his career (1942 and 1944), during which time he hit only three home runs. Foxx was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951.


Chris Nashawaty, “A League Of Its Own,” Sports Illustrated, July 4, 2011, http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1187813/index.htm.

“Sports – Baseball, 1982-Present,” boxofficemojo.com,http://boxofficemojo.com/genres/chart/?id=baseball.htm, accessed July 2, 2013.

“AFI’s 100 Years . . . 100 Movie Quotes,” afi.com, http://www.afi.com/100years/ quoteaspx, accessed July 2, 2013.


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