SPORTS MOVIES

Best sports movies: 'All-Stars' resonates with anyone involved in youth sports

Any youth sports parent itching to have some fun with their sports-loving kids would do well to check out
Any youth sports parent itching to have some fun with their sports-loving kids would do well to check out “All-Stars,” the 2014 youth softball film starring comic great Fred Willard (left). (Nancy Fink photo)

Editor’s note: The Gazette sports staff has compiled lists of its top 15 favorite sports movies. Each day, a different staffer will share some insight into one of their favorites. Some of them are classics, watched and re-watched time and time again. But for a few, maybe we’ll be able to convince some of you to check it out for the very first time.

“Bull Durham” remains my all-time favorite sports film, but a movie everyone should see is “All-Stars.” The movie was released in 2014 and follows a 10U girls’ fast-pitch softball team.

Lance Kinsey wrote, directed and starred in the movie. He plays Lance Grayden, who returns to coach the team after his daughter is done playing college softball. Grayden takes over a youth rec team (players voted to name it the Hairy Ketchup Bottles) that are more concerned with potty breaks and snacks than the game, at first.

The in-game action is recognizable by any youth sports parent, from the lack of strikes to distracted players to overthrows and drops.

Even more relatable are the characters surrounding the team.

I stumbled across this movie with my softball-playing daughter. When we watched it, each time a new character was introduced, we’d stare at each other, smile and go, “That’s (redacted to protect the innocent)!” It was dead-on.

There is the overzealous parent, who is demonstrative and argues about everything to everyone. There is the “numbers” parent, who keeps statistics and can give batting and fielding averages of all the players. Don’t forget the parents who drop hundreds of dollars on equipment for a kid who doesn’t know how to use it.

Don’t forget the parent (Angela Kinsey of “The Office” fame) who is more upset than her daughter for not making the all-star team, which is the coveted prize for players at the end of the season.

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Don’t forget the overbearing opposing coach, grumpy umpire, the up-and-coming younger umpire who takes things too serious and the funny, sweet and well-meaning league president, played perfectly by comedic genius Fred Willard.

With daughters in club softball, the characters were extremely relatable and accurate. Some of the funnier moments include a father banned from the park and complaining about play while watching with binoculars from across the street, a dad refusing to let Grayden hit grounders with his daughter’s $300 bat and Grayden admitting his dream is to coach a team of players whose parents are all dead.

The movie will strike a chord with any youth sports parent and is done so perfectly that you can laugh at yourself.

My Top 15 sports movies

1. Bull Durham

2. Remember The Titans

3. 61*

4. Caddyshack

5. Rocky

6. Brian’s Song

7. All-Stars

8. Major League

9. The Sandlot

10. Raging Bull

11. A League of Their Own

12. Pride of the Yankees

13. Vision Quest

14. Eight Men Out

15. Rudy

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