Game of Shadows: With Moneyball in production, one has to wonder what great baseball book may next become a film. My vote is the best work on the Steroid Era which documented the rises and falls of Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, and Marion Jones, while introducing characters like showboating steroid dealer Victor Conte and dumpster-diving IRS agent Jeff Nowitzky. It’s got many elements for a great movie including suspense, tragedy, and a little dark humor. Some may argue steroids in baseball are so five years ago but this movie would be no more dated than one touting Billy Beane as a genius.
Anything about the Negro Leagues: Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems there has never been a major studio release about black baseball, which is unfortunate because it offer a wealth of poetic, sometimes heartbreaking stories. There’s Rube Foster, who helped launch a league but died broken, Josh Gibson, perhaps the greatest star of black baseball who died in 1947 at 35, disillusioned because he wouldn’t get to break the color barrier in the majors, and many others like them.
The Boys of Summer, Ball Four, Veeck as in Wreck, The Catcher Was a Spy: Ball Four was incendiary in its time, a playing diary of the 1969 season that revealed players as drunks, louts, and racists. There’s more than enough great anecdotes in the more than 400 pages for a screenplay, and with a 40th anniversary edition just released, it would be timely. The Boys of Summer is another personal favorite, glorifying the Brooklyn Dodgers. I haven’t read Veeck as in Wreck or The Catcher Was a Spy, but each illuminates a memorable baseball figure: innovative owner Bill Veeck and sometimes catcher/possible World War II spy Moe Berg.
Something on Pete Rose: The life story of the all-time hits king, barred from baseball for gambling seems like a movie waiting to happen. One possibility is Field of Dreams II, where Rose convinces an Iowa farmer to plow under his corn to build a baseball field so he can come back and play ball. And bet on those games.
The Oakland Athletics of the early 1970s: If ESPN can produce The Bronx is Burning about the New York Yankees of the late 1970s, why doesn’t someone make something on a squad with more World Series titles, a wackier owner, and a more highly-evolved level of dysfunction? Sports Illustrated provided a film treatment, of sorts, with this outstanding article in 1999.
Something by the Frat Pack: When I think of Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller and company, I picture a movie about early 20th century baseball, when drunk, rowdy, and profane players scarcely ranked above second-class citizens. I could also see these actors in a project about another raucous club, the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies, since Black seems a clone for John Kruk, Stiller could play talented but neurotic Mitch Williams, and Ferrell, with some suspension of disbelief, could play Darren Daulton.
The Eddie Gaedel Story: This would be a short. Oh, I’m bad.