“Eight Men Out’’ gets somewhat lost in the shuffle when people recall the mid-to-late 1980s bounty of popular baseball movies, from “The Natural” to “Bull Durham” to “Field of Dreams” to “Major League.’’
But John Sayles’ film about the 1919 Black Sox scandal, a mostly serious work that featured fewer Hollywood touches than all of the above, deserves its place among them.
“Dude, we knew right away it was special,’’ Michael Rooker, who played first baseman Chick Gandil, said during a visit to New York to mark the film’s 25th anniversary and appear at this weekend's Wizard World Comic Con NY Experience. (The film was released Sept. 2, 1988.)
“This was something that gained momentum over the years and people see it as a classic . . . Man, oh, man, look at the cast. Think about all these guys and how many guys have gone on and done some amazing, great work.’’
The cast included Charlie Sheen, John Cusack and D.B. Sweeney as Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Rooker recalled feeling as if he were 12 again during filming, “fighting on the field with my friends.’’ He said he remains friendly with several other cast members.
Rooker, who grew up in Chicago, still calls himself a White Sox fan, but added “the Dodgers are cool, too.’’
The character he played, who started the ball rolling on the Sox's betting scandal, was one of several players of the era who looked old beyond their years.
“We definitely looked younger than the real guys,’’ Rooker said of the actors. “Those guys had a rougher life, just looked like older men . . . Chick Gandil, he was rough. I am way more handsome than Chick Gandil.’’
Rooker said he is not surprised so many successful baseball movies came out in the same era, because of the copy-cat nature of Hollywood, as well as for pragmatic business reasons.
“When you hear other people doing theirs, you’re like, we better get ours out, otherwise you have to wait another 10 years to get yours out,’’ he said.
“Eight Men Out,’’ he said, “really has stood the test of time. John Sayles has to be proud of his work. I know we all are.’’