Nielsen helped blend Hollywood, baseball

Nielsen helped blend Hollywood, baseball

When you think of the greatest baseball movie scenes, here are some that might come to mind:

Kevin Costner's Ray Kinsella character playing catch with his father in "Field of Dreams" or his Crash Davis character exchanging beliefs with Annie in "Bull Durham."

Robert Redford's Roy Hobbs character hitting an exploding-fireworks homer in "The Natural," or maybe the shaving scene in which he tells his manager he just wanted to be a baseball player as a boy.

"Juuust a bit outside" by Bob Uecker's Harry Doyle broadcaster in "Major League;" Tom Hanks' Jimmy Dugan in "A League of Their Own" proclaiming there is "no crying in baseball;" or a youthful confrontation with The Beast in "The Sandlot."

Then again, it just might be Leslie Nielsen -- aka Lt. Frank Drebin and Enrico Pallazzo, among other characters -- calling strike three to the crowd's delight, pivoting and becoming the only umpire in history to do a moonwalk and splits upon ringing up a batter.

Fans on Monday were mourning the passing of Nielsen at the age of 84. His umpire scene in the 1988 comedy "The Naked Gun" is regarded as being among the funnier baseball scenes in Hollywood history.

Nielsen's national anthem assured us: "Lots of bombs in the air / Gave proof to the night / That we still had our flag ..." His discovery of sandpaper, a power sander and an oh-by-the-way jar of vaseline on the Angels pitcher were all part of the famous schtick people -- including co-star Reggie Jackson -- are remembering now.

Where does that one rank among all baseball movie scenes? We'll leave that up to you. No one knows better than viewers who watch the classics and the newer movies over and over, so invites you to leave your best baseball movie scene among the comments below.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Follow @MLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.