In 1988, Dottie Hinson attends the opening of the new All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame. She sees many of her former teammates and friends, prompting a flashback to 1943.
At a national a cappella competition, Barden University's all-female acappella group, the Barden Bellas, perform well until Aubrey Posen (Anna Camp) vomits on stage during her solo. They are publicly humiliated, losing any chance of winning. Four months later, newly arrived Barden freshman Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick) has no desire to attend college, but she is forced to do so by her father (John Benjamin Hickey), a professor at the university, with whom Beca has a strained relationship. Wishing she could instead pursue a career as a music producer, Beca spends her time making mash-up mixes of songs and takes up an internship at the school radio station, where she gets to know fellow freshman Jesse Swanson (Skylar Astin).
Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is upset by his team's loss to the New York Yankees in the 2001 postseason, after the Yankees overcome a 2-0 series lead. With the impending departure of star players Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and Jason Isringhausen to free agency, Beane needs to assemble a competitive team for 2002, but must overcome Oakland's limited payroll. During a visit to the Cleveland Indians, Beane meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a young Yale economics graduate with radical ideas about how to assess players' value. Beane tests Brand's theory by asking whether he would have drafted him (out of high school), Beane having been a Major League player before becoming general manager. Though scouts considered Beane a phenomenal prospect, his career in the Major Leagues was disappointing. After some prodding, Brand admits that he would not have drafted him until the ninth round and that Beane would probably have accepted a scholarship to Stanford instead. Beane hires the inexperienced Brand to be the Athletics assistant general manager.
The film tells the story of Jackie Robinson and, under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey, Robinson's signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers to become the first African-American player to break the baseball color barrier. The story focuses mostly on the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers season and somewhat on Robinson's 1946 season with the Montreal Royals, which emphasize his battles with racism.
Ray Kinsella is a novice Iowa farmer who lives with his wife Annie and daughter Karin. In the opening narration, Ray explains how he had a troubled relationship with his father, John Kinsella, who had been a devoted baseball fan. While walking through his cornfield one evening, Ray hears a voice whispering, "If you build it, he will come." Ray continues hearing the voice before finally seeing a vision of a baseball diamond in his field. Annie is skeptical of his vision, but she allows Ray to plow the corn under in order to build a baseball field. As Ray builds the field, he tells Karin the story of baseball's 1919 Black Sox Scandal. As months pass and nothing happens at the field, Ray's family faces financial ruin until, one night, Karin spots a uniformed man in the field. Ray recognizes the man as Shoeless Joe Jackson, a deceased baseball player idolized by Ray's father. Thrilled to be able to play baseball again, Joe asks to bring others to the field to play. He later returns with the seven other players banned as a result of the 1919 scandal.
The film tells the story of Jim Morris, the son of a career Navy man, who moves the family to a small Texas town. Jim is shown to be a very skilled pitcher as a youth, though his father disapproves of Jim's dream of making it to Major League Baseball. It is later mentioned that the town to which Jim's family moved, Big Lake, has never cared for baseball. Thus, he was unable to play baseball in high school. He later gets a chance when he is drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, but he tears up his shoulder, ending his hopes of achieving his lifelong dream.
Gus Matthews, Richie Goodman, and Clark Reedy are three adult "nerds"; Clark and Richie were the unpopular children who were constantly bullied and were always left on the bench at their baseball games, because of their athletic abilities. When a nerdy boy named Nelson and his friends are kicked off a nearby baseball diamond by a team of bullies, Gus and Clark chase the bullies away. When Gus and Clark return with Richie to play again and get back their feel for the game, the bullies return and demand that they leave. Gus challenges the bullies to play them for the field, and the three friends, despite Clark and Richie's poor abilities, win the game. Days later, one of Clark and Richie's bullies, Brad, challenges them to another baseball game with his team, but the three friends win again.
Dans les années 1950, à Pittsburgh, Troy Maxson, ancien joueur de la Negro League de baseball est devenu éboueur. Il vit avec son épouse Rose et son fils cadet Cory dans une maison qu'il a pu acheter avec une partie de l'indemnité de blessure de guerre de son frère Gabriel qui, blessé à la tête, est devenu un handicapé mental qui erre dans le quartier et qui est menacé d'internement. Son fils aîné, Lyons, n'arrive pas à se stabiliser, vivant de petits contrats de musique et devant subir les récriminations de son père.
Henry Rowengartner (Nicholas), 12-year-old Little Leaguer, has dreams of playing in the major leagues. One day, Henry breaks his arm trying to catch a fly ball (he slips on another ball that is lying on the ground) and has to wrap it in a cast. Once the arm is healed, the doctor removes the cast and discovers Henry's tendons have healed "a little too tight," thus enabling Henry to cock his arm back and fire it forward with incredible force.
"Crash" Davis (Costner), a veteran of 12 years in minor league baseball, is sent down to the single-A (advanced) Durham Bulls for a specific purpose: to educate hotshot rookie pitcher Ebby LaLoosh (Robbins, playing a character loosely based on Steve Dalkowski) about becoming a major-league talent, and to control Ebby's haphazard pitching. Crash immediately begins calling Ebby by the degrading nickname of "Meat", and they get off to a rocky start.
Ben Wrightman, a 7-year-old boy, is going to a Red Sox game with his Uncle Carl. His uncle, who had not children of his own, treated Ben like a son. A narration explains that on that day, Ben became a die-hard Red Sox fan. Just about everything he owns bears the Red Sox name, emblem, or image of a Red Sox player (with the exception of his toilet paper, which bears the New York Yankees insignia). Ben inherited his uncle's season tickets when Carl died. The story picks up 23 years later with Ben (Jimmy Fallon) as a school teacher who is immature for his age. He meets Lindsey Meeks (Drew Barrymore), a professionally successful workaholic executive. When Ben first asks her out, Lindsey rejects him, but she later changes her mind and agrees to go out with him.
Former Las Vegas showgirl Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton) has inherited the Cleveland Indians baseball team from her deceased husband. Phelps has received a lucrative deal to move the team to Miami, and she aims to trigger the escape clause in the team's contract with Cleveland if season attendance falls below minimum levels. To do this, she fires most of the existing players and has her new General Manager Charlie Donovan bring in new ones from a list of aging veterans and inexperienced rookies, hoping to make the worst team ever that would certainly cause attendance to decline. Donovan hires Lou Brown, a former coach from the Toledo Mud Hens to lead the team.
An aging Atlanta Braves baseball scout, Gus Lobel (Eastwood), is given one last assignment to prove his value to the organization, who views him as unable to adapt to changes within the game. His boss and friend Pete (Goodman) does not want to see him let go, but is fighting off the advances of an ambitious younger protégé, Philip (Lillard), who is gunning to get Gus fired and take Pete's job.
Roy Hobbs is a boy who is a skilled baseball player, often playing catch with his father Ed (Alan Fudge). One day, his father suffers a fatal heart attack and drops dead near a tree on the family property. When the same tree is later struck by lightning, Hobbs considers this a sign and fashions the heart of the tree's trunk, seen glowing after the trunk is split in two by the lightning, into a bat, which he dubs "Wonderboy" and carves a lightning bolt into the bat.