Critics mostly agree that Hardball is a kind of "urban" (read: "black") version of the Bad News Bears -- but that it strikes out in nearly every frame. Don Irvine writes in the Toronto Globe and Mail: "Premise-heavy, it limps onto screens in front of an audience awakened by real catastrophe. It will likely be remembered only as so much cinematic rubble." Mark Caro in the Chicago Tribune suggests that while the film is supposedly based on a real Chicago Little League Baseball coach, its devices are strictly Hollywood. "By the time you've endured all of the shamelessly manipulative plot turns and heart-yanking speeches that close out the movie, all you can do is cry foul," he writes. Philip Wuntch in the Dallas Morning News calls it "relentlessly routine." Nevertheless, the movie does find a critic for one major newspaper willing to cheer for it like a lone out-of-towner on hometown turf. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times calls it "a surefire heart-tugger made with skill and judgment."