Major League (1989)
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It was very fitting, since the Cleveland Indians at the time were the laughingsock of the Major Leagues and for years, they were stuck in the realms of mediocrity or in last place year after year.
The cast was great; Led by Tom Berringer, and Margaret Whitton. She played the perfect villain in this movie. You just wanted to hate her. Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bersen, along with 3 unknown actors at the time, Wesley Snipes, Dennis Haysbert and Rene Russo. Snipes was hilarious as Willie "Mays" Hayes as well as Haysbert as Pedro Cerrano, the power hitter who practices voodoo. The cast was well rounded off with Checie Ross as Eddie Harris, the aging religious pitcher, James Gammon, Charles Cypers and Bob Uecker as "Harry Doyle".
There were many great one liners and hilarious scenes. The American Express commercial was classic and here's a couple of my favorite scenes:
-Jake Taylor, Willie "Mays" Hayes and Ricky Vaughn are in a bar after a game and discussing the long ball Vaughn gave up:
Taylor: "It wasn't that bad" Vaughn: "Oh yeah? Name one park that ball couldn't have left" Taylor: "Yellowstone" (All 3 laughing)
That scene was in the theater version and I've seen it in the trailers for the movie, but it was deleted in the video version. I'd like to know why, because that was one of my favorite scenes.
-"Oh now you come around; But he isn't fooled"- Eddie Harris on seeing Pedro Cerrano crossing himself.
Here's a few bits of trivia on the movie:
-Funny thing was seeing Pete Vukovich as Klu Haywood, a first baseman. Mainly because he was a pitcher in the Major Leagues.
-Catcher Jake Taylor wore #7. This was the uniform number of longtime Los Angeles Dodger catcher Steve Yeager, who was the technical advisor to this movie and played 3rd Base Coach, "Duke Temple" (Fitting that Taylor wore his number?).
-The movie was filmed in Milwaukee and 3 people affiliated with the Brewers were featured: Pete Vukovich, Bob Uecker (Brewers play-by -play man) and pitcher Jerry Augustine (Duke Simms).
-Was it a coincedence that Miller and Lite Beer was used, since Bob Uecker at the time was spokesman for the Miller Brewing Company?
This movie is one of the best sports movies around. Getting the dvd is worth it.
So this movie, which many of my friends watched as well, was my first contact with this interesting sport. Of course, it is a fairy tale. Of course, the underdog won't get that big that it will beat everybody and win the championship. Or will it?
Sports history tells us different. The story is the same in every sport. Just two years ago, a team just promoted from second division won the German soccer championship!
This movie depicts the glorious story of a bunch of outsiders and underachievers who finally win some games. And it is told in such a wonderful manner that you can't but root for them on their way out of the slumps. Yes! It is a simple story! But the characters are wonderful, the wisecracking Harry Doyle incredibly funny and the finals... well... no spoilers here.
My most favorite moment is when oldtimer pitcher Harris is replaced by Charlie Sheens character in the finals. In the first games of the season, some die-hard fans had given Sheen the nickname "Wild thing" and sang the famous song. Now, the whole crowd is chanting this song as Sheen steps onto the field to pitch his largest enemy. This scene always gives me goosebumps. It is splendid.
Many great moments, excellent humor and a fate you would wish for your favorite sports team as well - unless you are one of those boring Yankees, Bulls or Bayern Muenchen fans...
Terry Pluto wrote a book on the history of the Indians failure called The Curse Of Colavito. In 1959 the Indians finished a respectable second to the White Sox in the pennant race that year with Casey Stengel's Yankees having an inexplicable bad season and a distant third. Rocky Colavito led the American League in home runs and he was the most popular fellow in Cleveland. He became one of a select group of Major Leaguers that year to hit four home-runs in one game. And he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for the batting champion, Harvey Kuenn. It was never the same for Cleveland.
Which takes us to the futile Indians of 1989 as futile in real life as they start on screen. The team comes into the possession of a new owner former showgirl Margaret Whitton. Her contract with the city specifies that if the team attendance dips below 700,000 for the season, she can move the team and she wants the warm sun of Miami instead of winters on the Cuyahoga River.
Building a winning team in baseball is a lot harder than what you see in Major League. But this collection of goofballs, misfits, and has beens actually get mad enough and start winning.
Major League has a nice collection of players playing ballplayers like veteran catcher Tom Berenger, narcissistic third baseman Corbin Bernsen, juvenile delinquent rookie pitcher Charlie Sheen known as Wild Thing for his lack of control, Wesley Snipes as center-fielder Willie Mays Hayes and Dennis Haysbert as a Santeria observing power hitter. It is the American League so Haysbert probably is the designated hitter. My favorite in the film is veteran manager James Gammon who pulls this collection together for a winning team.
Major League is a film for baseball and film fans it so nicely blends the interests. As for the Cleveland Indians when Municipal Stadium closed down and they got a new ballpark in Jacobs Field, they actually won a couple of pennants in 1995 and 1997. Of course the process to build the Indians wasn't half as entertaining as Major League is.
The fabulous scoreboard, the hysterical radio play-by-play of Bob Uecker, even the motley occupants of Cleveland sports bars are irresistible hooks to reel us in, after we've been hooked by the motley team of colorful has-beens and never-were's. If this is a formula, it's the right one. I deeply love this movie, and regret not having seen it in its theatrical run. (I've seen it a dozen times since.) I'm sure the audience went wild during that climactic Yankees game! How about that Dorn making a bunch of clutch plays! Didn't you love Cerrano carrying his bat around the bases with him? Jake not dusting off, and pointing, twice...man, I wish I'd been there.
Then there's the little insert, early in the story, about Jake's fantasy of hitting the winning run out of the park. What happened instead when the chips were really down?
Okay, it isn't "poetry" -- it's more of a limerick, know what I mean? Just start with three words: "There once was...." and finish it yourself! I bet you'll finish with a big smile on your face!
Is Major League predictable? I guess...but it is still a great movie. Its a ***** movie in my opinion, plus it was filmed at the late MCS (Milwaukee County Stadium) so that makes it even better!
Major League, however, personified the attitude of "Nothing to lose". Aside from the easily identified woes of the Cleveland franchise of the late-eighties, there were several actors in this film that had yet to hit big or had started to fall from grace. The incredibly strong language of the movie only made it seem that much more realistic.
Major League isn't a movie that's going to solve world peace or anything but if you want a light hearted, entertaining film that is hysterically funny then you need to see this.
Charlie Sheen being a former high school pitcher who was able to get 85 mph on his fastball, which isn't as fast as characters 100 mph. But close enough to with the way they film it to make it look believable as being a real flame thrower. If they had someone who didn't have a background in baseball they would've probably had to use a stunt double for his pitching scenes, which would've sucked.