'Charlie Sheen' was a high school pitcher who was offered a baseball scholarship to the University of Kansas. In the movie he threw a 101mph fastball, but in reality Sheen could throw in the high 80s. This made it easier to simulate the fastball on film.
When Cerrano hits the homerun in the final game against the Yankees, it was not in the script for him to run around the bases with the bat in his hand. What actually happened was that Dennis Haysbert actually did hit a homerun during the take and was so shocked that he forgot to drop the bat before he started running.
The restaurant where Lynn Wells (Rene Russo) is spotted on a date is in Milwaukee. It was at the time a gourmet restaurant, stood empty for a time and then was a Russian Restaurant and dance club. It again sat empty for a period and is currently (2005) a Baptist Church.
Many tricks were used to make the actors seem like they were as good as their characters. For example, the pitching mound in a real baseball stadium is 60'6" away from the home plate, but to give the impression that Charlie Sheen's 85 mph fastball was traveling 100mph, they moved the mound up 10 feet and shot from behind the plate so the viewer wouldn't notice the distance difference. Also, all Wesley Snipes' running scenes are shown in slow motion to give the impression that he is running faster than he actually is.
David S Ward is actually a life long Cleveland Indians fan. His inspiration for creating the movie was simply because he thought it would be the only way he would ever see the Indians actually win anything.
The home game scenes were filmed at Milwaukee's County Stadium, which has since been torn down, where Bob Uecker, who portrays announcer Harry Doyle, called games for the Brewers and played for the old Milwaukee Braves. The exterior stadium shots use Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, which has since been torn down.
In the commercial for the movie when it was in the theaters, there was a scene in which Ricky Vaughn, Jake Taylor, and Willy Hays are in the restaurant, and they are discussing a homerun Ricky gave up to a batter. Jake says to Ricky, "That ball wouldn't have gone out of a lot of parks." Ricky says, "Name one." Jakes pauses and says, "Yellowstone." This scene was omitted from the theatrical release, but was written into the script of Major League II (1994).
When director David S. Ward asked Bob Uecker to play Harry Doyle in the film, Ward had chosen Uecker because of his acting work in Miller Lite ads and on the sitcom Mr. Belvedere (1985). It wasn't until Ward met Uecker did he learn that Uecker had been the radio broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers for almost 20 years at that point.
Former Major League catcher Steve Yeager served as a coach for the actors in training for the movie, also serving as a stunt double for Tom Berenger in many scenes when Jake Taylor would make a throw from home plate or be in a home plate collision, as well as play third base coach Temple.
For many of the wide crowd scenes of the climatic playoff game, there were over 20,000 extras in the stands. When the team first ran onto the field with the crowd roaring, Dennis Haysbert admitted to being emotionally overwhelmed by the experience. Former Major Leaguer and technical advisor Steve Yeager noticed Haysbert's reaction and said to him, "That's what it's like 162 times a year."
Most of the filming was done during the summer of 1988, which was one of the hottest summers on record in Milwaukee. This is easily apparent in the final playoff game, where most of the players are wearing long sleeves and jackets to indicate a cool fall night, whereas almost all the fans in the stands are wearing short sleeve shirts and shorts.
Roughly presages the 1995 Seattle Mariners situation: with a history of revolving-door, absentee ownership more concerned with the bottom line than championships, and the ever-present threat of relocation (Miami was the usual option until the Marlins were created; in '95 the suitor was Tampa Bay, and the Mariners' departure seemed imminent). However, the 95 Mariners went on an unprecedented run, tying the Angels on the last day of the season, and forcing a one-game playoff. After winning that game, in the 5th and deciding game of the playoffs versus a burgeoning Yankees dynasty, Seattle's ace Randy Johnson, came out of the bullpen (a la Wild Thing) to save the game. The game and series was won in extra innings by Edgar Martinez' iconic double down the left field line.
Just before Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) gives up a home run to Heywood for the second time, Harry Doyle (Bob Uecker) goes over how the other runners got on base. One of the players he mentions is Bill Leff, who actually is the actor who plays Bobby James in the movie.
The opponent slugger known as Yankees home run threat Haywood was played by former pitcher of the Milwaukee Brewers, Peter Vuckovich. Peter Vuckovich never hit a single home run in his entire 11 year major league career. In fact, during 8 of those 11 years he never made a single plate appearance, since he was pitching in the American League - which uses a designated hitter to bat for the pitcher.
A scene featuring the wedding of Jake Taylor and Lynn Wells was shot and to occur after the Indians victory over the Yankees in the end but it was deleted because the producers felt that the wedding scene would put the focus of the movie on Jake and Lynn and not the team.
In the seasonal opener game, a sign on the outfield wall displaying the Milwaukee Brewers classic ball and mitt logo can be clearly seen. Bernie Brewer's house and beer mug was dismantled for the shooting of the movie, as to not give the identity of the interior shots of the stadium.
In April 2007, due to snow in Cleveland, the real Cleveland Indians were unable to open their home season at Jacobs Field. Miller Park in Milwaukee, which had been built as the replacement for Milwaukee County Stadium in the 1990s and had been constructed with a retractable dome, was chosen to be the 'stand-in' for the Indians' home turf.
Because of the stadium filmed in the movie and the fact that the Indians played a 'home' series at Milwaukee's new ballpark, the Indians were unofficially dubbed "The Cleveland Indians of Milwaukee." Coincidentally, the team they played was "The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim."
In the scene where Jake invades Lynn's party, one of the guests asks how much Jake makes in the Majors. He replies, "I make the league minimum." At the time(1989) the MLB salary minimum was $62,500. Average household income in 1990 is roughly $30,000. So he was making a very respectable double the average household income.
After Vaughn strikes out Heyward, he is congratulated in the dugout by a player named "Keltner". Ken Keltner was the 3rd baseman on the 1941 Indians who's fielding heroics ended Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hit streak.
In the final game, Willie Mays Hayes makes a great catch at the wall, in front of a Minnesota Twins banner. Hall-of-Famer Kirby Puckett (of the Twins) was legendary for his gravity-defying catches off the center-field wall, especially in the 1991 World Series. This catch was also rumored to pay special homage to Stormin' Gorman Thomas of the Milwaukee Brewers for his famous wall-catch in a game against the Baltimore Orioles, which preceded their trip to the world series in 1982
The Yankees are described as the defending American League Champions. At the time of the movie's release the Yankees had last won the AL Pennant in 1981. The Oakland Athletics were the American League Champions the year of filming (1988), release (1989), and post release (1990). The Athletics swept the San Francisco Giants to win the World Series in the release year.
The film depicted a sparse crowd for Opening Day. Even though the Indians routinely drew sparse crowds during their lean years, they generally would have sell outs or near sell outs for Season or Home Openers.
Real life relief pitcher Mitch Williams (with the Chicago Cubs at the time of the film's release) was inspired to model himself after the Rick Vaughn character and began to wear the number 99 and having Wild Thing being played while entering games. Williams shortly became nicknamed Wild Thing, though he dropped the persona when trying to make a come back in the Minors during the late 90's.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
In the film's original ending, Rachel Phelps admits before the final game that her bitchy persona was all an act in order to fire up the players. She says had they not had a good season, the team might have gone bankrupt. Audiences preferred the bitchy Rachel, so the ending was re-shot to show her misery when the Indians won. The alternate ending appears on the Wild Thing Edition DVD.