This film was not the only connection between Disney and the Angels. Two years after the film's release, the Walt Disney Corporation bought the Angels, and owned the team until 2003. In addition, Walt Disney was one of the Angels original board members.
The film's tagline, "Ya Gotta Believe" (also alluded to in the film), was coined by pitcher Tug McGraw. During the 1973 season, McGraw used the phrase to encourage his fellow New York Mets, who successfully turned around an underdog season to go to the World Series.
The movie centers around the California Angels in Anaheim, but was filmed at Oakland Coliseum, due to the fact that the NFL season was taking place, and the Los Angeles Rams were using the stadium in Anaheim. The Coliseum was not being used, as the Raiders had not yet returned to Oakland. The Rams would return to Los Angeles in 2016, twenty-two years after the film's release.
The character of Hank Murphy, the Angels' owner, is loosely based on owner, actor, and country music star Gene Autry, right down to the cowboy hat. Sadly, Gene Autry passed away October 1998. When the Anaheim Angels won the 2002 World Series, they dedicated their win to Autry.
Not only do Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Roger Bomman) and Brenda Fricker (Maggie Nelson) share the same birthday, Februray 17, but the actor and actress have played opposite Daniel Day-Lewis as a relative of his main character. Fricker played Day-Lewis' mother, Mrs. Brown, in My Left Foot (1989), and Gordon-Levitt played his son, Robert Lincoln, in Lincoln (2012). Day-Lewis won the Best Actor Oscar for both films, Fricker won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role for My Left Foot (1989), but Gordon-Levitt did not receive a nomination for his performance in Lincoln.
Kit "Hit or Die" Kesey is said to be the "League RBI Champion" when he comes up to bat against Mel Clark. In reality, Carney Lansford (a real fifteen season MLB Veteran, who played Kesey) never drove in more than eighty runs in any season, and averaged just seventy-six RBIs in a standard one hundred sixty-two game season. However, when the film was released, the season was cut short, due to a players' strike.
Jay O. Sanders (Ranch Wilder) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Roger Bomman) appeared in DC Comics movies. Sanders in Green Lantern (2011), and Gordon-Levitt in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Neal McDonough played Damien Darhk in the DC television shows Arrow (2012), and Legends of Tomorrow (2016), as well as playing Timothy "Dum Dum" Dugan in Marvel's Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013), and Agent Carter (2015).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
After the real-life Angels won the 2002 World Series, the city of Anaheim would not see another championship until the Anaheim Ducks, another team owned by Disney, won the Stanley Cup in 2007 (an Anaheim Mighty Ducks cap can be seen in one scene).
The film ends with the Angels winning the American League Western Division Championship. In 1994, the year the film was released, the Angels and White Sox were both in the AL Western Division. In order to win the Pennant (and thus play in the World Series) the Angels would have to beat the AL Eastern Division Champion, which the movie never shows.