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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

Major League (1989)


What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: Can a bunch of castoffs and nobodys actually be better together?


Plot Summary: Former Las Vegas showgirl Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton) inherits the Cleveland Indians baseball team from her deceased husband. Phelps hates Cleveland and wants to relocate the team to Miami, but to do so she needs attendance for the entire season to be below 800,000. Determined to put together the worst team in the major leagues so there is no fan interest, Phelps hires Lou Brown (James Gammon) to manage a team of nobodys and has-beens including overpriced Roger Dorn (Corbin Bersen), voodoo-practicing Cuban-defector, Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert), catcher Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger), a brash speedster, Willie Mays Hays (Wesley Snipes), and a former felon pitcher, Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen). Will Phelps get the team she desperately wants or will they put it all together?


Cast:

  • Tom Berenger as Jake Taylor, C

  • Charlie Sheen as Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn, SP/RP

  • Corbin Bernsen as Roger Dorn, 3B

  • Margaret Whitton as Rachel Phelps

  • James Gammon as Lou Brown, Manager

  • Rene Russo as Lynn Weslin

  • Bob Uecker as Harry Doyle

  • Wesley Snipes as Willie Mays Hayes, CF

  • Charles Cyphers as Charlie Donovan

  • Chelcie Ross as Eddie Harris, SP

  • Dennis Haysbert as Pedro Cerrano

  • Andy Romano as Pepper Leach, 1B Coach

  • Kip Powers as Cooper Vaughn

  • Steve Yeager as Duke Temple, 3B Coach

  • Pete Vuckovich as Haywood, Yankees 1B

  • Willie Mueller as Duke Simpson, Yankees RP

*Recognition:

  • The film debuted at number 1 at the US box office and received generally positive reviews. It grossed almost $50 million in the United States and Canada and $25 million internationally for a worldwide total of $75 million.

  • Major League holds an 83% on RT and 62 score on Metacritic.

  • The film was recognized by American Film Institute as a Nominee to the 10 Top 10 List for Sports Films in 2008.

  • The success of the original film spawned two sequels: Major League II and Major League: Back to the Minors

Did You Know:

  • 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.

  • According to David S. Ward, Wesley Snipes was not a very skilled baseball player in real life, never having played much of it before. Ward said Snipes was so awful at throwing a baseball that they did not have any scenes of him throwing a ball.

  • 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 that he learned that Uecker had been, for nearly 20 years, the radio broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers.

  • Harry Doyle's line "Just a bit outside", which became one of the film's more memorable and imitated catchphrases wasn't in the script. Bob Uecker improvised the line and several others under initial encouragement from David S. Ward.

  • 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."

  • After Vaughn strikes out Heywood, he is congratulated in the dugout by a player named "Keltner". Ken Keltner was the 3rd baseman on the 1941 Indians whose fielding heroics helped end Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak.

  • 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 $68,000. Average household income in 1990 was roughly $30,000. So he was making a very respectable double-the-average household income.

  • The restaurant where Lynn Weslin (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.

  • The theatrical release includes added scenes of Rachel Phelps showing dismay with the team's success. An alternate scene included on the "Wild Thing Edition" DVD shows a very different characterization of Phelps. Lou Brown confronts Phelps over her plan to sabotage the team and announces his resignation. Phelps then reveals the threatened move to Miami was merely a ruse to motivate the team, as the Indians were on the verge of bankruptcy when she inherited them and she could not afford to hire star players or maintain standard amenities. She also tells Lou that she felt he was the right manager to bring the ragtag group together. Lou does not resign, but Phelps reasserts her authority by saying that if he shares any part of their conversation with anyone, she will fire him. The film's producers said that while the twist ending worked as a resolution of the plot, they scrapped it because test audiences preferred the Phelps character as a villain.

Best Performance: Bob Uecker (Harry Doyle)

Best Secondary Performance: Charlie Sheen (Vaughn)

Most Charismatic Award: Baseball and Milwaukee County Stadium/Wesley Snipes (Hayes)

Best Scene:

  • Opening Meeting

  • Spring Training

  • I Look Like a Banker

  • Vaughn Gets Control

  • Phelps Stops Coddling

  • Donovan Reveals All

  • Win the Whole F*** Thing

  • Winning Streak Montage

  • Cerrano Hits a Curveball

  • Wild Thing

  • Taylor Calls his Shot

Favorite Scene: Taylor Calls his Shot

Most Indelible Moment: Bob Uecker


In Memorium:

  • Marvin Chomsky, 92, American Film and TV Director (Emmy-winning director Chomsky had a stellar career, directing projects such as the Roots miniseries in 1977, Star Trek, Gunsmoke, and The Wild Wild West.)

  • Paul Herman, 76, American Actor (Goodfellas, The Irishman, The Sopranos, Once Upon a Time in America, American Hustle, Entourage, and Silver Linings Playbook).

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Rachel Phelps: The fact is we lost our two best players to free agency. We haven't won a pennant in over thirty-five years, we haven't placed higher than fourth in the last fifteen. Obviously it's time for some changes.

Board Member: This guy here is dead!

Rachel Phelps: Cross him off, then!


Charlie Donovan : There's Jake Taylor. Lou Brown : He was an all-star in Boston, wasn't he? Charlie Donovan : Yeah, wound up in the Mexican League. Had problems with his knees. Pepper Leach : Wish we had him two years ago. Charlie Donovan : We did.


Willie Mays Hayes: What the hell league you been playing in?

Rick Vaughn: California Penal...

Willie Mays Hayes: Never heard of it. How'd you end up playing there?

Rick Vaughn: Stole a car.


Jake Taylor: [to Rexman] Hey, Rexman! Hell of a situation we got here. Two on, two out, your team down a run and you've got the chance to be the hero on national television... if you don't blow it. Saw your wife at the Capri Lounge last night. Hell of a dancer. You should be very very proud. Oh, and that guy she was with? I'm sure he's a close personal friend and all, but tell me, what was he doing wearing her panties on his head? [Rexman pops the ball straight up] Uh-oh, Rexie, I don't think this one's got the distance.


Willie Mays Hayes: Willie Mays Hayes. I play like Mays, and I run like Hayes.


Pedro Cerrano : I'm pissed off now, Jobu. Look, I go to you. I stick up for you. You no help me now. I say "Fuck you Jobu", I do it myself.


Eddie Harris: Yo, bartender, Jobu needs a refill.


Rick Vaughn: I look like a banker in this.


Eddie: What if we DON'T finish last?

Lou: She'll REPLACE you with somebody who WILL. After this season, you'll be sent back to the minors or given your outright release.

Jake: [stands] Well then I guess there's only one thing left to do.

Roger: What's that?

Jake: Win the whole fucking thing.


Rick Vaughn: [Seeing Harris take off his shirt, revealing white suff on his chest] What's that shit on your chest? Eddie Harris: [Looking at his chest] Crisco. Eddie Harris: [wiping it across his head] Eddie Harris: Bardol. Eddie Harris: [wiping it along his waist line] Eddie Harris: Vagisil. Any one of them will give you another two to three inches drop on your curve ball. Of course if the umps are watching me real close I'll rub a little jalapeo up my nose, get it runnin', and if I need to load the ball up I just... Eddie Harris: [wipes his nose] Eddie Harris: ...wipe my nose. Rick Vaughn: You put snot on the ball? Eddie Harris: I haven't got an arm like you, kid. I have to put anything on it I can find. Someday you will too.


HARRY DOYLE:

  • In case you haven't noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven't, the Indians have managed to win a few here and there, and are threatening to climb out of the cellar.

  • Vaughn, a juvenile delinquent in the off-season, in his major league debut.

  • Vaughn into the windup for his first offering... [ball thrown several feet off the plate] Just a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.

  • Ball four...ball eight...low and Vaughn has walked the bases loaded on twelve straight pitches. Boy, how can these guys lay off pitches that close?

  • Just a reminder fans about Die Hard Night coming up here in the stadium. Free admission to anyone who was actually alive the last time the Indians won the pennant. [35 years prior.]

  • The post-game show is brought to you by... [searches through his papers] Christ, I can't find it. The hell with it!

  • Heywood leads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair. When this guy sneezes, he looks like a party favor.

  • Vaughn deals...and Heywood swings and crushes one towards South America. Tomlinson will need a visa to catch this one, it is out of here and there is nothing left but a vapor trail.

  • Well, you can close the book on Kellner. [covers microphone with hand and turns to Monty] Thank God!

  • We don't know where Hayes played last year, but I'm sure he did a helluva job.

  • Heywood's a convicted felon, isn't he Monty? [Monty: Ah...doesn't really say it here.] Well, he should be!

  • Hayes is picked off! Well, so much for that. Personally I think we got hosed on that call.

  • And for the Indians, that's one run on, let's see...one hit? That's all we got?, one goddamn hit? [Monty: You can't say "goddamn" on the air!] Don't worry; nobody's listening anyway.


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 6.75

Impact/Significance: 8.25

Novelty: 7.25

Classic-ness: 7.5

Rewatchability: 9

Audience Score: 8.6 (88% Google, 84% RT)

Total: 47.35


Remaining Questions:

  • Why end the movie with just winning the division instead of the World Series?

  • Why would Lynn ever go back to Jake? I know we root for him in the movie, but he's a bum if this was real life.

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