Major League (1989)
August 4, 2015 8:00 AM - Subscribe

The new owner of the Cleveland Indians puts together a purposely horrible team so they'll lose and she can move the team. But when the plot is uncovered, they start winning just to spite her.

Come for: easy, all-in-one access to every baseball movie trope out there.
Stay for: shirtless Dennis Haysbert.
posted by phunniemee (22 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Come for: easy, all-in-one access to every baseball movie trope out there.

This is not the greatest sports movie of all time, but it is the platonic ideal of sports movies. With the exception of the "women as trophies" subplots*, this movie does absolutely everything that it intends to do absolutely perfectly. Scrappy underdogs fighting The Man and the Big Bad Superteam? Check. Wacky individuals with a wide array of wacky problems that get solved through a combination of nonstandard training (push-ups for pop-ups) and sheer willpower ("I say fuck you, Jobu. I do it myself.")? Check. Loving but gruff father figure? Check. Hated rivals coming together in mutual respect at the end? Check.

But one of my favorite things is that the big playoff** game is only to get into the Playoffs. It's not the seventh game of the World Series, it's just their small victory against the owner.

* -- Rene Russo's sole use in this movie is for Jake to win, not to woo; and the bit with Roger Dorn's wife sleeping with Vaughn just to get back at her husband is gross, if not unprecedented in reality.
** -- MLB prefers the term "tiebreaker" to avoid confusion with the actual postseason Playoffs.

posted by Etrigan at 8:34 AM on August 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


One of the most quotable movies ever. This had to be a fun film to work on.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:59 AM on August 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes: some friends and I still shout "I say Fuck you, Jobu!" when we're overcoming something annoying. And also "juuuust a bit outside!"

It's a pity that Charlie Sheen became such a jackass, because I retained a lot of fondness for him because of this film for a long while.
posted by TwoStride at 9:28 AM on August 4, 2015


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.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:52 AM on August 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


And also "juuuust a bit outside!"

My eldest son used that one on me once when we were playing catch, and he has not actually seen the movie.
posted by Etrigan at 9:53 AM on August 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would love to know how much Bob Uecker improvised.
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:25 PM on August 4, 2015


I would love to know how much Bob Uecker improvised.

According to IMDB:
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.
Also:
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.
posted by Etrigan at 12:37 PM on August 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


"Hats for bats, keep bats warm."

"Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straight ball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come.
...
Jesus, I like him very much, but he no help with curveball."

"Is very bad to steal Jobu's rum. Is very bad."

"Jobu. I go to you. I stick up for you.
And you no help me now, I say fuck you Jobu.
I do it myself."

Dennis Haysbert played Pedro Cerrano. :)
posted by zarq at 12:50 PM on August 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Writer/Director David S. Ward looks back at 'Major League'
"Players from other baseball teams were also cast such as Peter Vuckovich who was an All-Star pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers and Cy Young award winner. Vuckovich played the New York Yankees’ first baseman Haywood, and Chesser remarked that he was actually asked to read for the part of the Yankee reliever nicknamed “The Duke.” However, he and Davis found Vuckovich to be “so ugly and so menacing” that it made more sense to cast him as the player who insults Berenger and hits home runs off of Charlie Sheen.

But Chesser also said that although Vuckovich looked like he could hit a baseball out of the field, he actually “never hit the ball out of the infield” and never hit a single home run in his entire career.

When it came time to film the climatic game where the Cleveland Indians play against the New York Yankees for the division title, Ward said that he and Chesser promoted a night at the stadium to get extras, and 27,000 people showed up. Looking back, the evening was “an amazing experience” for him and the cast as they had so many cheering people to work with.

“We taught them how to sing ‘Wild Thing,’” said Ward about the people who came. “We had cameras roaming around all night just picking up people. The girls who came out and danced on the dugout, they just did it! We didn’t ask them to do it, they just got out and did it! I just looked at that and said ‘thank God!’”

Ward added that there was a group of about 350 people who came out every night, and he even remembered a couple who had tickets to the Summer Olympics in Seoul that year. That couple debated whether to travel to Seoul like they planned or to stay for the last two days of the movie’s shooting. Ward encouraged them to go to the Olympics, but they ended up staying.

Moninger also asked about the late James Gammon who played head coach Lou Brown, and the mention of that actor’s name got a big applause from the audience. Ward got a bit choked up when talking about Gammon and said he never had any other actor in mind for that character other than him.

“I was just thrilled to get him, “ Ward said. “He was everything I thought he would be; he’s a great gentleman, a wonderful man, nothing bothered him. He was a rock of Gibraltar in every way. I remember going to his memorial service and one of the things that was really moving to me is that they had his jersey from ‘Major League’ hanging up. He gave so many great performances, and yet the one that everyone identifies him with is this one.”
posted by zarq at 12:55 PM on August 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


I remember going to his memorial service and one of the things that was really moving to me is that they had his jersey from ‘Major League’ hanging up.

Aaand now I'm crying at my desk.

(Incidentally, Gammon got to be a henchman on the Batman TV series, henching for Victor Buono's King Tut, no less.)
posted by Etrigan at 1:03 PM on August 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I posted his mefi obit when he passed away.

He was perfect in this role. Just perfect.
posted by zarq at 1:10 PM on August 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


God, I love this movie. Yeah, Charlie Sheen makes me cringe now but here in this movie, oh, his excellent comedic timing. It really makes me wish he were less cringeworthy, but at least his dad's still out there being awesome and hilarious.
posted by angeline at 2:00 PM on August 4, 2015


Ward said that he and Chesser promoted a night at the stadium to get extras, and 27,000 people showed up. Looking back, the evening was “an amazing experience” for him and the cast as they had so many cheering people to work with.

I'm not sure if this would even be possible today, but man does this work so much better than digitally created/enhanced crowds. It very much feels like an actual crowd at an actual game, so full of life.
posted by dogwalker at 5:34 AM on August 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I may have watched this movie thirty times. This movie has never gotten old for me. A year or so ago someone did an FPP about a faux oral history of that Indians team, it was pretty funny.

missing tags: jamesgammons; hatsforbats; toohigh
posted by MoonOrb at 1:48 AM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Lines heard at least once a week in my household:

"You may run like Hayes, but you hit like shit."

"Let me get back to you, will ya Charlie? I got a guy on the other line asking about some white walls."

"Forget about the curve ball, Ricky, give him the heater."

"Nice catch, Hayes. Don't ever fuckin' do it again."

"Yo bartender, Jobu needs a refill!"

And I seriously tear up every time I hear the amazing song "Most of All You" by Bill Medley.
posted by hush at 4:22 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Nice catch, Hayes. Don't ever fuckin' do it again."

I have used this at least once (in full Gammon growl) on literally every subordinate I have ever had in the Army.
posted by Etrigan at 6:09 AM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]




Lou: "Okay Vaughn. They say you're a pitcher, you're sure not much of a dresser. We wear caps and sleeves on this level, son. Understood? All right, let's see what you can do."
[Vaughn pitches and hits the backstop fence. Hard.]
Lou: "Nice velocity."
Pepper: "Sounded like it."
Jake: "Jesus!"
Lou: "How much?"
Duke: [looking at the radar gun] "96."
Lou: "We better teach this kid some control before he kills somebody."
posted by zarq at 6:41 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I often use the "caps and sleeves" line at my son's baseball games.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:06 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love "Major League" but I can never really separate it from the fact that it was one of the few (if not only*) movies made in Milwaukee when I was a kid, and the production was big news locally. I didn't realize until I was an adult that it wasn't really a positive for Milwaukee to be standing in for Cleveland in the film.

One story that I've heard that may or may not be true is that the owner may have actually wanted the team to win in the original version and had figured out a "Moneyball" type way to do it. Supposedly, people hated that version and so she was changed to a straight up villain.

*To be fair, parts of Milwaukee pop up in "The Blues Brothers."
posted by drezdn at 11:32 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


One story that I've heard that may or may not be true is that the owner may have actually wanted the team to win in the original version and had figured out a "Moneyball" type way to do it. Supposedly, people hated that version and so she was changed to a straight up villain.

It was shot and screened, but yeah, test audiences hated it. It's on at least some of the DVDs as an extra.
posted by Etrigan at 11:35 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Like many of my friends around my age, I sometimes speak entirely in movie quotes, and this movie provides a lot of the vocabulary. A personal favorite is, "Que pasa there, Pedro?"

I never saw this movie in the theater. I saw it when it came on cable in 1991, when my Braves went from worst-to-first. So even though the movie is about the Indians, I and many Braves fans see our team in the movie and thus it has a special place in their hearts.

One of my most cherished memories of my beloved Skip Caray was the night I was watching a playoff game with the sound muted and listening on the radio, because national announcers are the worst. With the TV delay, Skip's call would front-run the picture by a good couple of seconds. So when he said, "Jussst a bit outside," and then a few beats later on the screen the ball went to the backstop because it was a good 10 feet off the plate, I hurt myself laughing.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:49 PM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


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