When I watched Major League for the first time when I was young, half of the actors I never even heard of and the ones I did know, were way past their prime.
All joking aside, Major League is arguably one of the best sports movies of all time and one of the best comedies from the 80s. For it’s time, it was a pretty mellow movie, these days however, I’m sure many people will find it “problematic” in the overly PC culture we live in. Mostly with it being about the Cleveland Indians. RIP Chief Wahoo.
I’m not the biggest baseball fan, but I use to watch the Detroit Tigers play from time to time with my grandpa and so I know enough about it. One of those things is how the Indians were a horrible team. For roughly three decades, from the 60s into the 90s. The movie uses that as it’s catalyst for the plot.
Margaret Whitton takes on the role of a former Vegas showgirl Rachel Phelps, who was married to the owner of the Indians, until his death. Now she’s the owner and baseball fans are none too happy, blaming her for the team’s unfortunate situation of constantly losing.
Whitton does a great job as Phelps, she’s villainess for sure, full of venom, but as much as you don’t like her, She’s a person you love to hate. Her whole goal is to relocate the team to Miami. In order to do so, she needs the team’s season attendance to fall below 800,000. How does she plan to do that? By the Indians finishing dead last.
Her main focus on making this happen is by putting together a ragtag team of misfits, has-beens and never-will-be’s. Starting with Jake Taylor, the aging catcher. Tom Berenger plays Taylor and I believe this might be my first time seeing him in a movie. For him, he sees this as just one last opportunity to play in the sun. He also works on rekindling things with his ex-girlfriend, played by Rene Russo. He was a wild ball player when they were together and she has moved on ready to marry someone new. It’s a decent side plot that wraps itself up nicely.
There’s also Charlie Sheen as Ricky Vaughn, the wild pitcher with a strong arm. Sheen is arguably the most recognizable for me as a kid seeing this. Before this he was in Red Dawn, The Wrath and Platoon. There’s also that hilarious cameo in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Before being called up to the majors, Vaughn was playing in the California penal league. He got there by stealing a car. This is one of my favorite roles for Sheen and even though it’s made lame in the second movie, I understood the character arc.
The last of the main trio is Willie Mays Hayes, played by Wesley Snipes. He can run like Hayes, but he hits like shit. He wasn’t on the team’s list, but proves himself a fast runner. He’s the team’s lead off man and looks to make a name for himself through stealing bases. When I was younger watching this, Snipes stole the show for me. Now I really appreciate everyone, but I remember finding him the most fun. I’d argue this is the first time seeing him in a movie and where I became a fan.
The rest of the team is rounded out by some great talent, Corbin Bernsen is the high priced Roger Dorn, the third baseman of the team. He’s a prima-donna, but learns to get down in the dirt for the betterment of the team. There’s also Dennis Haysbert as Pedro Cerrano who can hit a ton, until it’s a curve ball. He practices voodoo to try getting past it. Which leads to the veteran pitcher Chelcie Ross as Eddie Harris. He’s an old timer and puts snot on the ball to give it that extra edge.
The team is managed by Lou Brown, played by James Gammon. He almost didn’t take the job, he had a guy on hold interested in some whitewalls. Gammon is perfect for the roll, not just as playing the character, but bringing the whole team together. Everyone fits in perfectly. Of course, I can’t forget to mention the play-by-play announcer Bob Uecker as Harry Doyle. Uecker played baseball and calls games in real life, so he was a perfect get. This is the equivalent of getting Richard Dawson for the host in The Running Man.
The team, although are a bunch of nobodies struggling through the season, things start coming together for them. Once they find out what Phelps is up to, it gives them the incentive they need to focus on winning.
Having Major League based on the reality of the Indians being a bad team makes for a great sports movie. The acting, directing and writing make for a fun movie with great laughs. It’s full of great comedy one-liners, if you couldn’t tell from me constantly using them through this review. It’s easily one of the most memorable sports comedies for me and honestly I feel like it’s becoming more obscure over time. If you’re a fan of 80s comedies and more specifically sports comedies and haven’t seen this, you owe it to yourself to watch it.
That’s going to wrap things up here. The post-game show is brought to you by… Christ, I can’t find it. To hell with it.