Major League (1989)

R | 102 mins | Comedy | 7 April 1989

Director:

David S. Ward

Writer:

David S. Ward

Cinematographer:

Reynaldo Villalobos

Editor:

Tony Lombardo

Production Designer:

Jeffrey Howard

Production Companies:

Morgan Creek , Mirage
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HISTORY

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. The summary and note were written by participant Ronald LaForce, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, with Janet Staiger as academic advisor.

The end credits contain a statement in which producers thank the following organizations and individuals: Miller Brewing Company; Jan Pergoli, Milwaukee Film Liaison; Major League Baseball; Cleveland Indians Baseball Club; Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club; City and County of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; State of Wisconsin; Wisconsin Film Commission; The City of Cleveland, Ohio; Ohio Film Commission; The Cleveland Plain Dealer; Starter Sportswear, Inc.; Leaf Confections; 7-Up; Animagination, Inc.; Arnold Rendon – Nogales Liaison; Frawley Corporation/Classics Illustrated Comics; Desmonds Formal Wear, Inc.; Koss Corporation; Herman’s World of Sporting Goods; United Indians of Milwaukee; Rudig Trophies; George Watts & Son, Inc.; Holly Hunt Ltd. of Chicago; Kenny Kelter and Family; and all the people of Milwaukee. Publications used in the film are acknowledged with the following credits: “’People Weekly’ is a Registered Trademark of The Time, Inc. Magazine Company, used with Permission”; and “’Sports Illustrated’ is a Registered Trademark of The Time, Inc. Magazine Company, used with Permission.”
       In production notes from the AMPAS research library, director David S. Ward stated that he chose cast members who knew how to play baseball. Both Tom Berenger, who played “Jake Taylor,” and Corbin Bernsen, who played “Roger Dorn,” played baseball as teenagers. Charlie Sheen, who played “Rick Vaughn,” not only pitched for his high school team, but he earned an athletic scholarship offer, with a fastball clocked at almost eighty-five miles an hour. Berenger and Sheen endured a six-week training period, joining ... More Less

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. The summary and note were written by participant Ronald LaForce, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, with Janet Staiger as academic advisor.

The end credits contain a statement in which producers thank the following organizations and individuals: Miller Brewing Company; Jan Pergoli, Milwaukee Film Liaison; Major League Baseball; Cleveland Indians Baseball Club; Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club; City and County of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; State of Wisconsin; Wisconsin Film Commission; The City of Cleveland, Ohio; Ohio Film Commission; The Cleveland Plain Dealer; Starter Sportswear, Inc.; Leaf Confections; 7-Up; Animagination, Inc.; Arnold Rendon – Nogales Liaison; Frawley Corporation/Classics Illustrated Comics; Desmonds Formal Wear, Inc.; Koss Corporation; Herman’s World of Sporting Goods; United Indians of Milwaukee; Rudig Trophies; George Watts & Son, Inc.; Holly Hunt Ltd. of Chicago; Kenny Kelter and Family; and all the people of Milwaukee. Publications used in the film are acknowledged with the following credits: “’People Weekly’ is a Registered Trademark of The Time, Inc. Magazine Company, used with Permission”; and “’Sports Illustrated’ is a Registered Trademark of The Time, Inc. Magazine Company, used with Permission.”
       In production notes from the AMPAS research library, director David S. Ward stated that he chose cast members who knew how to play baseball. Both Tom Berenger, who played “Jake Taylor,” and Corbin Bernsen, who played “Roger Dorn,” played baseball as teenagers. Charlie Sheen, who played “Rick Vaughn,” not only pitched for his high school team, but he earned an athletic scholarship offer, with a fastball clocked at almost eighty-five miles an hour. Berenger and Sheen endured a six-week training period, joining the rest of the cast for the final two weeks at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, AZ, the spring training location of the actual Cleveland Indians. Filmmakers cast fifty extra players from a group of almost one thousand college and minor league players who showed up to audition.
       According to a 10 Mar 1989 HR article, the film was shot over sixty-three days in Milwaukee, with Milwaukee County Stadium filling in for Cleveland Municipal Stadium, which was unusable due to a lighting problem posed by its “cavernous dimensions.” However, some second unit filming took place at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. According to production notes, photography also took place on location in Nogales, Mexico and Chicago, Illinois.
       The 10 Mar 1989 HR reported that Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson joined upwards of fifteen thousand locals on July 30, 1988, for the film’s first day of shooting at Milwaukee County Stadium, in posing as Indians fans for the crowd scenes. Ward purposely scheduled crowd scenes at the beginning of the shoot “to take advantage of the community’s enthusiasm.” Thompson gave a plaque to Ward, and declared July 30 and 31 “Major League Weekend” in Wisconsin.
       The film opened to mostly positive critical reception, although multiple reviews pointed to Bull Durham (1988, see entry) as a superior baseball film. HR noted the film’s similarity to Bad News Bears (1976, see entry) in its “flip humor,” and stated that Ward “interspersed…deft insights into the vicarious pleasure a team can provide a rust-belt community” into the story.
       A 31 Oct 1990 HR news item reported that Morgan Creek Productions and DPR Entertainment sued J&M Films Ltd. for $1 million, in addition to unspecified punitive damages, alleging improper accounting of monies collected from Major League , Skin Deep (1989, see entry), and Nightbreed (1990, see entry).
       Major League spawned two sequels: Major League II (1994, see entry) and Major League: Back to the Minors (1998, see entry).

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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
10 Mar 1989
p. 56
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1989
p. 4, 63
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Apr 1989
Calendar, p. 10
New York Times
7 Apr 1989
p. 19
Variety
12 Apr 1989
p. 20
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Indians:
[and]
Yankees:
Spring training:
Umpires:
[and]
Standins:
Trainers:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXT
A David Ward Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr/2d unit dir
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
Aerial photog
Cam op
Cam op, Tucson unit
Panaglide op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam, Tucson unit
Aerial cam asst
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Grip, Tucson unit
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dept coord
Storyboard artist
Conceptual artist
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
1st asst film ed
Opt ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Set dec
Asst set dec
On-set dresser
Set dresser, Tucson unit
Scenic artist
Const foreman
Lead carpenter
Swing
Carpenter
Carpenter
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Prop asst
Prop asst
Prop asst
Landscape des, Tucson unit
Const, Tucson unit
Sign painter, Tucson unit
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Ward supv
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst, Tucson unit
Seamstress
Seamstress
MUSIC
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Score rec eng
Score rec eng
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable person
Cable man, Tucson unit
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
ADR supv
Foley ed
Foley ed
Conforming sd ed
Sd eff asst
Sd eff apprentice
Foley artist
Asst eng
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec by/Sd eff by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles & opticals
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup artist
Makeup/hair asst
Makeup/hair asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting coord
Chicago casting liaison
Chicago casting liaison
Extras casting
Extras casting, Tucson unit
Extras casting assoc
Extras casting asst
Extras casting asst
Extras casting asst
Extras casting asst
Prod assoc
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Scr supv
Prod controller
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Administrator/Morgan Creek
Accounting asst
Accounting prod asst, Tucson unit
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt, Tucson unit
Tech adv
Unit pub
Post prod services by
Post prod supv
Post prod coord
Key prod asst
Key prod asst
Key prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Office prod asst, Tucson unit
Film runner
Film runner
Stadium entertainer
Stadium entertainer
Stadium entertainer
Craft service
Craft service
Craft service, Tucson unit
Craft service asst, Tucson unit
Athletic trainer
Asst to Mr. Ward & Mr. Chesser
Asst to Joe Roth
Asst to James G. Robinson
Secy to the prods
Secy to the prods
Secy to the prods
Prod secy, Tucson unit
Crowd promotion, Tucson unit
Security, Tucson unit
1st aid, Tucson unit
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik," performed by Bamberger Symphoniker, conducted by Joseph Keilberth, courtesy of Teldec Record Service GmbH, by arrangement with Warner Special Products.
SONGS
"Most of All You," lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman, music by James Newton Howard, performed by Bill Medley, produced by James Newton Howard
"Wild Thing," by Chip Taylor, performed by X, courtesy of Elektra/Asylum Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"How Can the Girl Refuse," lyrics by Glen Ballard, music by James Newton Howard, performed by Beckett, produced by Michael Lloyd, courtesy of Curb Records
+
SONGS
"Most of All You," lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman, music by James Newton Howard, performed by Bill Medley, produced by James Newton Howard
"Wild Thing," by Chip Taylor, performed by X, courtesy of Elektra/Asylum Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"How Can the Girl Refuse," lyrics by Glen Ballard, music by James Newton Howard, performed by Beckett, produced by Michael Lloyd, courtesy of Curb Records
"Burn On," written & performed by Randy Newman, courtesy of Reprise Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"U.S. Male," by Phillip Kennard & Ron Aniello, performed by Lonesome Romeos, produced by Ron Aniello, courtesy of Curb Records
"The Nearness Of You," by Hoagy Carmichael & Ned Washington
"Walkaway," by Kenny Greenberg, Gary Nicholson & Wally Wilson, performed by The Snakes, produced by The Snakes, courtesy of Curb Records
"Isn't It Romantic," by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart
"Oh You Angel," by Ron Aniello, performed by Lonesome Romeos, produced by Lonesome Romeos, George Tutko & Phil Gernhard, courtesy of Curb Records
"Cryin' Shame," written & performed by Lyle Lovett, produced by Tony Brown, Billy Williams & Lyle Lovett, produced by Tony Brown, Billy Williams & Lyle Lovett, courtesy of MCA/Curb Records
"Beyond the Blue Horizon," by Leo Robin, Richard A. Whiting & W. Franke Harling
"Hideaway," by Joey Harris, performed by The Beat Farmers, produced by The Beat Farmers, courtesy of MCA/Curb Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
7 April 1989
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 7 April 1989
Production Date:
16 July - mid October 1988
Copyright Claimant:
Morgan Creek Productions
Copyright Date:
2 May 1989
Copyright Number:
PA420168
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Astro Color Laboratories
Lenses/Prints
Filmed with Panavision® cameras & lenses; Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
102
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29681
SYNOPSIS

Rachel Phelps inherits control of the Cleveland Indians from her late husband. The baseball team has not won a pennant in thirty-five years, and Phelps believes this season should be no different. Two weeks before spring training, Phelps gives a list of her desired players to the board of directors, who do not recognize any of the names. Proclaiming her dislike for the city of Cleveland, Phelps tells the team’s general manager, Charlie Donovan, of her plan to end the season in last place. She hopes attendance will drop so drastically that the Indians are allowed to break their lease with Cleveland and move the franchise to Miami. Recruiting the players and coaches whom Phelps wants, Charlie makes calls to has-been catcher Jake Taylor in Mexico, fastball pitcher Rick Vaughn in a California prison, and minor league manager Lou Brown who is currently working as a tire salesman. At training camp, Lou becomes familiar with the oddball nobodies Phelps has put together, including Pedro Cerrano, a Cuban power hitter who practices voodoo, and the incredibly fast runner Willie Mays Hays. Willie has shown up uninvited, and though police remove him from the camp on the first night, Willie earns his spot the next day when he crashes practice and runs faster than any other player. Lou reprimands the underperforming, overpaid third-baseman Roger Dorn. Dorn responds by throwing his contract at Lou, who pees on it and orders Dorn to do sit-ups. Lou discovers at practice why these players were not recruited by any other teams – Taylor has an old, ailing body, Rick has control problems with his amazing fastball, Cerrano can't hit a curveball, and Willie can't hit ... +


Rachel Phelps inherits control of the Cleveland Indians from her late husband. The baseball team has not won a pennant in thirty-five years, and Phelps believes this season should be no different. Two weeks before spring training, Phelps gives a list of her desired players to the board of directors, who do not recognize any of the names. Proclaiming her dislike for the city of Cleveland, Phelps tells the team’s general manager, Charlie Donovan, of her plan to end the season in last place. She hopes attendance will drop so drastically that the Indians are allowed to break their lease with Cleveland and move the franchise to Miami. Recruiting the players and coaches whom Phelps wants, Charlie makes calls to has-been catcher Jake Taylor in Mexico, fastball pitcher Rick Vaughn in a California prison, and minor league manager Lou Brown who is currently working as a tire salesman. At training camp, Lou becomes familiar with the oddball nobodies Phelps has put together, including Pedro Cerrano, a Cuban power hitter who practices voodoo, and the incredibly fast runner Willie Mays Hays. Willie has shown up uninvited, and though police remove him from the camp on the first night, Willie earns his spot the next day when he crashes practice and runs faster than any other player. Lou reprimands the underperforming, overpaid third-baseman Roger Dorn. Dorn responds by throwing his contract at Lou, who pees on it and orders Dorn to do sit-ups. Lou discovers at practice why these players were not recruited by any other teams – Taylor has an old, ailing body, Rick has control problems with his amazing fastball, Cerrano can't hit a curveball, and Willie can't hit anything. Despite their flaws, Jake, Rick, Pedro, Willie and Dorn make the final cut before opening day. Fans react angrily when they read about the Indians’ new lineup of nobodies. Later, Jake, Rick and Willie go out to celebrate, and Jake sees his old girlfriend, Lynn. They talk, but she cuts the conversation short to get back to her date. Before the first game, Lou makes a speech, reminding the team that everyone expects them to finish last. Eddie, a devout Christian, leads his fellow players in prayer, but they are interrupted when Pedro sets off an explosion at his voodoo altar, causing the sprinklers to rain down on the team. As the season starts the Indians are bad, but not as bad as Phelps would hope. The team shows signs of improvement, and fans take notice. Rick earns the nickname “Wild Thing” for his wild pitches, and a fan even asks for his autograph. Lou realizes Rick’s wild pitching is due in part to bad eyesight, so he takes him to get glasses. In his free time, Jake reads a comic book version of Moby Dick to impress Lynn, who is now a librarian. Willie suggests Jake tail Lynn to find out where she lives. Jake does so and surprises Lynn at her fiancé Tom’s apartment, where they are hosting a cocktail party. Tom asks Jake what his post-baseball career plans are, and Jake hints that he wants to settle down with Lynn and raise a family in Hawaii. Tom sees Jake out, warning him to stay away from Lynn. With a new spike in game attendance, Phelps remains unhappy. Encouraged by the team’s improvement, Jake visits Dorn at his home and begs him to play harder as this is Jake’s last shot at a winning season. Later, at a game, Jake spots Lynn in the stands. He follows her after the game and arrives at her apartment. There, Jake and Lynn discuss their past and Lynn reminds him that he cheated on her. Lynn tells Jake she cannot afford to give him another chance, but they end up in bed together. The next morning, Jake wakes up to find Lynn gone. Halfway through the season the Indians somehow manage a 60-60 record. Phelps attempts to force a losing streak by replacing the team’s plane with a bus. Charlie finally explains Phelps' plan for relocation to Lou, who uses that as motivation for the team to make a late season push for the pennant. On a winning streak, the Indians enjoy newfound popularity, even shooting a commercial for American Express. On a game night, Dorn’s wife Suzanne spots Dorn flirting with a woman on television behind a news reporter. To repay him, Suzanne seduces Rick, who only finds out who she is after they have slept together. Lou’s plan for the team works, and the Indians force a one-game playoff with the New York Yankees to determine who will win the American League East pennant. That night, the Indians take the field before a keyed up Cleveland crowd. Due to his poor record against the Yankees, Rick sits on the bench. Pedro hits a homerun, tying up the score at 2-2. In the ninth inning, Rick relieves the starting pitcher, and the excited fans sing “Wild Thing.” Dorn approaches the mound, but instead of confronting Rick about sleeping with Suzanne, he gives him a pep talk. Rick strikes out a player who hit a towering homerun off of him in an earlier game, and the Indians go up to bat against a Yankees relief pitcher called “The Duke.” In the bottom of ninth, with the score still tied, Willie gets on base with two outs. Jake stands up to the plate. Willie steals second base, and Jake bunts to send him home. Willie barely beats the diving catcher, and the Indians win the pennant. Jake looks into the stands and sees Lynn, who raises her hand to reveal an empty ring finger. They kiss in the stands, and Jake then picks her up to join in the Indians' on-field celebration.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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