Spring training is currently underway and that means we are getting pumped for MLB Opening Day on March 29. Unfortunately, here at RSVLTS HQ we are far away from all the spring training action in Florida and Arizona. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get in the baseball spirit. Instead we just binge our favorite baseball movies, like the 1989 comedy classic, Major League.
With a cast that includes Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, Rene Russo and MLB legend Bob Uecker, Major League has been a favorite of ours since before we were old enough to understand many of the jokes — and it just keeps getting better with age. But is it possible we’ve missed a few things over the hundreds of times we’ve watched it over the last twenty-something years? Does Willie Mays Hayes run like Hayes but hit like shit?
Charlie Sheen Could Really Pitch
Charlie Sheen was a star pitcher and shortstop on the Santa Monica High School Vikings baseball team. Although he couldn’t throw a 101 mph fastball like in the movie, he could regularly pitch 80+mph. To make his pitches look even faster, filmmakers moved the mound up 10 feet and shot from behind the plate so it wouldn’t be noticeable.
The Director Just Wanted To See The Indians Win For Once
Writer and director David S. Ward was a lifelong Cleveland Indians fan and he figured getting the film made was the only way to ensure he’d be able to see the team win. But since then, things have improved for the team. However, despite making it to the World Series three times since the film was released, the Indians still haven’t won since 1948, the longest active championship drought.
Run Like Who?
When Willie Mays Hayes says, “play like Mays, run like Hayes,” we all know that Mays refers to the great Willie Mays who hit 660 home runs over his 22-season career. But who the hell is Hayes? That would be Robert Lee “Bullet Bob” Hayes, an Olympic sprinter turned NFL wide receiver. He passed away in 2002 but still holds the world record for the 60- and 70-yard sprints and is the only athlete to win both an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring.
What’s With That Car?
Oh yeah, and that bizarre Rolls Royce you see Willie Mays Hayes drive in the clip above is actually a customized VW Beetle with a Rolls Royce grill, replacement trunk and hood ornament. Known as the “Elegant Beetle” kit, it was a popular coversion kit in the ’70s and ’80s until Rolls Royce sued the manufacturer.
Rick ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn Was Based On A Real Pitcher
Rinold George “Ryne” Duren was an MLB pitcher in the ’50s and ’60s for numerous teams, including the World Series-winning ’58 Yankees. He was known for his incredible fastball and his poor vision which necessitated the wearing of thick-lensed eyeglasses. The great Casey Stengel once said, “I would not admire hitting against Ryne Duren, because if he ever hit you in the head you might be in the past tense.”
One of the Best Lines Wasn’t Written
Bob Uecker improvised Harry Doyle’s classic “just a bit outside line.” Director David S. Ward loved it and kept it in, creating one of the most memorable — and hilarious — moments of the film.
The Filming Locations Are No More
The home game scenes were filmed at Milwaukee’s County Stadium, where Bob Uecker, who plays announcer Harry Doyle, called games for the Brewers and even played for the Milwaukee Braves years earlier. Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium was used for exterior shots. Both stadiums have since been torn down.
The Indians Were Moire Popular Than They Appeared
The Indians were a terrible team in the ’80s, no doubt about it, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have their diehard fans. Although the movie depicts a sparse crowd for Opening Day, the team often sold out — or came close to it — for Season or Home Openers. The rest of the season did see lean crowds though.
It Was Really Hot During Filming
Filming occurred during the summer of 1988 — one of the hottest summers on record in Milwaukee. That’s why mnay of the fans during the playoff game — which should take place in October — are wearing short sleeve shirts and shorts.
The Original Ending Was Much Different
In the original cut of the film, it is revealed at the end that Rachel Phelps actually wanted the team to succeed all along and her evil persona was just an act to motivate the players. But test audiences didn’t buy it and the ending was reshot to keep Rachel a villain who hated the Indians even after their victory.