Paramount via Everett Collection
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since Charlie Sheen’s Ricky Vaughn emerged from the bullpen to the strains of “Wild Thing” to help the Cleveland Indians win a division title. Coming out during an era of more high minded baseball movies like Bull Durham and Field of Dreams, Major League was pure goofy fun… more interested in laughs than in the game’s potential life lessons.
For many baseball fans, an annual viewing of Major League is as much a part of spring as Opening Day. As with Caddyshack, there are fans that can quote the movie’s best lines from memory. Even if you have your own home shrine to voodoo god Jobu, here are some fun facts about the movie that you might not know:
1. Although the movie is set in Cleveland, the scenes inside the ballpark were shot at Milwaukee’s old County Stadium. Bob Uecker, who played announcer Harry Doyle, has really worked in Milwaukee since 1971 as the play-by-play man for the hometown Brewers… a fact that writer-director David S. Ward didn’t know when he cast him. He had based the casting strictly on Uecker’s work on the sitcom Mr. Belvedere and in a series of Miller Lite commercials (if you look closely, that’s the beer that Doyle is drinking in the movie).
2. Sheen really was a pitcher in high school for Santa Monica High. He now claims that he took steroids prior to doing the movie so that his fastball would be more realistic. Dennis Haysbert, who later became famous as President David Palmer on 24 and played Cuban slugger Pedro Cerrano, was a football and basketball player in high school before switching to fencing at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
3. Haysbert’s hitting as Cerrano looked real because it was. Even though he didn’t play baseball past Little League, Haysbert actually cleared the fences multiple times during filming.
4. Despite playing a speedy outfielder in the movie, Wesley Snipes was so slow that they ended up showing him running in slow motion in the film to provide the illusion of speed.
5. The original ending featured the scheming owner played by Margaret Whitton — the widow of the beloved former owner — as secretly being behind the team’s winning, with her devious threats meant to bring the boys together. When test audiences hated it, they reshot it to keep her as the bad guy.
6. Entourage‘s Jeremy Piven shot multiple scenes for the movie, playing a bench player who likes to heckle the opposing team. When they started editing, they realized that the scenes didn’t work, so they completely cut his character from the film.
7. Prior to making her film debut as Lynn Wells, the ex-girlfriend of Tom Berenger’s character, Rene Russo was known primarily as one of the top models of the ’70s. A Los Angeles native, one of Russo’s classmates growing up was sitcom-star-turned-director Ron Howard.
6. Pete Vuckovich, who plays evil Yankees first baseman Clu Haywood, was actually a star Major League pitcher who won the American League Cy Young Award in 1982. Playing largely in games with a designated hitter, Vuckovich only rarely batted during his career.
7. According to Ward, during the celebration scene at the end where Corbin Bernsen’s third baseman Roger Dorn punches Sheen for sleeping with his wife, Bernsen actually connected with the shot, leaving a welt on Sheen’s face.
8. Neil Flynn, who went on to bigger roles on television as the Janitor in Scrubs and a suburban father in The Middle, plays one of the long-suffering Cleveland fans complaining about the state of the team.
9. Flynn and Stacy Carroll, who plays Dorn’s wife who has revenge sex with Ricky, both also appeared in a short-lived TV show called Sable, which starred Russo as the girlfriend of a children’s book writer who transforms into a superhero at night.
10. The song that plays at the beginning of the movie is “Burn On” by Randy Newman. Written in 1972, it is an ode to an incident in 1969 when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught on fire due to an oil slick and other debris floating in the polluted water.