Sports films never go out of style and in the late 1980s, another baseball comedy became a big screen hit: Major League.
Written and directed by David S. Ward, the film’s premise: the new owner of the Cleveland Indians gets a lucrative offer to move the team to Miami.
Firing the well-known players, trying to get the minimum attendance from fans, the team stacked with new players, owner Margaret Whitton and her general manager Charlie Donovan are conspiring to get the team moved.
But the team finds out about the secret machinations of the owner to move the team and then fire the current players once again.
In retaliation, the oddball team decides to play the best they can for their own pride and scuttle the owner’s plans, as they start winning despite being a mish-mash of players.
Led by catcher Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger), the team’s players include pitcher Ricky ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughan (Charlie Sheen), Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen), Willie Mays Hays (Wesley Snipes), Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert) and Lou Brown as their coach (James Gammon).
Supporting players include Rene Russo as Taylor’s love interest Lynn, Rachel Phelps as team owner Margaret Whitton, a former Las Vegas showgirl, former MLB players Pete Vukovich, Willie Mueller, Pete Yeager on the field, and former MLB player Bob Uecker as the team’s announcer Harry Doyle.
For Sheen, Snipes, Haysbert and Russo, this was their first major film and for Ward, it was his big comeback after working on the spectacular failure of a film, Heaven’s Gate. The budget for this film was US$11 million
Released in April 1989 by Paramount Pictures, the film was a box office success – the interplay of baseball, comedy and the little guy succeeding was a lure for movie lovers. Grossing over US$50 million, this film was a summer blockbuster and led to two sequels, as well as became part of the sports film canon of Hollywood.