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A 1989 movie about a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits. In this case, they're the Cleveland Indians, a team that hadn't made a playoff appearance in over 30 years. No one in Cleveland knew who was on the team, which was a calculated move by Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton), the Rich Bitch owner of the team, wanting them to fail badly so she could move them to Florida (three years before the Florida Marlins were born, and seven years before the Cleveland Browns were moved to Baltimore). The characters included:

  • Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn (Charlie Sheen), a recently released felon with a blazing fastball and control issues (both with his pitching and his temper);
  • Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger), a catcher a decade past his prime and who never got over the one he let get away (Rene Russo);
  • Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen), a third baseman who is the epitome of the prima donna, and who is more concerned with his endorsements than his field play;
  • Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes), a leadoff man with Rickey Henderson-like speed on the basepaths, but with delusions of power;
  • Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert), a voodoo-practicing power hitter who can't hit a curveball;
  • Lou Brown (James Gammon), a tire salesman (and career minor league manager) who's tapped to be the manager who presides over the madhouse.

Throughout the movie, all of the new Indians' various quirks are revealed. Dorn's rookie pranks on Vaughn earn him more than a few fights, and Vaughn later sleeps with Dorn's wife (though he didn't know who she was at the time); Taylor fights to get his ex back from her new socialite boyfriend; Cerrano prays to Jobu many times, but doesn't get any closer to hitting a curveball; and Lou tries to get Hayes to hit like a leadoff man rather than a cleanup hitter.

Eventually, the owner's scheme is revealed to the team, and they go from worst to first (well, tied for first) with visual aid help from her... showgirl days. They're forced into a one-game playoff with the Yankees for the American League East title, and the ending is one of the more inventive Down to the Last Play endings in sports movie history.

The film spawned a sequel in 1994, changing leadoff men (Hayes is still there; he's just played by Omar Epps) and leading men (Berenger for Sheen). Here, Vaughn has let the fame of the previous year go to his head, mostly seeking lucrative endorsement deals. This is elaborated by having to choose between two Love Interests, publicist Rebecca Flannery (Allison Doody), and philanthropist Nikki Reese (Michelle Burke). One wants to build his image, the other to keep him down-to-earth.

The other team members have their own subplots. Taylor is cut from the team for the new rookie Rube (a country boy who can't throw the ball back to the pitcher) and big offseason acquisition Jack Parkman (a no-nonsense guy who is pretty much the epitome of "clubhouse cancer", but is a very good hitter), but is retained as one of Lou's assistant managers; Dorn is retired and has bought the team, but has to sell it back to the Rich Bitch after financial troubles force him to trade Parkman; Cerrano, having converted to Buddhism, is now a happy guy who's lost his edge until he's challenged by Japanese acquisition Taka Tanaka; Hayes, like Vaughn, let the previous year go to his head; he shot a movie with Jessie Ventura in the offseason and lost his edge on the basepaths. Another worst-to-first comeback ensues, though under the guidance of Taylor after Lou has a heart attack; the Down to the Last Play ending in this one is a lot less inventive than the first. The sequel coincided with the real-life Tribe's 1990s resurgence (where they went to World Series in 1995 and 1997; in the 1997 Series they lost to the Florida Marlins, in what some would call ironic).

In 1998, another sequel, Major League: Back to the Minors, came out, which focused on a minor league team (The Salt Lake Buzz) with a new manager (played by Scott Bakula) and a pretty much all new cast of characters. The only carryovers from the original movies are Dorn (who now owns the Minnesota Twins, who the Buzz are the AAA farm team), Cerrano, Tanaka, Baker (who are players on the team), and Harry Doyle (Bob Uecker, the announcer). This one focuses mostly on Bakula's manager, especially with his teaching methods with a hot batting prospect and a pitching prospect who has a blazing fastball but no other pitches, and his battles with the manager of the Twins (played by Ted McGinley, signifying the series' Jump the Shark moment).

A fourth movie is reportedly in the works.


This film series provides examples of:

  • Artistic License: Even if they are nobodies, they're playing in the big leagues, and in real life the players' union would never tolerate the indignities the Indians are subjected to (bus travel, no training equipment, etc.).
  • Badass Grandpa: Lou. He pulls this Ragtag Bunch of Misfits into a badass ball team. He's a tough disciplinarian but clearly loves the colorful and crazed players he's got.
  • Bald of Awesome: Cerrano. We even see him shaving for the coolness... using a big-ass knife.
  • Big Game: An Enforced Trope in all three films.
  • Bowdlerise: Sits with Die Hard 2 and The Big Lebowski as maybe the funniest dubbed-over-cussing TV edits in existance (for example, Dorn's I Have Just One Thing to Say speech below replaces "motherfucker" with "guy" in a completely different inflection, sort of like what you got from the announcers in the early Madden Playstation games).
  • California Doubling: The scenes set in the Indians' home park were actually filmed in Milwaukee's County Stadium, then-home of the Brewers.
    • In the second movie, Oriole Park at Camden Yards doubled as Cleveland Stadium.
    • In the third movie, College Park at the College of Charleston acted as the Salt Lake Buzz's stadium. Averted with the big-league club; the fact that the movie got permission to use the Metrodome as a filming location is why the Buzz are a farm team of the Twins in the movie.
  • Captain Ersatz: Averted quite refreshingly. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a sports movie that used real teams instead of obvious stand-ins?
  • Catch Phrase: "Juuuuuuust a bit outside." Though it was only said once, it's now all Bob Uecker's.
  • Check, Please!: Vaughn uses it when Dorn's wife seduces him
  • Cleveland Rocks: Phelps chose the Indians based on their mediocrity at the time
  • Defictionalization: Uecker was in the middle of his long solid career as a Real Life game announcer for the Brewers. After the first movie came out he did more national games and World Series coverage during The Nineties.
    • When the real-life Indians games at Jacobs Field were snowed out in 2007, they played the series in Milwaukee. (Granted, it was in Miller Park as County Stadium was gone, but still....) Had the series been played in Cleveland, the Indians were going to give away Rick Vaughn-style glasses.
    • The Rick Vaughn bobblehead.
    • Many Real Life relief pitchers now have a Theme Song that plays when they come in, in imitation of Rick Vaughn's Wild Thing intro.
    • Mitch Williams of the Philadephia Phillies, known for his lack of control much like Ricky Vaughn, acquired the nickname "Wild Thing" not long after this movie. He also switched his jersey number to 99... just like Vaughn.
  • Down to the Last Play: The first movie has an inventive twist, but the other two play it pretty much dead straight.
  • Father to His Men: Lou proves to be a solid coach - demanding when needed, defending his players when it becomes known the bitch owner is screwing the team.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: When Rachel Phelps buys back the team in the sequel and taunts her way through the locker, Tanaka is able to toss some vicious insults at Phelps in his native Japanese. Since he does it with a polite smile and bow, Phelps thinks he's complimenting her.
    • Similarly, the Asian groundskeepers in the first movie. "They're shitty" indeed.
  • Gul Dernit to Heck!: Rube expresses his frustration with every minced oath in the book. You can tell he's getting serious when he starts using real cuss words.
  • Greek Chorus: Harry Doyle and various fans.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: in some places; in the second movie, Cerrano kills a bird with a swing; he goes into the outfield to mourn the bird and has to be tagged out. In Major League Baseball rules, he's out the moment he veers from the baseline. Averted well with the first movie, though.
  • Groin Attack: When Vaughn hits a cardboard pitching dummy during spring training. The dummy collapses in pain.
    • He also takes a dummy's head off with a pitch.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Averted with Lou's. One, he doesn't actually die from it; two, no one actually knows he's having one because he's in the middle of chewing out his players at the time.

 Lou: Taylor, it's not your job to make excuses. That's all you guys do good! It's either a leg thing, or a spiritual thing, or a psychological thing, or a heart attack!

Jake: Who used heart attack?

Lou: Me. (collapses)

  • I Have Just One Thing to Say: "Strike this motherfucker out!"
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: In the second movie Bob Uecker (Harry Doyle) starts opening day drinking Avian water, but switches to beer when the Indians lose, piling up empty bottles and moving on to hard liquor as the season progresses and things get worse and worse. Eventually, he passes out wearing a wifebeater, leaving the announcing to his hapless partner. Fortunately, he improves when the team does.
  • Important Haircut: In the second movie, Vaughn adopts a "corporate" image thanks to his new girlfriend and publicist, Rebecca Flannery. This includes him wearing suits and doing a commercial for Right Guard Sport Stick at a country club. He also gets rid of his trademark haircut from the first film. This new persona lasts until the final scene, where we see him now sporting his infamous hairdo once again, thereby shedding his "corporate" image and returning to his "Wild Thing" persona.
    • Everything Vaughn does in that scene shows that "Wild Thing" has returned. Just before he comes out, Vaughn, off screen, finally tells off the obnoxious Indians fan who had been pestering him and insulting him throughout the film. The fan sees that "Wild Thing" has returned before we do and immediately shuts his mouth. Afterwards, he comes out of the bullpen wearing his leather vest from the original. Once people notice that "Wild Thing" has returned, the song "Wild Thing" is played over the stadium's P.A. system as Vaughn walks to the mound, recreating a scene from the first film. Vaughn then pitches while wearing his skull and crossbones glasses that he hadn't worn in the second film up to that point. All of this leads to him showing that he's gotten his intensity back and now remembers how to throw a fastball after apparently having forgotten how to do so.
      • Then, after the Indians win the pennant, he dumps Rebecca after telling her that she's much too good for him and gets back together with his ex-girlfriend, Nikki, the woman who helped him bring back "Wild Thing".
  • Miracle Rally: Straight from Worst to First in all three movies.
  • Nerd Glasses: Rick Vaughn was fitted with them in the first movie.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Harris, the old pitcher who uses an assortment of hidden greases and gels (and occasionally his own snot) to load the ball, is clearly based on famed spitballer Gaylord Perry.
  • Opposing Sports Team: The New York Yankees in the first movie, the Chicago White Sox in the second, and the Minnesota Twins in the third.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: In the intro to the second film, Vaughn is described as setting a record for strike-outs in one season by an ex-con.
  • Parody Commercial: American Express in the first movie ("Don't steal home without it!") and Right Guard in the second ("Anything less would be uncivilized... upside down!")
  • Poor Predictable Rock: Hog Ellis in the third movie is a pitcher who can throw a dizzying fastball and that's it. He learns a decent curveball in in the last third or so of the movie, but that's still a very limited repertoire for a star pitcher (which is, of course, why he's still in the minors in the first place, though generally he'd be in single-A ball rather than triple-A.)
  • Promotional Consideration: Parodied when Doyle can't find who the sponsors are for the post-game show. "Christ, I can't find it. To hell with it!"
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: In the first movie, the team was literally built to lose. Dang, huh?
  • Religious Russian Roulette: Pedro Cerrano threatens to leave Jobu unless he helps him hit a curveball. Then he does in his last at-bat:

 "I say fuck you, Jobu. I do it myself".

  • Rich Bitch: Rachel Phelps
  • Rousing Speech: Lampshaded in the second movie, when Brown (in the hospital pending heart surgery) tells Taylor (who will be managing the team in the decisive playoff game that night) not to do it; Taylor does it anyway, complete with a thick layer of Narm. Subverted in the third movie, when Cantrell says how he hates the Rousing Speech, but it's "in my contract"... then tells his team to "win this one... for me."
    • In the first movie, Lou gives a couple of them: the "winning streak" speech, and the one he gives when he finds out about the Springtime for Hitler plot (complete with showgirl visual aid).
  • Sequel Reset/Sequel Escalation: They celebrated like they'd won the World Series in the first movie, only to lose the ALCS after.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Vaughn has to be reminded that 'we wear sleeves in the majors.' During the American Express ad in the film, he's wearing a Tux with the sleaves torn off.
    • When Taylor takes him out to dinner, he chooses a place that requires ties. So he wears a tie...over his usual outfit. Vaughn's first line in the restaurant? "I feel like a banker."
  • Spinning Paper: Well, not spinning, but the worst-to-first montages captured shots from the wins in paper form.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Rachel's scheme to move the Indians to Miami in the first movie.
  • This Trope Is Bleep: The television edit of the film for TBS and syndication is just as enjoyable as the original, if only because of the silly words (and substitute dubbers who sound nothing like their actor counterparts) replacing the cursing.
  • Tribal Face Paint: When the Indians are close to winning the division we see a sportscaster dressed in full (sterotypical) Indian gear including a Chief-sized feather headdress and warpaint.
    • This is, of course, Truth in Television for die-hard Cleveland Indians fans (as well as Atlanta Braves fans, Washington Redskins fans, and Florida State Seminoles fans.)
  • Understatement: The aforementioned "Juuuuuuuuuuust a bit outside..."
    • Which, considering Doyle is doing play-by-play that's probably going to either local TV or the radio, wanders drunkenly into Unreliable Narrator territory. "You know, it's hard to imagine they're not swinging at pitches this close!"
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