In discussion about the greatest baseball movie off all times, there are a handful of movies that would fall into consideration: Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own, The Natural, and The Sandlot to name a few. One of the films that would need to be in the discussion for that slot is the 1989 classic Major League.
Major League is the story of the Cleveland Indians, whose owner wants to put together a team so bad that attendance drops to a point where she could move them to Miami. So she signed a group of has-beens and never-weres to tank the season.
However, she did not expect the team to bond together and to become a competitive force.
The movie stars Tom Berenger as broken down catcher Jake Taylor, Corbin Bernsen as over-price veteran Roger Dorn, Wesley Snipes as speedster rookie Willie Mays Hayes, Charlie Sheen as jailbird bad boy “Wild Thing” Rick Vaughn, Dennis Haysbert as the voodoo-worshiping Pedro Cerrano, and James Gammon as manager Lou Brown.
The movie has some of the best baseball scenes in any film, including the 20-minute ending sequence in the third act where the Cleveland Indians take on the New York Yankees that never fails but to bring goosebumps to me.
There is plenty of humor in the movie too, led by current Milwaukee Brewer broadcaster and former major league baseball catcher Bob Uecker as Indians broadcaster Harry Doyle. Uecker is witty and funny, doing amazing work as the play-by-play guy. His calls in the final act do a great job of setting the tone for the “game.”
There is a love story in the film as well, between Tom Berenger’s Jake and his former flame Lynn Wells (Rene Russo). It sounded as if Jake had treated Lynn terrible when the pair were originally together and Jake had to convince her that he was looking to make it up to her. Honestly, my least favorite part of the movie was the love story between these two.
The charismatic characters and their interactions are what really fill up the screen. The baseball highlights are well done, looking more realistic than a lot of other baseball movies.
The movie shows what is great about the game of baseball. The fact is that you do not have to be the best in the world and you can still win. The Cleveland Indians in this movie are put together with the expressed intent of losing, but despite that, the group comes together and are able to scrape their way through. A top notch underdog story, Major League is funny, dramatic and filled with wild characters.