I figured since I’d recently watched the first Major League movie – I might as well watch the sequel and do a follow-up post as my second “Friday Flicks”. I downloaded it on Google Play, unfortunately for $9.99 – it really should be a $4 movie. It was actually on MLB Network about 2 months ago, and I had recorded it. But somehow the DVR decided not to keep it. I remember watching Major League II, or at least parts of it, when I was younger, but that had been quite a while.
As I did before – in case you haven’t seen the movie yet – SPOILER ALERT!
Movie/Studio: “Major League II”, Morgan Creek Productions (distributed by Warner Bros.), 1994
Director: David S. Ward
- Charlie Sheen – Ricky Vaughn
- Tom Berenger – Jake Taylor
- Corbin Benson – Roger Dorn
- Omar Epps – Willie Mays Hayes
- Dennis Haysbert – Pedro Cerrano
- James Gammon – Lou Brown
- Eric Bruskotter – Rube Baker
- David Keith – Jack Parkman
- Takaaki Ishibaki – Taka Tanaka
- Bob Uecker – Harry Doyle
- Michelle Burke – Nikki Reese
- Alison Doody – Rebecca Flannery
- Margaret Whitton – Rachel Phelps
- Randy Quaid – Johnny the Fan
Plot: After winning their first division title in the original Major League film, the fictional version of the Cleveland Indians come back looking to make the World Series. Roger Dorn retired and bought the team from unpopular owner Rachel Phelps, but the previous season’s success has changed the players. Manager Lou Brown cuts Jake to keep free agent catcher Jack Parkman and backup Rube Baker, but, after some resistance, gets him to join the team as a coach. The Tribe starts off in a funk, with only the Parkman having success. Unfortunately, Dorn overpaid for the team and trades Parkman to the White Sox to make payroll.
Ricky Vaughn has been unable to regain the speed on his fastball, but his girlfriend/agent Rebecca Flannery wants him to keep the clean-cut look to attract more sponsors. After a few run-ins with his ex, Nikki Reese, her students question his approach. As the team’s struggles mount, Dorn is forced to sell back to Phelps, who keeps him on as general manager and adds him to the roster. Lou suffers a heart attack upon hearing the news and Jake takes over as manager.
After a few emotional speeches, the Indians ride a comeback to win the division on the last day of the season, though Vaughn is still struggling. They face the White Sox, who’d knocked them out the year before, in a rematch in the ALCS. They win the first 3 games of the series, but lose the next 3 after a “pep talk” from Phelps. The Tribe hold a 6-5 lead when Taylor calls Vaughn in from the bullpen. Back with his old haircut, he demands to walk the bases loaded to get to Parkman. Taylor allows it and Vaughn strikes him out with 3 fastballs. As the Indians celebrate their trip to the World Series, Vaughn rebuffs Rebecca to go find Nikki, who agrees to give dating him another try.
Big League Players in the Movie:
Brewers announcer and former Major Leaguer Bob Uecker reprises his role as Indians announcer Harry Doyle. A year after this movie was made, he called the Indians in their first actual World Series since 1948.
Steve Yeager, former Dodger catcher, reprises his role as Indians’ coach Duke temple. Kevin Hickey, former White Sox pitcher and coach, plays bench coach “Schoup”.
There are over 50 stand-in players who were current or former minor league ballplayers. A few of those guys made the major leagues at some point in their career, including 2 pretty notable names – see below.
Indians: Chuck Ricci pitched in 7 games for the Phillies in 1995, winning his only career decision. Ricci pitched 11 years in the minors, and coincidentally worked as a scout for the Tribe after he retired.
White Sox: John Stefero was a catcher who notched 44 hits and 3 homers in 3 MLB seasons with the Orioles and Expos. He also played 11 years in the minors, from 1979-1990.
Other teams: Ross Grimsley won 124 games over an 11-year MLB career. He pitched in the 1972 World Series for the Reds and made the 1978 All-Star game when he won 20 games for the Expos.
Steve Lyons played 9 seasons as a utility player primarily for the White Sox and Red Sox, notching over 500 hits in 2,300 plate appearances.
Brian Kowitz, like Ricci, also had a cup of coffee in 1995, getting 4 hits in 24 at bats for the Braves. He played in the minors from 1990 to 1996.
Bob Smith was a minor leaguer in the Braves organization at the time of filming. His professional career spanned from 1992 to 2006, but he made the majors as an infielder for the Tampa Bay Rays from 1998-2002. He played in the first game in Rays’ history, getting the first pinch hit in the organization’s history.
Baseball card connection: There aren’t any cards shown in the actual movie – whereas the original had a bunch in Pedro Cerrano’s locker. There were 2 sets issued for the original – but none for this sequel.
Best quote: “When the tough get goin’, the goin’ get tough.” – Rube Baker, when Ricky Vaughn comes in at the end and demands to walk the bases loaded to get to slugger Jack Parkman.
The one-liners from this movie definitely aren’t as memorable as the original, but there are still some good ones – and Rube supplies quite a few of them. This one was the best because to me. It’s at the end of the movie when Vaughn has finally got his mojo back, and Charlie Sheen’s “huh?” expression after reminds you not to take this movie too seriously. In a good way.
The other two I considered. The first: “you have no … you have no … you have no marbles” when Isuru Tanaka is calling out Cerrano. I also like the one where Doyle wakes up from his Jack Daniels stupor to the Indians brawling each other – “It looks like Willie Hayes is trying to hit Rick Vaughn, and why not, everyone else in the league does.”
Best song: “The House is a Rockin'” by Stevie Ray Vaughan – It would be easy to select Wild Thing again, but I think the end credits are a good song for this movie.
Other Notable facts:
- “Major League II” was #1 at the box office in its first weekend of release (April 1st, 1994) – however it only reached #2 if you look at weekly totals. The Mighty Ducks was the #1 movie the weekend before and after ML2 garnered the top slot.
- The movie grossed $30 million at the box office, which was 45th out of 1994 movies. It’s the 19th highest grossing baseball movie of all-time – though it was 8th at the time of its release. It generally had negative reviews and the $30 million is $15 million less than the first movie.
Like the first movie, there were a few nods to actual baseball players in the movie.
- The retired numbers of Cleveland Stadium a number of times throughout the film. An example from real life is Mel Harder (18) in the card below. Other numbers shown include Earl Averill (3), Lou Boudrea (5), and Bob Feller (19). Larry Doby and Bob Lemon have also had their numbers retired – but the way the angles worked, I didn’t see them in the movie.
- Vaughn mentions “The Ryan Express” (Nolan Ryan) when he is telling Jake about his new pitches and what he is nicknaming them.
- You can see Buddy Bell’s picture in Jake Dorn’s office early in the movie.
- The baseball scenes in the film was shot primarily at Baltimore’s Camden Yards. You can see the B&O Warehouse in right field a few times throughout the film..
My opinion: The premise of the movie works through how the team deals with a sophomore slump – which is ironic because the movie itself faces that issue. It would have been nice to have Wesley Snipes back in the Willie Mays Hayes role, and Berenger’s role as Jake Taylor is lessened quite a bit. Rube Baker’s role as the country idiot is funny at times, but in general the movie just seems a little bit cornier than the first one.
Obviously this movie isn’t as good as the original – but sequels rarely are. I think this film gets a bad rap. I enjoyed the hour and 45 minutes I spent watching it. If you are a fan of the first one – I think you should see the second one. It’s still a funny movie with endearing characters that is worth watching.