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The Magical Chemistry And Cast Of 1989's "Major League"

Entertainment | May 2, 2022

Poster for the movie 'Major League,' 1989. Getty Images

A lot of movies provide audiences with wish-fulfillment. However, 1989’s “Major League” went from fever dream to reality for writer-director David.S Ward. As he said, “I thought, the only way the Indians will ever win anything in my lifetime is if I make a movie where they do. And obviously it has to be a comedy because nobody would believe it as a drama.” Thanks to an all-star cast of Tom Berenger, Wesley Snipes, Charlie Sheen, and Dennis Haysbert, the film turned into one of the all-time baseball classics. Here’s how dream casting and chemistry made “Major League” movie for the ages.

An iconic cast who went on to even bigger roles.

Crucial Casting

Sports movies pose the significant challenge of casting actors who generally aren’t very athletic, but who can believably play professional athletes. Ward struggled to find a studio that would make the film until Morgan Creek bit, suggesting a reunion between Tom Berenger and Charlie Sheen who worked together on “Platoon.” As Berenger recalled, “Charlie asked if I was going to do it. I said, "Yeah, I think it's great, don't you?" He said, "Yeah." I think he wanted to know what his old sergeant thought.”

Despite needing the reassurance of his old running mate, Sheen was all-in. “When I saw the script it wasn't like catnip, it was like crack. It was probably as good a script as “Platoon”, seriously.”

'An unforgettable cast of characters. IMDB

Fantasy Baseball Camp

In order to get his ragtag group of players together, the director organized a training camp overseen by Steve Yeager from the Dodgers. Immediately, they learned they found a gem with Sheen. According to his co-star, “Charlie was great. The first day he started throwing to me, nine of his first 10 pitches were on the edge of the strike zone—that's how much control he had.”

Apparently, Sheen knew his way around a fastball, “I had a great arm. I was just born with it. I played at Santa Monica High, but because of academic s---, they pulled me off the team. I think my baseball career would have been spent riding buses, not jets, if you know what I mean. So I figured, Hey, I'll pursue a real idiot's job instead. Acting!”

You can feel the camaraderie and the chemistry throughout the movie. Cinemablend

Team Chemistry

The training camp served two purposes: weeding out actors whose baseball skills fell woefully short and creating some chemistry between the actors. Ward said, “I had actors coming in and saying that they had played Triple A with the Cardinals. Then I'd take them outside, and they couldn't throw it 15 feet. They just lied.” As Ward thinned the crop, Haysbert remembered the building camaraderie, “I don't think there was ever a closer cast. We hung out together. We went to bars together. We were a team. James Gammon had these great poker games.”

True to form, bad boy Sheen was the pied piper. The director said, “Charlie had a lot of women flying in and out of Milwaukee. His biggest problem was trying to coordinate the airline schedule so that these women wouldn't run into each other.” As the star recalled, “It wasn't as bad as on “Young Guns” [a year earlier]. We made that one in Santa Fe, and you would fly into Albuquerque and drive to Santa Fe on this two-lane highway. Literally, the girls that were leaving would pass the ones coming in. “Major League” was so physically demanding that you didn't have a lot of time for that.”

Funnily enough, Sheen was even more impressed by the film’s fictitious manager, James Gammon “You want to talk about an absolute f*#king warlock? This guy shows up one morning, and he’s so hung over that he has the bar still attached to his head. I’ve never seen a man in this much pain trying to make a cup of coffee. He was an awesome dude.”

"We should have gotten the live chicken." moviefone

Movie And Performance Enhancing Magic

Of course, not every actor arrived with skills attached to his character. According to the director, Wesley Snipes wasn’t exactly Usain Bolt out there. “The funny thing is Wesley, who plays a speed demon, is not very fast in real life. That's why we always shot him in slow motion. In regular motion he doesn't look that fast.”

On the other hand, Sheen was ready to do whatever it took for the part, “Let's just say that I was enhancing my performance a little bit. It was the only time I ever did steroids. I did them for like six or eight weeks. You can print this, I don't give a f---. My fastball went from 79 to like 85.” Just like a real baseball team, chemistry and talent made “Major League” one of the all-timers.

Tags: 1980s Movies | 1980s TV | Charlie Sheen | Tom Berenger

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Kellar Ellsworth


Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!