Indians revive movie magic vs. Brewers

Indians revive movie magic vs. Brewers

CLEVELAND -- A late lead for the Tribe against the Brewers. Closer Kerry Wood coming to the mound. And the hard-strumming opening notes of The Troggs' "Wild Thing" blasting on the PA system.

Now, that would be a heck of a way to honor the movie "Major League."

Unable to guarantee such a development, the Indians will do the next best thing Monday night. They'll give all fans attending their Interleague series opener against the Brewers a Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn bobblehead doll. While you can certainly stand "juuuust a bit outside" Progressive Field, you'll have to pass through the gates to get one.

Yes, Monday night's schedule says "Interleague," but the game will also be about "Major League" -- a flick still near and dear to the hearts of Tribe fans, 20 years after its initial release.

The movie was the brainchild of director David S. Ward and producer Chris Chesser. Ward grew up in Cleveland, and Chesser, a Yankees fan, grew up in Tucson, Ariz., not far from the Tribe's former Spring Training site at Hi Corbett Field.

It only seemed natural, in the late 1980s, that a movie about a baseball franchise in a funk would be a movie about the Cleveland Indians.

"I figured the only way they were ever going to win anything in my lifetime was to do a movie, and they'd win," Ward told recently. "I thought this would be a chance to combine two interests of mine -- comedy and baseball -- with my team, the Indians."

But in true Hollywood fashion, the Tribe's home games in the movie weren't, of course, shot in Cleveland Municipal Stadium. That honor went to Milwauke County Stadium, which makes the Brewers tie-in for Monday's promotion all the more appropriate.

Talking to in 2007, Chesser said Tribe fans are always curious why Milwaukee got the casting call over Cleveland for the stadium scenes.

"It was a real simple reason," Chesser said. "We had a lot of conflict with the Indians' schedule, with both the Indians playing there and the start of football season. Some actors were only available on certain days. The Milwaukee park was designed by the same architect. It was a smaller version of Municipal Stadium, so it was easier to shoot in because of the size."

At least a real baseball stadium was used. The actors playing Tribe players certainly weren't real ballplayers. (And please spare us the obvious punchline that the real Indians players of the 1980s might have been better off pursuing acting careers.)

But the makers of the movie wanted a cast capable of playing ball on camera and making it look realistic. Charlie Sheen (Rick Vaughn), Tom Berenger (Jake Taylor), Corbin Bernsen (Roger Dorn), Dennis Haysbert (Pedro Cerrano) and Wesley Snipes (Willie Mays Hayes) all held their own.

"I had heard Charlie was a good player in high school and Berenger could play pretty well, and he hit well, but he couldn't throw," Ward said. "Corbin was a very good player, and Dennis was a really good player who actually hit a few real home runs while we were filming. The one person who really wasn't a player was Wesley, but he was such an amazing athlete that he learned to play baseball in about three weeks."

When it came to finding an actor to handle the role of the Tribe's acerbic broadcaster, Harry Doyle, Ward had a natural fit in Bob Uecker, the longtime Brewers play-by-play man who also had a starring role in the TV sitcom hit "Mr. Belvedere."

Uecker, who will be in town calling the action for WTMJ and the Brewers Radio Network, is the owner of some of the movie's more classic lines -- "This guy threw at his own son in a father-son game" -- and said he was able to take liberties with the role.

"[Ward] allowed me to freelance with my character, ad lib, do whatever I wanted, and that was really great," Uecker said recently. Fans still eat up "Major League" after all this time. The Indians played it on the gigantic scoreboard above the left-field bleachers after Saturday's game against the Cardinals, and several fans sat amidst the seagulls hovering overhead to take it in and laugh again.

"It seems to be playing more now than when it originally came out," Uecker said. "It seems every day I run into someone at the ballpark or on the street and they say, 'Hey, I saw you in that movie ... it was on again today.' I mean, I go into clubhouses all the time and these players today are playing it in clubhouses before the game."

Pitching matchup
MIL: RHP Dave Bush (3-3, 4.58 ERA)
Bush was struck near the right elbow by a line drive on June 4 in Florida, but he made his start as scheduled on Wednesday against the Rockies. It was one to forget. Bush slogged through five innings with 110 pitches and saw a 2-1 lead turn into a 3-2 deficit when he surrendered three consecutive doubles with one out in the fifth inning. Bush is winless in his past four starts, going 0-3 in that span with a 6.75 ERA (16 earned runs in 21 2/3 innings). He's 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts against the Indians, and he has averaged better than seven innings in those outings.

CLE: RHP Carl Pavano (6-5, 5.40 ERA)
Pavano followed up his most brilliant outing of 2009 with a real clunker against the Royals on Wednesday. After tossing a three-hit shutout of the White Sox, he was bruised and battered for nine runs on 11 hits with one walk and four strikeouts in just 4 2/3 innings in the loss against the Royals. It was the second time this season he has given up nine runs in an outing -- the first being his Tribe debut on April 9 in Texas. Pavano is 2-2 with a 4.09 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

Left-hander Aaron Laffey, who is recovering from a strained right oblique muscle, threw his third bullpen session Saturday and will throw a simulated session against hitters on Monday. Laffey said he'll then rest two days before going out on a Minor League rehab assignment. "Right now, they're building me back up as a starter," Laffey said. "I don't think it will be too long a process, but the main thing is to build my pitch count back up." ... No. 1 Draft pick Alex White went nine strong innings for North Carolina against Arizona State on Sunday in the College World Series, but he took a no-decision. White allowed just a run on seven hits with three walks and 12 strikeouts, but the Tar Heels went on to lose, 5-2, in 10 innings. On the other side, No. 2 pick Jason Kipnis started for Arizona State in center field and the No. 2 hole and went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. ... Since his activation from the disabled list, Travis Hafner has hit .238 (5-for-21) with a double, homer and two RBIs in six games.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WTAM 1100

Up next
• Tuesday: Indians (Jeremy Sowers, 1-3, 5.10) vs. Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, 6-3, 2.88), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Indians (David Huff, 2-2, 7.39) vs. Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 5-4, 4.48), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Off-day

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.