On the eve of the day that pitchers and catchers report to the Brewers spring training camp in Maryvale, Ariz., I thought it would be fun to rank my favorite five characters from the Major League movies (not the third one though, because though it was mildly funny, it is not on the same level of the first two), which are easily my favorite baseball movies of all time.
5. Johnny the fan (according to IMDB, that's his name in Major League 2)
Johnny represents the irrational sports fan in all of us. He's ecstatic when the team does something good: "We signed Parkman!" and will turn on a dime when things go bad: "NO! You rotten bums! You overpaid weenies! Mild thing, you make my butt sting! I *detest* you! You're all garbage! All of ya! Back up the truck! Back it up! " and (much like Brewers fans the past few years) is eternally hopeful "Yeah, they went 3-24 in spring training..." Even with the mood swings, it is obvious that he is a loyal die-hard fan (is there any other kind?) and thus is someone that anyone who is a fan can relate to. The comic relief only helps his case.
Best line/scene: After it is evident that Rick Vaughn and the rest of the team aren't as good as the year before, Johnny displays his disgust by turning his Indians cap inside out and having a big black "X" taped over his Indians t-shirt. That shit gets me every time.
4. Rube Baker (C)
Ah yes, a hillbilly backup catcher obsessed with Playboy who can't make the throw back to the pitcher. Not exactly a stock character if you ask me. Like most characters in a comedy movie, Rube is there for the laughs, but he is also kind of a redneck philosopher: "Women... you can't live with 'em, and they can't pee standing up." and "My momma always said it's better to eat shit than not eat at all," are some of his better thoughts. I also thoroughly enjoy when he finally stands up to his former teammate Jack Parkman: "You're on the train tracks, butthead, and the train is coming through!"
Best line/scene: [Rick Vaughn has been demoted to the bullpen, and he broke up with his girlfriend]
Rube: Hey. Ya know Ricky, breaking up with a girlfriend can be a very painful thing. But it don't have to keep ya down for long. I mean, let me tell ya something from my own personal experience. I've never had a regular girlfriend like you, but I did get kicked in the balls once by a mule. Now, I thought I would be hurting for the rest of my life. But you know what happened the very next week?
Rube: My momma died. Hell, after that, I didn't care no more about my balls hurtin'. You see what I'm gettin' at?
3. Pedro Cerrano (RF) and Eddie Harris (SP) [tie]
It's hard to pick between the two because they're so intertwined in the first movie, so I just went with them both. You've got Cerrano the voodoo-loving stud home run hitter from Cuba, and Harris the down home wily old veteran who isn't beyond resorting to putting Crisco and Vagisil on his body to gain that extra edge over the young guys. They both play vital parts on their team -- much like any real MLB team -- and their clash of personalities make it that much more enjoyable.
Pedro: I'm pissed off now, Jobu. Look, I go to you. I stick up for you. You don't help me now. I say "Fuck you," Jobu, I do it myself.
[Pedro said to Harris that it is very bad to steal Jobu's rum. Harris proceeds to drink the rum after Pedro leaves. Harris walks out to the field.]
Harris: Hey bartender! Jobu needs a refill! *gets hit in the head with a flying bat*
2. Lou Brown (Manager)
Lou Brown doesn't take shit from anyone, and that is what makes him hilarious. Insufferable owner that only wants to see the team fail? He has no problem standing up to her, even if he is naked. Prima donna third baseman or center fielder? Brown tells it like it is: "Don't give me that "ole" bullshit!" or "Every time you pop one up, you owe me 20 push-ups!" I'm pretty sure if I were a professional baseball player, I would want to play for him.
Dorn: Lou! Can I have a word with you, here?
Dorn: See, I've got it right here in my contract. It says, "I don't have to do any calisthenics that I don't feel are necessary." So what do you think about that?
Brown: [drops the contract on the ground and urinates on it, then walks off]
1. Harry Doyle (announcer)
Bob Uecker stole the show playing Harry Doyle. From what I understand, the producers had a script in mind, but mostly let Bob be himself. Listening to Brewers games throughout my life, this is completely plausible. Bob is a funny guy by nature, and I think he takes his game up a notch with the Harry Doyle character. I don't think the Major League series would be the same without his comedic --yet honest -- takes on the ins and outs of a bumbling baseball franchise.
Best line/scene: There are far too many good ones to pick just one. "Juuuust a bit outside" is understandably a classic. His interactions with broadcast partner Monty are quite good. "The post game is brought you by... Christ, I can't find it. The hell with it!" is right up there. But I'm quite partial to, when, in the second movie while the Indians are playing the second game of a disastrous double-header, and Doyle is drunk: "Well, the Indians have a base runner. I think I'll wet my pants."