MAJOR LEAGUE: BACK TO THE MINORS
When Warren had his stars in place, the next step was to fill
out the team with actors who could convincingly fit the bill as
professional ball players. Following the customary auditions,
the unique acting callback took place on a ball field. Instead
of a script, Warren asked them to bring a glove and spikes. During
these "tryouts" the director himself pitched to the
prospective ball players. The enthusiastic finalists displayed
their athletic prowess on the field, batting, scooping up grounders,
chasing fly balls, running the bases and even diving into home
plate. Warren knew he had his "team."
They were then turned over to baseball consultant Steve Yeager,
the former Los Angeles Dodger catcher and MVP Awardwinner
in the 1981 World Series. (Yeager appeared as coach Duke Temple
in both prior "Major League" films.) With Yeager and
the cast assembled in Charleston, South Carolina, "spring
training" began in earnest.
Yeager went to work, telling Warren he'd "turn these actors
into jocks. I think baseball players and a lot of sports athletes
and personalities kind of act as they play. They do perform. They
play for the crowd; the actors act for the audience. It's very
similar. They took what I passed on to them and applied their
own personalities to the characters."
The fierce competition of the preproduction scrimmages brought
the actors together as a team. They threw, they ran, they fielded
ground balls, they batted, working four or five hours a day, rain
or shine, for over two weeks. The practices continued throughout
the filming as well. Warren felt that it was important to balance
authenticity with the comedic hijinks on the diamond.
In addition to the actors, over 100 professional ball players
from throughout the United States were cast in an open call as
ball playing extras for the eight minor league teams and the Minnesota
Twins. The players came from SingleA, DoubleA and
TripleA teams such as the Hickory Crawdads, Charleston River
Dogs, St. Petersburg Devil Rays, Oklahoma City Red Hawks and Birmingham
Barons. The production used the real names and uniforms of all
the minor league teams seen in the film: Buzz, Rock Cats, River
Dogs, Crawdads, Boll Weevils, Miracle and Renegades.
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