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MAJOR LEAGUE: BACK TO THE MINORS

Spring Training

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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