For years, “Major League” has occupied a special place in Indians fans hearts.
The 1989 film – about a callous owner’s efforts to move the Indians and a ragtag bunch of has-beens and never-will-bes rising up to win in defiance – was unbelievable at the time. The Indians winning a division? Yeah, like that would happen. But the movie took hold for Indians fans and baseball fans alike (at least one pitcher on my little league team at the time got his hair cut to look like Rick Vaughn’s).
The movie remains a fan favorite– an oral history was compiled in Sports Illustrated – and has become part of the Cleveland experience (even though it was filmed largely in Milwaukee). And this year, on the 25th anniversary of the movie’s release, it will be commemorated in cardboard, as this year’s Topps Archive baseball card set will include cards of the players from the movie.
“A lot of people are really excited about this,” said Jeff Heckman, brand manager for Topps. “It’s an iconic sports movie.”
The company made the announcement last fall, but mockups were released featuring Jake Taylor, the catcher with a lifetime of baseball knowledge and a pair of shot knees, and Roger Dorn, the third baseman whose best days are behind him but is trying to become a commodity, giving the project some publicity right as the film made its debut on MLB Network last week.
“It’s gotten a lot of pickup this week,” Heckman said.
The number of “Major League” cards in the set is to be determined, Heckman said, based on negotiations with the studio and with the actors themselves for autographed cards. There will be two types of cards, insert cards and autograph cards. Both will look similar, Heckman said, like the 1989 Topps set. Topps Archive sets include cards with designs from the late 1970s and early 1990s, as homage to the days when every boy – and a few girls, and a lot of adults – collected baseball cards.
“There’s a lot of 80s stuff in there, so ‘Major League’ was a good fit,” said Heckman, who grew up in Chicago as a White Sox fan.
Heckman said “Major League” was also used in the set because although the movie is 25 years old, many of the actors in it remain memorable and active today, like Rene Russo, Charlie Sheen, Dennis Haysbert and Wesley Snipes. Also, former major leaguer Bob Uecker remains the voice of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The “Major League” cards could be the first of an ongoing series, Heckman said.
“That’s the hope, he said. “To highlight famous sports movies.”
The Topps Archive set will go on sale near the end of May, and should be available wherever Topps products are sold, Heckman said.