Jobu’s Power Remains, Even After 25 Years

It’s safe to say that Jobu was not suffering from a quarter-life crisis during the Lake County Captains’ Friday night salute to the 25th anniversary of the classic baseball film, “Major League.”

In fact, a crisis is the farthest thing from what happened at Classic Park last weekend.

Drawing the second-highest crowd of the season, with final attendance numbers coming in at 9,069 fans, the Lake County Captains joined with Cleveland sports’ greats and movie stars alike to pay homage to Cleveland sports’ history, to “Major League”, and to the characters that brought the film to life and have kept it treasured in the hearts of baseball and non-baseball fans alike for the past 25 years.

During their annual “Salute to Cleveland Sports History Night,” the Captains’ welcomed Cleveland greats such as Al “Bubba” Baker, Austin Carr, Jim Chones, Bobby “Bingo” Smith, Stipe Miocic, Jessica “Evil” Eye, Hector Marinaro, and even Jeopardy champion Arthur Chu to Classic Park to throw out ceremonial first pitches and be recognized as individuals who advertise Cleveland’s sports successes to the greater population.

The Captains’ prestigious guest lineup also featured actor Chelcie Ross, who played Eddie Harris in “Major League.” Ross threw out a first pitch (though without the help of substances that his character in the movie uses) and met fans, signed autographs, and posed for pictures with fans in the concourse throughout the evening.

Perhaps the largest draw to the event was the promise of the limited Jobu bobblehead, which honored the spiritual leader worshiped by outfielder Pedro Cerrano in the film. Fans came to Classic Park from all areas of the country, as well as Chile, lined up as early as 9:00 a.m. to guarantee they would be one of the 1,500 fans to snag the coveted bobblehead.

Luckily, those who were out of luck in obtaining the piece of memorabilia were not without entertainment throughout the rest of the evening. The team had put together parodies of iconic “Major League” movie scenes that were shown throughout the evening, including the well-known commercial in which the film-Indians advertise a credit card, which the Captains extolled the virtues of season-ticket packages. Lake County players adopted personalities of the film characters throughout the skits, which they said was a fun and different experience. Grant Fink and Mitch Brown both agreed that the movie plays an important role in the game of baseball, because it shows parts of the game that fans don’t always see when looking at the field – it gives an almost “behind the scenes” look at the intricacies of a clubhouse and the ways in which teams band together outside of the game to produce on the field.

First baseman Nellie Rodriguez, who spoofed Cerano in the Captains’ commercial remake, joked that he had spoken to Jobu before the game as asked for two hits that evening. Without even having to sacrifice a chicken, Jobu delivered, as Rodriguez went 2-3 on the evening with three RBI and one run.

Brown was the starting pitcher for the evening and earned the win, going 5.0 innings and giving up three hits. He allowed no runs, walked four batters and struck out four. Brown said that, although he didn’t resemble “Wild Thing” Rick Vaughn throughout his whole outing, he channeled him a bit in the early innings of the game, when he issued his four walks and hit one batter. However, he was able to get his performance under control and, although he admitted he “didn’t have [his] best stuff,” he gave his team the start they needed to eventually win the game 8-1.

Brown said that the team was “really into” the entire evening’s promotion, from the Cleveland sports’ history greats to the reminiscing of the great 1989 movie. Catcher Richard Stock, who scored a run and was walked in four at-bats on the evening, echoed the sentiment.

“We really learned a lot about Cleveland sports,” Stock said, explaining that, since most of the team is not from the area, they don’t have a great depth of knowledge of the history of the city. He said he has seen “Major League” about “27 times” in his life, which made imitating the movie and celebrating its 25th anniversary hit close to home.

The 25th anniversary of the movie in which the Cleveland Indians are a team that fans choose not to recognize or support could not come at a more fitting time in the world of Cleveland sports. With the Browns drafting Johnny Manziel and embarking on the great quarterback war between Manziel and Brian Hoyer, and the return of LeBron James to the Cavaliers, the city has all eyes focused on the upcoming seasons of these two teams. The Indians, despite coming off a playoff season, being one game over .500 and 6.5 games behind Detroit in the AL Central, are getting pushed to the side, and the Captains are only acknowledged because their roster currently boasts two first-round drafts picks between Clint Frazier and Mike Papi. However, like they say in the commercial spoof, fans don’t recognize these players – not even in their own town.

Much like the Indians of the movie rallied to bring attention back to their club, the Captains are using their second half to bring attention to the team. The team is 20-23, still in the thick of the second-half playoff hunt in the Midwest League.

Yes, at the end of the day, fans will remember scoring a Jobu more than they will remember Rodriguez crossing the plate to score a run. But, at least they’re remembering the Captains – and the team is just fine with that, too.

“This is my third season in professional baseball,” Stock said after the game on Friday. “This is the best promotion I have seen in that entire time.”

Photo: Lake County Captains

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