In defeating the St. Louis Browns 12-1 on September 8, 1939, Bob Feller became the youngest pitcher ever to record 20 wins in a season. The 20-year-old Indians pitcher would finish the season with a 24-9 record and an ERA of 2.85.
I seem to be on a Major League kick lately, though this viewing was prompted by coming across Major League II available for free on YouTube. Released in 1994, this flick serves as sequel to the original Major League. Many of the original cast returned for this installment of the series, including Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, and Corbin Bernsen. However, Omar Epps replaced Wesley Snipes in playing Willie Mays Hayes, and a number of new cast members also appear in this film.
In this installment, the Indians have become complacent and arrogant after their success in the previous season/movie and they start losing games due to their poor performance and attitude. For example, Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn is so caught up in trying to impress the media and his new girlfriend that he has lost his fastball and his edge. Instead, he begins to rely on ineffective breaking balls, for which he has given nicknames such as “Eliminator” and “Humiliator.” Former voodoo practitioner Pedro Cerrano has converted to Buddhism, which has made him so peaceful and passive that he’s lost his power as a hitter. Willie Mays Hayes has become a movie star and has injured his knee, making him unable to run fast or hit well, and he therefore now fancies himself a power hitter.
Meanwhile, Roger Dorn, the former third baseman, has bought the team from Rachel Phelps, the former owner who wanted them to lose, but he doesn’t have the funds to pay the players or improve the facilities. Additionally, at the end of spring training, manager Lou Brown informs catcher Jake Taylor that he is keeping him on as a coach rather than a player. Jake is upset and rejects the offer at first, but then reluctantly accepts the position.
The team also faces challenges from the newer members of its roster. Jack Parkman is a selfish and arrogant catcher who joins the Indians, but later leaves for their rivals, the Chicago White Sox. Isuro “Kamikaze” Tanaka is a Japanese outfielder who clashes with Cerrano over their cultural differences. Rube Baker is a rookie catcher who has trouble throwing the ball back to the pitcher because he gets nervous.
Faced with no other options, Dorn sells the Indians back to Rachel Phelps. With the Indians positioned in last place, Phelps decides this is the perfect opportunity to revive her dream to try to move the team to Florida. The team continues on in a chaotic, disunified vein that culminates in an all-team on-field brawl that leads to their ejection.
In the end, the Indians manage to overcome their difficulties and take off on a hot streak that allows them to make it to the playoffs, where they face the White Sox in a decisive game. The players have regained their old spark and end the film with a World Series berth.
All in all, I can’t say I enjoyed this film as much as the original. It has its moments, for sure, but it is not the original Major League. It largely mirrors the plot of just about every other sports sequel — a team growing complacent and losing its spark. As someone who enjoys baseball movies in general, I can’t honestly discourage anyone from watching this movie, because a part of me did still enjoy it. Just don’t go in with any expectations that it will match its predecessor.
On June 6, 1913, the New York Yankees lost 2-1 against the Cleveland Indians at the Polo Grounds. This game marked 14 consecutive games played without a win, setting a franchise record. The streak included 13 losses and one tie (a 3-3 game against Boston on May 24th). The team would finish the season with a record of 57–94, coming in 7th place in the American League.
Cleveland Indians player-manager Tris Speaker collected his 3,000th hit on May 17, 1925. Speaker singled off Washington Senators pitcher Tom Zachary to become just the fifth major leaguer to reach the milestone.
On April 29, 1931, Cleveland Indians pitcher Wes Ferrell pitched a no-hitter against the St. Louis Browns, striking out eight. Ferrell also hit a home run and a double with four RBIs in the 9-0 victory. Ferrell’s brother Rick was the catcher for the Browns that day, going 0-for-3 at the plate. The box score for the game can be found here.
On Opening Day, April 16, 1926, rookie Earl Averill became the first American Leaguer to hit a home run in his first major league at-bat. The Indians center fielder’s blast came on an 0-2 count against Detroit pitcher Earl Whitehill as Cleveland defeated the Tigers, 5-4.
On December 9, 1941, just two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Cleveland pitcher Bob Feller enlisted in the United States Navy, becoming the first American professional athlete to volunteer for World War II. Feller was not required to participate in the war, being eligible for deferment because his father was terminally ill, but Feller was determined to join the fight. He would be discharged from the Navy on August 22, 1945, having earned six campaign ribbons and eight battle stars.
The Detroit Tigers released player-manager Ty Cobb on November 2, 1926. At first, Cobb announced his retirement at the end of 22 years with the Tigers, but when Cleveland Indians player-manager Tris Speaker also retired shortly thereafter, many heads turned. It soon came out that the two were coerced into retirement as a result of allegations of game-fixing brought about by Dutch Leonard, a former pitcher managed by Cobb.
Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand, threw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians on September 3, 1993. This accomplishment was the New York Yankees’ first no-hitter in 10 years.
On August 11, 1926, Indians outfielder Tris Speaker hit his 700th career double against the White Sox at Dunn Field. Over the course of his career, Speaker would accumulate 792 total doubles, establishing a major league record that stands to this day.