While the movie, Major League, is about the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukeeans have long claimed it as their own. Partly because longtime Brewers announcer Bob Uecker has a memorable role, but mostly because many of the baseball scenes were filmed in Milwaukee's County Stadium.
Writer Jonathan Knight's new book, The Making of Major League, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the classic comedy sports film. While the future impact of the movie was unknown at the time, writer and director David S. Ward had a difficult time wrangling the Hollywood system to make the film. Moving the stadium filming location to Milwaukee was "cost prohibitive," according to Knight.
Another key factor to choosing Milwaukee was the likeness of County Stadium compared to where both the Cleveland Indians and Browns played at the time. "It really was, of all the ballparks in America, probably the one that looked most similar to Cleveland stadium," says Knight.
In order to get the amount of extras needed to fill a stadium for free, the film lured Milwaukee residents to the ball park the very first weekend of filming, while the excitement was palpable and before the end of the film schedule "when everyone realizes that watching a movie being made is like watching paint dry," says Knight.
That first weekend brought about 20,000 people out each night to the stadium, which worked out perfectly for the film, the crew, and the actors.
"It exceeded their expectations and that shows up at the end of the movie when you see that final game sequence and see the crowd reaction and how it's spliced together, boy that exceeded everything they had hoped for," says Knight.
This piece was originally published, July 21, 2015.