April 21, 2021

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Baseball movie bliss: Happy birthday to ‘Major League,’ ‘The Sandlot’ and ‘The Bad News Bears’

6 min read

Here’s a fun fact: Three classic baseball movies were all released on April 7. 

“The Sandlot” was released on April 7, 1993, “Major League” was released April 7, 1989, and “The Bad News Bears” was released on April 7, 1976. 

If you’re going to produce a baseball movie, it makes sense to target early April for the release date. Baseball’s Opening Day is right around then, though sometimes it falls at the end of March and in days of old, sometimes wouldn’t start until the middle of the month. 

MORE: The 10 best baseball movies of the ’90s, ranked

We thought we’d celebrate that trio by looking at the three best quotes from each movie. We’ve done longer quote breakdowns for “Major League” and “The Sandlot,” too. There is another baseball movie that was released on April 7, 2006, too, but we are not going to waste any moments of your time or our life talking about “The Benchwarmers.” You’re welcome.

Now, to the quotes …

Major League

3. ‘Win the whole f—in’ thing.’

The setup: Brown has just told the team that the owner, Phelps, picked this team because she thought it would be awful, and that the players would all be released or traded after the season. Taylor, the veteran, stands up.
The words … 
Taylor: “Well, then, I guess there’s only one thing left to do. 
Dorn: “What’s that?
Taylor: “Win the whole f—in’ thing.
Why it’s the best: Makes you want to run through a brick wall, doesn’t it? 

2.  ‘Juuuust a bit outside.’

The setup: Ricky Vaughn makes his big-league debut, and Harry Doyle is there for the narration. 
The words … 
Doyle: “Vaughn into the wind up, and his first offering … juuuust a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.”
Doyle: “Ball four.”
Doyle: “Ball eight.”
Doyle: “Low, and Vaughn has walked the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches. Boy, how can these guys lay off pitches that close?”
Why it’s the best: The “juuuust a bit outside” part is probably the most iconic line in the entire movie. To me, though? It’s the “tried the corner and missed” part — on a pitch that was about three feet off the plate — that’s makes it a contender for No. 1. 

1. ‘The Indians win it! The Indians win it! OH MY GOD, THE INDIANS WIN IT!’

The setup: Tie game, ninth inning. Taylor drops a bunt as Hayes tries to steal third, then turns the corner and heads home … 
The words … 
Harry Doyle: “He slides! He is …”
Umpire: “Safe! Safe!”
Doyle: “The Indians win it! The Indians win it! OH MY GOD, THE INDIANS WIN IT!”
Why it’s the best: If you didn’t just get chills reading that, we probably can’t be friends. The movie starts as a series of amusing one-liners, but along the way you care about the players (while laughing the whole time). And to see them win? To see the emotion? To hear Uecker so damn excited? Just the best. 

The Sandlot

3. ‘Some lady name Ruth. Baby Ruth.’

The setup: Smalls has just knocked the autographed baseball over the fence, and the sandlot squad is about to learn why Smalls is in the biggest pickle of his life. 
The words … 
Squints: “Listen to me, Smalls. This is a matter of life and death. Where did your old man get that ball?”
Smalls: “What? I don’t know. Some lady gave it to him. Why?”
Several players: “Lady?”
Smalls: “Yeah. She even signed her name on it. Some lady named Ruth. Baby Ruth.”
Everyone else: “BABE RUTH! AAAGGGHHHH!”
Why it’s the best: They get it. Smalls, however, is a bit behind the rest of the kids. Yes, I had to break this part up into a couple of entries. Too much goodness for one grouping. 

2. ‘You mean that’s the same guy?’

The setup: Benny hits the cover off the squad’s lone baseball, so Smalls goes to get the one on his stepdad’s mantle, not knowing its significance. And then Smalls hits his first home run, into the yard of The Beast. Here, he’s realizing what exactly he’s done.
The words … 
Squints: “But it was signed by Babe Ruth!”
Smalls: “Yeah. You keep telling me that, but who is she?”
“What?” 
“What?”
“The Sultan of Swat!”
“The King of Crash!”
“The Colossus of Clout!”
“The Colossus of Clout!”
“Babe Ruth!”
Ham: “The Great Bambino!”
Smalls: “Oh my God! You mean that’s the same guy?”
Why it’s the best: That moment of realization is just golden. Poor Smalls. 

1. ‘You’re killing me, Smalls!’

The setup: The boys are having a campout in the tree house to tell Smalls the story of The Beast. But first, a kid’s gotta eat. 
The words … 
Ham: “Hey, you want a S’more?”
Smalls: “Some more what?”
Ham: “No, no. You want a S’more?”
Smalls: “I haven’t had anything yet, so how can I have some more of nothing?”
Ham: “You’re killing me, Smalls!”
Why it’s the best: This would have made the list just for the S’mores exchange, but it’s No. 1 because it’s the first — and best — time that iconic line, “You’re killing me, Smalls!” is uttered. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve used that line, I could buy all the 98-cent baseballs I wanted. 

The Bad News Bears

3. “But this quitting thing …”

The setup: The kids pretty much hate Coach Morris Buttermaker by this point. Opening Day was a disaster. They’re being razzed at school. They took a team vote and decided to quit. Tanner got into a fight with the entire seventh grade and came out with a busted lip. 
The words … 
Buttermaker: “I can understand how you guys feel. I haven’t been much of a manager or much of anything else, for that matter. I’m sorry. But this quitting thing, it’s a hard habit to break once you start. You’re a damn good bunch of boys, probably deserved a lot better than me. Looks like we’re stuck with each other.”
Notable: For just a moment, you think Buttermaker has turned a corner, that he’s seen the error of his ways. And then he throws the catching gear against the wall and yells at everyone and they start practice. 

2: “Throw the ball, Joey!”

The setup: Joey Turner, the pitcher and son of the Yankees coach, has tortured the Bears as much as anyone all season. When Joey’s dad tells him to throw it low and away to walk Mike Engelberg in the championship game, he gets mad and throws the ball at Engelberg’s head instead in an act of defiance. The coach runs out to the field, yells at Joey for lying and hits him, knocking him to the ground. Everyone’s stunned. When the game resumes, Engelberg hits a grounder to Joey, who holds it.
The words … 
Coach Turner: “Throw the ball, Joey!”
Engelberg runs from first to second to third.
Coach Turner: “Throw the ball, Joey!”
Joey’s teammates try to wrestle the ball away, but that doesn’t work and Engelberg scores.
Notable: After the play, when Joey walks over to his dad and drops the ball at his feet? No words, but says everything. 

1. “Hey Yankees!”

The setup: The championship game is over. The Yankees have their giant first-place trophy and the Bears have their tiny second-place award. One of the Yankees players gives a pseudo-apology, at least giving the Bears credit for having guts. Then, they give the Bears a cheer: “Two, four, six, eight! Who do we appreciate! Bears! Bears! Bears!” 
The words … 
Tanner: “Hey Yankees! You can take your apology and your trophy and shove it straight up your ass!”
Lupus throws the second-place trophy at them.
Lupus: “And another thing! Just wait till next year!”
Notable: Then, the Bears celebrate. Not just the end of the season, but their growth and their rebellion and all those good things. 

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