'Major League': Ranking the 30 best quotes from the classic baseball comedy
Somehow, the writers of "Major League" — the classic, hilarious baseball movie released on April 7, 1989 — managed to cobble together an entire script, complete with rich character development and necessary plot advancement, using, essentially, a series of one-liners.
It’s more a work of art than a movie script.
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For my money, it’s arguably the most quotable movie in American cinematic history. "The Big Lebowski" is in that conversation, and so are "Caddyshack," "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off," "The Princess Bride" and "Anchorman." And, of course, "Bull Durham" makes that list. Here are the 37 best quotes from that baseball classic.
Anyway, my goal was to watch the movie again — for probably the 100th time — and pick the best 30 quotes to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the movie’s release. Let me tell you, ranking the top 30 quotes from this one was, well, nearly impossible. Hell, cutting the list from 100 down to 30 wasn’t easy, either. These top 30 lines are what I consider the funniest, the most iconic, the most repeatable, the most usable in everyday life.
BENDER: 30 things we still love about "Major League"
And I’ll tell you this, too: The journey was more satisfying than the conclusion. During the journey, I got to rewatch a great movie and laugh and laugh and laugh. But the conclusions? All I know is that there are no right answers, just best guesses.
So here are my 30 best guesses. Hope you enjoy the journey, too.
30. 'There’s a red moon risin’ on the Cuyahoga River.'
The setup: Opening of the movie. Scenes of Cleveland.
(Song) There’s a red moon risin’ on the Cuyahoga River.
Rollin’ into Cleveland to the lake.
Why it’s the best: Randy Newman’s song, and that voice, are just the perfect song to open this movie and set the stage. It’s just damn perfect.
29. 'Four years ago, then.'
The setup: Players arriving to spring training, as the coaching staff watches.
Manager Lou Brown: “He was an All-Star in Boston, wasn’t he?”
GM Charlie Donovan: “Yeah, wound up in the Mexican League. Had problems with his knees.”
Pitching coach Pepper Leach: “Wish we had him two years ago.”
Donovan: “We did.”
Leach: “Four years ago, then.”
Why it’s the best: I might be alone here, but I just loved this exchange. And it’s my list, so it makes the top 30. Also, when Ricky Vaughn shows up on the back of a motorcycle, hops off and Leach says, "Look at this f—in' guy," well, that's pretty great, too.
28. 'Don’t think this one’s got the distance.'
The setup: Rookie Ricky Vaughn’s trying to finish his complete game. His arm feels like Jello, but Jake Taylor, the veteran catcher, tells him to throw it down the middle.
Taylor, to the hitter, Rexman: “You’ve got a chance to be a hero on national television, if you don’t blow it. By the way, I saw your wife at the Capri Lounge last night. Hell of a dancer. You must be very, very proud. And that guy she was with? I’m sure he’s a close personal friend and all, but tell me, what was he doing with her panties on his head?”
Vaughn throws the pitch, Rexman pops it up.
Taylor: “Uh-oh, Rexy. Don’t think this one’s got the distance.”
Why it’s the best: Because “Uh-oh, (insert name). Don’t think this one’s got the distance,” can work about a dozen times in any baseball game, anywhere, at any level. So great.
27. 'Going somewhere, meat?'
The setup: Willie Mays Hayes reaches in the ninth inning of the tiebreaker game. The crowd's going crazy. The music is building. Clu Haywood, the burly Yankees first baseman, greets him as he takes a leadoff.
Haywood: “Going somewhere, meat?”
Hayes: “About 90 feet.”
Why it’s the best: Because it rhymes, and because that's exactly what Hayes did.
26. ‘F— you, Jobu.’ I do it myself.'
The setup: With the Indians trailing, 2-0, late in the final game, slugger Pedro Ccrrano swings and misses at two pitches.
Cerrano: “I go to you. I stick up for you. But you no help me now, I say ‘F— you, Jobu.’ I do it myself.”
Why it’s the best: Because you gotta rely on yourself, right? Good lesson, movie people.
25. 'This guy threw at his own kid in a father-son game.'
The setup: Announcer Harry Doyle — played by Bob Uecker, of course — talks about the reliever the Yankees bring into the tiebreaker game.
Doyle: “The Duke leads the league in saves, strikeouts per inning and hit batsmen. This guy threw at his own kid in a father-son game.”
Why it’s the best: Bob Uecker is awesome.
24. 'Give them all a nice big s—burger.'
The setup: In the clubhouse, before the first regular-season game of the year.
Manager Lou Brown: “Now I’m much for giving inspirational addresses. I’d just like to point out that every newspaper in the country has picked us to finish last. The local press seems to think we’d save everyone a lot of time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me? I’m for wasting sportswriters’ time, so I’d like to hang around a see if we can give them all a nice big s—burger.”
Why it’s the best: Because Brown is just so damn proud of himself for making that joke. And because Cerrano looks all confused and says, “S—burger?”
23. 'Nice velocity. ... Sounded liked it.'
The setup: The first time Lou Brown and Pepper Leach watch Ricky Vaughn throw in spring training. The pitch sails over the catcher and smashes a “No Pepper” sign on the fence.
Brown: “Nice velocity.”
Leach: “Sounded like it.”
Why it’s the best: They didn’t need a radar gun. The sound was enough (but the radar gun did show 96 mph, which was a bigger deal in those days).
22. 'California Penal.'
The setup: Players getting to know each other in spring training.
Willie Mays Hayes: “What the hell league you been playing in?”
Ricky Vaughn: “California Penal.”
Hayes: “Never heard of it. How’d you end up playing there?”
Vaughn: “Stole a car.”
Why it’s the best: Quick, to the point, no judgment.
21. 'Hats for bats.'
The setup: Players file into the communal living space at spring training, complete with bunk beds everywhere. Cerrano and pretty-boy veteran Roger Dorn meet for the first time.
Dorn: “Hey big guy. You a golfer?”
Cerrano: “Hats for bats.”
Dorn: “Yeah? What’s your handicapp?”
Cerrano: “Keep bats warm. Gracias.”
Dorn: “Whoa, amigo. You can’t just … you’re welcome.”
Why it’s the best: Dorn, who just flexed in front of Vaughn, is so completely intimidated by Cerrano. It’s amusing. Also, “Hats for bats,” is a repeatable line.
20. 'I look like a banker in this.'
The setup: Taylor, the veteran, takes rookies Vaughn and Hayes to a fancy restaurant in Cleveland to celebrate making the roster and the start of the season.
Vaughn: “I look like a banker in this.”
Taylor: “Sorry, Rick. Those are the house rules. So, what are we going to have?”
Hayes: “What language is this?”
Vaughn: “They got chili dogs over there?”
Taylor: “Forget it, I’ll order. Let’s have a toast. Here’s to baseball, and to the start of two great careers. And for me, here’s to one more good year in the sun.”
Why it’s the best: Because Vaughn, wearing a tank top, leather jacket with the sleeves ripped off and a tie around his bare neck, definitely does not look like a banker in that getup.
19. 'S—. I’ve been cut already?'
The setup: Willie Mays Hayes showed up to camp without an invite. Security takes his bunk bed out into to the parking lot that night, with Hayes still asleep. He wakes up to see drills have already started.
Hayes: “S—. I’ve been cut already?”
Why it’s the best: Because when he jumps up and out-sprints those two dudes racing, you really believe actor Wesley Snipes might be the fastest human alive.
18. 'I hate this f—ing song.'
The setup: In the tiebreaker against the Yankees, Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn enters from the bullpen in the ninth inning, and the crowd goes crazy as Wild Thing plays on the speakers.
Owner Rachel Phelps: “I hate this f—’ song.”
Why it’s the best: Even in this moment, after she clearly isn’t going to be allowed to relocate the team to Miami, she can’t pretend to be happy. And the way actor Margaret Whitton delivers the line, full of utter contempt, is absolutely perfect.
17. 'This guy’s the out you’ve been waiting your whole life for.'
The setup: Vaughn come into the ninth inning with the bases loaded in a tie game, facing Haywood, the Yankee slugger who has crushed him this season.
Taylor: “This guy’s the out you’ve been waiting your whole life for.”
Why it’s the best: Oh, man. So great. Rise to the moment, kid.
16. 'Forget about the curveball, Ricky. Give him the heater!'
The setup: Vaughn’s facing Haywood. The fastball is smoking. The camera cuts to the dugout, where the manager is talking to no one in particular.
Brown: “Forget about the curveball, Ricky. Give him the heater!”
Why it’s the best: How many times have you yelled this at your TV during a game, or out toward the mound if you’re at the game? It’s perfect.
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15. 'You put snot on the ball?'
The setup: The veteran pitcher, Eddie Harris, is changing in front of his locker, next to bad-boy rookie Vaughn.
Vaughn: “What’s that s— on your chest?”
Harris: “Crisco. Bardol. Vagisil. Any one of them will give you another two to three inches drop on your curveball. Of course, if the umps are watching me close, I just put a little jalapeño inside my nose and get it running, and if I need to load the ball up a little, just wipe my nose.”
Vaughn: “You put snot on the ball?”
Harris: “I haven’t got an arm like yours. I’ve gotta put anything on it I can find. And someday you will, too.”
Why it’s the best: Because when I was a kid, the idea of putting snot on a baseball amused me. And maybe it still does. Shaddup.
14. 'You want me to drag him out of here, kick the s— out of him?'
The setup: At the fancy celebration dinner, Taylor spots his ex-girlfriend Lynn with another man. His new teammates want to help out the veteran.
Vaughn: “What is it, the chick?”
Taylor: “That’s my wife.”
Hayes: “Does she know that?”
Taylor: “Who’s that guy she’s with?”
Hayes: “I don’t know. He’s not wearing a name tag.”
Vaughn: “You want me to drag him out of here, kick the s— out of him?”
Why it’s the best: Vaughn’s still learning to be civilized after his life of juvenile delinquency, but he hasn’t curbed those instincts quite yet. At least he asked first.
13. 'We’ve got uniforms and everything.'
The setup: Taylor follows his ex-girlfriend Lynn home, but it’s to her fiancee’s place. He sits in the awkward situation with the fiancee’s friends.
Arthur Holloway: “What team do you play for, Jake?”
Taylor: “The Indians.”
Claire Holloway: “Here in Cleveland? I didn’t know they still had a team.”
Taylor: “Yeah. We’ve got uniforms and everything. It’s really great.”
Why it’s the best: The “uniforms and everything” line kills me, every time. And when she smiles and claps. Yeah, that’s the good stuff.
12. 'That’s all we got? One g—damn hit?'
The setup: In the swooniest part of the team’s early season swoon, the broadcast crew recaps a particular stinky game.
Doyle: “So the Tribe drops its third straight on the trip, 6-1 to the Rangers. For the Indians, one run on, let’s see, one hit? That’s all we got? One g—damn hit?
Monte the color man: “You can’t sat g—damn on the air!
Doyle: “Don’t worry. Nobody’s listening anyway.”
Why it’s the best: The frustration is real, both for the awfulness of the team and the apathy of the listeners (or lack thereof).
11. 'Yo, bartender! Jobu needs a refill!'
The setup: After talking trash to the doll — “Up your butt, Jobu!” — in Cerrano’s locker and drinking Jobu’s rum, Harris struts out onto the field.
Harris: “Yo, bartender! Jobu needs a refill!”
Why it’s the best: Because he got what he deserved, a baseball bat hitting him on the head. Cerrano said it was bad to drink Jobu’s rum. In fact, he said it was very bad.
10. 'Going to need a visa to catch this one.'
The setup: Haywood faces Vaughn, regular season. The result is predictable, a long home run. Action documented by Uecker.
Doyle: “Haywood swings and crushes one toward South America. Tomlinson’s going to need a visa to catch this one. It is outta here, and there’s nothing left but a vapor trail.”
Why it’s the best: Who would even be mad if a current announcer borrowed that one a couple times a year? Nobody, that’s who.
9. 'Nice catch, Hayes. Don’t ever f—in’ do it again.'
The setup: Willie Mays Hayes makes a basket catch in the outfield on Opening Day. His manager isn’t thrilled with the showboating.
Brown: “Nice catch, Hayes. Don’t ever f—in’ do it again.”
Why it’s the best: Again, just so repeatable and relatable.
8. 'Is that you, Tolbert?'
The setup: Taylor is drunk in a bed in Mexico, sprawled out sideways wearing a sombrero, when the phone rings.
Taylor: “Is that you, Tolbert? This isn’t very funny you know. I’m hung over, my knees are killing me and if you’re gonna pull this s— at least you could have said you’re from the Yankees.”
Why it’s the best: Pretty much anytime since I first saw this movie that I’ve answered the phone after a couple drinks the night before, I called my buddy Tolbert and said it just like Jake Taylor.
7. 'Too high.'
The setup: Haywood smashes a home run off Vaughn. Cut to the super-fans in the stands.
One fan: “No way. Too high. Too high.”
Another fan: “Too high? What does that mean, too high?”
First fan: “Too high, I thought.”
A third fan: “Not too high. Too hard, right?”
First fan: “At first I thought it was too high.”
The third fan: “Who gives a s—? It’s gone.”
Why it’s the best: Just about every single time someone hits a towering fly ball, my first thought is, “That’s too high.” You probably do that, too.
6. 'I’ve got a guy on the other line about some whitewalls.'
The setup: Indians GM Charlie Donovan calls Lou Brown, manager of the Toledo Mud Hens, at his offseason job at Tire World, to offer him a job.
Brown: “Oh, I don’t know.”
Donovan: “What do you mean you don’t know? This is a chance to manage in the big leagues.”
Brown: “Let me think it over, will ya, Charlie? I’ve got a guy on the other line about some whitewalls. I’ll talk to you later.”
Why it’s the best: Such a great blow-off. The guy with the white walls is more important.
5. 'Are you trying to say Jesus Christ can’t hit a curveball?'
The setup: In the spring training locker room, we meet Jobu. And discuss curveballs.
Taylor: “Que pasa there, Pedro."
Cerrano: “Bats. They are sick. I can no hit curveball. Straight ball, I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, and rum. He will come.”
Harris: “You know, you might think about taking Jesus Christ as your savior instead of fooling around with all this stuff.”
Taylor: “S—, Harris.”
Cerrano: “Ah, Jesus. I like him very much. But he no help me hit curveball.”
Harris: “Are you trying to say Jesus Christ can’t hit a curveball?”
Taylor: “OK, Harris. Let’s try not to start a holy war here.”
Harris: “I wouldn’t leave that rum sitting around here with this group.”
Cerrano: “Is very bad to steal Jobu’s rum. Is very bad.”
Why it’s the best: So much happens here. I thought about breaking this into a couple of segments, but settled on leaving it together, so as not to break up the flow. Also, because it was hard enough to keep this list to 30.
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4. 'This guy here is dead.'
The setup: In the conference room, looking over the list of spring training invitees.
Executive: “This guy here is dead.”
Phelps: “Cross him off, then.”
Why it’s the best: Pretty much anytime anything has needed to be crossed off any list since I first saw this movie, I said it just like Rachel Phelps. Also, the other great line from this scene:
Executive: “I’ve never heard of half of these guys, and the ones I do know are way past their prime.”
GM Charlie Donovan: “Most of these guys never had a prime.”
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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