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Card Gallery: The still-elusive 1989 Major League Movie baseball card set

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

We’re coming down the home stretch in preparations for the Sports Movie Issue of Beckett Sports Card Monthly and we’re now at the point where we know what won’t be making the cut for print because of real estate.

You know, space.

While its story will briefly be told as part of my admitting I have one big-league obsession, I wanted to ensure that some recently received scans of what remains my biggest baseball card collecting nemesis — the 1989 Major League Movie set — could be seen by many.

It’s not an expensive set at all but it’s one that I have never seen in-person, let alone had a chance to own. It’s a real 11-card set of slightly over-sized photos featuring the stars of David S. Ward’s first baseball movie.

How obscure are they?

“I had lunch with [writer and director] David Ward a few years back and brought in a set,” said Miles Levy, who represents Corbin Bernsen aka Roger Dorn, “and he didn’t even own one.”

No wonder I can’t find one …

See all 11 cards — and learn a little more about the set — after the jump.

The cards are a blue-bordered 1974 Topps knockoff with a Super Bubble gum logo and what appears to be an early production logo for the film that can also be seen on a few other items. The set was reportedly given to a few thousand fans in attendance during filming  in Milwaukee. (That’s right … the baseball scenes weren’t filmed in Cleveland.)

It’s the only set that is anything close to officially licensed for the film, and it has all the legends in there, Tom Berenger, Dennis Haysbert, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes and so on … all that’s missing is Jobu – and there’s a story there to be told, too.

I first learned of this set’s existence in 2009 – it’s been in the Beckett.com database all along — and I still haven’t landed one.

I know of four people who say they own the set, but two wouldn’t cough it up for this potential buyer and two simply haven’t found them. One, a reader named Jason, was kind enough to send the scans that you see here, though, so I can give you a rundown of the cards.

The cards are not numbered — they’re blank backs — so here they are in alphabetical order by character.

Lou Brown – James Gammon is the only member of the cast who is no longer with us as he died last year at age 70. His gravelly voice made many a line in the film legendary — and we all know what he thought of contracts and sportswriters, which just added to the greatness of this manager.

Pedro Cerrano — Sure, Dennis Haysbert has his Fans of the Game cards and even more cardboard as the president in 24. But there’s only one Pedro Cerrano — and this is the one real card that shows this slugger in uniform.

Roger Dorn – You just love to hate Corbin Bernsen’s character in the film and there’s something about this pose that’s, well, just plain Dorn. (The photos in this set have not appeared on any other memorabilia or marketing materials that this fan knows about, either.)

Eddie Harris – How early on were these cards made? Well, Chelcie Ross’ memorable Bardahl-, Vagisil- and Jalapeno-abusing veteran never went by the name Steve in the film. It was either a last-minute change or Harry Doyle (who sadly doesn’t have a card in this set) had one too many Jacks while calling the action.

Willie Mays Hayes – Wesley Snipes might not have truly gotten into this role just yet but we’ll never know for sure as those memorable cleats have been cropped off of this photo. This card also is from early on as he’s firmly a center fielder in the film, not a lefty.

Pepper Leach – Andy Romano’s part as pitching coach isn’t quite extensive in this film, but that didn’t stop him from being on a card. Note the typo on his position — what should have been 3B coach — and the fact that he’s standing at first. (We won’t mention how, in the final bunt scene, he’s not the 3B coach relaying signs, either … )

Jake Taylor – Tom Berenger’s leading man status isn’t quite affirmed here (Rene Russo would need to be nearby) in the photo but he is listed as the team captain  as well as catcher. That’s different for a baseball card …

Ricky Vaughn — It’s a shame that Charlie Sheen’s haircut and glasses weren’t seen here — or the nickname “Wild Thing” — as they truly are movie-defining and character-defining aspects that would have led to cardboard perfection. I guess this one left the surprises for the theater.

Steve Yeager – The only true Major Leaguer of the bunch was Yeager, a former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher and the 1981 World Series MVP, who worked as a technical advisor on the film while also playing batting coach Duke Temple. He also stood in for Berenger on action scenes that required hits or a believable throw.

The Manager & Coaches – Rounding out the set are a pair of group-shot cards … one of the coaches and one of the star players (up top). These also are classics  — as if there wasn’t enough of that already with a set like this one.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

17 Comments

For what it’s worth, I have been chronicling this set for several years now, trying to hunt down people that own the set and who would part with it for the right price. Thus far, I have not found that magical combination. Emails and phone calls to various personnel related to both the movie and the movie’s filming locations have resulted in dead ends. The hunt continues. –David (Tribecards, http://www.tribecards.net)

Posted August 22, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink
Richard

It’s simple really.
Because the price is so low it does not pay to put it on ebay or the like.
So, start an experiment.
Start by offering guide for the set, then slowly ratchet up the price until you get one.
If its not possible to buy a set at $X then the price guide is just plain wrong.

If a common card books at $1, but people are willing to ay $1 + $3 shipping its real price
is actually $4, assuming that there are not enough transactions the other way to counter it.

Posted August 22, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink
chrisolds

If it’s that simple, I’ll overpay quite more than that.

(It’s not.)

Posted August 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Permalink
KZED

If it was that simple, I’d outbid chrisolds, or at least make him sweat pretty heavy…LoL!

Posted August 22, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink
Nick

I’m pretty sure if one of these bad boys lands on the bay it will demand a premium… I know I’d be in the mix.

Posted August 22, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Permalink
Adam Shoemaker

Thanks for the article, Chris. I enjoyed reading it and seeing the scans. I can guarantee that if I had the set, or any one card, I’d be very hesitant to let it go. Then again…

money talks. :)

Posted August 22, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink
Kevin

I am surprised Snipes booked so high, you don’t normaly see those kind of pices on speed guys.

Posted August 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Permalink
Brandon

Guess I’m a little late to the party. I was looking for memorabilia on ebay for Major League, and I bid on this set last night on ebay thinking I would get it for under $15. (I think it ended up selling for about $80.) After the fact, I did some research and came across this article. Just curious, has anyone else found a set since this article ran?

Posted January 18, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Permalink
Tanya

My husband has these cards and said one of the coaches has “3D coach” on it. He asked me to google to see if it was an error. (I see you listed it as a typo above.) He also wanted me to find out if they’re worth anything. I can find info on every other 5 cent card he has all over the internet, but this is the only site where I’ve seen mention of these. Judging by the article and comments, they’re not too common, but no one really knows what they’re worth. Is that accurate? I’d be interested in any additional information if available. Thanks!

Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Permalink
Todd

I was an extra in the movie and have a baseball signed by the entire cast, other than wesley snipes. Name your price.

Posted August 24, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Permalink
scott

I just happened to stumble upon this website. My grandfather was a Brewers season ticket holder at old Milwaukee County Stadium and almost my entire family appeared as extras in the filming of Major League stadium scenes. Me (I was only 7 at the time) my brother, my grandfather and my dad. I remember being extremely bored sitting around all day.
I don’t have one set of these cards, I have THREE. Unfortunately one of the sets has rubber cement from me gluing it in a scrap book, but the others are in decent condition. had no idea that they were worth anything.
contact me at scottl20@hotmail if u want more info on them

Posted December 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
mike

My brother in law was an actor in this movie, he gave me a set years ago. I often wondered if it was worth anything. Still have it, still wrapped, but mine has Tom Berenger as the first card.

Posted February 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink
Paul K

I have a never opened set as well with Tom Berenger on the front (and another opened set). I’m definitely a fan, but there is always a price. If interested: ptk216@hotmail.com.

Posted June 12, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Permalink
Mark C

Hey All, I have an official, with authenticity papers, Jobu doll. This is one of only 21 dolls ever made after the original one. it was made by a man named Eric C. This name will be familiar to you if you’ve done your research on Jobu and anyone that has ever tried to replicate the Jobu doll. I was interested in possibly posting the doll for sale provided the right price comes along. was wondering if anyone knew how much people were trying to pay for these dolls nowadays. if anyone is interested, has any questions or info regarding the worth of one of these dolls please contact me!

Posted February 9, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

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