In Movies & TV

"Mr. 3000" draws similarities to filming of "Major League"

With his grizzled look and trademarked eyeglasses, not to mention surging velocity and dependability in save situations, Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne proves a unique and intimidating opponent for National League batters. His confidence and unusual look make him perhaps the game's most feared closer. But you know what?

He's no Ricky Vaughn.

Perhaps better known as "Wild Thing," the offbeat, albeit fictional, fireballer began etching his legacy this week 15 years ago at Milwaukee County Stadium when filming began for "Major League." The Mirage and Morgan Creek motion picture about a team of lackluster ballplayers who win the pennant subsequently won a place in cinematic history as the template for comedic sports film.

"Charlie Sheen was the only baseball player in the bunch," Brewers head groundskeeper Gary Vanden Berg said of the actor who portrayed the visually impaired former prison inmate Vaughn. "Wesley Snipes was athletic but not much of a baseball player; the other actors -- Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen -- they were awful."

Vanden Berg, now in his 23rd year with the Brewers, had the chance to meet most of the actors in the now-famous film during the shooting, a cast that included Rene Russo and Dennis Haysbert among the aforementioned actors.

"We had no clue what to expect, Vanden Berg said. "We didn't know how to react to it, how to protect the grounds, how to make their schedules work with ours. Now that we've done it once, I think we have that figured out better."

With Touchstone picture "Mr. 3000" conducting ongoing filming at Miller Park, the experience of "Major League" helps Vanden Berg and the Brewers know what to expect. Among the necessary tasks is assembling a sizeable crowd for in-game footage during an upcoming two-game set against Houston July 23 and 24, as well as extras Fri., July 18 and Sat., July 19 for overnight filming sessions.

Exactly 15 years before the Friday date, Robbin Barnes, now publications assistant with the Brewers, joined many others in the County Stadium stands to help create similar scenes for "Major League."

"There was a guy down there with a megaphone, and I remember he had us doing warm-ups with different types of "the wave," she said. "We did a fast wave first and then a slow wave, then a noise wave. They pumped you up enough to stay enthusiastic."

Barnes, who said she bounced from section to section as people were needed for various camera angles, was surprised at how well received the movie became.

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