I was saddened to learn over the weekend that actor James Gammon, best known to baseball fans as the man who played manager Lou Brown in the 1989 baseball flick Major League, has died.
Gammon, who was 70, had been fighting cancer for about a year and a half.
Although he played a wide variety of other roles in his career, Gammon seemed perfect for the role of a gruff baseball manager trying to deal with prima donnas, has beens and a meddling owner while trying to win a few baseball games here and there. I especially liked they way Gammon played Brown as completely unflappable and unshockable.
Take, for example, this little nugget that happened during a scene when GM Charlie Donovan calls Lou Brown, who is out of baseball and working as the manager of a tire store, to offer him a job as manager of the Cleveland Indians:
Charlie Donovan: How would you like to manage the Indians this year?
Lou Brown: Gee, I don't know...
Charlie Donovan: What do you mean, you don't know? This is your chance to manage in the big leagues.
Lou Brown: Let me get back to you, will ya, Charlie? I got a guy on the other line asking about some white walls.
Gammon had a lot of other good lines in the movie. Sadly, many of them can't be repeated here.
There was talk at the time Major League came out that then Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog -- yes, it has been that long ago -- thought it was the most realistic movie about life was like as a major league manager. It wouldn't surprise me if Gammon modeled his make believe skipper after the White Rat.