16 pine forestPine Forest High School baseball coach Tom Willoughby was looking for something different to jumpstart fundraising efforts for this year’s Trojan baseball team.He found it in a scene from a hit baseball film that is 31 years old. The film, "Major League," told the story of a struggling Cleveland Indians baseball team that used an odd combination of aging veterans and untested rookies to put together a successful season.

An iconic scene from the film showed team members in their own American Express commercial. Willoughby made a few changes to the script from the movie and got his team together on the Pine Forest baseball field to do the Trojan version of the commercial.

One of the biggest challenges was to get all the players in dress similar to the coats and ties the pretend Cleveland Indians in the movie wore.

He told the players to watch the YouTube video of the original scene from the movie so they could see the whole thing and also watch how their respective characters said their lines in the commercial. Speaking parts went to Jared Collier, Isaac Gonzalez, Justin Clark, Greg Washington, Justin Honeycutt, Willoughby and Keyshawn Taylor.

Taylor had the highlight scene in the commercial, reprising the role of actor Wesley Snipes who played the role of team speedster Willie Mays Hays in the movie.
In the commercial scene, Hays slides in to home plate at the end of the commercial holding up an American Express card.

The biggest distraction Willoughby had to deal with in making the video was creating the character of the manager of the Indians team in the movie, Lou Brown, played by the late character actor James Gammon.

A feature of Gammon’s character in the film was a bushy mustache. Prior to the start of practice, Willoughby had grown a full beard, but the day of the filming of the video, he shaved it all off save the mustache.

“When I showed up with the Lou Brown mustache the guys started laughing,’’ said Willoughby. As soon as the video had been shot, he went to his truck and shaved the mustache off, “just so I could focus with my guys,’’ he said.

Seniors Justin Honeycutt and Jared Collier were among the handful of players on the Pine Forest team that had actually viewed the film. Honeycutt is a pitcher who plays outfield when he’s not on the mound. Collier has been a catcher throughout his career at Pine Forest.

“I thought it was a great idea,’’ Honeycutt said, even though the filming took some time and presented a few challenges. One of the players with a speaking part had a difficult time getting his lines right, but Honeycutt said they came up with a simple solution. “We had to tape his lines on the back of the guy in front of him,’’ Honeycutt said.

Collier said he enjoyed doing something different to kick off the season and try and convince people to support the program financially. “It was something to have a good time with,’’ he said. “We want to get Pine Forest baseball back on track after a tough season.’’

Willoughby said the goal of recreating the scene was to reach out beyond the immediate Pine Forest baseball community of family and friends of the players and draw some interest from a wider audience to get financial support.

“We were trying to have some fun with it,’’ Willoughby said. “We wanted to see if we could get something going on Twitter and Facebook.’’

As of last Tuesday afternoon, the video was up to 694 views on YouTube. To see the video on SnapRaise and make a donation go to https://www.snap-raise.com/v2/fundraisers/111922?fundraiser_id=111922#/.

As of last Tuesday afternoon, the video had raised $3,794 of the $5,000 goal Willoughby set for this year. Willoughby is hopeful the team will raise enough money to purchase a new net for the team’s batting cage and new tarps to protect the field from wet weather.

“The batting cage is a safety thing,’’ Willoughby said. “It’s not safe to be around if it starts getting torn and there are holes in the net. The tarp is about keeping the field playable so we can get in more practice time
and games.’’
The video has been a critical success, at least on campus. “When I showed it to one of our teachers, she said ‘I’m definitely donating,’" Honeycutt said.

For their part, Honeycutt thinks the Trojan team truly has a chance to contend for a  championship this season, not unlike the Cleveland Indians team did in "Major League."
“We’ve got nine seniors on the team,’’ Honeycutt said. “We’ve got the talent and this is the year  to do something.’’

Honeycutt thinks the key to success for the team will be attitudes, keeping them right and playing each game one at time.

Collier thinks the approach to each game is important. “We need everybody to play like they’re never going to be here again,’’ he said.

Latest Articles

  • Local leaders seek healing and reconciliation in Fayetteville
  • Fayetteville monuments honor rich history
  • Local ice cream spots make summer sweeter
  • FTCC’s paralegal technology program offers rewarding career
  • Shift happens

 

Login/Subscribe