Let’s take a trip back in time to 1988 when the California Angels hosted the Seattle Mariners with the Queen of England in attendance. Wait? There isn’t a box score on Retrosheet? What gives? Oh right, this didn’t actually happen in real life although we can, if we allow ourselves a moment of gentle, harmless levity, pretend it did via the comedy classic, The Naked Gun. Thanks to the Internet we can go back and re-live (most) of this great baseball sequence and come up with a list of fun facts — two things everyone always loves.
Crank up “I Love L.A.” and enjoy!
Fun Fact No. 1: The entire Naked Gun baseball sequence takes place in Dodger Stadium rather than Anaheim Stadium (now Angel Stadium of Anaheim) because … Hollywood? The same logic applies to both Major League and Major League II which were shot in Milwaukee County Stadium and Camden Yards, respectively. Curt Gowdy even opens the fictional television broadcast saying, “We’re coming to you live from the Big A.”
Fun Fact No. 2: The first baseball shot from the movie is an interior shot of Wrigley Field, per IMDB trivia and confirmed via me on Netflix.
Fun Fact No. 3: Kate Upton studied for her role in the ubiquitous Game of War ads by watching Reggie Jackson’s acting masterclass performance in The Naked Gun.
Fun Fact No. 4: Reggie Jackson’s only line in the movie is, “I must kill (robotic pause) the Queen,” which he intones three times. At least Reggie actually played for the then California Angels, spending five years there in the mid-80s where he hit 123 home runs and (more importantly) would become immortalized as the best hitter in the 8-bit classic RBI Baseball for NES. So the filmmakers did get one thing right.
Bonus Fun Fact: Jackson owns the lifetime mark for most strikeouts in baseball history at 2,597.
Fun Fact No. 5: The Naked Gun features the first seven-person announce team, consisting of: Curt Gowdy. Jim Palmer, Tim McCarver, Dick Vitale, Mel Allen, Dick Enberg and Dr. Joyce Brothers. ESPN should revive the remaining living members of the crew for next year’s NCAA football championship game Mega-Cast.
Fun Fact No. 6: The villainous Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo “Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan” Montalban) smuggles an Uzi into the game, which probably wouldn’t fly under today’s metal detector baseball stadium policies. Somehow a guy sitting in the box with the Queen of England has an automatic weapon under his coat that neither the Secret Service or MI6 noticed. But I digress.
Fun Fact No. 7: In the “Baseball Bloopers” scoreboard video, former Tigers player Matt Nokes and Tom Brookens are identifiable, crashing into each other. I do not think the player who loses his head on the ball hit over the fence was an actual major leaguer, in fact that clip probably isn’t from an actual game. Nor is the guy who gets mauled by a Tiger at second.
Fun Fact No. 8: Beside Reggie Jackson, the only other actual big leaguer to appear in The Naked Gun is Jay Johnstone, whom only batted .267 over 10 seasons but once appeared on the best baseball card ever. He also wrote three books about being baseball’s “craziest” player.
Fun Fact No. 9: The batting helmets do not have either teams’ logos on them and the catchers wear floppy hats instead of helmets. Fascinating stuff. The uniforms worn by the Mariners, who’ve had some excellent duds throughout their existence, only saw game action from 1987-1992.
And if Arte Moreno wants to garner any goodwill in the wake of the Josh Hamilton trade, he’d bring back the halo caps and logo.
Fun Fact No. 10: Cowboy Joe West appears as one of the American League umpires and gets thrown out by Frank Drebin/Enrico Pallazzo. West actually worked in the Senior Circuit before baseball merged its umpire pool. He’s also a country singer.
Fun Fact No. 11: At one point during the baseball montage — set to the strains of Randy Newman’s “I Love LA” — the Angels hit an apparent grand slam. Two things here stand out. Firstly, the scoreboard never puts up a four in the line score, which is a major MAJOR continuity error. You’d think a slapstick comedy featuring O.J. Simpson would have paid attention to this sort of thing. Next, each of the California players pump their fists rounding the bases. Seattle doesn’t respond with a retaliation pitch for the Angels failure to “play the right way.”
The teams eventually brawl, but that comes after Drebin body checks Reggie.
Fun Fact No. 12: The Angels are managed by longtime character actor Lawrence Tierney, better known as Joe Cabot from Reservoir Dogs or Alton Benes (Elaine’s dad) on Seinfeld. Apparently Tierney was genuinely unhinged and scared the cast of Seinfeld, so he only appeared as a one-time character, last seem mumbling “master of the house” in an early-season episode. Seinfeld, naturally, offered plenty of baseball references during its time on the air.
Fun Fact No. 13: Actor Mark Holton, best known as Francis in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is billed as, “Spectator – ‘It’s Enrico Pallazzo!‘” Now that’s a credit.
In closing, thank you Major League Baseball for granting the Zucker Bros. official licensing for the movie. If there’s ever been better use of the MLB trademarks, I’d love to see it.