The 1989 baseball film, Major League, is one of the most outrageous comedies ever to hit the silver screen. The characters and their lines are still quoted to this day, thirty-three years later. But one such character, who had no lines in the movie and was not even alive, may be more popular than any of them. I’m talking about Jobu, the cigar-smoking, rum-drinking voodoo demi-god.
“I ASK JOBU TO COME”
The new owner of the Cleveland Indians (yes, I know they’re the Guardians now) wants to field the worst team possible, hoping the attendance will drop and enable her to move the team to Miami. One player on this motley crew is Cuban defector Pedro Cerrano. (Dennis Haysbert. Yeah, the Allstate Good Hands guy!) He sets up an elaborate shrine to Jobu in the clubhouse. Why? His words, as told to pitcher Eddie Harris:
“Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straight ball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come.”
The evangelical Harris suggests that he take Jesus as his savior instead of an idol. Pedro’s reply: “Jesus, I like him very much, but he no help with curveball.”
Later on, mired in a slump, Pedro is running out of patience: “I’m pissed off now, Jobu. Look, I go to you. I stick up for you. You no help me now. I say, ‘Fuck you, Jobu,’ I do it myself!”
A MERCHANDISING BONANZA
While Pedro Cerrano loved Jobu—at first, anyway—Dennis Haysbert did not particularly care for the fictional idol. When asked why he didn’t take it with him after filming was done he said, in part, “It’s probably better not to have it, for me. That’s my take on it. I’ll just let that be.”
But a whole lot of other people would’ve taken Jobu in a heartbeat, and since that wasn’t possible, they settled for something from the merchandising bonanza that followed. In addition to Jobu figurines there were tee-shirts, mugs, bobbleheads, and every other kind of trinket you can imagine. The real Cleveland baseball team even erected a clubhouse shrine in 2016 with an inscription that read, “It is very bad to drink Jobu’s rum; very bad.” The team made it to the World Series that year.
If you’re dubious about the fact that Jobu is still a thing, just Google him by name, or Jobu Major League, or Jobu Merchandise. You’ll be amazed at what comes up. And yes, I have my own Jobu figurine, acquired earlier this year. Perhaps it will help my Padres to hit the curveball and make it to the World Series!