Ward's efforts to sell a script based on the frontier days of California were undone by an industry-wide "ban" on Westerns after the spectacular failure of Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate (1980).
Sting star Robert Redford contracted Ward in 1986 to work on the Redford-directed The Milagro Beanfield War. The response to this project enabled Ward to convince Morgan Creek Productions and Mirage Productions to bankroll Major League (1989), a baseball comedy that he'd been pitching to producers without success since 1982. Major League was a labor of love for Ward, who had lived in the Cleveland suburb of South Euclid as a child and who had rooted for the Indians' teams of the 1950s, including the 1954 American League Champions. "I figured the only way they were ever going to win anything in my lifetime was to do a movie and they'd win," says Ward. Within 10 years, the Indians would appear in the World Series twice.
Major League and Ward's subsequent efforts as a writer and director, King Ralph (1991) and Major League II (1994), were about underdogs who triumphed over the gadflies and nay-sayers of the world.
Ward currently is a professor at Chapman University, in southern California, where he teaches screenwriting and directing, and acts as a Filmmaker in Residence for the campus.
In 2010 it was announced that there would be a Major League 4 movie starring many of the same cast members as the previous Major League films. As of late 2012 the script for the film is reportedly finished, but the film is still in early stages of production.