The last weekend in July is always a fun, exciting, and maybe even a nail-biting time for Major League Baseball fans. For one, the last weekend in July usually means trades; and lots of them. It also means Cooperstown. The sanctimonious mecca for honoring the greatest players to ever set foot on a diamond. This year, in 2018, Larry Wayne Jones, Jr., was formally inducted in baseball’s hallowed halls. His plaque will reside in the same hall as Babe Ruth, Tony Gwynn, Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle and many, many more. It wasn’t too long ago that former teammates John Smoltz (2015), Tom Glavine (2014), and Greg Maddux (2014) were being enshrined. And to top it off, the man who drafted, and then managed Chipper, Bobby Cox (2014). I was there in 2014 to witness first hand the magical and awe-inspiring scene. It’s a memory I will never soon forget.
But all this Hall of Fame excitement had me a little curious. What if there were a Hall of Fame for the best fictitious players in baseball movies? It’s an idea I had a few months back, but never acted on it. However, now seems like a perfect time to explore and delve into the Hollywood scene and pick the inaugural class of Hollywood Baseball’s greatest. I suppose, though, there should be some basic and simple ground rules.
First, the player must be fictitious, which means Dennis Quaid’s portrayal of Jim Morris is disqualified; that was a true story, about a real player. Also, another example would be Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson or Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. Obviously, those were real people. Second, while the team depicted in the film is more times than not, an actual team, if the players are not, they are eligible. Third, broadcasters, executives, and managers are eligible. Also, to clarify, the movie A League of Their Own was based on the actual AAGPBL, but the characters were loosely based on real people, so they ARE eligible. For instance, Jimmy Dugan, played by Tom Hanks, was based on a combination of Hack Wilson and Jimmie Foxx. Both were real players, but Dugan was not. Fourth, teams are eligible if they were an ensemble cast. This probably only really applies to The Sandlot crew or The Bad News Bears, but for all intents and purposes, they are eligible as one player, not nine individuals.
So, now that some basic ground rules have been laid out, I need to make one more tough decision – How many get in to the Hall in this first vote? I guess we’ll just have to see. I’ll list my top 25 players, teams, executives, managers, etc. and I will attempt to whittle those down to no more than 6 or 7 worthy members. So, let’s get this started. This list will be in no particular order.
- Billy Chapel (For Love of the Game)
- Jack Elliot (Mr. Baseball)
- Lou Brown (Major League)
- Harry Doyle (Major League)
- Roy Hobbs (The Natural)
- Joe Hardy (Damn Yankees)
- Dottie Hinson (A League of Their Own)
- Jimmy Dugan (A League of Their Own)
- Gus (The Benchwarmers)
- Henry Rowengartner (Rookie of the Year)
- Chet Stedman (Rookie of the Year)
- Phil Brickma (Rookie of the Year)
- Mel Clark (Angels in the Outfield)
- Crash Davis (Bull Durham)
- Kelly Leak (Bad News Bears, 1976)
- Bobby Rayburn (The Fan)
- Billy Haywood (Little Big League)
- Lou Collins (Little Big League)
- Jim Bowers (little Big League)
- Steve Nebraska (The Scout)
- Archie “Moonlight” Graham (Field of Dreams)
- Benny, Smalls, Porter, Yeah-Yeah, and the entire crew (The Sandlot)
- Bruce Pearson (Bang the Drum Slowly)
- Stan Ross (Mr. 3000)
- Ricky Vaughn (Major League)
Now that that’s over, let’s see if I can get these names down to maybe 10.
- Billy Chapel
- Jack Elliot
- Billy Haywood
- Ricky Vaughn
- Crash Davis
- The Sandlot gang
- Roy Hobbs
- Dottie Hinson
- Henry Rowengartner
- Mel Clark
And for a surprise, Knockahoma Nation spin on the Ford C. Frick award, I present to you the first recipient of the Josh Brown Lifetime Achievement Award in Podcasting (if it were a thing back then) – Harry Doyle.
I think 10 is a good inaugural class to open with. Of course, my list is merely a matter of opinion, but I would be interested and excited to hear who you would put in the Silver Screen Baseball Hall of Fame. Let us know by commenting your all-time movie greats of the game.