Seven Fictional Athletes to Hang With


Sports films have this ability to make viewers feel like they are a part of the team being portrayed. Nothing is bigger, at that moment, than that shot, that pass, or that pitch. It’s why audiences are overwhelmed with joy when Rudy runs onto the field in the fourth quarter, and filled with goose bumps during the speech Kurt Russell’s character Herb Brooks makes in Miracle. The films put us in those stands and in that locker room. Sports films, I believe, are able to depict the magnitude of climactic moments better than any other cinematic genre. But what’s more is that sports films create (or recreate) some of the most compelling and dynamic characters. People so captivating, so well constructed, that you swear they exist.

So for this list, I bring to life seven sports characters as if they are real. But not all are masters of their sport or even the protagonist of their respective film or show. These are the fictional athletes that would most certainly be fun to hang around with, if only just to listen.

Kenny PowersEastbound and Down

In Major League Baseball terms, a “journeyman” is defined as a fairly average, well-traveled ball player. In cinematic baseball terms, it’s called Kenny Powers. The short-tempered pitcher began his professional baseball career as a member of the Atlanta Braves in 2002, where he propelled the team to a World Series victory. But after that magical run, Powers was on four different teams in as many years. So maybe he should a have be guilty for using steroids. And, yes, it’s true that his fastball dipped to the low-80s at the end of his brief career. But who cares? Kenny Powers is an awesome journeyman, who loves Kenny Powers more than anyone else. Journeymen tend to have the most eye-opening stories about life in the majors, but most never talk about the other side–the life off the field. Enter Kenny Powers. I would be all ears.


Ty WebbCaddyshack

Perhaps Ty Webb wasn’t an athlete by the truest sense of the word, but he was regarded as the finest golfer to ever tee off at Bushwood Country Club. Not only that, but he had this charming ability to lure women back to his bedroom, where he’d unconventionally take shots of tequila, followed by a serenading them with adlibbed songs on the piano. Ty Webb was a womanizer, yes, but he also possessed this fascinating outlook on life that could captivate a room. The characteristic can be best exemplified by this dialogue between Webb and caddie, Danny Noonan, below.

Danny Noonan: I haven’t even told my father about the scholarship I didn’t get. I’m gonna end up working in a lumberyard the rest of my life.

Ty Webb: What’s wrong with lumber? I own two lumberyards.

Danny Noonan: I notice you don’t spend too much time there.

Ty Webb: I’m not quite sure where they are.


Billy HoyleWhite Men Can’t Jump

It’s one thing when a man’s outfit consists of the following: Old high-top sneakers, red socks, cargo shorts, a t-shirt with the saying “Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics” printed on it, and a tie-dye hat worn backwards. It’s another thing when that man wears it while he crosses over a defender, takes the ball to the lane, and finishes with a reverse layup. Billy Hoyle looks like he should be your garbage man, but instead he’s a street ball hustler on the courts of Venice Beach, taking doubters’ money one chump at a time. There is no question I would choose Billy Hoyle as my partner in a game of two-on-two hoops. Because not only will he unassumingly humiliate you in front of your girl and your crew, he’ll make you empty your pockets to boot—just like he did with Sidney Deane, played by Wesley Snipes. Pardon that sad, unintentional coincidence.


Apollo CreedRocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV

Rocky Balboa is not only the undisputed, heavyweight champion of the fictional boxing world; he may also be the greatest fictional athlete of all-time. It’d be tough to argue against that notion. But, in the same breath that Rocky Balboa is transcendent because of his greatness, Apollo Creed—Rocky’s biggest adversary—is transcendent because of his coolness. It’s not difficult to surmise hanging out with Rocky one-on-one would make for one depressing evening. But just seeing Apollo Creed’s dance moves in Rocky IV as he came out to James Brown singing “Living in America” suggests “The Dancing Destroyer” would be a ball.


Benjamin Franklin “Benny the Jet” RodriguezThe Sandlot

I’m reaching back into my childhood for this one (even though I still consider The Sandlot one of my all-time favorite movies). Wiffleball and pickup baseball was a summer mainstay on my block growing up, and I can’t think of a better fictional athlete I would want to have on the diamond than Benny the Jet Rodriguez. I envision him knocking on my window each morning, and if I didn’t have the urge to play, Benny would convince me. He would convince me he had a dream the night before, and that something special would happen that day, whether it was on the base paths or at the town pool. Or maybe, just maybe, that would be the day we’d have a sleepover in the tree house, make smores, and Benny would finally tell us about that one summer day when he pickled “The Beast.”


Rod TidwellJerry Maguire

He’s an undersized NFL wide receiver in a league filled with genetic freaks. His mouth moves faster than his legs do. He doesn’t land the big endorsement deals with Reebok or Pepsi. Instead, he settles on an advertisement with “Joe Camel,” in which he bails on while on the commercial’s set. On any given Sunday, Rod Tidwell is probably the twelfth best player on the field, but he’ll find a way to capture your attention and persuade you into thinking he’s the best football player there ever was. It’s all because of a singular word that he claims he owns and embodies. Its definition is not as concrete as it is spiritual—a divine-like zenith. We know it as “Quan.”


Willie Mays HayesMajor League

I yearn for any MLB player to have as much fun playing baseball as Willie Mays Hayes did. He’ll go down as the greatest leadoff hitter in fictional baseball history. No one is catching him, literally. He led the league in steals three straight years, and was the 1990 World Series MVP as a member of the Cleveland Indians. Hayes would make basket catches in centerfield (a`la Willie Mays), and most notably stole every base in one inning in the 1990 American League Championship Series–sporting a “try and stop me” grin at each checkpoint. There is no statistic for charisma, but I’d like to think Willie Mays Hayes is at the top of the list.

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Categories: Film, People

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