Since SportsPop is a column that combines sports and pop culture, it seems only natural to compile a fantasy baseball team of players from movies, TV, musicals, etc. I am certainly not the first person to come up with this idea. However, I am the first person to take it seriously and build a team that actually mirrors a fantasy team in real life.
First, in my research for this column, I noticed that the writers who’ve attempted this very thing before me tended to cheat when it came to choosing certain players. Anyone who’s ever played a fantasy sport knows each player is only approved for one, maybe two positions. You can’t start a point guard in a shooting-guard spot or a shortstop in a third-base spot. Due to a lack of solid fictional second basemen, shortstops and third basemen, they may put Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez from “The Sandlot” in one of those spots. The problem is the movie never tells the audience which position grown-up Rodriguez plays for The Dodgers.
Second, some chose players based on how much they liked the character’s personality, rather than stats. Crash Davis from “Bull Durham” is a popular pick as catcher. He’s one of the best characters from sports movies, but he’s a minor league player who doesn’t stack up in the Bigs. You won’t find him on my team.
Third, all my choices play for different teams because when playing fantasy baseball, scheduling is a big factor. If you have a bunch of Boston Red Sox and they don’t have a game on a certain day, that can kill your team.
Finally, since the source material comes from all different ages and time periods, I picked guys based on their assumed stats at the height of their careers. All right, let’s get to my team, which I’ll name the “New York Clutchers.”
Center Field: Willie “Mays” Hayes
At the beginning of “Major League,” Hayes (Wesley Snipes) is lightning-fast but can’t hit to save his life. By mid-season, though, he seems to fix this problem, looks to have a great on-base percentage and is stealing bases like crazy. My team would rack up the stolen base points with him.
Left Field: T-Rex Pennebaker
Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) is the main character in “Mr. 3000,” but for my money, I want Pennebaker (Brian J. White). The movie makes him out to be a modern day Reggie Jackson. Sure, he’s kind of a dick, but stats are stats and he’s a definite power hitter. Get ready for some home runs, bitches.
Right Field: Roy Hobbs
The star of the book and movie “The Natural,” Hobbs (Robert Redford) becomes a league sensation as a rookie, despite being in his mid 30s. While his age is discerning, his body isn’t worn down from years of play. He has a solid glove and smacks the play so well people start saying his bat is loaded.
First Base: Jack Elliot
Elliot (Tom Selleck) is over-the-hill in “Mr. Baseball,” but there’s enough information in the movie to glean that the first baseman was like a young Don Mattingly in his heyday. So we can assume his career batting average is around .300, with more than 200 home runs and nine or 10 Golden Gloves.
Second Base: Mickey Dominguez
When drafting a fantasy baseball team, you have to take what’s available. There are just not a lot of great fictional second basemen, so I have to go with Dominguez (Wilmer Valderrama) from “Summer Catch.” He’s only in a collegiate summer league, but he may show promise. He does bang the Lusty House Mother (Beverly D’Angelo) after all.
Shortstop: Joe Hardy
I almost chose Snoopy from “Peanuts” for my shortstop. He seems to have cartoonishly amazing skills in the strips. However, I’m going to go with Joe Hardy instead from the musical “Damn Yankees.” This guy sells his soul to the devil to be a better slugger. That’s serious dedication. Plus, how often to you find a power-hitting shortstop?
Third Base: Doris Murphy
I had to go with Murphy (Rosie O’Donnell) from “A League of Their Own” because I couldn’t bring myself to grab whiny Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen) from “Major League.” Plus, her stats technically would come from playing against other professional female players, not men.
Catcher: Leon Carter
Played by a young James Earl Jones in “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings,” Carter is a catcher/slugger in the vein of Johnny Bench. While he plays in the Negro Leagues, there is nothing to suggest his talent wouldn’t stand up in any league. Jackie Robinson proved that.
Starting Pitcher: Fred Myers
There are so many choices for fictional star pitchers, it’s hard to narrow it down to a favorite. However, I decided to take a guy off the radar of most baseball fans. While other guys are using up their early draft picks for well-known pitchers, I could grab Fred Myers late and still be happy. Sure, he’s a comic book supervillain from Australia named Boomerang, but he had a pro baseball career before that. Myers was recruited by an international criminal organization that saw his throwing talent. He has to be amazing to catch the attention of a international crime syndicate. They’re really busy.
Relief Pitcher: Kenny Powers
Finally, there is Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) of “Eastbound and Down.” It’s tempting to take Wild Thing (Charlie Sheen) from “Major League,” but during Powers’ best season he threw 49 saves with a 2.85 ERA. Wild Thing is busy shaking the rookie jitters in the first film and overly concerned with endorsements in “Major League II” to have a season that strong.