Sports fans love to debate about the greatest athletes of all time. Even though it can be tough to compare a baseball player to a football player to a basketball player, that certainly doesn’t stop sports enthusiasts.
And the comparisons don’t stop just with athletes. Sports films have given us some of the most memorable fictional athletes of all-time The best sports movies are endlessly quoted, imitated and broken down. It can be tough to pick just the best from films and TV but we’re going to give it a try below.
Ricky Vaughn – Major League
If the last few postseasons have been any indication, few things are more valuable in the playoffs than a dominant late-inning reliever. And Ricky Vaughn, the bullpen star of the Cleveland Indians, represented just that.
The Wild Thing may have had some issues with his control and also gave up a few too many long balls, but he was generally very reliable. Vaughn’s best moment came in the ALCS when he struck out White Sox slugger Jake Parkman sending the Wahoos to the World Series.
Jesus Shuttlesworth – He Got Game
Jesus Shuttleworth had quite a name to live up to, but he handled that challenge pretty well and managed to become the best basketball recruits in America. He also had to deal with the fact that his father was in prison for taking his mother’s life.
Never the less, Jesus kept working towards his hoop dreams and had to choose between attending Big State or playing in the NBA. Eventually, the sharpshooter chose to attend college keeping a promise to his dad.
Apollo Creed – Rocky Series
Apollo Creed was raised in Los Angeles and grew up to be the greatest heavyweight fighter in the world. The problem for the pugilist was that he had trouble finding opponents that could stand toe to toe with them.
The Count of Monte Fisto found his perfect opponent in the Italian Stallion Rocky Balboa, who later became his best friend. Creed’s career tragically ended when he was killed in the ring by the Russian boxer Ivan Drago.
Neon Boudeaux – Blue Chips
Neon Boudeaux was an amazing basketball prospect but grew up in the swamps of Louisiana, so he wasn’t easiest to find. Coach Pete Bell from Western University in California eventually tracked him down though and acquired his services by buying his Mom a house.
While Neon was basically unstoppable on the college ranks, he wasn’t long for that world. After one season with the program, he went on to the NBA. Coach Bell left the world of college basketball as well to coach in the High School ranks.
Ty Webb – Caddyshack
Today, athletes are known to use anything from yoga to fad diets to the practice of mindfulness to improve their play. Golfer Ty Webb, who played at the Bushwood Country Club in the early 1980s was ahead of the game on those practices.
Webb never played golf professionally. He didn’t have to. The duffer came from an incredibly wealthy family and simply enjoyed the game for leisure. That didn’t mean, however, that he wasn’t one of the best golfers in the world.
Ricky Bobby – Talladega Nights
The sport of stock car racing can be merciless and unforgiving. Despite his many years of championship-level racing, Ricky Bobby’s own team, Dennit Racing, was always on the lookout for the next big thing.
Bobby had to first contend with his teammate and best friend Cal Naughton, who married Bobby’s wife after he was injured in a car wreck. He also had to go head to head with Jean Girard who he was finally able to defeat during a race at Talladega Speedway.
Roy Hobbs – The Natural
Baseball players return from terrible injuries all the time. But few have ever returned from the kind of injury Roy Hobbs suffered from. Shot in the gut by a silver bullet halfway through his brilliant career, few knew if he’d ever return.
But return he did and amazingly, Hobbs was able to play at the same level he performed at prior to his injury. Referred to as the Natural and swinging his handmade bat, Wonderboy, no one was better.
Willie Beamon – Any Given Sunday
When a young player replaces an injured veteran and never gives the job back, they say the player Wally Pipped the vet (a reference to Lou Gehrig replacing the old Yankee first baseman). Willie Beamon did the same to Cap Rooney.
And the Miami Sharks quarterback backed up his cocky attitude with phenomenal play. Almost instantly, Beamon was the face of the franchise and endorsing numerous products. It wouldn’t last long, though, as Beamon departed in free agency for the Albuquerque Aztecs.
Paul Crewe – The Longest Yard
Since Roger Goodell has become the Commissioner of the NFL, he has introduced a complicated disciplinary system that seems to be completely arbitrary. This system would not have flown with Paul Crewe.
The renegade quarterback never got to play in the NFL despite a sparkling career in college thanks to a point-shaving scandal. Further indiscretions after school led to Crewe facing jail time. While there, he became the star quarterback for a team of inmates known as the Mean Machine.
Charles Jefferson – Fast Times At Ridgemont High
There are few players who have made an impact on Southern California High School football like Charles Jefferson. The star defensive end dwarfed his teammates and stuck fear into any opponent lined up against him.
The greatest game Jefferson ever played was inspired by Jeff Spicoli. Prior to the contest, Spicoli went for a joyride in Jefferson’s Camaro along with the football star’s little brother. After crashing the car, Spicoli blamed the deed on arch-rival Lincoln High School. The defensive end subsequently punished the rival school with extreme prejudice.
Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez – The Sandlot
Though he had a stellar career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez was well known long before he became a big-league ballplayer. The ballplayer was well known throughout Southern California while growing up.
It seems that Rodriguez had engaged in a legendary game of pickle with a dog known only as “The Beast.” The Jet’s takedown of the Beast was seen live by future Dodgers announcer Scott Smalls which only added to his legend.
Happy Gilmore – Happy Gilmore
Happy Gilmore never intended to be a championship level golfer. The duffer’s actual passion was playing hockey. The problem was that Gilmore was downright terrible at the sport.
Golf ended up being much more his speed. He engaged in a furious rivalry with the more conservative Shooter McGavin. Gilmore was eventually able to get the edge on McGavin when he added smooth putting to his already monstrous long drive skills and took home the Green Jacket.
Crash Davis – Bull Durham
Some great athletes never get the recognition they deserve. Crash Davis was something of a rarity in baseball. Not only could he call as great game as any catcher, but he could also provide record-setting power.
Davis was treated like an afterthought by the big league club, though, and they only allowed him to play in the majors for 21 glorious days. While Davis was able to set the minor league home run record, he decided to hang up his spikes following a 12-year career.
Ernie McCracken – Kingpin
Sometimes incredible athletic success is not only due to being the best on the playing field but also having a willingness to bend the rules a little bit. Bowler Big Ern McCracken wasn’t afraid to get his hands a little dirty.
The superstar bowler was willing to do whatever it took to stay on top whether than meant using some trickery or even playing head games with opponents who weren’t as mentally tough as he was.
Bobby Boucher – The Waterboy
There is a tradition of star football players who were savage on the field and kind and polite off of it. Mike Singletary is one great example. Recently retired Luke Kuechley is another. But perhaps no player better encapsulated this phenomenon than Bobby Boucher.
The menacing outside linebacker played his college ball at South Central Louisiana State University. It’s not known what caused his insane behavior on the field, but doctors think it has something to do with his medulla oblongata.
Lincoln Hawk – Over The Top
Is arm wrestling a sport? Many people would say, “no, of course not.” But if you turned on ESPN at 2:00 AM in the 1980s it would probably be on, so it’s definitely a sport.
And Lincoln Hawk was, at one time, the best arm wrestler in the United States. Like many of his fellow competitors, Hawk was a truck driver. And not only was he able to successfully win the national arm wrestling championship, but he also developed a relationship with his estranged son.
Sidney Deane – White Men Can’t Jump
Basketball, more than maybe any other sport, has a significant share of great players who never played professionally or even collegiately. Sidney Deane, who played streetball in Los Angeles, even turned down a personal invitation from Michael Jordan to play in the NBA.
Deane’s playground career really took off when he teamed up with sharpshooter Billy Hoyle. Together the duo were able to take down the legendary streetball pair, the King and the Duck. The win may have cost Billy his girlfriend, but glory is eternal.
Rocky Balboa – Rocky Series
Rocky Balboa was an uneducated pug who would beat up deadbeats for mobsters in Philadelphia. The mob muscleman, who hung out at Mickey’s Gym also had what those in the boxing business refer to as an iron chin.
That iron chin carried Rocky around the world. Balboa had long revered matches against pugilists like Apollo Creed and Clubber Lang. The career highlight for the boxer came in the mid-1980s when he defeated Russian Ivan Drago and, in turn, ended the Cold War.
Jimmy Dugan – A League Of Their Own
There is a long list of former big league superstars that had a second life as the manager of a winning team. Think Frank Robinson, Joe Torre, Don Mattingly. No player, though, ever did it in quite the same way that Jimmy Dugan did.
Dugan was a feared slugger during his playing days with the Chicago Cubs, making plenty of money for baseball owner Walter Harvey. Harvey paid Dugan back by making him the manager of the Rockford Peaches, giving the former slugger his own second life.
Al Bundy – Married With Children
Amazingly enough, some legendary sports careers fade out before the athlete can ever reach the big time. Al Bundy, who starred at running back for Chicago area Polk High, ended up in a shoe sales career.
But the name Bundy still rings out in Illinois as the superstar once managed to score four touchdowns in a single game. Bundy ended his legendary career when his girlfriend became pregnant and, in order to support his family, got a job at Gary’s Shoes.