Who's No. 1? Fictional baseball character draft
JUN 04, 2014 6:00p ET
The baseball world turns its eyes to New Jersey on Thursday for MLB's annual First-Year Player Draft. And odds are, from the first pick to the last, you will have never heard of a single name called over the three-day affair (save a college QB or two).
Indeed, the draft's history books are filled with pages of who's that, could've been and never was; the history of America's pastime in entertainment, however, is a far different story.
From the "Bad News Bears" and those kids who called "The Sandlot" home to the foul-mouthed minor leaguers in Durham and the equally foul-mouthed major leaguers in Cleveland, no sport has brought us as many memorable fictional characters as baseball.
In honor of this week's draft — and to give you a taste of seeing names you're actually familiar with fly off the board — the FOXSports.com MLB staff conducted a one-round draft of the best fictional characters in baseball history, following the actual team order of Thursday's draft. Just for fun, we even gave the teams who lost their first-round pick after signing Type-A free agents.
When you're done, sound off on the comments below.
Actor / Actress
|Movie / TV show
St. Louis Cardinals
|'Trouble With The Curve'|
|Called "The Flame" for how he used to throw the cover off the ball, the one-time MLB pitcher lends a Justin Timberlake-like irresistibility to an otherwise meandering baseball flick. Spotted when he was a high school phenom by ace scout Gus (Clint Eastwood), the ex-hurler infuses each scene with an easygoing, easy-on-the-eyes charm. Plus, he won Amy Adams in the end, so you know he knows how to play the game. And his recall of Bernie Carbo’s home run in the 1975 World Series? Classic.|
Boston Red Sox
|'Who's the Boss?'|
|Not only does Danza’s character from "Who’s the Boss" — a former Cardinals second baseman turned unlikely housekeeper — have his own baseball card, he also goes all out on the field. Just look at this Pete Rose-inspired slide into home, with Micelli sacrificing his body to score a run. Out or safe? You decide. Either way, he’s all hustle, all the time.|
|Some would call Dorn a reach at No. 28, but he's a solid three-tool player with the proper motivation. The Braves, with a proud history on the mound, were said to covet Dorn's ability to spur pitchers on to phenomenal feats with simple encouragement like, “Strike this m——f—— out."|
|When you’re a small-market team that’s gonna lose every player who gets good the way Oakland has, the best way to keep your fans at bay is to have a mascot who’s worth the price of admission. You need a guy like Dancin’ Homer, who can bring the crowd to their feet with some simple steps to "Baby Elephant Walk." That stuff may not play in Capitol City, but it still does here.|
|Yes, he is a cartoon pooch. But, this Snoop dog is also clearly the best player on a horrible Peanuts squad (sorry, Charlie). And when Pirates scouts took a closer sniff at this four-legged, five-tool superstar, they rediscovered a scrappy slugger for the middle of the lineup (he came just 1 HR shy of tying Hank Aaron’s then-HR record in 1973, only to have Charlie Brown picked off in the season’s final at-bat ... Blehhh!!!) and one with unmatchable speed by pretty much any human being. Plus, not only does the baseball-loving beagle provide good defense up the middle, he doesn’t even need a mitt (hey, Pittsburgh needs to save money wherever it can to compete with the big-market teams).|
|Sure, Benny "The Jet" was the team’s best player, but when they had that big game against the kids who actually wore uniforms, it was the catcher, Porter, who got in their heads and threw off their hitting. And when he got to the plate, he launched the ball over the outfielders’ heads. Most importantly, he uttered the now-famous (overused?) phrase, "You’re killin’ me, Smalls!"
Los Angeles Dodgers
|If MLB is truly serious about expanding its global appeal and becoming the world’s game, how can you beat a power-hitting, flame-throwing movie star from Korea whose appeal spans multiple animal species? Never heard of Mr. Go? Well just take a look at this trailer and try to figure out which tool he doesn’t have. Off the field, "Mr. Go" is the highest-grossing Korean-produced film in China history, so he’s popular with the world’s most lucrative audience. You like hardware? You can keep your MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year — who else in this draft has a Best Visual Effects Award from the Asian Film Awards on their mantle?|
|Al the Boss Angel
|'Angels in the Outfield'|
|This is almost cheating. Al the Boss Angel could do seemingly anything on the field. He controls a team of REAL ANGELS that can help outfielders jump 20 feet in the air to catch sure-fire home run balls, stop a pitch right at the plate so batters can hammer them out of the park, or speed up a pitcher's fastball and blow it by anyone. Oh, and he can move foul poles. All the team has to do is believe. And theoretically, the Indians don’t even have to waste a roster spot because he’s a supernatural being. How did he not go No. 1?|
Tampa Bay Rays
|With the Rays’ front office projecting Bugs as a top-five pick, they were giddy when he fell to them at 22. Not only can Bugs play every position — all at the same time — and get in the heads of opponents, have you seen his changeup? Bugs can strike out the side, no matter how ‘roided up the batters are, with just one pitch, which likely will make SABR geeks spontaneously combust.|
|Cecil 'Stud' Cantrell
|Stud, described on Wikipedia as a hard-drinking, hard-playing, hard-loving man’s man, comes from the most underrated baseball movie in history. Drafted out of high school, Stud spent four years, "knock(ing) their d**** off in the minors," and was to battle co-rookie and eventual Hall of Famer Stan Musial for the Cardinals’ starting left-field job in the spring of 1942. "He had a prettier swing than me, but I hit the ball harder ... and batted both ways," Stud says. But Stud joined the Mariners after Pearl Harbor and "took so much shrapnel at Guadalcanal, they were going to amputate my leg until I talked them out of it." His love interest in the movie is Dixie Lee Boxx, voted Miss Strawberry Blossum of 1957 and played by Virginia Madsen. You can see more of Stud in action here, but be warned: He spoke like a big leaguer, too."|
|'Major League II'|
|Jack Parkman is a ruthless SOB who puts himself before the team, but boy can he hit. A no-nonsense catcher who isn't afraid to rip his own teammates in the papers, Parkman can be a locker room cancer. At this point in the draft, however, taking a power-hitting catcher is an easy decision to make given the scarcity of good bats at the position. Nobody likes this guy except for the women in Cleveland, but in “Major League II” he belts multiple home runs in the ALCS, runs over soft catcher Rube Baker, and uses trash-talk to get in the heads of his opponents. Plus, the Rangers have a history of rostering universally hated catchers like AJ Pierzynski, who played for the club in 2013.|
|'A League of Their Own'|
|A baseball lifer who has played at the highest level, overcame his demons, and molded a group of rag-tag ladies into a powerhouse and national treasure. The stories of his power are legendary. He still has a cannon of an arm, as evidenced by his ability to pick off obnoxious children from the other side of the dugout. And he can come in immediately and pass on to the youngsters his life lessons gained from decades on the road, such as avoiding STDs and, of course:
Kansas City Royals
|'A League of Their Own'|
|To paraphrase her father, if Marla Hooch was a dude, she’d never have lasted this far in the draft. She may not be much of a looker, but the woman can hit. She was the best hitter on the Rockford Peaches before she left the team to marry a guy named Nelson. But even when Rockford’s manager was drunk and reading a paper in the dugout, skipper Jimmy Duggan saw Hooch’s talent and had her swing away, only to see her smack a base hit to right and drive in Madonna from third.|
|'Major League' series|
|The Orioles have been playing second, third and fourth fiddles to the other AL East heavyweights for years. Who better than to send those punk Red Sox and Yankees a message than "Wild Thing" Vaughn? He can start if Buck Showalter runs short of pitching, but is best used as the cosmic opposite of polite, controlled Mariano Rivera. Vaughn throws serious gas, sometimes knows where it’s headed, and sometimes throws at batters’ heads. The O’s need some serious attitude, and Vaughn — who was discovered playing in the California Penal League — can give them the edge they sorely lack.|
New York Yankees
|The high-spending Bronx Bombers have been in need of a youth infusion for years, particularly on the mound. With CC Sabathia a shell of his former self, one-time wunderkind Phil Hughes flamed out and in Minnesota, and Michael Pineda's neck covered in as much pine tar as Carlos Beltran's bat, who better to light a fire on the mound than the guy with the arm so explosive, it's nuclear? And when we say light a fire and explosive, if you've seen the movie, you know it could be a literal term. With Masahiro Tanaka and "Meat" on the mound, suddenly the Pinstripers have one of the top 1-2 punches in baseball. And he fits right in with Yankees' history, too. Roger Clemens threw a bat at Mike Piazza; Nuke throws balls at mascots. Derek Jeter's private life is legendary; LaLoosh's love wasn't private, but that fling with Annie was the stuff of legend. Babe Ruth once said: "I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can." LaLoosh likes to "bring the heater" and "announce my presence with authority!"|
|Jobu||'Major League' series|
|Before the current Cuban craze there was refugee slugger Pedro Cerrano. But his bat was nothing without the good juju of Jobu, the voodoo idol who was the secret to his success, as long as he gave him his sacrificial offerings. Maybe that’s how Puig does it. Just remember: "Is very bad to steal Jobu's rum; is very bad."|
Los Angeles Angels
|The mustache alone is reason enough to draft this mountain of a man (Heywood "leads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair," after all). But if you’re looking for a scouting report on "last year’s American League home run champ," then let "Major League" play-by-play man Harry Doyle (Bob Uecker) tell you all you need to know about Haywood as he steps to the plate to face Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn: "The AL Triple Crown winner, .341 average, 48 homers, 121 RBI." Watch the showdown here. Sure, he strikes out on three pitches there, but his first outing vs. Vaughn is a grand slam, so we’ll call it a wash. (Incidentally, Haywood was portrayed by retired starting MLB pitcher Pete Vuckovich, who was 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds.)|
San Francisco Giants
|'Major League' series|
|The Giants aren't lacking for power, but Cerrano is a clear steal at No. 13. We've seen plenty of home runs hit out of AT&T Park and into McCovey Cove in right field, but with Cerrano, the Giants finally have someone capable of hitting a ball out of the stadium to left field. Best part: It's a package deal with the spirit of Jobu.|
San Diego Padres
|Rayburn is a three-time MVP who joins the Giants in a blockbuster trade with the Braves. Sure, he goes through the typical hitting slump – as many players do after joining a new team -- but he snaps out of it because he 'just stopped caring,' relaxes and rediscovers his swing. Not rocket science, but the quote is refreshingly honest. As long as he keeps psycho-fan Robert De Niro out of the way, Rayburn is sure to be a spark plug in the lineup.|
|'A League of Their Own'|
|The best 'League' player by far. A crackerjack catcher with LIFE magazine cover girl looks who’s dependable at bat and knows how to play to the crowd (watch her catch a pop-up doing the splits), Dottie is the consummate team player. She’s also no easily-bruised (Rockford) Peach: Dottie has great instincts, is fearless (check out how she snags this fastball from Doris (Rosie O’Donnell) bare-handed), takes no crap from Jimmy Dugan (or any man, for that matter), and ably steps up to the leader's plate when needed. Dottie doesn't need to be told there’s no crying in baseball. She doesn't even need the game – she only joined so her little sister Kit could get off the dairy farm. This "Draft" would have been nothing without her.|
New York Mets
|Embodied perfectly by Kevin Costner in 1988 prime, long before his "Waterworld" bloat, Crash is the quintessential flawed hero – a Triple-A catcher and switch-hitter who knows the game better than anyone. Yet, he’s relegated to Durham so he could mentor some ladies’ underwear-sporting immature pitching prospect with a "Hall-of-Fame arm" (see No.16: Nuke LaLoosh) into a major-league ace. The power hitter’s probably too smart for his own good and he knows it -- he’s spent his entire career trying to get back to the majors, "the 21 greatest days of my life." But his deferred dreams drive the beating heart of "Bull Durham," and is encapsulated in this epic Susan Sarandon-winning show-stopper of a speech. Oh my, indeed.
Toronto Blue Jays
|This pick brings "the power of the ‘stache" to the lineup. While there have been many famous mustaches over the years in the majors – such as this, this and this –Selleck’s superb ‘stache is too perfect not to be included among baseball’s greats. And while his character Jack Elliott is beyond his MLB prime in the film "Mr. Baseball," he actually has a pretty smooth-looking swing, and after rediscovering his power in Japan, I’d like to think Elliott has a chance to return to the majors and shock the sports world.|
|Willie Mays Hayes
|With the Rockies currently tops in the majors in batting average, who better to add to the team than a speedy leadoff man who can get on base and has a stated goal of swiping 100 bases in a season. If Hayes can avoid the pop flies, he brings instant value to the organization. And then there’s the intangibles. The Rockies could use a little personality, a little flair, and with Hayes' track record for amazing catches in the outfield and creative American Express ads, it's a perfect fit.|
|'Eastbound & Down'|
|Every team needs an enforcer, someone who can keep opposing players – and even his own teammates – in line. And who better to summon for that gig than Kenny Powers, the most grating, obnoxious jerk to ever step on the mound. No way is KP gonna let your ballclub get pushed around. Sure, he’s washed up. But think of the bargain your team is getting here. Powers is resourceful, he believes in himself when no one else does, and he’s willing to take fellow players under his wing, as seen here (Warning: Harsh language). When "The People’s Champion" is on the board, you don’t pass him up.|
|It might seem strange to take a washed-up reliever with the sixth pick, but it makes more sense than giving Robbie Cano $240 mil. There’s no one better to mentor young guys than ol’ Sammy, a female fan favorite who’s the ultimate slumpbuster. He’s been through the highs and the lows of the game and life, and maybe most importantly, a guy "who knows what it’s like to have a groin injury."|
|"There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was in this game." And especially for one magical NY Knights season, no one ever played baseball like the sweet-swinging lefty – once Glenn Close could rescue him from that wicked cooler Kim Basinger (OK, can’t blame him there). Back to the draft, why would the Twins go older in the MLB Draft with a flyer on ol’ Wonderboy, who’s pushing 40 the last time we saw him swing the bat? Well, not only can Hobbs hit the cover off the ball, literally, but in a pinch if you need a big strikeout on the hill, he can deliver in spurts. Just keep him away from the dames.|
|There are perfect games, and there’s Nebraska’s performance in leading the Yankees to a 2-0 win over the Cardinals in the "dramatic" conclusion of "The Scout." Nebraska overcame his pregame jitters to not only face the minimum, but he struck out all 27 batters he faced. To top it off, he hit two home runs in the game, accounting for all the scoring (who needs a DH with this guy on your team?). OK, we may not know how the series ended up after his Game 1 dominance, and OK, the guy may be a head case. But how can you let a guy with that much natural talent slip by you in a draft? Watch the trailer here.|
Chicago White Sox
|Benny 'The Jet' Rodriguez
|Youth? Check. Speed? Check. Power? Check. Leadership? Well, who can top this? "I would run through a wall for that guy!" — It’s a common adage in sports. But how many teammates would (or could) go over a wall, and into the den of The Beast? Not only did The Jet stare down the monster who once ate a kid, he got the ball, hopped the wall, and best of all, turned the dreaded monster into a team mascot. He had the talent to get to the majors, the appreciation for history to know the sacredness of a Babe Ruth autographed ball, and the sincerity to make the goofy new kid on the block a baseball nut and lifelong friend.|
Thomas Ian Nicholas
|'Rookie of the Year'
|Sure, he's only 12 years old and had to ask his mom first before joining the Chicago Cubs, but how many 12-year-olds do you know that can throw 103-mile-per-hour heat? There's only one. Henry Rulenfurter. This is a kid who couldn’t cut it in the outfield on his Little League team, BUT after breaking his arm on a routine flyball and healing in an abnormal way, was able to throw the stink. A disciple of Chet “Rocket” Steadman’s brand of pitching, Runamucker throws the cheese often, but is able to mix in a filthy underhanded eephus pitch called “the floater” — the likes of which haven’t been seen since Scuffy McGee’s. As for concern about his arm, at the rate pitchers are receiving Tommy John surgery this year, Rosinbagger should be a decade ahead of the curve. The Marlins have a nice stable of young pitchers, but with Jose Fernandez on the shelf, Rowengartner could provide the funky butt-loving that Miami needs.|
Jackie Earle Haley
|'Bad News Bears' series|
|"You guys talking about Kelly Leak? That dude is a bad mother," eventual Bears teammate Ahmad Abdul Rahim said. "You’re talking about a loan shark. I borrowed a nickel from him. Said if I didn’t give him a dime by Friday, he’d break my arm." Face it, there’s not a better fictional baseball character than Leak. He hits home runs, has an outfield arm that makes Yasiel Puig envious, rides a Harley, isn’t afraid of cops, knows how to impress the women ("I’m hitting .841.) … and opposing managers won’t think twice about intentionally walking him with the bases loaded. So even though the Astrodome, sight of the famous "Let them Play" chant from "The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training," is history, Houston and Leak will be together again. Editor’s note: The rumor that Leak flames out, becomes a hippy burn-out in Flint, Mich., and hits "The Moon Shot" to win 10 G’s at a basketball halftime promotion … well, that’s just a movie. It’s not real.