Monday, June 11, 2012
I have had baseball on the mind for the past few months -- I have been enjoying the surprising success of my Orioles who at the time of this writing are succeeding in the brutal AL East -- and I began to wonder who are the greatest fictional baseball players of all time? I know this isn't an original concept, but I thought I would weigh in on who my all-fictional all-star roster would be. A few rules: I am using only characters from movies and they must be fictional - no Lou Gehrig from Pride of the Yankees. Also, only one character per movie...
C - Dottie Hinson, Rockford Peaches (Geena Davis, A League of Their Own) - Possibly the best female baseball player in the U.S., Hinson is a natural -- the rare backstop who can get it done on offense and defense. She is a pure hitter with gap power who uses the entire field. Hinson has surprising speed for a catcher to go along with good instincts on the basepaths. Her leadership abilities and intelligence make her an excellent handler of pitchers and a true captain on the field. I would take her as a catcher over Crash Davis because I can't see him barehanding a fastball or catching a popup while doing the splits without incurring serious injury.
1B - Jack Elliott, Nagoya Chunichi Dragons (Tom Selleck, Mr. Baseball) - An aging veteran who strikes out too much, yet still has the ability to hit for extreme power. Elliott has improved his attitude (he punched his own interpreter during a brawl) and managed to tie a Japanese baseball record by homering in seven straight games. He has learned to be a selfless player who has has no problem laying down a bunt if that's what will help the team win. It remains to be seen how his skills would translate back in the U.S., especially at his advanced age, yet I like that he provides a solid middle-of-the-order bat from the left side.
2B - Paula Fradkin, Denver Devils (Robyn Barto, Blue Skies Again) - Fradkin is such a talented second basewoman that she became the first female ever to shatter baseball's glass ceiling and get signed to an MLB team -- after talking her way into spring training over the objections of a crotchety manager and a sexist owner. Good thing her skills come as advertised. Fradkin has an above-average bat, blazing speed, and sure hands capable of winning over even the most misogynistic teammates and fans.
SS - Eddie O'Brien, The Wolves (Gene Kelly, Take Me Out to the Ballgame) - Despite the fact that his swing makes him look like a twelve-year-old ballet dancer who has never seen, let alone held, a bat before, O'Brien gets results that make him the best player on the team known only as The Wolves (a team that appears to be in the major leagues) and a target of ruthless gangsters trying to fix games. One knock on him is his occasional lack of dedication due to a preoccupation with the off-season vaudeville act he has with his best friend and double play partner Dennis Ryan.
3B - Ed, Santa Rosa Rockets (Animatronic chimpanzee, Ed) - Originally brought to the minor league Rockets as a mascot, Ed the chimpanzee displayed such a gift for playing third base that he was signed to a contract and quickly broke baseball's species barrier. Ed, like any chimpanzee, has a six-foot vertical and can outrun humans when on all fours. How he learned the rules of baseball is anyone's guess, but he has a glove like Mike Schmidt and a strike zone so small that he gets on base with ease.
LF - Joe Hardy, Washington Senators (Tab Hunter, Damn Yankees!) - Overweight, middle-aged Joe Boyd sold his soul to the Devil himself to become Joe Hardy -- the greatest baseball player the world has ever seen just so that his beloved Washington Senators could beat the damn New York Yankees. He has the supernatural ability to hit home runs whenever he pleases and he never misses a fly ball hit anywhere to the left side of the outfield. There is always the possibility of the lord of darkness will take Hardy's powers away at any time with no advanced warning, but even Joe Boyd is a better left fielder than Detroit's Delmon Young.
CF - "Esquire" Joe Callaway, The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (Stan Shaw, The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings) - It is not damning with faint praise to call Esquire Joe the best player on a barnstorming team of Negro League defectors. He is the whole package: a center fielder who makes highlight-reel catches, has a golden bat, and isn't afraid to take out the catcher with a hard slide. He may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but he makes up in talent and personality what he lacks in intellect. It is no wonder that he was the first African American chosen to play in the major leagues.
RF - Roy Hobbs, New York Knights (Robert Redford, The Natural) - They don't call him The Natural for nothing. He struck out the greatest player in baseball, The Whammer, when he was only 19 (not in a game, but still very emasculating for the slugger nonetheless). Yet, a gunshot wound from a madwoman sidetracked Hobbs' career until the ripe old age of 35. After dusting off his homemade bat, Wonderboy, Hobbs has demonstrated an almost supernatural ability to knock the cover off the ball (literally) and destroy ballpark fixtures with his tape measure home runs. Hobbs would have to be conservatively called an injury risk considering his age, a girlfriend with a penchant for feeding him poisoned eclairs, and a rapidly deteriorating stomach lining.
SP - Steve Nebraska, New York Yankees (Brendan Fraser, The Scout) - The greatest baseball player of all time, hands down. As a hitter, he hits home runs with every swing of the bat. As a pitcher, he once pitched a perfect game in game 1 of the World Series by throwing 81 consecutive strikes. Enough said...Well, it probably warrants a mention that he has such crippling anxiety that getting him onto the field is a herculean task, but there you have it.
RP - Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, Cleveland Indians (Charlie Sheen, Major League) - An interesting sign out of the California Penal League, Ricky Vaughn faltered in his brief stint as a starter, but found a home closing games with his plus-plus fastball that can touch triple digits on the radar gun. He doesn't really throw any other pitches and is prone to moments of extreme wildness, but his intensity and intimidating stare make him perfect for finishing games -- as long as he stays out of jail.