When I sat down to make this list, I realized how tough it would be to keep the list to just 10 players. Inevitably, I left off some guys that’ll leave some of you disappointed, but I’ve tried to give sound reasoning for all of my choices. It’s a mix of fictional players from books, movies and video games. Let’s get it started
10. Casey, Casey at the Bat
This is a book from my childhood that drove me nuts. I guess this was an old poem that was made into a children’s book and was also made it into a short film by Disney. Casey is this manly, cocky, slugger that the crowd loves. In a big game he lets a couple of pitches go by because he’s a bad ass, and then swings and misses for strikes 3. I guess the message was not to be cocky? I hated it. I always wanted Casey to hit a bomb. Why did he earn a spot on my list? Think about it- he was so good that he had a whole story written about him because of the shock that he actually struck out. How unreal must he have been?
9. Joey MacAdoo & Chico Pappas, Backyard Baseball
I had a tough time deciding which player to put here, so I cheated and put both. I had older and younger siblings growing up, so I played Backyard Baseball for a long, long time. Some of you might not recognize these names but don’t be a “back in my day things were better” type of fan. MacAdoo was a new generation Backyard Baseball star. He loved the game and was a must-have on your roster. Pappas is lesser known but deserves some recognition. He was one of those computer generated players that you couldn’t actually have on your team. So you’d pick all these great players and then check the season stats to see some kid name Chico Pappas with the generic face absolutely killing it. As a sign of respect, I named a pet after him: Chico the Frog. True story (RIP Chico the Frog).
8. Kit Hinson, A League of Their Own
An older sister controlling the TV is a big reason for me watching this movie. I probably wouldn’t have given this “girl baseball movie” much of a chance, just like I was too manly to put any girls on my Backyard Baseball team (as much as my cousin tried to convince me that Kiesha Phillips was worth a roster spot). Anyone who’s seen this movie knows that Dottie, Kit’s sister, is the star of the league. The problem is she doesn’t have the passion for the game like Kit. Kit has the heart of a lion, helping the Belles’ win the Championship when she runs over Dottie, who purposely drops the ball (you can’t convince me she didn’t drop it on purpose). This play illustrates why Kit made the list and Dottie didn’t. One runs her sister over to win while the other lets her sister win and then retires from the league (Side note- it was completely absurd how shallow the outfielder was on this play; go give that a look). Give me Kit over Dottie any day.
7. Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh, Bull Durham
Crash Davis was the star of the film, but he was essentially a career minor leaguer. Nuke is the talented young flamethrower who is destined for greatness at the next level. I’ll give Crash credit for helping the kid overcome his immaturity issues, but Nuke’s talent was undeniable. All he had to do was get out of his own head and understand the simplicity of the game-“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes, it rains.” All-time great baseball quote.
6. Ricky “Wild Thing’ Vaughn, Major League
Talk about an all-time fictional baseball player for all the right reasons- Where do you start? He wore number 99, a number reserved for absolute studs (shout-out to Wayne Gretzky), he had the bad ass nickname accompanied by the “Wild Thing” music that played when he entered the game, and much like Nuke, he was every hitter’s worst nightmare- a wild, fireball thrower.
5. Jarius “G-Baby” Evans, Hardball
When I saw this movie for the first time as a 10 year old, I was sure it was the greatest movie ever made. Looking back I can understand why it lost out to “A Beautiful Mind” at the Oscars, but I’m still a big fan of the film. It had drama, comedic relief, and of course baseball. There are several players worth mentioning- Miles was great on the mound, although needing “Big Poppa” to pitch well was odd. Andre and Kofi were big-time players, too. I’m going with G-Baby, though. Too young to play but loved the game so much that he wouldn’t let that stop him from showing up and wearing his Kekambas jersey with pride. And talk about clutch- stepping up when his team needed him most and propelling them to the finals with a walk-off hit. He’s also a classic what-if story. Who knows how great he could have been had he not been killed. If you didn’t shed a tear when Coach O’Neill talks at his funeral, go get yourself checked.
4. Henry Rowengartner, Rookie of the Year
There were three baseball movies that I watched countless times growing up- Angels in the Outfield, where no player truly stood out, The Sandlot, which will come up later in the list, and this one. In this film, Rowengartner is the obvious star. He was striking out Barry Bonds as a 12 year old! Honourable mention, though, to Heddo, the Mets slugger. He was a monster. Sure, he strikes out to end the movie, but that floater pitch is tough to hit. I used that in my backyard for years against my brothers with great success. I would guess Heddo ended up hitting 600 or so homeruns the way he swung the bat.
3. Roy Hobbs, The Natural
The title of the movie says it all. This dude was a stud and if it wasn’t for that crazy chick who (spoiler alert for those that haven’t seen this 1984 film) decided to shoot him, he probably ends up as an all-time great. Maybe then, though, he doesn’t get a movie made about him and end up on this much desired list…
2. Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez, The Sandlot
The Sandlot is an all-time great movie (please be advised, though, that the Sandlot movies that followed are complete garbage). It’s a movie that still gets quoted anytime s’mores are being consumed, and I think every guy that saw the movie still has a crush on Wendy Peffercorn. The star on the diamond was of course Benny, whose love of the game was unmatched. He was also the epitome of cool with the fitted hat, unbuttoned shirt, and who could forget those black PF Flyers.
1. Pablo Sanchez, Backyard Baseball
I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid who use to wonder how Pablo didn’t make it to the bigs. He was a beast in every sense of the word. Here’s a question- has anyone actually played against Pablo? I feel like everyone always made sure to get him on their team. I would routinely pick him ahead of the actual MLB players because he was just so damn good. The Secret Weapon rightfully sits atop this list of fictional baseball players.