You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who loves to laugh and who loves modern comedy in all its iterations—movies, stand-up, sketch and variety shows—who wouldn't include Bill Murray on their short-list of most influential American actors of the genre since 1970.
One element of who he is that almost certainly shaped his identity and place in pop culture is his unquestioned love and knowledge of sports—born and raised in Chicago, he never took his roots for granted.
And by maintaining his connections to the city and its teams, he's carved out a unique place as a comedy icon and sports celebrity.
While there seems to be countless moments when Murray and sports came together to create something almost always more awesome—and certainly more funny—there are some that truly capture the best of Murray's sports moments.
Bill Murray—the man, the personality, the on-camera persona—is a package deal. So, when he shows up, invited or not, you're going to be treated to a (hilarious) spectacle. There is no dial or button that can rescue you.
The Cubs' biggest fan was invited to throw the ceremonial first pitch before their opener against the Nationals in 2012. Prior to doing so, Murray ran the bases and treated the crowd to an ugly slide into home plate.
Apparently, some fans—and at least one writer—weren't amused, referring to the stunt as part of Murray's "tired shtick." What a bunch of babies.
Hey, disgruntled Cubs fans: There are 29 other MLB clubs who would love to have Bill Murray (including one just down the street). So, direct your ire to the organization that has crushed your dreams for decades and stop taking Bill Murray for granted.
After the Giants defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, Murray was a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman, and naturally, he showed up in a Giants uniform.
Decked out in full pads—outside of the jersey—because... well, he's Bill Murray.
It was another head-scratching, yet funny, episode in his long career. And, you really have to appreciate the fact that Letterman can carry on without missing a beat.
While an unquestionably rabid fan of all teams Chicago, Murray's passion extends to a role on the other side of the bleachers. He is part-owner of four minor league baseball teams, including the Charleston Riverdogs (Single A) who play in the South Atlantic League.
Last year, he was inducted into the league's Hall of Fame and, in textbook-Murray style, gave his speech in a jacket that likely drives bees to madness. While the attire is worth a look on its own merits, the speech is funny and a great view into Murray's unique perspective.
One of the really cool elements of Bill Murray's ownership stakes in various minor league teams is he makes a real effort to entertain the fans and be a part of the experience. And at one particular St. Paul Saint's game, he certainly put on a show—as thematically confusing as it was.
At a 2008 game, he joined, um, the St. Paul Sieve on the field—a recurring character who challenges a fan to a hockey-style shootout during a break in the action. And, well, it was weird.
On the silver screen, Bill Murray is at his best when he plays a character who is likable and charismatic, yet so over-the-top acerbic and self-absorbed, there's no way he could exist in the real world past the age of 30.
Murray's performance as Ernie McCracken in the 1996 Farrelly brothers comedy Kingpin checks all the boxes in epic fashion.
As the inexplicably popular celebrity bowler, McCracken, he truly captures (hyperbolically) the absurd nature of some personalities that have dominated bowling and other 'sports' that marginally meet the definition.
Featuring what may be the most insane comb over in cinema history, the womanizing, vulgar McCracken is the perfect sports movie villain.
Proving that his wit can seamlessly parody one of the strangest developments in NBA history—and target the greatest basketball player to ever put on a Bulls uniform—Murray held a mock presser announcing his retirement from comedy to pursue a career in basketball.
Appearing in response to legendary baller Michael Jordan's absurd decision to step away from the penultimate moment of his NBA career to try to be a pro baseball player, Murray's fake announcement perfectly encapsulated why it was such a terrible idea.
As a Chicago native, Bill Murray has long been a fixture of the Windy City's sports scene and almost certainly one of its most entertaining ambassadors. However, he's been an omnipresent force when it comes to his beloved Cubs.
So, it's no surprise that some of his best moments were shared with the late, great Cubs broadcaster, Harry Caray.
In this great clip from 1988, Murray joins Caray in the booth just before the club plays its first night-game ever. When the comedian takes a swig from Caray's well-koozied can of beer, well… the whole world just seems to make sense.
In a perfect world, failing by trying too hard wouldn't be a thing. Right? Everyone always says if you try hard enough, eventually good things will come.
But the world isn't perfect, and while some of the best laughs are drawn from life-observations that are as painful as they are humorous, sometimes just seeing a man in his 60s sliding around on a tarp is more than enough.
During a rain delay at the 2012 Charleston Riverdogs game, part-owner and self-described "Director of Fun" Bill Murray helped the soaked crowd pass the time by tumbling on the field-tarp and generally behaving like the lovable idiot he is.
One look at the joy on the mother's face and you get why Murray is so good at his particular brand of post-modern comedy. What would you expect an unsuspecting infant to do when staring into the eyes of Bill Murray?
With his mimicry putting an exclamation point on the moment, Murray achieved that magical feat of transforming something that's usually terrible into something awesome.
After Cubs announcer Harry Caray suffered a stroke in 1987, the organization brilliantly (I don't mean that facetiously) tapped native Chicagoan personalities like Jim Belushi and Bill Murray to fill-in as play-by-play announcers while Caray recovered.
When Murray got his shot, he dived into the role with gusto, providing the kind of listening experience one would expect if he's given a mic for three hours. It was hilarious, biting and just freaking great.
The interwebs are filled with assorted tales of Bill Murray encounters by average folks ill-equipped to properly respond, much less document the moment.
Considering the sheer volume of stories, along with the smattering of photos, videos and too-specific-to-be-a-lie details, there seems to be a little more veracity when Murray is involved.
Thankfully, one of the most amazing ones is captured in a great, off-the-cuff photo that isn't even as good as the story itself.
During the 2011 NFC Championship at Soldier Field, one lucky Packers fan got the full-Murray treatment, when he was shoved from behind during the game. Who was the perpetrator? Murray... who laughed and called Packers great Ray Nitschke a "p---y".
For better or worse, ESPN became the broadcasting force it is by combining a (mostly) winning formula of on-air talent, on-screen spectacle and some actual reporting. Few shows embody this formula more completely than College Gameday.
And if you've spent a few Saturday mornings watching the Gameday crew while fighting a vicious hangover, then you've likely experienced a sudden urge to pummel Lee Corso at some point.
In this clip, from the show leading up to the FSU-Clemson blowout two weeks ago, Bill Murray—who is wearing a rather unsettling purple hat—lives out our fantasies and appears on the set to "beat up" Corso.
In an alternate reality, the title of this slide would be half of the first part of a really bad joke. In this reality, it succinctly describes one of most pop culturey moments in mid-90s America. Space Jam is the kind of kitchen-sink cinema spectacle that would have seemed incomplete without Bill Murray.
No one else but Murray (well, maybe Will Ferrell) could wear the clothes, say the dialog or just make it better by being there. In fact, a lot of other actors could make the movie downright creepy... like Kiefer Sutherland. Ugh. Wouldn't that have been a nightmare?
The 1980 comedy Caddyshack is one of the big boys in the pantheon of cult-classic films that is always cited when someone is asked to list the most beloved sports movies of all time. A huge part of why it achieved such a status is Bill Murray's role as groundskeeper Carl Spackler.
Inspiring lame reenactments and bad impressions in dorm rooms for over three decades, the fact it's such a staple of sports pop culture doesn't diminish the fact that Murray's Spackler shows why the man is one of the true icons of comedy.
Frankly, it would be a disservice to Bill Murray and anyone who appreciates a man who struts around on the links in full camo, or any other variety of outfits caustic to human retinas/taste, to single out any one golf event as featuring his most spectacular choice of clothing.
Anytime this legend of comedy steps onto the golf course, it makes me love him more and resent anyone who doesn't have the sense to at least wear a pair of silly pants when playing a round.
Bill Murray the golfer represents everything about the man that works. He's a huge sports fan who happens to be one of America's great forces in comedy; a man who hasn't forgotten how to have fun.