Funny Sports Pranks That Actually Worked
A good prank confuses its target, but a great prank reduces it to rubble.
Of the many tricks we pull on one another, only the tiniest fraction fall into this latter category of greatness. People are more skeptical than ever. Every video or claim is "FAKE" until proven real beyond a doubt, making the art of deception that much more difficult to master.
It's this growing distrust in our fellow man that makes the following pranks so special. These are sports pranks that actually worked. Some are cruel, but most are unusual and all of them are funny.
Just remember, everyone: People prank because they care. Or because they're soulless jerks who love to watch you squirm. Either/or.
Mike Pelfrey Makes Awkward March Madness Speech to Teammates
Imagine having to give a rousing, inspirational speech to your favorite team in the world right before its biggest game of the season.
If that thought alone doesn't send your marbles scrambling for higher ground, imagine having to do it on the spot in front of your boss.
This is the situation Minnesota Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey believed he was facing this March when team manager Ron Gardenhire brought him into his office for a special request. Gardenhire sat his pitcher down and explained his alma mater—the Wichita State Shockers—wanted a celebrity alumnus to give a pregame inspirational speech to their basketball team before facing the Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA tournament.
A huge Shockers basketball fan, Pelfrey tried to put together a few words on the spot and fumbled the business awkwardly. The good news, however, is the party on the other end of the line weren't college kids preparing to play in the biggest game of their lives. They were his teammates, who set up a listening party in the clubhouse as part of the prank.
Billy Donovan Drops the Waterford Trophy
Oh, Billy Donovan. You rascal.
After winning the NCAA national championship for men's basketball in 2006, the Florida Gators had some fun at the expense of the UF student body. The team gathered onstage for a pep rally, and Donovan brought out a fake replica of the crystal trophy to present to the university.
All was well until Donovan passed the trophy to an assistant, who conveniently fumbled the orb. Screams erupted as the ball shattered on the floor, and after a few moments of milking their distress Donovan laughed and explained it was all a joke.
Tony Sanchez Convinces Mom He Was Suspended by Team
Aw, come on now. You can't do this to mama.
Oh, Tony Sanchez did this to mama, and he got her good. The Pittsburgh Pirates catching prospect had his mother "shaking" with anger after a goof-up by a Pittsburgh newspaper.
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette printed a story about the MLB levying a six-game suspension against Pirates pitcher Jonathan Sanchez for throwing at St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Allen Craig. The problematic part was the paper used Tony Sanchez's picture in the article instead of Jonathan's.
Instead of angrily calling the editor and demanding an apology (or suing), Tony decided to roll with it and texted his mother a picture of the article. "Mom. I'm sorry," Tony wrote in the message. She believed him, as any concerned mother would.
You are a cruel, clever man, Tony.
Jeff Gordon Takes Journalist on a Pants-Soiling Ride
Companies love edgy, guerrilla marketing. They bathe in that stuff.
Hidden camera commercials showing unsuspecting "real people" are all the rage, but not everyone is willing to accept their authenticity at face value.
So when Jeff Gordon and Pepsi MAX released their first Test Drive commercial, a healthy portion of Internet truthers weren't buying it, particularly Jalopnik auto writer Travis Okulski.
Okulski wrtoe a column pronouncing the ad as a likely fraud. To put it simply, Pepsi and Jeff Gordon took exception, and went to great lengths to prove they could deliver the real deal.
Kyle Walker Terrifies Hotspurs Teammates
Few scare pranks have been executed quite as effectively as the one Kyle Walker pulled on his teammates over Halloween in 2013.
The Tottenham Hotspur full-back donned a skull mask and cape and hid behind a backdrop as his teammates entered the room one by one for a spooky-themed interview.
There's a couple hard cases in the bunch (Jan Vertonghen isn't impressed) but over half the men pranked ended up on the ground screaming. I think Heurelho Gomes still sees that skull face at night.
Michigan State Student Dresses Up as Mannequin, Scares Mark Dantonio
Mark Dantanio is a grown man. He's in charge of a football team. He had the pants-onions to call a fake field goal in overtime.
The head coach of Michigan State football doesn't scare easily, that is, unless some giant mannequin comes alive on his way to work.
Indeed, a Michigan State student pranked half of the Spartan football team in 2013. Posing as a football player mannequin, the student scared coaches and players as they trickled into the team's facilities for morning practice.
Also, it should be noted terrifying a man who is only a few years removed from a heart attack is a bold strategy.
DeAndre Jordan 'Farts' on Random Strangers
DeAndre Jordan has a running series of Venice Beach pranks.
He scares people with horse heads, freaks them out with fake spiders and causes general mayhem for beach goers.
Of all the goofy stuff the Clippers forward has pulled, his most thoroughly convincing prank to date involved ripping fake gas on others via a hidden fart machine. The best is Jordan selling the ruse with a story about chili hot dogs—because we've all had a bad chili dog day.
Triple-A Team Pulls the Long Con on Jeff Francoeur
"Idiot...complete, utter idiot."
These are the words of Ryan Jackson, El Paso Chihuahuas infielder and teammate of Jeff Francoeur—one of the most clueless fellows in North America. Maybe the Western Hemisphere.
In a feat that truly doesn't seem possible, the Chihuahuas, a Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, banded together and somehow convinced Francoeur that pitcher Jorge Reyes was a deaf man. The prank lasted somewhere in the neighborhood of two weeks, with Francoeur using hand gestures and enunciating his words in the belief it would help Reyes.
I'd say it was cruel, if wasn't so damned hilarious.
The Blindfolded Half-Court Shot
He won half a million dollars, but not at all.
Pranksters Amir Blumenfeld and Streeter Seidel of CollegeHumor are at war—a prank war. The two men continue to torment one another in an ongoing arms race of misdirections and madness, the greatest of which perhaps being this blindfolded half-court shot.
The crowd was instructed to go nuts regardless of how badly Blumenfeld missed the shot (and he did).
Phillies Send Kyle Kendrick to Japan
The prank the Phillies pulled on Kyle Kendrick in 2008 was less of a joke and more of an Ocean's 11 con.
Kendrick was preparing for his second year in the MLB when team manager Charlie Manuel called the 23-year-old pitcher into his office for a serious conversation. The team had pulled a fast one and traded him to a Japanese ball club for an up-and-coming star named "Kobayashi Iwamura."
"We've got him hook, line and sinker," said Phillies pitcher Brett Myers, the genius behind the prank.
And indeed they did. Kendrick's agent and the team's travel manager provided a fake contract and itinerary for his transition to the Yomiuri Giants. Oblivious to the fact MLB and Japanese teams don't swap players, Kendrick signed his contract on the spot and found himself in a staged press conference with real members of the Philadelphia media, who were also in on the joke.
Myers let Kendrick sweat in front of the media for several minutes before dropping the "punked" line and explaining the joke. It took the young man a minute or so to realize he wasn't leaving the team.
Cruel. Petty. Funny. Twitter is a lot like a great prank.