[Column originally ran July 2007]
When Hollywood elects to make a sports movie there’s a good chance they’ll butcher the action scenes in any number of ways. Some director’s try so desperately to be edgy that they actually film a scene where a guy’s eyeball gets ripped out of his head on the football field like Ollie Stone did in Any Given Sunday. They can make the scenes so cheesy and predictable that it strips any redeeming value from the rest of the movie like Remember the Titans. Or they can simply cast Tim Robbins as an athlete.
But for all they do poorly when crafting the sports movie, one thing they know how to do well is dole out character names. Rarely does the movie go by without at least one name that makes you think for a split second “dude, if I name my son that, he’ll totally dominate in gym class.”
We’ve taken the liberty of dissection some of the notables in convenient divisional format:
The Dick Pole Division – Baseball Movie Names
The Whammer – The Natural – Nothing says “intimidating slugger” like a single word nickname preceded by the word “the”. It always means business. You get the feeling that, with a name like The Whammer, he could crush fastballs 500 feet, swinging one handed while mowing down a Quarter Pounder with the other.
Nuke Laloosh – Bull Durham – The aforementioned Tim Robbins “played” Nuke Laloosh, a minor league phenom pitcher with a blazing fastball. Granted, it looked like he was throwing with the wrong hand, but at least he had a cool name. ###MORE###
Clue Haywood – Major League – When you cast Pete Vuckovich as a mustachioed, Triple Crown winning first basemen for the Yankees, you have to come with it when choosing the name. A guy like that doesn’t respond to names like “Jim” or “Dave”. I don’t know about you, but if I run across a man named Clue who looks like Vuk, my ass is being cautious around him.
Hammer Dubois – Mr. Baseball – Before Dennis Haysbert became President David Palmer and “that guy from the Allstate commercials” he was often typecast as a baseball player. After playing Pedro Cerrano in Major League, Haysbert took a name upgrade when he was Hammer Dubois in the Tom Selleck classic “Mr. Baseball”. Looking for a way to take a pansy French last name and make it tough? Throw the word “Hammer” in front of it. Works every time.
Worth Mentioning: Chet “Rocket” Steadman – Rookie of the Year, Steve Nebraska – The Rookie, Crash Davis – Bull Durham, Spike Nolan – Brewster’s Millions
The Colt McCoy Division – Football Movie Names
Lance Harbor – Varsity Blues – If the handsome quarterback whose being recruited by all the D-1 schools happens to also carry the name Lance Harbor, then I feel sorry for the other guys in the school, because he could totally have sex with any of their girlfriends if he wanted to.
Willie Beaman – Any Given Sunday – Somewhat normal name made better by the fact that he calls himself “Steamin” Willie Beaman and raps about leaving the girls creaming. Full disclosure: if he was a real life player and Chris Berman called him “Steamin” Willie Beaman, I wouldn’t find it nearly as cool.
Stefen Djordjevic – All the Right Moves – I’d like to think that, when the writer of this movie was looking for a name for young Tommy Cruise’s character, he got totally tanked on some cheap Swedish vodka and decided “F it, I’m going with something Scandinavian”.
Worth Mentioning: Bud-Lite Kaminski, The Program
The God Shamgodd Division – Basketball Movie Names
Jimmy Chitwood – Hoosiers – For whatever reason, Chitwood just works perfectly as the name of a slick-haired, socially retarded basketball savant.
Mick McAllister – Teen Wolf – Irish people aren’t scared of wolves, even wolves that wear disco suits and are really good at basketball.
Jesus Shuttlesworth – He Got Game – If you’re playing a pick up game and you find out the guy who just buckled your knees with a crossover is named “Steve” you go home feeling like a bum. But if his name is “Jesus Shuttlesworth”, well then you just got whipped by Jesus and that’s not so bad.
Worth Mentioning: Neon Budeau – Blue Chips, Salami Petrino – The White Shadow (yeah, it wasn’t a movie, but his name was Salami for Christ sake)
The Garth Butcher Division – Hockey Movie Names
Gordon Bombay – The Mighty Ducks – Just think of the hockey nicknames with this baby – Gordie, Bombs, Gordo. Teammates would be drooling at all the possible ways to refer to him in an interview.
Racki – Youngblood – I’m not sure if it’s a first name or a last name, but I’m pretty sure it’s hockey-speak for “no way this guy gets his ass kicked by Rob Lowe in real life”.
Ogie Ogilthorpe – Slapshot – The most notorious goon in hockey movie history is named “Ogie”? Hey, don’t ask me how, but it works.
Worth Mentioning: Tim “Dr. Hook” McCracken – Slapshot, Mo Wanchuck – Slapshot
The Rusty Kuntz Division – Alternative Sports Movie Names
Cole Trickle – Days of Thunder – The name probably would have been considered way more ridiculous if there wasn’t really a racecar driver named Dick Trickle.
Rowdy Burns – Days of Thunder – I imagine that when you’re 19 and you walk into a liquor store, plop a twelve pack of Natural Light on the counter and show the guy behind the counter an ID that has the name “Rowdy Burns” on it, you get zero grief. What’s he supposed to do, not sell it to you? Your name is Rowdy Burns for the love of god, he should just be happy you don’t kick his ass right there.
Loudain Swain – Vision Quest – Admittedly not a name that strikes fear into his opponents hearts when he takes to the wrestling mats, but you’ve got to give the writers some credit for creativity.
Shooter McGavin – Happy Gilmore – Not many names on the list work so seamlessly with the finger point gun.
The Sylvester Stallone Division – Stallone Movie Names
In a special tribute to the man whose movies produced some of the most ridiculous and yet compelling names in fake athlete history, we pay respects to those names that have appeared in Sylvester Stallone’s filmography:
Personally, I think that Thunderlips Bacott would freaking own his Little League opponents.