The Baseball Hall of Fame announced its 2014 inductees Wednesday (January 8) and, while some great players like Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas got in, there were still a bunch of snubs. No, we’re not talking about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens; we’re talking about some of sports cinema’s greatest players. Here’s what we think the Hall of Fame class might look like if they recognized these great — albeit fictional — players from the movies.
Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner, ’For Love of the Game’)
Chapel is the Greg Maddux of our Hall of Fame class. One of the greatest pitchers of his generation, he’s a unanimous first-ballot pick. Chapel represents a dying breed, as he played every season of his storied career with the Detroit Tigers, even choosing to retire rather than see himself traded somewhere else. And of course, he caps off his career with a perfect game, cementing his legacy.
Ricky Vaughn (Charlie Sheen, ’Major League’)
As a rookie out of the “California Penal League,” Ricky Vaughn overcame a rough start to become the ace of the Indians. He helped win the American League pennant for the Indians with his incredible strikeout of Yankees power hitter Clu Haywood (who, ironically, wasn’t voted into last year’s Hall because of steroid allegations). Vaughn’s rockstar persona earned him the name “Wild Thing,” and was one of the Indians’ most popular players. Because of some unfortunate incidents with umpires and journalists, Vaughn couldn’t get in first ballot, but he makes it this year.
Ebby Calvin ’Nuke’ LaLoosh (Tim Robbins, ’Bull Durham’)
After Nuke’s transformation from farmboy to minor-leaguer to major-leaguer, we saw his raw talent eventually translate into some incredible numbers. Once he was a free agent, he started a Lebron James-like bidding war for his arm that left some bad blood in baseball writer circles. Not a first balloter, Nuke finds himself in the Hall eventually.
Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes, ’The Fan’)
One of the highest-paid players of his era, Rayburn set the standard with a $40 million contract that took him from the Braves to the Giants. Already a bona fide all-star with the Braves, Rayburn seemed to take it to another level after a rocky start in his first year with San Francisco, especially after the awful death of his teammate Juan Primo. Rayburn, in addition to his great career, earned plenty of sympathy votes with baseball writers after his son was kidnapped and crazed fan Gil Renard threatened to kill him. This made Rayburn one of the greatest Giants of all-time, despite some unconfirmed reports of steroid use and tax evasion.
Benny ’The Jet’ Rodriguez (Mike Vitar, ’The Sandlot’)
“The Jet” earned his nickname by breaking Ricky Henderson’s single-season record for stolen bases — a feat people thought impossible. With his good friend and Hall of Fame broadcaster Scotty Smalls in the booth, Rodriguez was a beast at getting on base, with a career OBP of .390. His speed sometimes made it look like he was running like he was being chased by a hound of hell. The Dodger great was also a defensive whiz, earning him a spot in the Hall.
Steve Nebraska (Brendan Fraser, ’The Scout’)
Nebraska never quite lived up to his World Series performance, where he pitched a perfect game and hit two home runs. The righty with the blazing fastball had to miss most of his second season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Nebraska came up to simply be a great pitcher, instead of the phenom from his rookie season. After ending his career with a 2.70 ERA and more than 3000 strikeouts (the Yankees made him a full-time pitcher to avoid future injury), Nebraska gets to be immortalized in Cooperstown.
Stan Ross (Bernie Mac, ’Mr. 3000′)
Stan “Mr. 2999″ Ross had one of the most amazing turnarounds of any of this year’s inductees. Ross’ attitude and the statistical error that showed he retired with 2997 hits, not 3000, seemed destined to keep him out of the Hall for good. But Ross came back after retirement, and while his two hits were not enough to get to the vaunted 3000 hit plateau, his status as the team leader of the Brewers and new selfless attitude endeared him to journalists, who decided to vote Ross in the very next year.
Henry Rowengartner (Thomas Ian Nicholas, ’Rookie of the Year’)
At 12 years old, Rowengartner became the youngest player to record a big-league win and a big-league save, and got the Cubs to their first NLCS in years. Journalists debate whether those stats should be counted because of his surgically enhanced arm. At only 5’8″, the scrappy Rowengartner managed to make it to the Majors, and now to Cooperstown, ending with a career .310 average and a couple Gold Gloves. Henry attributes the success to his mom and step-dad, former pitcher Chet Steadman.
Jack Elliot (Tom Selleck, ’Mr. Baseball’)
While Elliot’s stats were never good enough to make the Hall, his career in Tokyo was a high watermark for American-Japanese public relations, with many attributing the success of players like Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki, and Hideki Matsui directly to Elliot’s time in Japan. For that, the Hall of Fame inducts him as a worldwide ambassador for the game.
Crash Davis (Kevin Costner, ’Bull Durham’)
The only manager among our inductees, Davis toiled for years as a minor leaguer, actually setting the minor league home-run record. But that was nothing compared to his career as a manager, where his experience as a catcher and a mentor in the minors translated to five World Series rings, three more appearances and 13 trips to the playoffs. One of the winningest managers of our generation, Davis is a unanimous selection for the Hall.
Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford, ’The Natural’)
Roy Hobbs was one of the greatest ballplayers ever … for one season. But oh, what a season! Hobbs set a record by mashing a home run every 4.3 at-bats and would have set the all-time record for homers in a season if he had been called up sooner by the now-defunct Knights organization. For unknown reasons, Hobbs retired and disappeared after that season. Support for Hobbs has swelled this year, his last of eligibility, especially as he put up these astounding numbers in an era before steroids. Hobbs now has the distinction of having the shortest career of any Hall of Famer. His two bats “Wonderboy” and “Savoy Special” go into the Hall with him.