Asmussen: Fictitious Hall of Fame a blast

Asmussen: Fictitious Hall of Fame a blast

I love sports. 

And I love movies/TV.

Thanks to Kirk Buchner, both my worlds collide. In a good way.

The Canadian-based Buchner is the owner/creator of the Fictitious Athlete Hall of Fame.

“It is a labor of love,” Buchner said.

The idea came to Buchner when Sylvester Stallone was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. The real one. Buchner had already started another site, notinhalloffame.com, which is dedicated to the best who haven’t made the cut in baseball, hockey, football, basketball and rock-and-roll halls.

“No one had really come up with a Hall of Fame for pretend athletes,” Buchner said. “In the case of ‘Rocky Balboa,’ I can argue there is only a handful of boxers who are more well known than he is.”

He’s right. How many times have you caught yourself saying “Yo, Adrienne?” But you have never repeated a quote from Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Sugar Ray Leonard.  

The initial class, announced a year ago, included Balboa, “Crash Davis,” “Roy Hobbs” and “Ricky ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn.” All four were worthy honorees.

Buchner has already started working on the second class for the Hall. With the help of online voting, he has cut the original list of 300 to 90 semifinalists. The finalists will be announced on Aug. 15. There will be 15 athletes, 10 contributors and five veterans selected.

Who will be on my ballot? Too early to cast my vote. But here are some of the characters receiving strong consideration:

“Al Czervik” (Caddyshack), “Apollo Creed” (Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III and Rocky IV), “Ernie McCracken” (Kingpin), “Bobby Boucher” (The Waterboy), “Happy Gilmore,” “Jimmy Chitwood” (Hoosiers), “Pedro Cerrano” (Major League), “Roy McAvoy” (Tin Cup), “Chubbs Peterson” (Happy Gilmore) and “Mr. Miyagi” (Karate Kid).

Carl Weathers deserves his own room at the Hall, earning nominations as two characters. Same goes for Adam Sandler.

Creed barely missed it in the initial class and leads all voting in the first round this year.

“I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t get in, but strange things can happen,” Buchner said. 

Apparently, Weathers isn’t fired up about the double nomination. Buchner reached out to Weathers’ representatives and was told “he wants to move away from the Apollo Creed character.”

“I was disappointed,” Buchner said. “Maybe he thought I was going to make a mockery of him, which I certainly was not. That was one helluva character.”

His loss.

Our hero, Mr. T, is up for a spot this year as Lang. An easy choice for one of the best villains in a sports movie.

The 42-year-old Buchner has been a lifelong fan of sports and sports movies. Growing up in Toronto, his favorite teams are the Raptors and Blue Jays.

His favorite fictitious athlete? Easily Balboa.

“Even when Rocky stinks, it’s good,” Buchner said.

There are others that Buchner likes.

One near the top of his list is Mike Leak, the character played by William Devane in “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training.”

“In the span of an hour and a half, he taught a bunch of moronic kids how to play baseball, completely rigged the lineup so his kid seemed to bat constantly, taught a pitcher how to pitch and taught the hidden-ball trick and then came up with ‘Let them play!’ That is my most underrated character,” Buchner said. 

Last year, there were 6,000 votes cast. All online. Buchner wants transparency. Unlike the other halls of fame.

There is no building for the Fictitious Athlete Hall. Not yet. If somebody wants to donate the money, Buchner will build it. Just like one of this year’s nominees, Ray Kinsella.

“There’s something realistic about having a fictitious hall for fictitious athletes,” Buchner said. “Let’s just say it’s in Pretendland. Where would be a good place? Let’s say Charlestown (home of the Chiefs in “Slap Shot.”)

There are some rules for inclusion. First, nobody from a movie based on a real person. That eliminates “42,” “Ali” and “Remember the Titans.”

Buchner has what he calls his “Cool Runnings” rule. The film was based on a real-life bobsled team, but used invented names for the bobbers.

“No one had the real name Sanka Coffie and Yul Brenner,” Buchner said.

What does Buchner’s wife Pauline think?

“Doesn’t understand it, but she sees site traffic go up, so she’s very supportive,” Buchner said.

When he isn’t watching films or sports, Buchner is an assistant manager at a train station.

“I have a  lot of free time because it’s seasonal,” Buchner said. “The train company I work for doesn’t run in the winter.” 

To check out the rest of the nominees, go to pressking.com/press-room/the-fictitious-athlete-hall-of-fame.

Enjoy.

 

Bob Asmussen is in his 26th year on the News-Gazette sports staff. You can call him at 217-351-5233 or reach him by email at asmussen@news-gazette.com.

-