There is no shortage of movies and TV shows based around America’s Past Time of baseball. Whether these stories are fictional or not, there are a variety of different ball players that have graced our screens. Some of the players in fact mark a striking similarity to the 2021 Chicago White Sox. If some of the South Siders would like to dress up as a character from one of these movies or TV shows that most represents their past season, this is who I would recommend:
Reynaldo López as Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn from “Major League”
As great as it would have been for Sox OF/1B Andrew Vaughn to chose jersey number 99 as a reference to Charlie Sheen’s character in the 1989 classic “Major League”, I think the player that most resembles the erratic young pitcher is ReyLo. In the very beginning of the film, Vaughn is shown to have powerful stuff, but unable to control it. As Bob Uecker quips in the movie, Vaughn’s first pitch thrown is juuuuust a bit outside. However, Sheen’s character ends up having a stellar second half once his manager realizes he just needed glasses. This storyline is eerily similar to how López’s career has turned out. In 2020, ReyLo had an 8.20 K/9 but a frustrating 5.13 B/9. In May of this year, the Sox pitcher underwent LASIK surgery, and it seemed to have turned his career around. In 2021, López increased his K/9 to 8.58 and drastically reduced his walk rate to 2.03 B/9. That’s truly a wild thing.
Eloy Jiménez as Pedro Cerrano from “Major League”
Pedro Cerrano is played by current All State Insurance spokesman Dennis Heysbert, and he’s the Hispanic power hitting corner outfielder for the Cleveland Indians in the film. Sound familiar? Cerrano spends much of the film without his shirt on which should be perfect for Eloy who often doesn’t like to button up his jersey. The Swag-O-Meter is off the charts for both players. In fact, screw Halloween, I’m pretty sure Eloy actually is Pedro Cerrano in real life, minus the superstitions.
Tim Anderson as Blip Sanders from “Pitch”
“Pitch” was a one season 2016 TV show that originally aired on FOX. It’s about a Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), a young woman who gets called up from the minors to play for the San Diego Padres and becomes the first female to play in the MLB. The show is from the same creator as “This Is Us” and while it’s a tad melodramatic, I found it pretty good and it’s currently streaming on Hulu if you haven’t seen it before.
Anyways, Baker’s best friend on the team, and a player who she rose through the minors with, is Blip Sanders (Mo McRea). The show doesn’t go into Sanders’ stats or player profile too much, but we know he’s a young charismatic borderline All-Star who makes it to the Game after Cubs’ Dexter Fowler drops out (Sanders is a CF on the show), and throughout the series becomes a leader of the Padres locker room. That reminds me a lot of TA, who also is a young charismatic borderline All-Star and the leader of the Sox locker room.
Dylan Cease as Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh from “Bull Durham”
“Nuke” LaLoosh is the young, brash pitcher on the AAA Durham Bulls played by Tim Robbins. He’s a guy who has dynamic stuff but has trouble putting everything together. (This sounds familiar, is this a common baseball movie trope?). With the help of the team’s new catcher Crash Davis (we’ll get to him in a second) played by Kevin Costner, LaLoosh eventually learns to control and harness his stuff to become an electric starter and ultimately gets called up to The Show. That sounds a lot like Dylan Cease’s career to me. He’s a young guy who supposedly has the best “stuff” out of all of the Sox’s pitchers, but it didn’t always translate to on-the-field performance. However, as shown by Cease’s excellent second half of the season, he seemed to be able to put everything together and easily earned his spot in the postseason rotation.
Yasmani Grandal as Crash Davis from “Bull Durham”
To be honest, Yaz reminds me a lot of Ginny Baker’s catcher Mike Lawson, played by “Saved By The Bell” alum Mark-Paul Gosselaar, from the aforementioned “Pitch”, but that’s a show that I’m sure none of you saw so it seems silly to me to put it on the list twice. Therefore, I’ll compare the Yazmanian Devil to Kevin Costner’s power-hitting catcher who is able to control a rotation. Obviously though, Grandal didn’t stay in the minors for as long as Davis did.
Luis Robert as Rex “T-Rex” Pennebaker from “Mr. 3000”
“Mr. 3000” is a Bernie Mac vehicle about a selfish but immensely talented baseball player who immediately retires after getting his 3,000th hit. However, several years later, a clerical error is found and it turns out Mac’s character only had 2,997 hits, so he un-retires and comes back to play for the Milwaukee Brewers after the September roster expansion to attempt to get three more hits.
When Bernie Mac’s Stan Ross rejoins the team, the only other truly talented player on the roster is shown to be team’s center fielder: T-Rex Pennebaker, played by Brian White. T-Rex is a bona fide stud who hits at least 49 home runs on the season and is said to have some speed as well. While Robert hasn’t yet hit that many dingers, he will. Robert is a bona fide stud who will soon be competing for MVPs. He has already shown he has the power and the speed, but now he just needs to stay healthy. Once he does, he will be the superstar on the cover of video games that T-Rex Pennebaker is shown to be in the film.
Liam Hendriks as Henry Rowengartner from “Rookie of the Year”
If you haven’t seen this film since it centers around the Chicago Cubs, I don’t blame you. Also, I don’t think it’s a very good movie to begin with. Anyways, teenager Henry Rowengartner, played by Thomas Ian Nicholas- who would later go on to star in “American Pie”, breaks his arm, and when it heals, he ends up being able to throw monster fastballs. So naturally, as what happens to all teenagers who are able to throw 90-100 mph fastballs, Henry signs a deal to become a major league bullpen arm and ends up closing games for the Cubs.
Needless to say, as this movie is a kid’s film, Henry doesn’t use the same foul language that Hendriks uses in real life, but both do share the same enthusiasm and excitement for the game of baseball. And both have incredible and unhittable fastballs. Though Hendriks (as he’s an actual professional player) only walked 7 batters all season, and I’m pretty sure Henry walked 7 batters in the 4 innings he pitches in the movie.
Dallas Keuchel as Chet Stedman from “Rookie of the Year”
Chet Stedman is Gary Busey’s character in the film. He’s an older pitcher who is constantly shown giving up runs and doesn’t seem to have a good outing throughout the entire film. Towards the end of the movie, he’s even benched permanently due to his poor performance (and because Henry Rowengartner’s almost step dad and manager is mad Stedman is moving in on Henry’s mom so he colludes with the Cubs front office to intervene, but I’m just going to overlook that). Regardless, if players are bad in baseball movies, it’s only at the beginning and they get better as the movie moves along. Not so with Gary Busey’s character. He’s always bad and that’s exactly how I feel about Keuchel.
Tony La Russa as Jimmy Dugan from “A League of Their Own”
Jimmy Dugan the alcoholic baseball manager of the Rockford Peaches, played by the immortal Tom Hanks. The veteran manager initially is very reluctant to manage an all-female baseball team, but he eventually grows to love his team and the players and the players learn to love and respect Dugan back. Clearly, TLR was not as reluctant to manage the White Sox the same way Jimmy Dugan was, but La Russa did get hired back in the midst of a DUI scandal. Though, regardless of how you initially felt about the TLR hire or how you still feel about, the team loves and respects him, the same way the Peaches ended up feeling about Dugan.
That’s all I have so far, but clearly there are more Sox players, coaches, and announcers that were not addressed. Who else not mentioned do you think is their fictional player counterpart? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured Photo: White Sox/Twitter