A few months ago I wrote about my experience in Augusta where I was able to attend Monday’s practice round for the Master’s. One part of this experience I held back on describing was that of me, getting to have my picture taken with Craig Stadler. Known to most of you, I’m sure, is the fact that the Walrus won the Masters in 1982 placing him firmly in the Golf Hall of He Won That? What you may not know is that Stads is a family favorite. I grew up cheering for him as he was, and remains, my father’s favorite golfer. Keeping my experience at the Masters quiet was necessary because I wanted to surprise my dad with the picture for Father’s Day. You are correct in assuming that it was a hit.
Judging by his picture, you may infer that Craig didn’t get his nickname as a result of being physically fit. Per Wikipedia, he tips the scales at a slender 250 lbs, but with all do respect to Wikipedia, I don’t think the editor saw him lumbering down the fairway that day. He’s a lot of man, and given he’s created an entire clothing line around his “Walrus” moniker, I’d say he’s embraced it.
This is, you may have guessed, what has endeared him to me over the last 20 years. Since then my time as a sports fan has brought many unique physiques to the forefront for my viewing pleasure. Fathletes, I like to call them. Here is a list of my favorites. You may add your own in the comments section as I certainly haven’t done exhaustive thinking on the subject and I can’t write up everybody.
Bob Wickman – During his early Cleveland days, my buddy, Big Shot and I had the idea for our own sports show. In short, we thought it would be great viewing to record our conversations while drinking and watching a sporting event. Essentially, replay the game, but all commentary provided by two, increasingly drunk college students. As part of this show, we felt we’d hang a mounted deer head on the wall behind us for every Bob Wickman save. Why, you ask? Why not?
Rod Beck – Rod Beck lived like his fu manchu, all out. A constant source of anxiety amongst his fan base, particularly my college roommate during his Chicago years, Shooter patented the “create your own save situation” situation. If this guy had more than a 3 run cushion, you could almost count on him giving up enough runs/hits to turn an otherwise forgettable inning into a save. Beck is now 32nd on MLBs career saves list and had a rather questionable death in 2007 (RIP) but I like to always remember him as the player living in a trailer behind a minor league stadium while attempting a comeback with the Iowa Cubs.
Gilbert Brown – Loved watching big Gilbert Brown motor (motor?) through the opposing team’s offensive line, finishing with his gravedigger dance. What I appreciate much more than seeing a nearly 400lb professional fathlete do a sack dance is see this same guy have a special burger named for him at a local Green Bay Burger King. The Gilbertburger was a double whopper with everything, cut in half, but no cheese (and I assume a Diet Coke). Live strong, Mr. Brown.
Jared Lorenzen – I saw the big fella play in person while under center for the Kentucky Wildcats. I found myself in Lexington that day because a friend of mine had a brother who played for South Carolina, who was in town. He was shedding would be tacklers left and right. The guy was just so big. For those who don’t know who he is, he was a successful QB for Kentucky following the Tim Couch era, but he weighed about as much as a VW Beetle. Great night in town with a lot of friends, but we were a bit put off by the fact that the bars closed at 1am. What the hell?
Kung Fu Panda – I love the Panda. Thank you, Barry Zito for giving baseball a great nickname. They come so rarely these days, but I don’t if any I’ve heard recently are on point as Kung Fu Panda for Pablo Sandoval. I really like the nickname Joey Bats for Jose Bautista, a lot, but it’s more of a play on the name where as Kung Fu Panda just seems to personify Sandoval. I hope he doesn’t lose too much weight, success be damned.
Craig Stadler – Duh.
David Wells – Boomer is a legend all to himself. A baseball guy, he loved the history and he loved excess. I haven’t read his autobiography, Perfect I’m Not: Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches and Baseball, but I assume it could do better than what I can here. I just loved the guy. He had an “I care, but I don’t really care” attitude.
John Kruk – Even as I watch Kruk on ESPN I think of him as John One Nut Kruk. It isn’t funny, as he lost that soldier in a fight with cancer, but it’s just what I remember most about him. He’s also one of the few fathletes that may have lost weight after their playing days. He also may be the closest thing to Chris Farley that we have. If only we could get him to dance at Chippendales to Loverboy…
Honorable Mentions – As I said, feel free to comment on guys I missed. I’m still trying to learn how to format better with pictures and stuff, so bear with me as I continue to learn.