theScore is counting down the 100 best fictional characters in sports movie history, with a new post every weekday until July 3.
"Air Bud" (1997)
The original basketball-centric "Air Bud" spawned four direct sequels (with increasingly strained pun subtitles like "Golden Receiver" and "Seventh-Inning Fetch") and nine direct-to-video spinoffs. But even if you've never seen the films, you'll undoubtedly recognize the mutt's stature as one of history's truly great multi-sport athletes. He's Bo Jackson with a flea collar.
"The Mighty Ducks" (1992), "D2: The Mighty Ducks" (1994), "D3: The Mighty Ducks" (1996)
As one of seven players to appear in all three "Mighty Ducks" films, Charlie Conway (Joshua Jackson) serves as one of the series' emotional centers. His journey to becoming a team leader echoes coach Gordon Bombay's (Emilio Estevez) own transformation.
In this comedy, Randy Quaid plays Ishmael Boorg, a dimwitted, Amish bowling sensation who protagonist Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson) tries to ride to fame and fortune before discovering he's not as good a bowler as initially hoped. Ishmael's lack of common sense gets him into a number of sticky situations that Munson, a bowler-turned-con man, only makes worse thanks to his poor decision-making.
Tempted by the trappings of his newfound celebrity status, Doug Remer (Matt Stone of "South Park" fame) begins to waver from the anti-capitalistic roots of a sport which, as the name implies, combines two of America's favorite pastimes.
All is well by the time the final credits roll, though chaste viewers may regret bearing witness to Doug lactating in his opponent's face, among several dozen similar indecencies.
"Mystery, Alaska" (1999)
Before he was Maximus, John Nash, and Javert, Russell Crowe was John Biebe, the sheriff of the film's titular town and the top player on the local pickup hockey circuit. When the NHL's New York Rangers come to Alaska for an exhibition match, it's Biebe's leadership that gives the local side a fighting chance.
"Field of Dreams" (1989)
In "Field of Dreams," Kevin Costner plays Kinsella, an Iowa corn farmer who hears a voice that instructs him to destroy his crops to build a baseball field for Shoeless Joe Jackson and other ballplayers. Kinsella spends the film being chastised by his family and peers for making a move that puts him in financial trouble but remains steadfast in his decision, which eventually leads to a heart-warming finish.
"The Sandlot" (1993)
Porter (Patrick Renna) is the hilariously quick-mouthed catcher of the young group of mischievous ballplayers in "The Sandlot" and is also responsible for delivering the legendary line, "You're killing me, Smalls." When Ham isn't crouched behind the dish, he can be found making homemade s'mores in the team's tree house.
"The Bad News Bears" (1976)
Let's forget about the remake and stick to Walter Matthau's original portrayal of Buttermaker; a surly, drunk pool cleaner who takes on coaching a team of outcasts for money but leads them to surprising success thanks to his out-of-the-box ideas (by 1970s standards) like putting a girl and a juvenile delinquent on the squad.
"Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" (2006)
After essentially playing a dramatic version of a similar character in 1990's "Days of Thunder," John C. Reilly tapped into his comedic talents as southern-fried NASCAR driver Cal Naughton Jr., teammate, friend, and eventual rival to Will Ferrell's Ricky Bobby. Every scene with Cal and Ricky crackles with incredible banter, the result of perfect on-screen chemistry.
"A League of Their Own" (1992)
Similar to Buttermaker, Dugan plays a player-turned-coach who spends most of his time behind a bottle. What differentiates the two, aside from Tom Hanks' brilliantly charismatic outbursts, is that Dugan's bad-tempered character is much funnier thanks to the film's incredible writing. Also, when Dugan isn't breathing booze down the necks of the Rockford Peaches, he shows flashes of compassion for his players, which makes him even more likable.