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Greatest Classic Sports Movie Characters: 5 Roles That Live On Through Big Screen

By    |   Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 11:32 AM

Classic sports movie characters are remembered long after the house lights come up and the big screen goes dark. Sports movies have the ability to capture our hearts and ignite a spirit of competition that lives in each of us.

Here are five of the greatest classic sports movie characters that live on the big screen:

1. Rocky Balboa, The "Rocky" movies - Sylvester Stallone's self-made star vehicle stands out not only as a sports character, but as a nobody who battled up from nothing until he was somebody, and not without costs.

"I had to write the kind of screenplay that I personally enjoyed seeing," Stallone said on Total Rocky, a website devoted to the making of the first movie. "I relished stories of heroism, great love, dignity, and courage, dramas of people rising above their stations, taking life by the throat and not letting go until they succeeded."

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2. Ray Kinsella, "Field of Dreams" - Kevin Costner gave his baseball-nostalgic Iowa corn farmer just the right sense of wonder. Praised by critics for being sentimental without being too sappy, he did what a lot of baseball fans would secretly like to do: build a baseball field. Or maybe the enduring character from this movie is the baseball diamond itself: The field is still there on the Lansing family farm in Dyersville, Iowa, and is a major tourist draw.

3. Mr. Kesuke Miyahi, "Karate Kid" - Much beloved — and much imitated — is the late Pat Morita's character Kesuke Miyagi, trainer and mentor of Ralph Macchio's rough-and-tumble "Daniel-san." The character was reviled by some Asian-Americans for reinforcing what they called offensive stereotypes, but a comic and writer going by the pseudonym "Fenzel," who identified himself as "an Asian kid," defended the character and the movie on the website Overthinking It.

"Fenzel" said the movie was about moving past stereotypes of "other" people — including "Daniel-san," himself an "other" because of his Italian heritage — and accepting and learning from each other. Meanwhile, millions of Karate Kid wannabes simply thought Mr. Miyagi was cool.

4. Brian Piccolo, "Brian's Song"
- It wasn't so much a sports story as the story of a life cut short of achieving a dream. Brian Piccolo was dead of cancer at 26 before he could become a National Football League running back. It really happened, but the movie starring James Caan as Piccolo stuck the story into millions of hearts.

"There's no question that Brian Piccolo's story was amplified by the movie," sportscaster Bob Costas told ESPN. "And now generations later, you don't know how many guys who ordinarily would be loath to admit that they shed a tear, will tell you at the drop of a hat, I still cry every time I see Brian's Song."

5. Fast Eddie Felson, "Hustler" - Paul Newman established himself as a star in the role of pool shark "Fast Eddie" Felson, based on the real-life hustler "Fast Eddie" Parker. Newman learned from real-life pool shark Willie Mosconi how to play and act like a "shark," though the hands on the screen during a crucial shot are Mosconi's.

According to the movie trivia site Moviefone, Fast Eddie would become "the prototype of the cocky, morally compromised, stubborn antihero Newman would play for the next couple of decades." Bonus: Jackie Gleason's character inspired a real-life pool player to change his name to that of Gleason's character, Minnesota Fats.

Vote Now: Which of These Actors Stands the Test of Time?

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Classic sports movie characters are remembered long after the house lights come up and the big screen goes dark. Sports movies have the ability to capture our hearts and ignite a spirit of competition that lives in each of us.
classic sports movie characters, sports movies, roles
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2015-32-23
Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 11:32 AM
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