Category Archives: Athletes

It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how American you are when you play the game.

The Goofiest Baseball Player Names Of The 19th Century

“You can just call me Wild Bill.  Holy shit, wait, you’re actually going to do that?”

~Wild Bill Widner

walter chickering

We’ve talked about early baseball, and especially baseball in the 19th century, here before.  Simply put, the 1800s were a lawless time in a lot of ways, and professional baseball was definitely included in that list.  Hell, back then, foul balls didn’t count as strikes, in 1879 it took 9 balls to get a walk, and people wouldn’t even play with a glove so errors were almost more common than hits.

Now, these oddball rules were the result of a new sport coming into its own, which was a trying process for both owners and players.  Teams and even Leagues folded overnight, and the salary a professional baseball player could hope for was about as high as you’d expect from someone placed in this tenuous position.  So while the quality of play was, by modern comparison, pretty shitty, the 19th century did have us beat in one very significant field.

The ridiculousness of their names and nicknames.  Nowhere does baseball offer more accidental hilarity than with the names that players, who though underpaid were professional athletes, went by.  These are names that fans chanted (or like, respectfully muttered to each other, we know that people wore fancy hats to baseball games back then so maybe it was a more refined affair at the time) and that are forever linked in the history books of the game as these people’s identities.

And there are some doozies of identities here.  So no more backswallash (Is that a 19th century word or did we just write gibberish?) let’s dive into some of these names.

The Goofiest Baseball Player Names Of The 19th Century

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Charlie Sweeney: America’s Greatest Drunk Pitcher

“There’s no ‘I’ in ‘drinking while pitching a professional baseball game.’  Or there are six ‘I’s’ there.  Shut up.”

~A Drunk Charlie Sweeney

charlie sweeney

The infancy of baseball in America was lawless time.  The World Series wouldn’t became an established event until 1903, entire leagues were created and disbanded over the course of just one or two seasons, and most team names were just, well, silly.  Considering that, in the 1800s, baseball was relatively new and didn’t really pay particularly well, the players that decided to pursue a professional career in the sport tended to be pretty eclectic.  They had names like Ice Box Chamberlain, they routinely threw games for gamblers, hell, in 1872, during the season, a team’s left fielder straight up drowned while fishing.  So in order to stand out as someone truly (and hilariously) noteworthy during this period, you had to either be one of the early greats in the sport, or you had to be an absolute nut job.

Starting pitcher Charlie Sweeney was a little bit of both.

If you claim to have heard of Charlie Sweeney before, we might have a hard time believing you.  His career wasn’t particularly remarkable, save for a few bright spots.  He played for five seasons, winning one Union Association pennant, and finishing his career with a 64-52 record with a 2.87 ERA and 505 strikeouts.  However, in his short time on the field (and off the field) he managed to leave a legacy filled with prostitutes, alcohol, manslaughter, and a few MLB records. So hold onto your britches or whatever the fuck people said back in the late 19th century, because we’re here to tell you about…

Charlie Sweeney:  America’s Greatest Drunk Pitcher

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Rupert Mills: The One-Man Team of the 1916 Federalist League

“I said.  A contract’s.  A contract.”

~Rupert Mills

rupert mills

On an instinctive level, just about everyone feels that it must have been much easier to become a professional athlete a hundred years ago than it is now.  Part of that stems from our general belief in progress—each year we get stronger, faster, better at writing hilarious jokes about American topics.  Shut up, it’s called intangibles, ask a scout.  Another part of this belief comes from the leaps and bounds our scientific knowledge about human physiology has made in the past century.  We know how to handle, and prevent, injuries, how to train our bodies in the most efficient ways- we’re no longer blindly hoping that we were born as naturally athletic freaks like Jesse Owens.  Oh, and speaking of that, we also stopped  limiting our professional athletics to random white guys who tended to get lucky enough to get exposed to sports right when they were being invented.  That’s a huge step.

The distinct disparity between, say, baseball athletes today and those during the Dead Ball Era might not have anything to do with this article, but it is important to note that Rupert Mills, who you have never heard of (unless you caught a brief story about him in our article about silly baseball team names), almost definitely would not have been considered a world class athlete if he were competing today.  And that’s okay!  Hell, he wasn’t considered a world class athlete when he was competing 100 years ago!  But maybe, in a weird way, the ability for “good but not stellar” athletes to play on a national stage in the 19th century was a blessing in disguise, because sometimes the best stories happen when a sport’s not yet at the point where it’s fully taken seriously.  Because while the level of play in 2015 might be higher than it was in 1916, you’ll never see a player show up to an empty field every day in order to take advantage of a loophole in his contract to get paid.

That’s what Rupert Mills did, and Rupert Mills was hilarious and amazing, and that’s only part of his story.

Rupert Mills:  The One-Man Team of the 1916 Federalist League

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The 1959 Chicago Pan American Games: The Most Hilarious International Competition Of All Time

“What?  Is that like, a cooking show or something?”

~The Average American Response to the Pan American Games

pan am games

As roughly two of you already knew, this year saw the 17th Pan American Games take place in Toronto.  41 nations in the Americas competed, with America leading the way with 103 gold metals and 265 total metals.  Many of you might not be familiar with the Pan American games, and that is because, like most red blooded Americans, you only can muster up enthusiasm for the Olympics, which is understandable.  If you’re going to try to give a shit about track and field more often than once every four years, you’d better have just married a hot wife with a high school aged son from a previous marriage who you try to support in order to make him begrudgingly like and respect you (sorry, though, no matter how hard you try, he totally won’t).

For most American athletes, the Pan Am games are a way to clean up and snag a lot of metals when you only have to worry about going up against 2 of the 6 continents that field athletes competitively in international competitions.  And for most Cubans, the Pan Am games are a way to defect the fuck out of Cuba.  However, for a relatively inconsequential (as far as the typical American sports fan is concerned) competition, the history of the Pan Am games are both deeply interesting and kind of unintentionally hilarious.  And never in the 64 years that this sporting event has been held has there been more unintentional hilarity as the first ever Pan American games to be hosted in the United States.

Because, holy shit, Chicago had no idea what it was getting itself into when it tried to plan an entire international competition in less than two years, and as a result, history will always have the wonderful train wreck that is…

The 1959 Chicago Pan American Games: The Most Hilarious International Competition Of All Time

chicago games

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More of the Silliest Major League Baseball Team Names of All Time

“Let’s go Stogies!  No wait that can’t be right, can it?  We’re not honestly called that, right?”

~Pittsburgh Stogies fans

talkin baseball

A few weeks back, we talked to you about some late 19th and early 20th century professional baseball team names that we felt were, frankly, kind of ridiculous.  We’ve not always been great at naming teams, and well, considering the Phillies we’re still not that great at naming teams, but we’ve at least phased out the worst offenders.  From the Columbus Solons to the Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers, there are a whole slew of defunct major league baseball teams that had laughable, absurd names, and some of them even managed to not be from Ohio.

That said, as ridiculous as those names were, they weren’t the only ones out there.  So we combed through the history of major league baseball to find some more hilarious names, because we’re easily amused when drunk.

More of the Silliest Major League Baseball Team Names of All Time

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The History of the X-League Indoor Football League

“The ‘X’ is for ‘EXTREME.’  What has happened to my life?”

~Michael Mink, CEO and Commissioner of X-League Indoor Football

x-league

This week, in celebration of National Professional American Indoor Football Week, which is a fake event that we made up to justify this whole enterprise, we have been writing extremely longwinded articles about various professional indoor football leagues and their teams.  This honestly-pretty-weird idea for a themed week of articles has seen us write about the Indoor Football League and the Professional Indoor Football League, both of which pay their players about $200 a game to sacrifice their bodies while possible over 100 bloodthirsty fans cheer for their demise like the gladiators of old.

While we already know way more about semiprofessional indoor football leagues than anyone really should (technically they’re “professional” because they get paid, but when we’re dealing with salaries this low, calling these leagues anything more than semiprofessional is like claiming to be an auto parts salesman because you once traded your old station wagon to Carmax) we’re going to that well one more time to tell you about the newest and, if we’re being perfectly honest, stupidest participant in the overcrowded arena football game.

No seriously, this gets kind of dumb.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you.  Anyway, let’s talk about…

The History of the X-League Indoor Football League

arena kickoff

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The History of the Professional Indoor Football League

The History of The Indoor Football League

“My boy plays in a football league!  He’s going to make it to the NFL one day, just like that Drew Brady!”

~The Mother of an Indoor Football League quarterback

ifl player

Two years ago, we talked about the American Indoor Football League, now just called “American Indoor Football”, a hilariously small, 10 team semi-professional football league that exists in such hotbed communities in dire need of a professional sports franchise such as Laurel, Maryland, the 25,000 population home of the defending AIFL champions, the Maryland Eagles.  We delved into the rich and honestly haphazard history of the league operating under the motto of “Fast Paced Family Fun” and gently prodded this league that probably doesn’t really need to exist.  We had a good time, and got to write about football in a way that doesn’t help Roger Goodell’s brand, so it really was a double win for us.

In a fit of nostalgia, we revisited this topic only to find that American Indoor Football is hardly alone in the field of “leagues of traveling semi-pro football teams getting paid peanuts to hit each other for the amusement of literally of dozens of fans.”  No, America is a land rich with high school varsity players just out of college desperate for a chance to relive their glory days, so we’re not content with simply one non-Arena-Football-League-knock-off.  And this week, we’re going to introduce you to three more.

That’s right, it’s National Professional American Indoor Football Week here in America (according to a sentence we just made up) so what better way to celebrate than to give three of these leagues (yup, we’ve got three distinct leagues here) their due, and introduce you to your new favorite teams to root for when your car breaks down in Sioux Falls and you just decide to shrug and start a new life there instead of paying for a new transmission.  First up—the inventively named Indoor Football League.

The History of The Indoor Football League

 look at all them fans Continue reading

America’s Best (And Worst) Cheer Squad Team Names

“I feel more connected to my team and engaged in this sporting event for reasons totally unrelated to arousal!”

~American Males Watching Cheerleaders at a Sporting Event

Nothing celebrates the flower of American womanhood quite like cheerleading.  We take athletic, energetic, scantily clad women, and have them hypnotize predominantly male audiences at sporting events into learning how to spell team names.  We also decided to create a bitter, occasionally violent, rivalry between them and girl volleyball players, because hey, cat fight.  It’s a beautiful tradition that our nation embraces wholeheartedly, and it’s what separates us from the goddamn Europeans. However, the names of most of these teams are so embarrassing that those of us with a weak stomach for poorly misplaced puns sometimes question if it’s even worth it.  That’s why we’re here, with the help of some outside research from an intrepid AFFotD supporter who felt that “the people HAVE to know” to run down the best and worst of the Cheer Squad names in America.  Well, it’s more like the so-so and the worst.  Okay most of them are just plain awful.  Let’s move on and post some pictures of women not wearing a lot of clothing to skyrocket the page views for this sucker then, shall we?

America’s Best (And Worst) Cheer Squad Team Names

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The Top 10 American Athletes (Determined By Someone Other Than AFFotD)

“Get your shit together, ESPN.”

~AFFotD Research staff

Because we are American, and have the appropriately diverse staff that is 50% male and 25% females that are cool and like sports and junk, we clearly needs sports as a way to escape the soul crushing frozen darkness that is American winter (shut up California, stop bragging).  We’re so desperate for an impressive athlete that even today, when you make a joke about Tonya Harding, most people will respond by going, “Whyyyyy?  Whyyyyyy?” (The handful of people who didn’t respond this way replied with “Who?” and “oh you mean that beefy boxing chick?”)

Yes, we like sports.  And we don’t care who knows.  And since we’re still in a bit of a daze as our brain cells recover from the battle field massacre that we call “New Year’s Eve falling on a weekend” we decided we’d do something lazy, like look up someone’s list of the top 10 American athletes and do a quick blurb on why each of them are American.  But when we checked ESPN, we saw that they listed the top 10 North American athletes.  Which shouldn’t’ have been a problem, except they put a goddamn Canadian on the list.  Eww.  Gross.  Eww.

So we found the website Made Men and decided to use their list instead.

The Top 10 American Athletes (Determined By Someone Other Than AFFotD)

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