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LEEInks list: Boston sports icons’ movie cameos

05.25.10 at 6:45 am ET
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Some people just can’€™t be pleased. Common knowledge has it that many musicians want to be athletes, hundreds of athletes want to be musicians, and plenty of actors are envious of athletes. The same stands for athletes being actors. All too many times, athletes stand out as the awkward people who never have more than a few droning lines and can never really advance the plot of the film beyond the lone scene they’€™re in. Of course, the ploy never matters much to the studio bigwigs as it can bring in thousands of an athlete’€™s fans to just catch a brief glimpse of their hero during the course of a two-hour film.

It’€™s not always that way, however; whenever an athlete is being an athlete on screen, things seems slightly more natural. Think Barry Bonds in “Rookie of the Year,” Reggie Jackson in “The Naked Gun,” or the litany of NBA players who co-starred with Lil Bow Wow in “Like Mike.” For every Jim Brown (“The Dirty Dozen”), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (“Airplane!”) and O.J. Simpson (“The Naked Gun”), there’€™s a Michael Jordan (“Space Jam”), Shaquille O’€™Neal (“Kazaam” and “Steel”) and Dwayne ‘€œThe Rock’€ Johnson (“The Game Planand “The Tooth Fairy”) who should never step on a Hollywood set.

For Boston fans, they can only hope that their heroes can get onto a list of the former and not the latter. Rajon Rondo can now be seen in the basketball-rich movie “Just Wright” starring Queen Latifah and Common ‘€” when he isn’€™t making historic plays that can be added to the pantheon of Celtics playoff moments, that is. Thankfully, Rondo is starring as himself, playing basketball, so things are looking good so far. In his honor, let’€™s count down some of the best movie cameos by Boston sports icons. Note that we are not including Celtics guard Ray Allen (“He Got Game”) because he was playing for another team at the time. And we’ll tell you right now, Dennis & Callahan fans, that your heroes didn’t make the cut. Sorry.

10. Derek Sanderson

During the heyday of the Big Bad Bruins, Turk made an appearance as himself in the 1971 movie “Face-off,” about a pro hockey player and a folk singer who fall in love. He also appeared in the horror film “A Knife for the Ladies” in 1974, during his second stint in Boston. It wasn’t surprising to see Sanderson on the big screen, as he was known as someone who rode his fame and fortune as far as he could take it.

9. Rick Fox

Fox, a first-round draft pick of the Celtics in 1991, played in Boston until 1997, when he signed with the Lakers in part so he could continue the acting career he started while a Celtic. In 1994, he made an appearance in the college basketball movie “Blue Chips,” and two years later he had a role in “Eddie,” the movie that starred Whoopi Goldberg as a fan turned coach of the New York Knicks. Fox has gone on to become a regular on the big and small screens.

8. Red Auerbach

The forgotten 1987 movie “Amazing Grace and Chuck” featured Denver Nuggets star Alex English as Amazing Grace Smith, a Celtics sharpshooter who gives up the game to protest nuclear weapons. Making an appearance was Celtics boss Red Auerbach, puffing away on his trusty cigar.

7. Drew Bledsoe

In a blink-and-you-missed-it moment, the former Patriots quarterback had a brief cameo in the NFL draft scene of “Jerry Maguire.” Although it may have been one of dozens of sports-centered cameos in a sport-centered film, it didn’€™t save the film from ultimately turning into a chick flick. But hey, that’€™s what you pay for when you watch a Cameron Crowe movie.

6. Roger Clemens

Sox fans, think back over 14 years ago. Before Big Papi, pink hats with a pink ‘B’ on them, and two World Series championships. Heck, this was far back enough that even the Yankees hadn’€™t won a championship in almost two decades. These were the days that we admired and revered the Rocket, Roger Clemens. We saw him in the Farrelly brothers’ “Kingpin” as Skidmark, a bar bully, and in “Cobb” as a flamethrowing Philadelphia Athletics pitcher. Wow, what happened to that guy?

5. Tom Brady and Lawyer Milloy

Another Farrelly brothers movie, another Boston sports cameo, although this time we’€™re willing to bet that not too many people can recall “Stuck on You.” What you need to know: It stars Cambridge’€™s own Matt Damon, and it includes a quick shot of Tom Brady and Lawyer Milloy as Computer Geek 1 and 2. Makes you want to go out and see that movie now, huh? Maybe not? Well, then just imagine the sight of Mr. Gisele Bundchen wearing broken glasses and a pocket protector, because that is exactly what he wore ‘€” and there is no evidence of this scene anywhere online.

4. Fenway Park

We all subtly know that the only reason Terence Mann was put in Boston instead of Chicago was because the filmmakers wanted to include a scene at Fenway Park, back in the good old days when “a dog and a beer’€ cost $10, not $12. In any case, “Field of Dreams” is a quintessential baseball film that regularly tugs on the heartstrings of young and old alike, and Sox fans should be proud to have their park forever a part of it.

3. Jason Varitek, Johnny Damon and Trot Nixon

2005’€™s “Fever Pitch” was a movie made exclusively about the Red Sox, so it HAS to be filled to the brim with cameos by Red Sox players, right? Well, not really. Sox fans will have to settle for one scene in which they don’€™t even talk. To hear them speak ‘€” and be jerks, too ‘€” fans will have to find the deleted scene included on the DVD. It isn’€™t all bad, though. Just think of the 2004 World Series without “Fever Pitch” attached to it. Did you get the chills? You’€™re welcome.

2. Cam Neely

Our last of the four (yes, four) Farrelly brothers films on this list is this gem from what could be considered the best of their movies, “Dumb and Dumber.” To many outside the Hub, this scene is notable for the classic line, ‘€œKick his ass, Sea Bass!’€ but to Bruins fans, it’€™s just Cam Neely being Cam Neely (kind of like Manny being Manny, but much more cooler). Cam Neely also appeared in another Farrelly movie, “Me, Myself & Irene,” but let’€™s not go there.

1. Larry Bird

Naturally, Larry Legend tops our list because of the quality and number of his cameos. He jawed out Dan Aykroyd and Daniel Stern and made them cry in “Celtic Pride,” gave Nick Nolte some basketball advice in “Blue Chips,” and got to play a round of golf with Michael Jordan and Bill Murray in “Space Jam.” Simply put, any scene that involves Bill Murray playing golf is a winner in our book.