Today’s Friday Sports Funny features fictional Boston Red Sox late inning reliever Sam Mayday Malone.
If Italian Stallion “Rocky” Balboa is every movie fan’s favorite boxer, then Sam “Mayday” Malone must be every television viewer’s most popular relief pitcher.
In the same way the boxing “Rocky” never actually threw a punch, Malone never really appeared in late inning relief at Fenway Park.
Both imaginary sports characters are just legendary, but they’re perennially loved by sports fans to this day.
Sylvester Stallone propelled Rocky Balboa to universal movie stardom. And, TV actor Ted Danson transformed a washed-up baseball player and recovering alcoholic named Sam Malone into an iconic television star during the 1980’s.
As a result, bar owner Sam Malone is widely regarded as Boston’s most celebrated fictional athlete. That’s why he’s the “closer” in the bonus chapter of my FREE book Boston Sports Icons.
Instead, the fictitious pitcher rose to fame as the undisputed star and central character of the hit NBC sitcom series known as Cheers.
Set in Boston, Cheers was the friendly neighborhood bar that Sam Malone bought after his supposed five year stint with the Red Sox organization. The bar he owned and tended was figuratively located in the hallowed shadows of Fenway Park.
And, Cheers’ bar patrons absolutely loved him.
Most Baby Boomers have fond memories of the sitcom Cheers. To this day, Boomers can still recite the popular jingle from the show’s theme song, “You wanna go where everybody knows your name!”
Ironically, not every television viewer knew Sam Malone’s name when Cheers debuted in 1982. The show finished dead last in network ratings its first season and should have been cancelled.
However, Cheers was inexplicably given an opportunity to continue for another season. And it flourished. Soon after, the shallow, promiscuous, narcissistic and, at times, doltish Malone performed brilliantly. The sitcom rose to national popularity and became ingrained in America’s cultural consciousness.
Fictional Red Sox Picture Sam Malone Was Cheers’ Star
Sam Malone was the unquestionable star of the Cheers series that spanned 11 years and 275 total episodes. Pew Research Center voted Sam (Ted Danson) the #1 television personality in 1993. He commanded as much as $475,000 per episode, a whopping sum in the early 90’s.
Accompanying washed up Major League Baseball reliever Sam Malone on the Cheers set was an eclectic, but brilliant group of characters. America’s television audience quickly fell in love with Cheers ensemble of quirky personalities, self-absorbed lives and outrageous back stories.
From crazy, easily agitated Carla (Rhea Perlman) to lovable, chubby Norm (George Wendt) and from prudish, elusive Diane (Shelly Long) to unwieldy windbag Cliff (John Ratzenberg), Cheers resonated with viewers who became easily enraptured by the show’s story lines.
The Cheers sitcom showcased Boston at its best and regularly recalled exploits of the city’s successful professional sports teams. It’s final episode in 1993 tallied 80 million viewers, second only in television history to Mash.
Boston: An American Sports Capitol
Though a fictitious TV character, Sam Malone brought national focus to Boston as an avowed American sports capitol.
So indelible was his mark among American TV fans that an actual Cheers bar is found on Beacon Street that keeps the former fictional character’s lore alive today in Boston sports.
A recovering alcoholic and a teller of outrageous womanizing tales, Sam Malone may have never actually toed the rubber at Fenway Park.
But, this lovable scallywag and fictitious late inning reliever for the Boston Red Sox will always be loved as Boston’s most famous fictional athlete.
Enjoy Boston Sports Icons and feel free to share the book with friends!
MIKE on sports!