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15 Classic Bill Murray Sports Moments

by: Esteban On  Monday, July 23, 2012

bill murray sports moments

It seems that just about every pro sports team has at least one celebrity fan. Some teams, like the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, have whole boatloads of bandwagon fans. Others, like the St. Louis Blues and Oklahoma City Thunder, have people like Jon Hamm and Bill Hader (respectively) who stayed true to their roots. But the really lucky teams art the ones that can count genuine comedic geniuses among their supporters. The Los Angeles Kings, for example, have well-known sports nut Will Ferrell. And the various teams of Chicago—plus a bunch of random colleges and minor league baseball franchises—have Bill Murray.

In case you didn’t realize it, Bill Murray—one of the weirdest, funniest, and most likable comedian/actors of all time—is a huge sports fan. He grew up in the Chicagoland area, so his pro alliances lie there with the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, and Cubs. (And maybe the Fire. Who knows.) But he’s also an avid golfer (which means you’ll see him at various golf events) and an owner of not one but four minor league baseball teams. So Bill makes a lot of appearances at a lot of different sporting events. Plus, as you’re probably aware, he’s been in a few classic sports movies.

So today, to help get your week off to a funny start, we take a look at the greatest of the great Bill Murray sports moments. Enjoy!

15. Retires comedy to join NBA

After Jordan retired from basketball (the first time) in 1993 and announced he would pursue a career in professional baseball with the Chicago White Sox minor league team, Bill Murray did this little bit for the TV show NBA Inside Stuff with Ahmad Rashad. It’s not the funniest thing Murray ever did, but it was pretty hilarious for NBA Inside Stuff—that show was otherwise pretty lame.

14. Bill versus St. Paul Sieve

One of the minor league baseball teams Bill Murray owns (well, part-owns) is the St. Paul Saints of the Independent League. Like a lot of minor league teams, the Saints place a big emphasis on off-field entertainment, so to that end they have a whole lineup of whacky mascot-like characters that they bring out at various times during their games. One of these characters is an argumentative hockey goalie they call the St. Paul Sieve, who comes out and challenges fans to shootouts (yes, hockey shootouts at a baseball game…only in Minnesota…or Canada). At the 2008 Independent League All-Star Game, the St. Paul Sieve made a very grand entrance onto the field to face Bill Murray in a shootout. Obviously, Murray won.

13. Skydiving at Chicago Air Show

For the 50th annual Chicago Air and Water Show in 2008, organizers wanted to give the people something really unique. So they got the city’s most famous sports fan to jump out of an airplane with the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights and parachute onto the North Avenue beach. Murray wasn’t at his funniest that day, seeing as how he was about to go mano-a-mano with gravity, but you gotta love how, even at 13,000 feet, he manages to work his beloved Cubs into the conversation.

12. At the 2011 NFC Championship Game

bill murray-bears packers nfc championship game

Bill Murray has become a kind of urban legend in New York, known to show up at random house parties or walk up behind people on the street, put his hands over their eyes, and ask, “guess who?” followed by, “but nobody will ever believe you.”

So it’s really not very surprising that he would go incognito to the 2011 NFC Championship Game between the Bears and Packers at Soldier Field, wearing Dickies thermal overalls, an orange hooded sweatshirt, bright orange gloves. It’s also not surprising that Bill would take advantage of his anonymity and heckle a Packers fan wearing a Ray Nitschke jersey (shouting “Nitschke is a p***y!”), then violently shove the guy when the Packers scored a touchdown.

Of course, when the Packers fan finally turned around and saw that his heckler was Bill Murray, he couldn’t be mad. Instead they all laughed, and Bill let him take his picture—so everyone would believe him.

11. Bill conducts the band

Murray spends a lot of time in Charleston, South Carolina (where, as we’ll soon see, he owns another minor league baseball team). So every once in a while he’ll turn up at a George Mason University basketball team to cheer on the Patriots. And, one time, he even took the time to conducts the student pep band—because Bill Murray can pretty much do whatever Bill Murray wants.

10. Ceremonial first run around the bases

Opening Day at Wrigley Field is a huge deal—probably because it’s the only time all year when the Cubs will be anywhere near first place. So the fact that they had Bill Murray throw out the first pitch this year says a lot about the guy’s standing with the team and in that city. But of course, the guy didn’t just walk out to the mound and throw the ceremonial pitch out. He decided to start a brand new baseball tradition by doing a ceremonial first run around the bases.

9. Wearing camouflage at the Pebble Beach Pro Am

As mentioned in the intro to this list, Murray is an avid golfer who, despite appearances, takes the game very seriously. Every year he makes numerous appearances at charity golf events and, of course, the AT&T Pro Am at Pebble Beach. He actually won the event in 2011 playing with D.A. Points, so this year he figured he had to dress like a champion…hence the awesome camouflage. The best part of this video is when Bill punts a football into the crowd (like you do at pro golf tournaments) and the moron TV announcer says he’s playing “British rugby.”

8. The Coke bottle incedent

Speaking of Bill Murray the golfer, at a 2007 celebrity charity event, he threw a Coke bottle into the crowd (probably as an ill-conceived joke) and hit an innocent bystander in the face, busting his nose. Of course Murray felt terrible, so he went over to apologize, cracked a few jokes, and practically had the guy busted nose thanking him by the time it was all done.

7. South Atlantic League Hall of Fame Induction

In addition to the St. Paul Saints, Murray is also part owner of the Charleston Seadogs of the South Atlantic League. As you might expect, Murray’s involvement has meant a lot to the team and the league in recent years, so not long ago they elected him to the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame.

Who else is in the SAL Hall of Fame? How about Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson, and Frank Robinson? That’s some good company.

Anyway, his induction speech is long and kind of all over the place but, like everything Bill Murray does, it’s amusing.

6. On Letterman dressed as a Giant

Murray and Letterman have a good rapport, so the former appears on the latter’s show at least once a year. And it’s usually weird.

This year, Murray stopped by the Late Show in March, not long after the New York Giants won the Super Bowl. So obviously he came on dressed in a Giants uniform…with full padding.

5. At a 1984 Cubs playoff game

In 1984, the Cubs made the postseason for the first time since 1945—the last time the were in the World Series. So of course Bill Murray was there, and of course he was as funny as ever.

What happened in the series? Typical Cubs stuff. They won the first two games and were one win away from the World Series. Then they totally blew it, losing three in a row.

4. The Rain Delay

Remember how I said Bill Murray was part-owner of the Charleston Seadogs? Well, his official title within the organization is “Director of Fun.” So this clip is just Murray doing his job during a rain delay.

3. Big Ern McCracken

One of Murray’s most memorable full-tilt comedic performances came in the underrated Kingpin, starring alongside Woody Harrelson and Randy Quaid. In the movie, Murray plays bowling blow-hard Ernie “Big Ern” McCracken, who just so happens to have an epic combover. If you haven’t seen this movie, or if you just haven’t seen it in a while, you should check it out again. Totally worth it.

2. Carl Spackler

Obviously, Bill Murray’s most famous role in a sports movie was as Carl Spackler, the groundskeeper of Bushwood Country Club in the classic 1980 film Caddyshack. The above clip is my personal favorite. And of course one below is one of the most famous bits in sports movie history:

1. Filling in for Harry Caray

When iconic Cub broadcaster Harry Caray (who the Cubs stole from the White Sox in 1981, South Siders will have you know) suffered a stroke prior to the 1987 season, the team made the fun decision to replace him not with another broadcaster, but with famous Chicago celebrities like Jim Belushi, George Wendt, and, of course, Bill Murray.

Obviously, having Murray in front of the mic for 3+ hours was good enough, but making it even better was the fact that the game Murray did (against the Expos) was delayed because the home plate umpire had some kind of equipment malfunction. So he got to be on the air even longer. This clip is long, but it’s just a glimpse of what Cubs fans were treated to on April 17, 1987. (Though it’s a good thing they don’t get WGN in Canada.)