15 Pudgy Pro Athletes

Generally speaking, we expect professional athletes to be physical specimens in peak condition. If they were all just fat slobs like us (well, like me) it would be a lot harder to accept that they make millions of dollars while we are scraping quarters together to grab a coffee on the way to work. However, as I was watching Prince Fielder take his cuts in the Home Run Derby, I got to thinking about all the professional athletes of exceptional girth. So I thought I’d compile a list of some of the all-time great pudgy pro athletes.

Now, as you will notice, the list is heavy on baseball players. That’s not the result of any bias; it’s just that baseball, more than any other sport, allows for atypically heavy stars. On the other end of the spectrum is football. Since half the players on any team are supposed to be immovable objects, in most cases, a rotund football player is nothing to write home about. Nevertheless, as you will see, there are still some football players so large that there was no choice but to include them on this list.

So without further ado, I present to you the pudgy pro athlete hall of fame. If you can think of any others I left out, make sure to let me know about it in the comments section.

15. David “Big Papi” Ortiz (Baseball)

Here’s a guy who gives pudgy folk a good name. How can you not like a guy nicknamed “Big Papi”? Sure, he’s probably overrated by Red Sox fanatics, but you can’t deny all the clutch hits and the 368 home runs David Ortiz has put up in his career. Plus, he’s apparently a swell guy.


14. CC Sabathia (Baseball)

At 6’7” and 290 pounds (yeah right), CC Sabathia looks like he belongs on the gridiron rather than the diamond. Nevertheless, the Cy Young Award-winning pitcher has been one of the most dominant and consistent pitchers in the baseball over the last 6 or 7 years. So keep on eating the hot dogs, CC, cause you’re doing great.


13. Tony Gwynn (Baseball)

Tony Gwynn is one of the best pure hitters baseball has ever seen. The Hall of Famer racked up 3,141 hits, had a .338 career batting average, and appeared in 15 All-Star Games. And he did most of it with a rather rotund physique.


12. Robert “Tractor” Traylor (Basketball)

The Tractor didn’t have the most illustrious NBA career, and his college accomplishments were tarnished by his involvement in a recruiting scandal at the University of Michigan, but he was apparently one of the nicest guys around. Unfortunately, his immense size caught up with the 300 pounder in May 2011. His bum ticker finally gave out, and he passed away in his apartment in Puerto Rico at the age 34.


11. David Wells (Baseball)

Boomer was a three-time all-star, a two-time World Series champ (with the Blue Jays in ’92 and the Yankees in ’98), and he pitched a perfect game in 1998. But Wells was no health nut. His autobiography is titled Perfect I’m Not: Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches and Baseball. The book explains, among other things, how the beer-bellied pitcher was actually hungover when he pitched that perfect game.


10. George Foreman (Boxing)

In his prime, George Foreman was a lean mean fat-grilling mach…wait, no, that’s not right. He was lean and mean and an excellent boxer. But as he got older he started to pack on the pounds, and not just in retirement. Of course, the extra weight didn’t stop him from regaining the heavyweight title with a KO of Michael Moorer in 1994. That made Foreman, at 45, the oldest heavyweight champ in the world.


9. Jared “Hefty Lefty” Lorenzen (Football)

Like I said above, I’m not inclined to include football players on the list of pudgy pro athletes because, more often than not, being hefty is an asset in the NFL. However, big man Jared Lorenzen is an exception to this rule, given that he was a quarterback. Sure, he was never a starter. In fact, he was most often the third-stringer. But he got some work in here and there—enough to get him a Superbowl ring with the Giants in 2008. These days “Even Heftier Lefty” is quarterbacking the Northern Kentucky River Monsters of the Ultimate Indoor Football League.


8. Oliver “Big O” Miller (Basketball)

By now you’re starting to notice a trend: many of these pudgy pros have pudgy nicknames. Oliver “Big O” Miller is no exception. This guy was actually drafter #22 overall by the Phoenix Suns back in 1992, and at the height of his career he was averaging a very respectable 12.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. However, as he began losing the battle against his weight, Miller’s ability on the court began to slide, and his NBA career was pretty much done after 5 years.


7. Fernando Valenzuela (Baseball)

Fernando Valenzuela rocketed into baseball superstardom during his rookie season with the Dodgers in 1981. That year, powered by his wicked screwball, he won the Rookie of the Year, Silver Slugger, and Cy Young awards, not to mention a World Series ring. These make Valenzuela perhaps the roundest little man to ever win such an abundance of prestigious baseball honors.


6. Cecil and Prince Fielder (Baseball)

I don’t really want to say it, but it’s actually required by law: like father, like son. But it’s not just with respect to their generous proportions that these two are similar. Cecil and Prince Fielder are actually the only father/son duo in MLB history to have hit 50 HRs in a season. Now, if only they were on speaking terms.*

*Prince and the rest of his family started blackballing dad when he insisted on getting a percentage of Prince’s earnings as thanks for helping negotiate his first MLB contract. You see, Cecil apparently has a bit of a gambling problem.


5. John Daly (Golf)

Although I don’t know if he ever played hockey, I’m sure John Daly was the real life inspiration behind the Adam Sandler movie, Happy Gilmore. Daly’s non-traditional etiquette is more trailer park than country club, and it has made him one of the most popular players on the PGA tour for over 20 years. Also, he used to be one of the least fit professional “athletes” in the world. These days, however, Daly is a new man. He had lap-band surgery in 2009 and has since shed over 100 pounds.

4. William “Refrigerator” Perry (Football)

Once again, football players are supposed to be huge. But William “Refrigerator” Perry is on this list because he took being a ginormous football player to a whole other level. I mean, for Christ’s sake, Fridge was only 6’2” but weighed 325 pounds. That’s hefty even for a defensive end.


3. Butterbean (Boxing)

Former IBA Super-Heavyweight boxing champ Eric Esch, better known as Butterbean, is 5’11” and 420 pounds. The 45-year-old renaissance man has also dabbled in kickboxing and MMA. And I know you’re going to find this hard to believe, but Butterbean also has runs a restaurant called Mr. Bean BBQ in his home state of Alabama. He’s quite a character.


2. Emanuel Yarbrough (MMA)

This 6’8” 600+ pounder is an amateur sumo wrestler (1995 Amateur World Champ) and MMA competitor (UFC 3). He has also tried his hand at judo, wrestling, and football. The Guinness Book of World Records officially lists Yarbrough at the largest athlete in the world, professional or otherwise.


1. Babe Ruth (Baseball)

Who else could be #1 in pudgy pro hall of fame but the Great Bambino, the man who inspired chubby kids everywhere to swing for the fences. Hell, Babe Ruth is the original pudgy pro athlete. He also just so happens to be possibly the greatest baseball player of all time. His career Slugging Percentage is 50 points higher than the second guy on the list (Ted Williams) and 70 points higher than number four (Albert Pujols). Only one guy hit more home runs in a season than Ruth without cheating (Roger Maris), but he never hit more than 39 in any other season. And only one guy hit more home runs in his career without cheating (Hank Aaron), but he needed a lot longer to do it. So, yes, I’d say George Herman “Babe” Ruth is the greatest pudgy pro athlete of all time.


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