Movie characters fill Mississippi coronavirus-era sports section

Movie characters fill Mississippi coronavirus-era sports section

In a world desperate for sports — real or fictional — one newspaper editor took matters into his own hands.

With a scoreboard page lacking scores because of the coronavirus pandemic, John L. Pitts, sports editor for the Tupelo, Miss., Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, looked instead to the big screen.

“You never know what’s going to catch people’s attention,” Pitts told The Post over the phone Wednesday. “It was subtle, down in the corner of the page, but somebody 7:30 this morning caught it and sent the picture to me and it just went from there.”

Part April Fools joke, part wishful thinking, Pitts filled his agate page with characters from all corners of sports fiction, from Crash Davis to Sidd Finch to Hogwarts and back again.

“We’re doing this movie bracket thing, everyone’s doing these sorts of things, and it just put the idea in my head,” Pitts said. “I actually started with the quidditch score [from Harry Potter] and was sitting eating my breakfast, and Major League was the first thing I thought of.”

From there it was just figuring out which fictional fireballers would get the most laughs — Ricky Vaughn, Willie Mays Hayes and the rest of the fictional Cleveland Indians from “Major League” made the cut, as well as early Saturday Night Live character Chico Escuela. Rocky is scheduled to fight Apollo Creed on July 4 in Philadelphia, and Pitts even took some creative license for another fictional character.

“I thought the funniest one for me was [coach of Milan HS in Hoosiers] Norman Dale getting fired from Faber College,” Pitts said. “Like, where would he end up? I just thought it would be funny if he were a basketball coach at the college in Animal House.”

Until he got a positive response from fellow editors in the Daily Journal newsroom, he was unsure this was the right time to crack even a subtle joke. But levity was just what the sports world was looking for.

“I always kind of wanted to do something like this on April Fools, but could never find the right time,” Pitts said. “Sometimes you have an idea and just say ‘Let me see what this is.’”

Latest Category Posts