The Indiana Pacers announced earlier this week that they will wear Hickory High uniforms during select home games this season in honor of the 30th anniversary of the movie, “Hoosiers.”
While most of us know by now that teams that introduce alternate jerseys are motivated mainly by blatant cash grabs — those special jerseys the players wear certainly will be available for purchase by fans as well — organizations also get a free pass when the idea is as solid as this one is from the Pacers.
It also got us thinking: What other teams from movie and/or written lore would make good cross-promotional targets with real top-level professional teams? Here are some ideas:
• Mudville Nine: The fictional team from the poem “Casey at the Bat” would make for a great MLB promotion. I’m thinking the best team would be the Oakland A’s, since it is widely believed that the poem’s setting was nearby Stockton, Calif. The minor league team in Stockton even changed its name to the Mudville Nine for a while in the early 2000s.
• Bad News Bears: This collection of baseball misfits also was based in California, but let’s face it — the Chicago Cubs are begging to wear those uniforms and embody that spirit.
• Springfield Isotopes: The fictional baseball team from “The Simpsons” has the special privilege of potentially being used by pretty much any team since the Springfield on the show is never revealed to be in a specific state (though creator Matt Groening said in a 2012 interview that the inspiration was Springfield, Ore.). I always imagined it was in Massachusetts because of Mayor Quimby; the Red Sox could make a mint if they wore Isotopes jerseys for a day.
• Flint Tropics: The fictional basketball team from the 2008 movie “Semi-Pro,” about an American Basketball Association team, would be worth it particularly for the sweet jerseys and the opportunity to do a full 1970s throwback night. Flint is only 70 miles from Detroit. The Pistons ranked 26th in the NBA in attendance last season and have missed the playoffs six years in a row.
What do they have to lose?
• Washington Sentinels: This fictional team from “The Replacements” was based in part on the replacement players for the 1987 Washington Redskins. Why not pay homage?
• Charlestown Chiefs: Let’s be honest. The fictional Charlestown Chiefs of “Slap Shot” fame are reason alone to make this list. The NHL probably wouldn’t go for it since the brawling and gooning depicted in the film might create an image problem, but I’d love it if the Penguins — Pittsburgh is a mere 65 miles from Johnstown, Pa., the setting for much of the film — put on the foil and wore the Chiefs sweaters for a night.