Ernest Borgnine just passed away at 95. Here’s a tribute — well, sort of — via his classic role in BASEketball.
Sadly, the fantastic and legendary Ernest Borgnine died on Sunday at age 95. Some people might know him from his Oscar winning performance in Marty, others for his TV roles in shows like McHale’s Navy or Airwolf, and another generation for his role as Mermaid Man on SpongeBob Squarepants.
Not me. When I think Ernest Borgnine, I think BASEketball.
I’ve never hid my unbridled love of BASEketball on this website. Even if it is, objectively, one of the dumbest movies ever, I still love every moment from start to finish. (Other than about 80 percent of the subplot plot with Little Joey.)
But going forward, whenever I (or you) rewatch it — and, spoiler alert, Ernest Borgnine’s character’s early death in the film — we’ll think of Ernest Borgnine’s real death. And we’ll probably want to bend some quotes to fit the occasion. I thought I’d put together a list and rank various applicable quotes from most to least tactful, offensive and appropriate. The quotes on this list go from being a tribute down to being downright evil.
As with all of my ultra-niche lists (like 11 Speculations on Which Character Will Be Killed Off on Community or 11 Worst Advice Given By the Old Man in Legend of Zelda), I apologize if this list means absolutely nothing to you. If it does, please go watch BASEketball
Then come here and tell me how it was awful and you can’t believe you wasted two hours of your life.
Then go watch it seven or eight more times.
Then come back and tell me, on further review, the movie is a home run. (From behind the meatballs.)
11 | “You kids with your loud music, and your Dan Fogelberg, your zima, hula hoops, and Pac-Man video games — don’t you see? People today have attention spans that can only be measured in nanoseconds.”
This one’s just a straight tribute to what Ted Denslow (and, probably, Ernest Borgnine) thought about the younger generation. Of all these things, only Zima no longer exists. And I’m pretty sure this quote alone has made at least 5,000 people seek out the music of Dan Fogelberg.
10 | “Did they try to save him with those heart paddles? The ones George Clooney uses?”
This is from the hospital scene where Coop and Reemer think Little Joey is dead, so they try to revive him using the heart paddles. I don’t know if they tried that on Ernest Borgnine — let’s assume no, so this is benign. By the way, since BASEketball was shot in 1997, George Clooney was still firmly known as the guy from ER — they probably filmed it before he became the infamously rubber nippled Batman.
9 | “He was health challenged and survival impaired.”
While I don’t think this quote is particularly offensive, if you’re quoting BASEketball, try to avoid quoting Yasmine Bleeth. That’s offensive to BASEketball fans. It’s akin to quoting January Jones lines from Mad Men.
8 | “Looks like your boy Borgnine bought the farm.”
Even though this plays off the psyche out that won the Denslow Cup, I think it still stays here in the lower part of this list. Frankly, it’s more informative than anything. He did, in fact, buy the farm.
7 | “What an unfortunate thing to happen on dozen egg night.”
I’m guessing Ernest Borgnine didn’t die on a night when you were eating a dozen eggs. That’s illogical. Possibly as illogical as the BASEketball championship game also involving a dozen egg giveaway for all the fans in attendance. Sports teams don’t give away bobbleheads or schedule magnets for the World Series or Super Bowl.
6 | “Today we lost the big game and a dear friend. It certainly does seem to be raining shit.”
I feel like Ernest Borgnine wouldn’t like the gratuitous cursing. And, because he’s a human with ears, he probably isn’t a giant Tim McCarver fan either.
5 | “He was a hero because his vision brought BASEketball from neighborhood driveways into big arenas but more importantly into the hearts of TV’s America. It’s a very sad day. His untimely death casts an unbearable pall over an otherwise sweet victory. HEY! YEAHH! [double thumbs up].”
A disingenuous tribute followed by a gleeful double thumbs up is probably not the best way to express palpable grief. It’s almost as bad as hitting on a dead guy’s wife at his funeral and asking her to come over to lay some carpet. If you know what I mean.
4 | “Ernest Borgnine, dead at 95. His hairpiece was 24.”
I Googled it to see if Ernest Borgnine really did have a hairpiece… and saw that about three dozen people made this the headline of their tributes to his death. So the mystery of whether he DID wear a hairpiece goes unsolved. Seems like we might need Robert Stack to help on that case.
3 | “Ernest Borgnine’s dead? I guess that’s why he didn’t move around a lot.”
You could always mitigate this one by saying “Ernest Borgnine’s deaf.”
2 | “For all I care, he’s hanging by his neck in his fucking closet.”
No one could hate him enough to phrase it this way, right? Plus, since we know he didn’t die via suicide OR by going to Disneyland, this isn’t just way too harsh, it’s way too irrelevant.
1 | “By all accounts, [he] seemed to be the only one surprised by his death and it appears time just finally ran out for the old cocksucker.”
The news anchor reporting on Ted Denslow’s death says this quote, making it way too on-the-nose. But when a nice old man dies, it’s really not cool to call him a cocksucker. This quote gets the number one slot because it’s such a seemingly organic way to talk about his death — while also being the epitome of inappropriateness.
And, of course, in lieu of any of these, you could just cover your chest in Vaporub and sing Right Said Fred. Rest in peace, Ernest Borgnine. You will be missed.