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The Big Four

By Max Toth On the first edition of our Toth Sports Inc podcast, when reminiscing about his favourite athletes as a kid, my dad suggested that most fans are never more invested in the world of sports than when they’re 12, 13 and 14 years old. So, since I’m right in that range, I‘ve decided to talk about my favourite players in the “Big Four” North American sports leagues and share a “fun fact” about each player.

NFL - Patrick Mahomes

Arguably the most talented quarterback in NFL history, Mahomes’s no-look passes and 50 yard bombs make him a must-watch on game day. However, his electrifying play isn’t just for show. In just two seasons the 2018 MVP has led the Kansas City Chiefs to a 23-7 regular season record and four playoff wins, including Super Bowl LIV.

Fun Fact: Mahomes, a pitcher in baseball, was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 37th round of the 2014 MLB draft. So I hate to break it to Motown sports fans, but it’s official; the Tigers have now drafted more Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks then the woeful Detroit Lions.

NHL - John Tavares

The number one selection in the 2005 OHL draft, I have fond memories of watching Tavares suit up for the Oshawa Generals and the London Knights throughout his junior hockey career. Since he’s arrived in Toronto to join the Maple Leafs, it’s been fun to once again be able to see him play regularly, even if it’s only on TV. After all, as my dad claimed on our debut podcast, you’d have to sell a body part to actually afford a ticket to a Leafs game. Sometimes my dad likes to exaggerate. But it would be nice to see those ticket prices drop a bit so more families could afford to cheer for the Blue and White up close and personal.

Fun Fact: John‘s uncle, who also happens to be named John Tavares (and who the Leafs captain is named after) is the all-time leading scorer in National Lacrosse League history.

NBA - LeBron James

What’s not to love about LeBron? The three time NBA champion and four time MVP is a supernova on the court, but even more admirable off it. The founder of the LeBron James Family Foundation, “The King“ spearheads a number of charities that include his “I Promise” school, which gives underprivileged kids from his hometown of Akron, Ohio a chance to receive a solid education.

Fun Fact: In high school, LeBron was the number one football player in the state of Ohio. How good was he? Well, one scout referred to James as “a slower, taller Randy Moss.” Not bad company at all when you consider Moss and his Hall-of-Fame receiving career.

MLB - Jose Bautista

Bautista, who went from an unknown journeyman to a power hitting all-star, was a fan favourite in Toronto for both his flamboyant personality and monster home runs. One special Bautista memory I have is going to Buffalo to watch the Bisons, the Blue Jays triple A affiliate. Bautista was down on the farm recovering from a hyper-extended toe and it was definitely cool getting the chance to see him in a more intimate ballpark than the 53,000 seat Rogers Centre. (But I still didn’t get Jose to sign my souvenir ball - and for more on the frustration of hunting down baseball autographs, check out my dad’s new blog.)

Fun Fact: Although he eventually slugged 377 home runs during his MLB career,“Joey Bats” started off pretty slow. In fact, Bautista didn’t hit his first big league home run until the 80th game of his third season.

So, there you have it. My “Big Four” from the leading four sports leagues in North America. They’re all great players with their own unique skills and stories. When you’re in that 12,13 and 14-year old age bracket, we all have heroes.

But one of the most interesting things about sports?

I can guarantee that everybody’s “Big Four” would be different, which leads to a lot of passion, discussion and even some (hopefully) fun debates.

So, who’s on your “Big Four” list?

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