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Berry Tramel

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Bubba wins the Masters: Ranking the best Bubbas

by Berry Tramel Modified: April 14, 2014 at 11:10 am •  Published: April 14, 2014
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Bubba Watson won the Masters on Sunday, but he's down Berry Tramel's leaderboard for best Bubbas. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Bubba Watson won the Masters on Sunday, but he's down Berry Tramel's leaderboard for best Bubbas. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Bubba Watson won the Masters on Sunday, and I was pulling for him. Even though I don’t like his name.

I’m not too partial to the Bubba name. Seems way over-used. Way over stereotyped. It’s got a redneck connotation now; when I was a kid, Bubba meant a hulk. Bubba Smith, for instance.

Now, people hand out the “Bubba” nickname for no good reason other than someone’s previous mailing address. Some people call Bill Clinton “Bubba.” Absurd.

And while it seems that a golfer named Bubba is one of the cool fly-in-the-face-of conventions, it just doesn’t seem to fit.

But who am I to stand in the way of progress? So in honor of Watson’s victory, here are my 20 most favorite Bubbas:

1. Bubba Smith: Long before the Miller Light commercials, long before he made the NFL, Bubba Smith was an American icon. A mammoth legend at Michigan State, in the days before defensive linemen were giants.

2. Bubba Blue: Forrest Gump’s best friend from the Army. Begat a chain of shrimp restaurants. I always thought “Forrest Gump” was way overrated. Except for the Vietnam part. If “Forrest Gump” had just been about the Vietnam and post-Vietnam fallout, with Forrest and Lieutenant Dan and Bubba Blue, it would rank among the great movies of all time.

3. Bubba Bean: Nowhere on any list of famous Bubbas will you find this Texas A&M halfback, circa 1970s. But there was a time when A&M wasn’t all full of itself. The Aggies in the ‘70s were the underdogs, trying to squeeze into the Texas-Arkansas dominance of the Southwest Conference. They ran the wishbone, and Bubba Bean was a dang good halfback.

4. Bubba Bexley: Fred Sanford’s friend on “Sanford & Son.” “Sanford” wasn’t as funny or as socially impactful as “All in the Family” or “M*A*S*H,” but dang, Sanford addressed race in a way we can’t begin to approach 40 years later.

5. Bubba Watson: The guy’s won two Masters. And he’s not that old. He might win two more.

6. Bubba Sawyer: The prime killer on “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” franchise of scary movies. Nicknamed Leatherface. Interesting that a character with a nickname needs another nickname. I actually never saw these films – I’m not into scary movies –  but the title packs a punch. Texas chainsaw massacre. Three powerful words.

7. Bubba Paris: The talkative and friendly offensive tackle from the 49er glory days is near and dear to our hearts, having sent his twin daughters to OU to play some hoops.

8. Bubba Skinner: One of Chief Gillespie’s officers in the television version of “In the Heat of the Night.” I wasn’t that big a fan of the TV show, but man, what a movie.

9. Bubba Wells: Played a year in the NBA, making two starts for the 1997-98 Mavericks, after starring at Austin Peay. Basketball and Bubbas are almost as startling as golf and Bubbas.

10. Bubba Higgins: A character on “Mama’s Family,” the show from the ‘70s that wasn’t all that great. But it spun off from “The Carol Burnett Show,” and any association with “The Carol Burnett Show” is golden. You young people have no idea how good Carol Burnett’s show was in the 1970s. Funny bit after funny bit. Sorry, Generation X, but “The Carol Burnett Show” blows “Saturday Night Live” out of the water.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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