What do you do when you’re not filming one of the nation’s most popular shows? You play softball. Well, at least that’s what the cast of Happy Days did.
After its premiere in 1974, Happy Days became an international hit. Fonzie became one of the most merchandised characters of the 70s. And people all over the world wanted to be a part of the Cunningham family. So, what do you do when you can’t be a part of the show but want access to the cast? You challenge them to a softball game. We’re not sure if a challenge is exactly what inspired the cast to start a team. But we do know that the Happy Days softball team was a real thing. They even traveled around the world to play. During an interview, Marion Ross, who played Marion Cunningham on the show talked about the team.
“And you know, we had a softball team that would play before big league games, all over the United States. And then at one point, we were invited to go to Europe. We went to Germany and played softball with the U.S. infantry, which was incredible,” said Ross.
Ross added that, after filming the last episode of the show, the entire cast got on a plane to go play softball in Okinawa with the U.S. Infantry.
Fonzie From Happy Days Was Not a Good Softball Player
So, what positions did the Happy Days family play? During the same interview, Ross revealed each castmates secret softball talents.
“I played ‘rover.’ Like, ‘Get over there, Marion! Now get over there!'” she said with a laugh. “But I could hit, and then I would then run with my arms raised up, and because they didn’t want to hit that fine old lady, they would overthrow first base. That’s how I got on.”
Ross even gave the inside scoop on the team’s all-stars.
“Donny and Anson were terrific. Ron Howard, terrific…The other boys were very good ballplayers,” she said.
However, there was one famous actor who wasn’t so great.
“Now Henry, he’s a New York City boy, he had never played softball,” said Ross. “So they said, ‘Don’t worry, Henry, we’ll coach you to be the pitcher. You don’t have to do any running, you don’t have to do any fielding.'”
The Fonz may not have been the world’s best softball player, but he certainly made up for any softball deficiencies with his waterskiing skills. In fact, during the same interview, Ross said that Fonzie‘s famous “jump the shark” Happy Days episode was inspired by Henry Winkler‘s knack for water-skiing.
“Ohh, that jump-the-shark episode was terrific! We had discovered that Henry was very good at waterskiing, so that was one of the reasons why it came to be,” said Ross. “I forget how we shot it, though, because we couldn’t risk the Fonz… But you catch him mid-air, over the shark cage, and then it said ‘To Be Continued.'”