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Sportsmaster (DC Comics Golden Age)

Sportsmaster


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Sportsmaster is a DC Comics super-villain who appeared during the late Golden Age , in 1947. He’s primarily a Green Lantern villain, going up against an ultra-powerful weapon with tricked-out sports equipment.

Most of his appearances actually took place during the Silver Age . That occurred after the 1940s DC material was brought back as Earth-2.

You can find additional material germane to Sportsmaster in our Paula Brooks profiles.


Background

  • Real Name: “Crusher” Crock.
  • Other Aliases: Sportsman.
  • Marital Status: Married.
  • Known Relatives: Paula Brooks (aka the Huntress, aka Tigress, aka Paula Crock, wife), Artemis Crock (aka Tigress, daughter).
  • Group Affiliation: Occasional leader of his own criminal crew, Crime Syndicate of Sports, Injustice Society of the World, “Mr. and Mrs. Menace”.
  • Base Of Operations: Possibly Zandia. The clashes with Green Lantern mostly took place in a thinly-veiled New York City, later retconned as Gotham City.
  • Height: 6’2” Weight: 197 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Red


Powers and Abilities

Crock is an impressive athlete. By 1940s standards, he’s also a huge and very muscular man.

He has a endless répertoire of physical skills. If a technique is part of an established sport, even an obscure one, he can almost certainly execute it with superior skill, precision and power.

Sportsmaster can at the very least approach world records in all disciplines, and was seen actually breaking world records, for instance in hammer throwing. He could easily be a mega-star sportsman – he just doesn’t want to.

He’s also a proficient gadgeteer . His stuff is not particularly powerful, but he can work with a lot of different skills (chemistry, electronics, demolitions, automata, etc.) – though he will always adopt a sportive theme to his gadgets.

Other assets

Like his wife, he somehow always had access to ample resources and customised bases of operations. Presumably crime does pay. Either that or he was wealthy to start with, like most 1940s characters.

Sportsmaster on flying skis, on a white background

Several incidents had the Sportsmaster produce equipment and projectile from seemingly nowhere. This is a genre thing – everybody could do that back then and it wasn’t supposed to be remarkable.

Since it’s recurrent he’s been given an Expertise in designing, building and deploying collapsible equipment so his Gadget can include that feature at little cost, but it was artistic licence in the stories and not an important part of the action or character.


History

Back during the 1940s, “Crusher” Crock was an incredible athlete. He was able to play any sport on the planet like a world champion. Among many other disciplines he was a formidable player in ice hockey, baseball and gridiron football. He was also famous as a tennis player, a skier, etc. and his style was familiar to many sports fans.

However, “Crusher” played to win at any cost, and routinely injured opposing sportsmen. After he crippled a football player, he was expelled from the team and the coach had him barred from all sports. A sore loser as always, Crock assembled a gang of thuggish sportsmen.

Smooth criminal

His masked mystery team challenged the Long Island polo team to a match. Howbeit, that was actually a plot to rob the audience after gassing them to sleep using tricked-out polo balls. Green Lantern (Alan Scott) intervened, and Crock had to flee.

Sportsmaster as a fisherman erupts from a statue

Crock decided to take over the world of American sports and turn it into a racket, but Green Lantern intervened again. After escaping from a deathtrap, Scott challenged him to a fair fencing duel. Crock was apparently killed when he tried to hit the green grappler against injustice (that’s Green Lantern) in the back with an axe.

His apparent death was the real cheat, however. Crock faked his demise and soon escaped from his coffin.

(One story has a reference to Manhunter (Paul Kirk) clashing with Sportsmaster during the 1940s. However, Kirk was already dead when Sportsmaster first appeared. The most economical No-Prize Hypothesis  is that Kirk clashed with Crock while Crock was still a crooked sportsman, and never managed to prove that Crock was guilty).

The sporting spirit

Within months Sportmaster was back, robbing jewels at “Spiffany’s” with a boomerang and explosive tennis balls.

Days later he attacked an outdoors stadium, air-skiing in to grab a valuable cup and the model who was awarding it to the winners. Chased by Green Lantern, Crock had to drop the girl (and, accidentally, the cup) to distract the emerald-clad crusader.

With GL thus occupied, Sportmaster saw an opportunity to kill Alan Scott. Crock had just heard that Scott was being hospitalised, and the famous radio announcer was the only person who knew for a fact that Crock and Sportmaster were the same person.

However, Sportsmaster only found “Doiby” Dickles in the hospital room. Knowing that Alan Scott would soon discover that “Crusher” Crock was still alive, Sportsmaster kidnapped Dickles and shoved him into Crock’s empty coffin.

Scott investigated Crock’s coffin in time to save Dickles, thus winning Sportsmaster’s little game.

Clashes of the titans

Sportsmaster challenged the emerald-clad crusader anew, re-kidnapping the model from the stadium and confronting his foe to decide on the place and time of their duel. It took place at Lake Victory, near the Greek-style statue to sportsmen. In the end the Sportsmaster was knocked out by a freak ricochet from his own throwing hammer, and disappeared in the lake.

Sportsmaster and the Injustice Society

Crock laid low for a bit to let Green Lantern think he had drowned. During this time he established the identity of wealthy sportsman “Corck”, and the Crime Syndicate of Sports. This syndicate apparently was a network of insiders within the Gotham sports scene that would give him access to matches.

He then launched his blackmail scheme, sabotaging sports equipment with explosives and poison gas until the city would pay him off. Green Lantern challenged him. Of course, the Sportsmaster set up a series of crooked sports events they would compete in, in front of a packed stadium.

Despite competing without cheating, Green Lantern won – and unmasked “Corck” as the Sportsmaster. Crock was arrested.

Injustice play

Sportsmaster spent but days in prison. He was recruited by the Injustice Society, by then a brand-new organisation – which presumably means that he was broken out of jail by the Wizard.

Crock joined the 1948 roster — Wizard, Fiddler, Icicle, Huntress — for a competition where the members vied to pull off the most impressive patriotically-themed crime. The Sportsmaster stole the USS Constitution. To do so he distracted Hawkman and the guards as he affixed jet engines to Old Ironsides – then sailing away.

Sportsmaster vs. Doiby Dickles

Even with the rockets, Hawkman easily caught up with the famous ship and punched the Sportsmaster out, but the Wizard intervened and mesmerised the winged wonder (that’s Hawkman).

The Society kidnapped a stadium full of people to vote on which crime was the most impressive, but were defeated by the spectators and the Justice League. Sportsmaster was knocked out by the Atom.

Murder he carved

At some unknown point in 1948 Green Lantern and Sportsmaster clashed again. This fight is only known through a brief flashback. Sportsmaster stunned Green Lantern with a baseball bat blow and, for unknown reasons, destroyed a nearby corner store with an explosive baseball.

The shopkeeper, Seamus Sullivan, practically worshipped Green Lantern. Thus, to see him felled with a mere wooden bat and his shop destroyed was a major shock to him. Mr. Sullivan, who had an undiagnosed neurological condition that made him unstable, became psychotic.

Sullivan thus killed the Mayor of Gotham City and four other men to denounce Green Lantern as a false idol. He slashed the words “Made of Wood” on their chest as a reference to Sportsmaster’s bat.

Sportsmaster's origin

These serial murders were famous back then, though they remained unsolved for 55 years. The engraved bat with which Sportsmaster had hit Green Lantern remained in the Sullivan family for three generations.

The 1950s

Some years later the Sportsmaster was arrested by Argent operatives. Nothing else is known about this incident.

With the exception of the Argent case, the Sportsmaster vanished for more than 15 years. So did his fellow Injustice Society member the Huntress, the two being in a relationship. From the dialogue one gets the impression that they toured the world for years, spending their ill-gotten gains and eventually marrying.

During the mid-1960s, with the return of costumed adventurers in the US, they decided to get back home and challenge their old foes. The criminal couple dubbed this team “Mr. and Mrs. Menace”, though they still went by Sportsmaster and the Huntress.

Tag team

The Sportsmaster went solo to steal a valuable cup. Disguised as a discus-thrower statue he had himself shipped near the cup, along with other fake statues. After the Sportsmaster produced a special fishing rod with which he snatched the cup, his trick statues exploded to keep the guards occupied, and he flew away on rocket skis.

The guards being from the Larry Lance Detective Agency, this led to a clash with the Black Canary.

Meanwhile the Huntress stalked and bagged Wildcat. However, when her husband met up with her she stumbled upon Starman. Black Canary then came in, hot on Sportsmaster’s trail. ”Mr. and Mrs. Menace” briefly beat back the newcomers, but had to retreat.

Sportsmaster throws a ski at Starman

Thrilled to clash with super-heroes again, the couple then attacked a golf tournament on a flying platform. The Sportmaster knocked out all competitors with spectacular golf shots so they could steal the prize. Starman and Black Canary defeated Sportsmaster and the Huntress despite the Huntress’s traps.

While they soon escaped, the Sportsmaster and the Huntress did not appear again for ten years. During that time they had a daughter, Artemis Crock. They raised her to become a super-villain upholding the traditions of both her parents.

Return of the Injustice Society

The Injustice Society re-formed and was active during the mid-1970s. This time, the other members were Icicle, the Shade, the Gambler and of course the Wizard.

Few of their adventures were chronicled. The one that was — involving the arrival of writer Cary Bates , turned evil and superpowered, and opposed by writer Elliot S! Maggin  — probably wasn’t part of anything approaching continuity, at least post-Crisis.

Sportsmaster and the Tigress

The Huntress and Sportsmaster (or rather their Earth-1 version, see the Huntress’s profile for more) consolidated their wealth by roaming abroad and stealing treasures. However, they ran into a problem. A South American pyramid lost in the jungle held a particularly valuable gemstone, but “Mr. and Mrs. Menace” didn’t want to deal with the murderous traps therein.

They captured Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) and Robin (Richard Grayson) to have them do the work.

The Sportsmaster organised a series of duels between Robin and Batgirl (including a Ben Hur-style chariot race, an archery competition and a fencing duel) to disguise the reason why he and his wife wanted them to enter the pyramid. However, Batgirl and Robin realised what the villains’ plan was and, using the gemstone as a lure, captured them.

Strange sports stories, part 1

On Earth-2, at an unknown date (late 1960s ?) the Sportsmaster set up a sting operation to have his revenge against the Harlequin (Molly Maynne) for betraying the Injustice Society ages before.

As an anonymous sponsor, he hired Harlequin and a crew of thugs to kidnap journalist Lois Lane. The Sportsmaster then revealed himself and stepped in to gun down Harlequin with a starter pistol loaded with actual bullets.

However, Maynne was actually an undercover police operative, and a disguised Superman was present as her backup. Sportsmaster was easily stopped by Superman.

Strange sports stories, part 2

In 1976, the Huntress wanted to switch sides since she was tired of losing. To prove to his wife that villains could win, Sportsmaster suggested a baseball match between heroes and villains. Using a remote observation and teleportation machine (!), the couple kidnapped many heroes and villains and explained how the match would take place in Crandall Stadium.

The stadium was filled with hostages to force the heroes to play. Since the Huntress was strongly considering fighting on the side of angels again, she played centre field with the heroes. Her husband was the opposition’s pitcher.

The match — played without powers — was tied by the eighth innings. The Sportsmaster then had his team start cheating so his wife wouldn’t leave him to become a heroine. The heroes started using their powers too, and eventually won (11-10) then arrested the villains. What happened next is unknown.

Sportsmaster vs. Green Lantern

In 1978, on Earth-2, Thorn (Rose Canton) hired the Sportsmaster and Huntress to assist her in battling the Justice Society. They immediately agreed, since it meant for Sportsmaster a chance to fight the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott) whereas Huntress could take a stab at the new Huntress (Helena Wayne) for taking her name.

Sportsmaster was eventually stopped by JSA member Power Girl.

Post-Crisis

At some point during the 1980s, Sportsmaster and the Huntress were arrested. They spent several years in prison. By 1987 their teenage daughter Artemis allied herself with the Wizard, joining a new version of the Injustice Society called Injustice, Unlimited.

The Wizard’s team forced the Global Guardians and Infinity, Inc. to do their bidding by taking hostages. Artemis proceeded with what had been her plan all along. She and reluctant heroic helpers Rising Sun and Nuklon bust her parents out of prison on the night before their re-trial.

The Injustice Society by George Perez

The Huntress and Sportsmaster joined the Wizard’s plot, but Infinity, Inc. finally turned the tables on them. The Crock family decided to flee, and apparently evaded pursuit. As far as can be determined they established themselves in the country of Zandia, where the former Mr. and Mrs. Menace retired with their ill-gotten gains.

Artemis carried on with the familial tradition. She later took the name “Tigress” – which her mother had borne in her youth.

Retired

Sportsmaster kept in touch with the Wizard and other Injustice Society veterans, such as the Gambler. But this was chiefly to play all-night poker games and the like.

During one such game, Amos Fortune convinced Sportsmaster and the Wizard to join him in a cruel revenge plot against the Justice Society. They kidnapped members and drugged them to fight each other in front of a bloodthirsty public. Sportsmaster acted as a ref of sorts.

The plot was wrecked by Gypsy and Vixen, and Amos’s associates fled before the entire JSA came to their senses.

(This story presents a number of continuity problems. It is dubious whether it can be considered in-continuity.)

Two men are known to have taken on the Sportsmaster identity after Crock retired in 1987. The first was called Victor Gover, and used a very different look. The second, name unknown, had a uniform closer to the original Sportsmaster’s but was killed during a gang war.


Description

The one constant of the Sportsmaster costume is the distinctive mask. The rest is sports clothing matching whichever athletic speciality he’s using to perform his crime.


Personality

The Sportsmaster is extremely competitive. He makes a big show of being a star sportsman who loves no-hold-barrels challenges and has a true champion’s spirit.

Though he’s obviously cheating, he keeps spinning facts and denying it. For instance he’s not carrying an hostage over his shoulder as a human shield, he just brought her along so he could immediately hand her over to the hero if his opponent wins.

Sportsmaster in a baseball getup

It is not obvious whether this spin is sarcasm or denial. It seems to be denial, since the Sportsmaster will almost reflexively accept any physical challenge or competition to prove that he’s the better man.

Apparently he deeply loves to compete, but is incapable of facing losing and handles the dissonance by persuading himself that he’s not really cheating to win at all costs.

Macho macho man

As hinted by his name, “Crusher” is an overbearing, macho bully – boastful and domineering. He lives to crushes his opponents, see his enemies driven before him, etc.. It’s also easier to justify his constant cheating while clashing with superhumans – he’s just evening the odds, after all.

Sportsmaster vs. the JSA

Though his schtick is sports-style competition, Sportsmaster is a Thrill of Adventure man and is interested in risk and battle in general. In his youth he’d grow bored without risk, and would occasionally take unnecessary chances — such as setting a meeting with Green Lantern right in front of a police station — just for the rush and to look tough.

In some stories he makes a number of sports-related puns and references, but this is more a late Silver Age genre convention than a character trait.


Quotes

“I’m the greatest natural athlete in the world ! I play any sport and I play to win ! I’m tops… they ought to build a monument to me !”

“They barred me from all sports, blast them ! Okay – okay ! There must be others, like me — guys who refuse to lose — don’t care how they win ! I’ll get ’em !”

(While threatening Doiby with a gun) “Try to stop me – and your pudgy pal becomes a lead mine !”

Hostage, about a drowning Green Lantern: “You’re not going to leave him to die !”
Sportsmaster: “Why not ? I play for keeps ! The loser loses everything ! And Green Lantern lost !”

“Remember, in any kind of contest – don’t sell the Sportsmaster short !”

“Ah ah ! I haven’t had so much fun since Green Lantern and I used to tangle in our old frantic battles ! And I’m still full of the old mustard !”

“Got it ! A hundred thousand prize money that should be mine anyhow — because I’m the world’s greatest golfer !”

“Play ball, sports fans — it’s that time of the year again — and to celebrate I’m going to allow myself to throw out the first pitch !” (throws explosive softball)


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Sportsmaster – in his prime

Dex: 08 Str: 04 Bod: 06 Motivation: Thrill/Competition
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Criminal
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 007
Init: 020 HP: 040

Skills:
Accuracy (Sports techniques)*: 08, Acrobatics: 06, Animals handling (Riding): 08, Artist (Sculptor): 04, Gadgetry: 04, Martial Artist: 08, Thief: 08, Vehicles: 06, Weaponry: 08

Advantages:
Expertise (Sports-themed Gadgets, Collapsible equipment), Headquarters (Expansive), Lightning Reflexes, Schtick (Make do-Equipment (Sports equipment used as weapons)), Scholar (Sports lore).

Connections:
Underworld (Low), Corrupt sportsmen and sports workers in the US (Low), Injustice Society (Low).

Drawbacks:
CIA toward Winning physical competitions by any means.

Equipment:
Sportsmaster prefers to use different gadgets for each of his outings and thus doesn’t have fixed Equipment.


The whole wide world of sports

The Sportsmaster loves crafting sports-related gadgets, and always has some sports-related gimmicks ready for his opponents. Here’s a list of what he has used ; unless otherwise specified assume 6 APs in the main Power or Attribute of the Gadget :

  • Polo balls, soccer balls, hockey pucks, etc. filled with Knockout Gas.
  • Polo club, croquet mallet, etc. – chiefly notable for being made of wood and thus able to ignore Green Lantern’s defences. Those have a EV of 05, being specially weighted and reinforced.
  • Shotput ball, hockey puck, etc. used as a throwing weapons – the ones he builds himself have an EV of 05.
  • Little mechanical baseball players filled with explosives (EV 08, but only against large immobile targets such as walls – they are automatons that walk to a wall, ready their bat, slug and explode).
  • Flying boomerangs – probably remote-controlled and with an onboard camera, since it followed an impossibly precise trajectory. This Gadget was thrown into a department store through an open window, snatching a pearl necklace from somebody’s hands then flying back to Sportsmaster. It had Flight: 04 and Miniaturisation: 02.
  • Exploding tennis ball, baseball, lacrosse ball, etc. sometimes delivered at a long range using a racket, a bat, etc. — or even a sports hat (like a golfer’s “brassie beanie”) modified to be usable as an explosive throwing weapon. Larger projectiles — for instance, a soccer ball — can hold more explosives and could have Bomb: 09 or even 10.
  • Rocket skis allowing for Flight. That one was used regularly. They can also be thrown as blunt javelins, with an EV of 06 thanks to the jet engine. An early model “just” had Gliding: 01, and was used to ski in the air while towed by an aircraft, much like water-skiing.
  • Another early variant were self-propelled water skis (Swimming (Surface only): 06). By the 1960s the skis were fitted with a remote control, to recover them after they had to be ditched, and had full Flight.
  • Hammer w/elastic line. This hammer is attached to a line secured to Crusher’s wrist, and spun before it is thrown. This is an EV 06 thrown weapon. Sportsmaster will try to do a Blindside Attack by purposefully missing by an inch, then yanking the weapon back using the elastic line so it hits its target from behind.
  • Suction cup boots and gloves. These have but Cling: 03, being built without the benefit of his first Expertise since they’re not considered to be proper sports equipment. They are used to quickly climb sheer surfaces.
  • Dummy with pre-recorded voice messages, usually used as a decoy by simulating a person in distress.
  • Man-portable jet engines that can be affixed to almost any boat to give it Swimming (Surface only): 06. Sportmaster’s first Expertise applies since it’s basically cheating at sailing.
  • Tricked-out life-sized statues of sportsmen, which explode in a shower of non-lethal projectiles matching their sport (tennis balls for a tennis player, soccer balls for a soccer player, etc.) – treat as Aura of Pain: 05. Sportsmaster also used a special marmorean wax to disguise himself as one such statue.
    Somehow he can pack a physically impossible equipment whilst disguised as a statue, and the trick statues hold an impossible amount of projectiles.
  • Reinforced fishing rods allowing him to catch items about 20 metres away with a perfect cast.
  • Spear-like projectile (such as a golfing cup-pole) that is actually a guided missile with an high explosive warhead [DEX 06 BODY 01, Flight: 06, EV (Scattershot) 06, Note: has enough fuel to fly for five Phases, will keep chasing and attacking its target during those].
  • Cannon disguised as a baseball bat. It shoots a baseball at supersonic speeds and is fired from the shoulder like a rifle [BODY 01, Projectile weapon: 06, Ammo: 03, R#02].
  • Rocket-powered bat [BODY 02, EV 08, Grenade Drawback]. A bat with a jet engine in the handle, used as a projectile and particularly effective against Green Lantern (Alan Scott). Sportsmaster will usually spend HPs on the AV and EV both when using it, making it his master attack for that encounter.
  • Hang-Glider [BODY 01, Gliding: 04, Insta-Change]. This red hang-glider can be assembled in seconds from seemingly nowhere, and is surprisingly good for escaping. Sportsmaster can carry another person whilst flying it.
  • Energy net [BODY 05, Snare: 06. This net was deployed using high-velocity rockets, which negate 2 CSes of OV bonuses from speed (say, Flight OV sub or Superspeed OV sub). Furthermore it could reflect super-speed vibrations used to dispose of it, making Superspeed substitutions to get rid of the Snare useless]. A specialised weapon used against the Flash (Jay Garrick), which I suspect was either based on designs by his wife or entirely built by her.
  • Razor-cards [BODY 03, EV 03, Sharpness (EV): 07]. These deadly projectiles are incredibly sharp, and it is possible that they were also poisoned. Those were shaped like large playing cards (specifically, a dead man’s hand) and Sportsmaster was riding a flying platform shaped like a roulette wheel, giving the impression that he was using equipment belonging to the Gambler.
  • Parachute [BODY 02, Gliding: 02, Flight: 09. The Flight presumably has limited fuel, maybe a few minutes.] This orange parachute can be deployed from seemingly nowhere, usually to escape. There was some sort of mechanism that the Sporstmaster used to fly away at high speeds rather than glide down – presumably mini-rockets dragging the parachute and Sportsmaster up, up and away.
  • Sportsmaster can routinely procure flying platforms of all kinds and sizes, presumably via a specialised underworld contractor. Whilst flying one, he’ll occasionally wears a motorcycle helmet with a tinted visor [BODY (Hardened) 05, Shade: 02].
  • One flashback briefly shows Sportsmaster with polo equipment, riding a robot horse that apparently has Running: 06.

Team sports

Early on the Sportsmaster occasionally used costumed henchmen with an uniform loosely based on his own, because… because that’s what villains did back then.

Use the Beefy Street Thug stats for these guys, since they tend to be fit and strong. They will often have an Expertise — or perhaps APs of Accuracy — in a sport. Apparently Sportsmaster can locate disgraced professional sportsmen as needed.

Sportsmaster's henchmen chasing Green Lantern Alan Scott on motorized surfboards

Special equipment used by these guys has included :

  • Self-propelled surf board [BODY 02, Swimming (Surface only): 05]. These are usually piloted by body English, by laying prone on the board. The advantage of this is to present a smaller target and to fire a submachinegun whilst operating the vehicle without penalties to accuracy. Some such henchmen also tried ramming (EV 05), spending their few HPs on that rather than on firing their burp gun.
  • Polo equipment (incl. horses, of course) plus .45 handguns and special masks including a hidden rebreather to protect them from the sleep gas used by Sportsmaster.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: DC Universe.

Helper(s): Stats informed by Mayfair’s World at War ; Capita_Senyera.

Writeup completed on the 16th of January, 2012.

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