This week, the Dakota Jackalopes held a “Faith Day” celebration, which is a fairly common occurrence in the SHL and in other leagues. This particular celebration, however, was anything but common, thanks to C Harvey Bellmore. The quirky center, who has a reputation as a jokester, crashed the ceremony and put on a performance that startled and angered the fans and left the team scrambling to apologize and make amends.
Tuesday’s ceremony during the Jackalopes’ game against the Michigan Gray Wolves initially unfolded according to plan. A local gospel choir sang the national anthem and performed a concert after the game. The Jackalopes’ team chaplain led several players and the hundreds of fans in attendance in a prayer circle.
The highlight of the event came when several Dakota players stepped up to talk about their belief and how it helps them in their athletic careers. Ds Rusty Anderson and Terry Hendricks and netminder Christien Adamsson all gave their testimony and talked about how their faith in Jesus Christ strengthened their lives on and off the ice. Their speeches were received warmly by the fans, with frequent applause and several shouted “amens.”
Once the other players had said their piece, Bellmore stepped forward and asked to speak. He had not been scheduled to appear, but the emcee, Lutheran pastor Mark Emerlein, invited him to come forward.
Bellmore began by saying, “I’ve never really talked about my faith before, but I felt like this was the right time for me to do it. My father was a gambler and my mother was a bartender, so it’s fair to say that Satan was my nanny.” Some fans murmured agreement. “But that’s all changed. Now, the source of all my strength, my courage, everything that makes me the man I am today comes from right here.” At this point, Bellmore reached into his pocket. The fans assumed he was pulling out a Bible, but what he actually withdrew was a hip flask. He took a hearty swig as the fans began buzzing with confusion.
“That’s right, folks, my religion is booze!” Bellmore shouted. “Whenever I run into a rough patch in my life, or when I need a little something extra to get the winning goal or go after that fine-looking chick in the bar… I reach for the bottle! That’s all the faith I need!”
The center continued, “Let me tell you what else I believe.” Bellmore then launched into Crash Davis’ famous (and obscene) speech from the movie Bull Durham. When he got to the part about “long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days,” Emerlein and Anderson escorted him away as the fans booed.
GM Paul Mindegaard apologized profusely to the fans, many of whom called or emailed the Jackalopes front office to express their displeasure. “Obviously, the point of Faith Day is to celebrate faith and belief, not to ridicule it,” said Mindegaard. “On behalf of the organization, I apologize to everyone who was there and all our fans who believe. Harvey Bellmore likes to make jokes, but this one was over the line, and he knows that.” In addition, the team suspended him for their next game against the Saskatchewan Shockers.
When asked if he was offended by Bellmore’s antics, Anderson laughed. “Nah, I get it. Harvey’s Harvey,” said the Dakota blueliner. “He’s a total screwball. Coo-coo bananas, you know? He didn’t mean anything by it. But yeah, he really ruffled some feathers out there. Hoo boy.”
Some speculated that Bellmore’s stunt was an attempt to get the rebuilding Jackalopes to trade him. Bellmore denied this, and sounded a mildly penitent note after the suspension was announced. “They told me I was a bad boy, and that I made a lot of people mad,” said the center. “And I feel bad about that, I really do. I wasn’t trying to make fun of anyone’s beliefs.”
He then went on to question the focus of the event. “But I thought that Faith Day was missing some other perspectives. I mean, all the people who talked were Christians. They’re not the only ones with faith, right? I mean, nobody got up and talked about how being Jewish or Muslim or whatever made them better at sports. So I thought I’d come in with a different opinion. But I realize now it was dumb. They told me it was dumb, which makes sense, because I’m dumb. So don’t listen to me, okay?”