'The Simpsons': A Hall Of Fame Episode Is 30 Years Old
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Homer Jay Simpson is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Let that mind-boggler sink in as we wait for actual baseball in 2022. Thirty years ago, the iconic ‘Homer at the Bat’ episode aired, featuring just about every actual baseball All-Star in existence, all recruited by Mr. Burns to kick butt for the Springfield Nuclear Plant softball team.
Since we cannot enjoy actual baseball games until labor agreements are hammered out, let’s enjoy a look back at some of our Springfield favorites who, in true Simpsons fashion, all went down via some tragic, animated mishap.
Catcher Mike Scioscia. Cartoon Scioscia was thrilled to leave the drudgery of baseball to take a job at an actual nuclear power plant. Unfortunately, his enthusiasm for the new gig leaves him unable to move due to acute radiation poisoning.
Dodgers star Scioscia got the gig when fellow catcher Carlton Fisk turned down the show. “When they asked, I said, ‘Oh, my, God, yes,’” Scioscia told The Athletic. “The decision took a half-second.”
Pitcher Roger Clemens. Unfortunately for Springfield, Clemens was unable to pitch after the team hypnotist convinced the Red Sox hurler that he was a chicken. Simpsons writer and Sox fan Jeff Martin was tasked with asking Clemens to cluck. “I was half expecting him to say, ‘What? No! Do you know who I am?’ but without skipping a beat he clucked like a chicken.”
Second baseman Steve Sax. The Dodger infielder falls in love with Springfield and starts checking out houses for post-baseball retirement. But that ends when Springfield cops pull Sax over for a traffic violation and eventually charge him with every unsolved crime in the books.
And because people believe everything they see in cartoons, Sax “had somebody actually ask me if I was arrested for a murder in New York City.”
Shortstop Ozzie Smith. The Wizard of Oz decides to check out the Springfield Mystery Spot and falls into another dimension, snapping photos of Einstein equations as he hurtles through sci-fi limbo.
“Ozzie Smith was known for being a really snappy dresser so we tried to put him in the loudest Hawaiian shirt we could possibly design. And black socks with shorts,” says director Jim Reardon. “You take a chance when you’re a guest star on The Simpsons.”
Left fielder Jose Canseco. The Juiced outfielder rescheduled one recording session, showed up late for another, then asked for a rewrite when his character had a fling with Edna Krabapple. The writers eventually had Canseco saving every baby, pet, and appliance from a burning building. He’s the only player without fond memories of his Simpsons experience.
“I always hope people think (doing a cameo) will be fun,” says producer Bonnie Pietila. “And if that’s not their approach, maybe they should say, ‘No thank you.’”
Center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. One word: Gigantism.
Right fielder Darryl Strawberry. One of the show’s best gags wasn’t in the original script when Strawberry recorded his lines. Writers decided it would be funny for Bart and Lisa to heckle the Mets star in the same fashion as other opposing fans, taunting him with a sing-song Daaaaar-ryl, Daaaaar-ryl.
And to prove ballplayers are human too, we get Strawberry’s reaction:
All of which led to Homer’s unlikely induction into the Hall. “In Cooperstown, we salute baseball’s greatest contributors,” said Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. “‘Homer at the Bat’ remains as popular today as when the episode aired in 1992. Baseball is recognized as our National Pastime due to its wide intersection with American culture … The Simpsons is a perfect example of that connection to Americana.”
Take us out, softball singer.
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Top image: Gracie Films