The Simpsons episode "Homer at the Bat" first aired February 20, 1992. It's one of the best episodes of probably my all-time favorite show. In the off-chance you don't have it near-memorized, it's well worth the couple bucks to watch. I had originally planned to do this over a week, but couldn't cram it all in. So over a fortnight (a fancy word for "2 weeks" which I learned from-- you guessed it-- The Simpsons), we're celebrating the show by spotlighting the big leaguers who guested in "Homer at the Bat" and other episodes.
before The Simpsons appearance
Homer at the Bat
Darryl is the only ringer on the show who doesn't succumb to a random misfortune that prevents him from playing in the big softball game. Instead, Mr. Burns employs some "righty-lefty" managerial strategy near the end of the game and pinch-hits for him with Homer. Somewhat of Homer's nemesis in the episode, Darryl might have the most lines and screen time of any of the guest stars.
Homer: You play right field.
Homer: I play right field, too.
Homer: Well, are you better than me?
Darryl: Well, I never met you... but... Yes.
after The Simpsons appearance
While I wouldn't say there was a "Simpsons curse" like the "Sports Illustrated cover curse" or "Madden video game cover curse", some of the players featured in the episode definitely saw their careers nosedive shortly thereafter. Steve Sax was pretty much instantly washed up, Mike Scioscia only played one more season, and Darryl Strawberry saw the second half of his once-brilliant career plagued by injuries and other issues. He would not stay healthy for a full season again, but he managed to stick around several more years, even picking up three more WS rings with the late 90s dynasty Yankees, to go with his '86 Mets Championship. But apart from hitting 24 homers in 1998, and batting .327 in limited action during his last hurrah in '99, his life was pretty much a disaster after 1991. In addition to health issues, he also struggled with drug abuse and ran into legal and marital troubles.
He seems to be doing ok these days. A born-again Christian, in recent years he's done some instructing for the Mets, as well as occasional analysis for the team's telecasts.
Highlights from my Collection:
Let's recap the Springfield Nine:
Oh, I know, for fun, now let's imagine that the rival softball team, the Shelbyville Nuclear Power Plant, also scored some ringers. So who else was hot going into the 1992 season that you felt could/should have been in the show? Here's my starting lineup of leftovers:
1st = Cecil Fielder
2nd = Ryne Sandberg
short = Cal Ripken
3rd = Terry Pendleton
right = Tony Gwynn
center = Rickey Henderson (cheating a bit here since Rickey usually played left, but some center too.)
left = Barry Bonds
catcher = Carlton Fisk
pitcher = Nolan Ryan
I think a game in early '92 between those 2 star-packed teams would be pretty close and exciting. Feel free to rifle off any other deserving names in the comments.
Here's the wikipedia for the 1991 All-Star Game. Lots of overlap with the Simpsons episode, as you could imagine.
Well, that's it for the ballplayers from Homer at the Bat. Now it's time for a break here at the Breakdown while I unpack box beyond box of stuff and get my new house organized. But the Simpsons/Baseball celebration will continue before you know it as we move on to other episodes with MLB guys shortly.
Thanks as always for reading.
Thanks as always for reading.