The Baseball Hall of Fame will honor The Simpsons this May in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the landmark “Homer at the Bat” episode.
This Monday marked the silver anniversary of “Homer at the Bat,” one of the best episodes of The Simpsons in the series’ long run. In recognition of this transcendent episode, Cooperstown will honorThe Simpsons with a roundtable discussion featuring the show’s executive producers, director, story editor and casting director.
Most prominent on the panel, however, will be Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Ozzie Smith, two of Montgomery Burns’s ringers on the all-star softball lineup for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.
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If you’re reading this, you’ve probably seen the seminal episode at least a half dozen times. Back in February of 1992, The Simpsons was hitting its stride in its third season. “Homer at the Bat” was the first episode of the series to beat The Cosby Show in the ratings, scoring a monster 15.9 rating and 23 percent share.
In an attempt to win a million-dollar bet with the owner of a neighboring power plant, Mr. Burns wanted to recruit ballplayers from his childhood. As his assistant Mr. Smithers pointed out, all of those players (such as Honus Wagner, Cap Anson and Nap Lajoie) were all dead. Smithers correctly pointed out that Jim Creighton, a pre-MLB superstar, had been dead for 130 years.
Burns sent Smithers on a mission to recruit current superstars, and because this is a cartoon world, Smithers succeeds. Joining Boggs and Smith were Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey, Jr., Steve Sax, Jose Canseco, Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry and Mike Scioscia. Various circumstances prevent eight out of the nine players from ultimately participating in the rivalry game against Shelbyville. The lone survivor is Strawberry, who happens to occupy the same position (right field) as one Homer Simpson.
In the bottom of the ninth the score is tied with the bases loaded, two outs, and Strawberry due up. In a classic case of over-managing with a southpaw on the mound, Burns pulls Strawberry (a left-handed hitter) in favor of Homer (a right-handed hitter) to “play the percentages.” Homer ends up the hero when the first pitch plunks him in the head and he falls unconscious, resulting in the game-winning RBI.
While the MLB all-stars deservedly drew headlines for their cartoon turns, perhaps the best guest spot goes to Terry Cashman, who performed the song “Talkin’ Softball” (a parody of his song “Talkin’ Baseball”) over the credits. Even 25 years later, we’re still talkin’ Homer, Ozzie and the Straw. So is Cooperstown.