This Day in Baseball: Pop Culture Edition

A happy Friday readers! Today, we will take a detour into the world of pop culture. On this day in 1992, The Simpsons aired one of my all-time favorite episodes, “Homer at the Bat.”  This was The Simpsons first wildly successful episode – on that night, the relative newcomer to Sunday night prime time took down The Cosby Show and the Winter Olympics.

If you could not tell by the title, this is an episode all about baseball – or to be more accurate, work league softball. Loveable loser Homer Simpson’s boss, Montgomery Burns had grown tired of seeing his Springfield Nuclear Power Plant company softball team fail. They had lost 28 of 30 games the previous season after all. The fortunes of the team turn when Homer begins bashing home runs with his Wonder Bat, carved from the branch of a lightening struck tree of course (no way that’s a nod to The Natural, right?).

As the season goes on, Homer’s Springfield team finds itself up against the team from Shelbyville for the league pennant. Burns, being a sporting man, agrees to a bet of $1 million with the owner of the Shelbyville power plant.  That’s when the fun starts.

Burns, becoming increasingly unsure of his team’s chances, sends his faithful manservant Smithers on a quest to round up a few professional baseball players to serve as ringers. When he discovers that Cap Anson and Honus Wagner have unfortunately passed on into the great beyond, he is forced to turn to recruiting some of the biggest names in the modern game.

This was one of the first Simpsons episodes to heavily lean on guest stars, and it truly was an All-Star lineup – Ozzie Smith, Ken Griffey Jr, Don Mattingly and Jose Canseco were just a few of the names to lend their voices to the episode.  Of course, hijinks ensue the moment the players set foot in Springfield.

The result – an iconic episode of one of the country’s longest running programs and a satirical look at the game of baseball.  Throughout, the writers of the show poke fun at PED use, player salaries and bad behavior, and managing by the numbers – all issues that would rise to the forefront of baseball later in the Nineties.

You can view the full episode here.

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