Saturday welcomes the Baseball Hall of Fame Classic in Cooperstown, but it also brings something a little more special to fans of pop culture. The Hall will finally induct Homer Simpson and celebrate the classic Simpsons episode “Homer At Bat.” The special induction was announced back in February as a highlight of the HoF Classic festivities, featuring a roundtable discussion with Wade Boggs, Ozzie Smith, and a number of folks behind the original episode. Homer Simpson even got a chance to address his induction in an “official” statement according to The Statesman:
In a prepared “statement,” Simpson said it is “truly an honor for me to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
“My record for eating hot dogs will never be broken. I’ve been a fan for 40 years, which is how long some games take. And I can’t wait for the ceremony in Canton, Ohio.”
Former Simpsons showrunner Al Jean spoke to Bill Francis from the Hall of Fame, sharing some interesting tidbits about the episode and how it helped to cement the show’s success during those earlier seasons:
Sam Simon, who was one of the guys who really created the series and has since passed away, said you can do a show where you can get nine big league baseball players. Just get them when they come to play the Angels or the Dodgers, but shoot for the best team you can at the time. Fantasy baseball had just started, so this was like picking your ultimate fantasy team. We were turned down by a couple of people, but we got Mike Scioscia, who was hilarious and who we’ve had back on the show [the “MoneyBART” episode first aired on Oct. 10, 2010]. Everybody we had on was great. And I directed the audio of a few of them, which was a thrill, and Jeff directed a few of them. It’s just amazing that that we pulled it off. And it [the “Homer at the Bat” episode] was the first that we aired that ever beat The Cosby Show in the ratings, which was a big deal.
He also shares a funny story about Don Mattingly disliking the idea of Steve Sax playing in a band while he had to wear an apron and wash dishes and the origins of Mr. Burns’ focus on the Marlins manager’s sideburns.
Homer got his own special hall of fame uniform image for the occasion, appearing on imagery and towels as you can see in this tweet from Jonah Keri.
As for the players involved with the episode, Wade Boggs, Ozzie Smith, and Steve Sax appeared at the event. Sax joined Mattingly in sharing some memories of the episode with ESPN, saying that more people ask about “Homer At Bat” than they do about his baseball career. Mattingly on the other hand still seems a little out of the loop on all of it:
“I didn’t know a whole lot about it, honestly. I knew it was hot and my kids watched it, but I didn’t really know that much,” he said.
He doesn’t to this day, either. He’s never seen the half-hour episode from start to finish.
“No, not the whole thing,” Mattingly said.
It’s nothing compared to Ken Griffey Jr.’s bewilderment and frustration at the time the episode aired, but it is funny that someone still hasn’t seen the classic episode.