Many of us have a special day or two that come around every year and outweigh every other holiday, birthday, anniversary or what have you. For baseball fans, one of those days is Opening Day of the regular season. Finally, no more waiting through months of trades and Spring Training games. Of course, it also means that we might catch some of our favorite players make appearances in big movies and TV shows. Baseball is America’s favorite pastime after all, and fans are always eager for another reason to cheer on their teams.
Much like their performances on the field, All-Star players and World Series winners often steal the show on-screen. From brief cameos to recurring roles and everything in between, here are 15 Strange Times Baseball Players Appeared In Movies and TV Shows.
15. Clayton Kershaw in New Girl (S3 EP14)
As it stands, the “Prince” episode of New Girl is one of the best, if not the best, of the series. First of all, Prince was in it. You can’t ask for a bigger superstar to grace the screen, especially one that was famously reclusive. He rocked in what would be one of the last performances of his life. Second, it was the first time Nick told Jess he loved her, which gets the cogs in the drama machine turning. Last, but not least, star pitcher for the Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw, had a brief appearance after a classic Jess freak-out.
The three-time National League Cy Young Award Winner happened to be in the crowd when Jess screamed (to no one in particular), “I love you!” He turned and said, “I love you, too!“, introducing himself to Jess who had no idea who he was. Kersh couldn’t handle that curve and sulked back into the crowd.
14. Bill Buckner in Curb Your Enthusiasm (S8 EP9)
You’d be hard pressed to find a more famous error than the one Bill Buckner committed in game six of the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets. The Red Sox’ first baseman allowed a routine ground ball to roll between his legs that would lead to the Mets winning the World Series. In this episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David, known for taking shots at his guest stars, accidentally befriends Buckner and has to endure obscenities shouted at them by angry Red Sox fans on the streets. Buckner also misses a tossed baseball that was signed by Mookie Wilson. Ouch.
All is kind of well in the end, depending on how you look at it. Buckner is an onlooker of a burning building when Larry walks by to see what’s going on. A lady tosses her baby to firefighters below, but it bounces out of their blanket and is saved by a diving Buckner.
13. Wade Boggs in Cheers (S6 EP23)
Wade Boggs is one of those ball players that always has people talking about him. Whether it’s for his strict superstitions, riding on a police horse or making a WWE appearance, Boggs has stayed in the American spotlight to this very day. The Red Sox Hall of Fame third baseman most recently made an appearance on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but his history with television goes back to the 80’s when he was part of a prank on a very famous episode of Cheers.
The Cheers gang was in the middle of a feud with Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern, a bar that they had a series of ridiculous competitions with. A feigned surrender by Gary’s has Wade Boggs approach Cheers for some autographs. They don’t believe it’s the real Boggs and chase him into the streets, tearing his pants off in the process.
12. Adrian Gonzalez on Angie Tribeca (S1 EP6)
When it comes to absurd comedies on the air today, Angie Tribeca might be one that’s flying under your radar. In this particular episode, the police raid a house and ignore several serious crimes in progress because they’re looking for a ferret (illegal in California). They finally find the animal under some floorboards and haul their man down to the station, leaving the other criminals in the house to their business. Yeah, that’s the kind of material the show slings your way.
After bringing the suspect in for questioning, Angie and Jay bombard him with a number of baseball sayings that have him flustered. In the middle of everything, the suspect turns and sees Dodgers’ first baseman Adrian Gonzalez standing in the corner. His screen time is limited as he suggests that “We could always use another power hitter” before disappearing, but it was very unexpected and hilarious.
11. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in Entourage (S8 EP7)
Turtle worked hard in the last couple seasons of Entourage, there’s no doubt about it. How much of his success is his own is up for debate, but he did have his boots on the ground. So when it came time to help a client get a lease for a restaurant in Los Angeles, Turtle is forced to exhaust every option to make it happen. In an act of desperation, he reaches out to some contacts in professional sports including the Yankees’ first baseman, Mark Teixeira.
Though he’s unable to get any money out of Teixeira, he receives a seemingly random phone call from none other than baseball great, Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod tells Turtle to stop bothering “Tex” and to dip into his own funds from his company that just went public, unbeknownst to Turtle. It’s all good in the end thanks in part to the Yankees’ third baseman.
10. Mike Piazza and Others in Married With Children (S9 EP11)
Polk High’s legendary running back who scored four touchdowns in a single game isn’t the only athlete to walk the set of Married With Children. When Al and the rest of NO MA’AM become concerned over a baseball strike, they take matters into their own hands. Along with several other teams owned by “nudie” bars across the nation, they start a league in an attempt to bring America’s game back to anxious fans everywhere.
In the meantime, all the real baseball players have taken odd jobs to make ends meet. Mike Piazza and Dave Winfield are part of Joe Morgan’s camera crew, Frank Thomas spins newspapers as a television effect, Bret Saberhagen fills in for Bobby Bonilla as a pizza delivery man and Danny Tartabull works in mall security. Not exactly the most glamorous of jobs, but none of them seemed to be able to perform their basic job functions adequately.
9. Bob Uecker in Major League (1989)
There aren’t a whole lot of people out there who have had as decorated a career as Bob Uecker. Most fans will know Uecker from his 47 seasons as the Milwaukee Brewers’ radio broadcaster or his role as George on Mr. Belvedere, but he also played six seasons in the MLB and had a pretty big role in the Major League movie series. As Indians’ announcer Harry Doyle, Uecker coined the widely used expression, “juuust a bit outside!”
The Doyle character was perhaps one of the funniest parts of all of the movies. In spite of the team’s frequent mishaps on the field, Harry Doyle made every attempt to dampen the situation for fans tuning in from home. For example, when Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn walked the bases loaded on 12 straight balls that were well out of the strike zone, Doyle says, “Boy, how can these guys lay off pitches that close?”
8. Giancarlo Stanton in Ballers (S1 EP9)
Pride of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County, Giancarlo Stanton was a star athlete for Notre Dame High School before he became one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball. He signed the largest contract in sports history in 2014, agreeing to 13 years with the Miami Marlins for $325 million. It’s fitting, then, that Stanton would have a cameo appearance in a show like Ballers that focuses on players and player contracts.
When Spencer’s guilt over ending another player’s career got the best of him, his doctor suggested he seek out psychological help to come to terms with it. Instead, he comes up with a scheme to meet up with Dan, the guy he injured. Spencer ends up inviting Dan and his son to a Marlins game where he introduces them to Stanton, and then gets Dan to throw the first pitch of the game.
7. Ken Griffey, Jr. in Little Big League (1994)
Little Big League was one of those movies that instantly resonated with young baseball fans in the 90’s. Who didn’t dream of being Billy Heywood, a boy of 12 who inherited the Minnesota Twins form his grandfather? Fantastical as it was, there was a much bigger pull to the movie than the plot. It featured several actual baseball players including Randy Johnson, Rafael Palmeiro and, “The Kid” himself, Ken Griffey, Jr.
Griffey was most kids’ favorite player and baseball personality at the time. The 10 time Gold Glove Award Winner and Seattle Mariners’ Hall of Famer had popular shoes and video games out in the 90’s that everyone owned. It was no surprise that Griffey would be an ominous threat in Little Big League, hitting monstrous home runs and making impossible catches that had people in awe even though it was just a movie. He was definitely a special player.
6. Darryl Strawberry in The Simpsons (S3 EP17)
“Homer at the Bat” is one of many iconic episodes of The Simpsons to feature celebrity guest voices. When the Springfield Nuclear Plant company team is set to play their rivals in Shelbyville in a championship softball game, team manager Mr. Burns decides to make some adjustments to the lineup. In order to circumvent some minor personnel technicalities, he hires major league baseball players to work at the power plant so that they can legally play on the softball team, including Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey Jr, Steve Sax, Ozzie Smith, Jose Canseco, Don Mattingly, and Mike Scioscia.
The biggest thorn in Homer’s side happens to be eight time All-Star outfielder, Darryl Strawberry, who takes his position in right field. What’s most hilarious about the whole thing is that Bart and Lisa start to chant Darryl’s name, something that the star outfielder had to endure from opposing fans since the 1986 World Series. Marge urges the kids to stop, but Lisa insists that professional ballplayers are unfazed by such antics… as a tear rolls down Strawberry’s face.
5. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (S6 EP11)
While Mac, Dee and Frank struggle to survive off of rancid crow meat in the woods, Charlie and Dennis hitch a questionable ride to an animal charity event in Atlantic City. Pretending to be Frank and Mac respectively, they ride a positive high by saying “yes” to everything, leading to a surprise meeting with Phillies’ stars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
Knowing how much of a man-crush Mac has on the players (Utley in particular), Dennis goes out of his way to do everything Mac wanted to do including playing catch with Chase Utley. This wouldn’t be the first time that Mac has had bizarre plans involving the six-time All-Star and 2008 World Series Champion. In season five, episode six, Dee reads a very childlike letter to Chase from Mac while the gang is in court. Chase eventually responded to the letter in an MLB Fan Cave video.
4. Keith Hernandez in Seinfeld (S3 EP17-18)
Yet another member of the Mets’ 1986 World Series team, Keith Hernandez gets involved with Elaine but has to put Jerry on the back burner, leading to the dissolution of their friendship on this episode of Seinfeld. But that’s not what’s most memorable about the Hernandez episodes. When Kramer and Newman confront Hernandez about a spitting incident after a game, Keith takes them through the event in a flashback reminiscent of the Zapruder JFK assassination video.
The flashback scene was very timely since the movie, JFK, had come out a year prior and featured Wayne Knight, who played Newman. Hernandez weaves a story very similar to the “Magic Bullet Theory”, saying that the person who actually spat at Kramer was Roger McDowell. He breaks down the occurrence much like an exhibit used in court, parodying the video even further. It’s a remarkable scene made even funnier by the 1979 NL MVP’s account of the event.
3. Derek Jeter in The Other Guys (2010)
Jeter will go down as one of the best ball players of our time. In his amazing 20-season career with the Yankees, he racked up 14 All-Star Game appearances, five Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Glove Awards, earning him a seat among MLB royalty. So when NYPD officer Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) accidentally shot Jeter before a World Series game, you can understand why fans in The Other Guys place all the blame for the eventual loss on his shoulders.
Hoitz, aptly nicknamed “The Yankee Clipper”, is shunned by what seems like the entirety of New York and is relegated to more humble police work like directing traffic. The irony – Wahlberg is a Boston native – made the scene that much more memorable. It probably took a lot to act remorseful on camera, not that any Red Sox fan would want to see harm done to a Yankee… right?
2. Josh Donaldson in Vikings (S4 EP18)
If you have a taste for violence in your TV watching, Vikings is right up your alley. Blood Eagle sacrifices abound, you likely won’t find a more brutal show out there. Speaking of sacrifices, the Toronto Blue Jays’ All-Star third baseman, Josh Donaldson, was in an episode where his Viking brother was sacrificed to the gods by Lagertha herself. Earl Jorgensen pledged his allegiance to the queen, offering himself as a willing sacrifice so that their forces would be successful in battle. The 2015 AL MVP, named Hoskuld in the show, expressed his envy of such an honor before Jorgensen was stabbed in the chest.
Donaldson had a lucrative 2015 both on and off the field. Not only did he appear on Vikings, but he was also the cover star for MLB The Show 16. There are some whispers of his return to Vikings in an upcoming season, so he’s not done yet.
1. Deion Sanders in The League (S4 EP11)
It’s no surprise at this point that The League features a lot of professional football players. For a show about fantasy football, that makes a lot of sense. Though Deion Sanders is better known for his skills on the football field, “Neon Deion” was also a serviceable baseball player for quite some time. These days, Sanders can be seen in a suit and tie as an analyst for NFL Network… or even finding Dirty Randy and Rafi trying to shoot a porn movie in his newly acquired loft.
See, it usually ends well for athletes who make an appearance on The League, but not this time. It doesn’t matter who you are or what what you do to mitigate the damage, when Dirty Randy and Rafi are involved, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty. Or something else, as Rafi told Sanders, “I don’t know who you are, but you’re about to get chlamydia!“
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