“Okay, let’s go over the ground rules. You can’t leave first until you chug a beer. Any man scoring has to chug a beer. You have to chug a beer at the top of all odd-numbered innings. Oh, and the fourth inning is the beer inning.” — Umpire talking over ground rules to Homer Simpson and Chief Wiggum before a softball game in Homer at the Bat
Playing against Jose Canseco in a recreational softball game, then regaling stories of said encounter to whoever would listen, has me reminiscing about some great Canseco moments …
Homer at the Bat originally aired on Feb. 20, 1992 (when daddy Bush was the president and the Minnesota Twins were defending World Series champions), and is arguably the greatest of all Simpsons episodes.
In that classic Simpsons episode, Canseco was recruited by Smithers to play for Springfield Nuclear Power Plant in the championship softball game, but along with his fellow ringers was felled by a series of unfortunate, yet quite hilarious, events.
Sure, everybody knows which — at the time — current major-league players made an appearance in Homer at the Bat, but who were the ballplayers who were originally slated by C. Montgomery Burns (after scouring the American, National and Negro Leagues) to play for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant?
Here is old man Burns’ dream team (complete with fun facts, tidbits and other happy anecdotes for your reading pleasure) …
Catcher — Gabby Street (career statistics): Once caught a baseball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument.
First base — Cap Anson (career statistics): Played in a record 27 consecutive seasons, all before the turn of the century (umm, and that would be the 19th Century).
Second base — Napoleon “Nap” Lajoie (career statistics): Mentioned in the poem Lineup for Yesterday by Ogden Nash …
Whom Clevelanders love,
With glue is his glove.
Good stuff! Let’s move on …
Shortstop — Honus Wagner (career statistics): “When I was a boy growing up in Kansas, a friend of mine and I went fishing and as we sat there on the warmth of a summer afternoon we talked about what we wanted to do when we grew up. I told him I wanted to be a major-league baseball player, a genuine professional like Honus Wagner. My friend said that he’d like to be president of the United States. Neither of us got our wish.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
Third base — Pie Traynor (career statistics): With a professional baseball playing career that ended in 1937, Traynor was the most “modern” player on Burns’ dream team. Still, Traynor had passed away 20 years before Homer at the Bat originally aired.
Left field — Shoeless Joe (career statistics): Ray Liotta as “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams and batting right handed makes me cringe every time I see it.
Center field — Harry Hooper (career statistics): Only player to be a part of four Red Sox World Series championships (1912, 1915, 1916, 1918).
Right field — Jim Creighton (sorry, no stats … only a wikipedia bio): Infamous player on Burns’ dream team that Smithers points out, “In fact, your right fielder has been dead for 130 years.” Creighton died suddenly at the age of 21 in 1962, seven years before the debut of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball’s first openly all-professional team.