March Madness is reaching its end, which means one thing: Baseball season begins!
Opening day is a cherished American tradition. There’s almost nothing better than the smell of fresh-cut grass and the crack of the bat, which both signal that spring is finally here.
Well, there is one thing better: staying in and watching movies and TV — especially if you’re watching MTV’s “Off the Bat From the MLB Fan Cave,” premiering April 1. But don’t worry: There’s no need to miss out on the thrill of seeing your favorite baseball players. That’s due to the second-best American tradition: cameos by famous athletes.
We’ve compiled 11 of the best cameos by baseball players on TV and film. So stay in, lean back, and watch your favorite baseball players pop up in movies and shows where you would least expect them.
Keith Hernandez In “Seinfeld”
While most cameos are one-and-done, Keith Hernandez’s role on “Seinfeld” ups the ante, as he’s given an entire arc. Not only does he become best friends with Jerry and date Elaine, but he is part of a long-standing feud with Kramer and Newman, who think he spit on them during a game, resulting in a JFK-conspiracy-theory parody that’s as great as anything ever. “There must have been a second spitter!”
Reggie Jackson In “The Naked Gun”/ “Benchwarmers”/ “BASEketball”
Who would’ve thought that Reggie Jackson, starter of too many baseball feuds to count in the ’70s, would turn into the epitome of a good-natured, humorous elder statesman? Jackson has appeared in numerous comedies in hilarious roles, though I’d say the most memorable is “Naked Gun,” in which he and plenty of other famous ballplayers participate in Leslie Nielsen’s madcap comedy antics.
John Kruk In “The Fan”
Everyone loves John Kruk, the baseball player turned analyst who always speaks his mind and has a great sense of humor about himself. One would expect Kruk to have been in something like “Naked Gun,” but instead, he had a small role in the Robert De Niro thriller “The Fan.” He even gets to be stabbed by De Niro! That’s not something many other ballplayers can say.
Derek Jeter In “The Other Guys”
The Yankees captain is only onscreen for a few seconds, but his scene is both hilarious and a major beat in Mark Wahlberg’s character arc. Wahlberg was on his way up the ladder but was forced into a desk job because … he shot Derek Jeter. Don’t worry, Derek was fine. But it’s a good thing he’s retiring this year, just in case life imitates art.
The Red Sox In “Fever Pitch”
I’ll admit it: I’m a Yankees fan. So it pains me to put “Fever Pitch” on this list, just as it pained me to watch it when it came out. But hey, fair’s fair, and it’s pretty amazing that the movie was able to tie the film’s emotional climax to what’s probably the greatest sports moment in Boston history. It also led to this adorable moment, which the Internet has captured in GIF form.
Barry Bonds In “Rookie Of The Year”
Before he was an unlikable player driven out of baseball by steroid accusations, Barry Bonds was just another great player who had a sense of humor about himself. Probably the coolest thing he’s ever done is appear in “Rookie of the Year,” the fantasy where a preteen injures his arm in such a way that he can throw 100 mph (the ’90s were fun!). Not only does Bonds make an appearance, he actually strikes out against little Henry Rosinbagger … er, Rowengartner. You can see it yourself at the end of this amazing trailer.
Ken Griffey Jr. In “Little Big League”
If you wanted someone to make an impression in your baseball movie in the 1990s, you got Ken Griffey Jr. The amazing center fielder was one of the most iconic players of the era, and so when the makers of “Little Big League” needed a big bat to make a big presence, they didn’t cast an actor — they got the real deal. It’s one of the most memorable cameos of a lot of baseball fans’ childhoods.
Roger Clemens In “Kingpin”
The best cameos happen when stars play against what you’d expect. Roger Clemens certainly took this to mind, playing a stereotypical redneck with a big temper. Although it’s not as funny when you look at it through the lens of Clemens’ recent history.
Actually, scratch that. It’s still funny.
Everyone In “The Simpsons”
Every cameo in this episode — in which Mr. Burns hires nine big-leaguers to win the company softball game — is brilliant, but Darryl Strawberry probably wins MVP for the episode’s best moment, when Bart mockingly yells “Daaaaryl, Daaaaryl,” from the stands, leading Strawberry to shed a single tear. Even better for baseball fans, this is based on an actual moment in the 1986 World Series when Red Sox fans mocked Strawberry with the same chant.
Also, Ken Griffey Jr. takes a strange substance that causes his head to swell in size, which clearly is “The Simpsons” predicting the use of HGH. For a summary of the brilliance, just listen to this song, which played over the end credits, and which you’ll be humming for days afterward.