Homer Simpson's call to Baseball Hall of Fame brings character to life

The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum welcomed its newest member on Saturday when television icon Homer Simpson was officially inducted.

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No, this isn’t a joke. Nor is it a storyline on the long-running FOX series “The Simpsons.” Homer Simpson really is an honorary member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He even has the plaque to prove it.

Pete Rose, on the other hand, still isn’t. But that doesn’t mean Simpson wouldn’t welcome the controversial Rose to the club with open arms.

How do we know that?

Because Simpson said so himself in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

You might think this is all pretty crazy, but the celebration of Homer Simpson is very real. The Hall of Fame has elected to honor him in conjunction with its celebration of the 25th anniversary of the show’s famous “Homer at the Bat” episode. And if you ask us, the coolest part of the weekend is how it’s bringing life to the Homer Simpson character.

Homer Simpson is not a real person, but he’s a real big part of pop culture. He might be voiced by actor Dan Castellaneta, but it’s Homer Simpson who sounds like the guy next door, or even the guy on your softball team that everyone wants to go out drinking with following the game. He’s the one we’re connecting with, and this fun acknowledgment and the hoopla that’s surrounded it serves as another extension of that connection.

Say hello to baseball’s new Hall of Famer, Homer Simpson. (The Simpsons)

But this is about more than one character. It’s about a show that transcends television and an episode that transcends baseball and softball.

“Homer at the Bat”, which aired during the series third season, featured appearances by Wade Boggs, Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly, Mike Scioscia, Steve Sax, Ozzie Smith and Darryl Strawberry. They served as ringers for Mr. Burns’ Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team, which pushed Homer and his colleagues to the bench despite them leading the team to the championship game.

Of course, Homer would still figure prominently in the outcome. With the score tied, the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Mr. Burns called on Homer to pinch hit for Strawberry, who was the only ringer available to play in the game following a series of unfortunate developments. On the very first pitch, Homer was beaned by the pitcher, which forced in the winning run.

Though unconscious, Homer was paraded around as a hero in a perfectly fitting ending.

The episode remains one of the most popular in The Simpsons’ lengthy catalog, which now boasts over 600 episodes over 28 seasons.

The role of the players, which now include three Hall of Famers (Griffey Jr., Boggs and Smith), and their misfortune throughout the episode creates a storyline that’s as entertaining and memorable as it is outrageous. In fact, Boggs and Smith were on hand to discuss the episode in a round-table format with episode executive producers Al Jean and Mike Reiss, director Jim Reardon, and a host of others who helped put the episode together.

It’s one of those episodes that stands the test of time. Whenever it’s rerun on television or featured in an article like this one, baseball fans flock to it again for a little nostalgia.

That hasn’t changed in 25 years, and we doubt it will for another 25 years.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!