Bock’s Score: The Simpson’s Baseball Hall Of Fame

Today’s news from Cooperstown is that Tony Oliva, Gil Hodges and a fistful of other stars from baseball’s prior generations remain out of the Hall of Fame, still waiting after all these years to have their achievements recognized. They have no plaques, no tributes, nothing.

Homer Simpson, however, is in the baseball shrine, celebrated alongside the greatest players in the game’s history.

Wait. What?

Homer Simpson is in the Hall of Fame?

This is not Homer Bailey, who threw two no-hitters for the Cincinnati Reds before blowing out his arm. This is not Harry “Suitcase’’ Simpson, an outfielder from the ‘50s with Cleveland among other teams, who had one of baseball’s neatest nicknames.

This is Homer Simpson, the cartoon character, the one with the goofy looking profile. That Homer Simpson.

Tony Oliva had a .304 career batting average over 15 seasons, led the league in hitting three times and made the All-Star team in each of his first eight seasons. Gil Hodges had 370 career home runs, was an eight-time All-Star, one of just 17 players to hit four home runs in a game, the best first baseman of his generation and managed the woebegone New York Mets to a World Series championship in 1969.

Homer Simpson’s credentials? He makes us laugh.

That is if you’re into cartoons.

Being old fashioned, I prefer hits, runs and errors. Homer doesn’t participate in those activities. He is a pen and ink creation and lives on an artist’s easel.

And now he’s in the Hall of Fame.

This strange turn of events occurred last month when the proprietors of the place that calls itself baseball’s shrine decided to honor the strange looking cartoon character. This was in recognition of a Simpson show from 25 years ago. 

Henry Aaron got into the Hall of Fame by hitting 755 home runs, more than anybody else. Cy Young was honored for winning 511 games, more than anybody else. Homer Simpson has joined them thanks to a television show.

The program, called Homer At The Bat and complete with contributions from Ken Griffey Jr. and Wade Boggs, became a cultural icon and because of it, Homer Simpson has his own Hall of Fame plaque.

The induction ceremony included a proclamation by Cooperstown mayor Jeff Katz, declaring Homer J. Simpson Day, a celebration for the ages. Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson and chairperson Jane Forbes Clark, gathered on the steps of the place that honors Mantle, McCovey and Mays with an oversized character portraying the hero of the day, a slightly disheveled Homer Simpson.

Now forgive me for being a bit of a curmudgeon but I always viewed the Hall of Fame as a sacred place set aside to honor the heroes of the game, a place to celebrate Babe Ruth’s 714 home runs and Walter Johnson’s 417 wins. I know baseball is so much more than cold hard numbers. That’s why Abbott and Costello’s Who’s On First routine is honored. But a plaque for Homer Simpson? It seems almost insulting to the icons of the game who are enshrined in Cooperstown.

But if this is the direction the Hall of Fame wants to take, I understand. And that is why I am launching a campaign for another worthy honoree to join Homer.

Let’s put Spongebob Squarepants in there, too.

About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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