Big leaguers, bit parts

Word on the boulevard is that Rangers pitcher Derek Holland will make a cameo appearance in the upcoming Dumb and Dumber sequel, Dumb and Dumber To. Naturally, your first question is, “Yo, AT, which comedy sequels will be next to feature big-league players in cameo appearances?”

Glad you asked, even if your wording was kind of awkward. (To answer your other question, yes, my cold is getting better, thanks.) Here, in capsule form, are the answers you’ve been seeking for, lo, these many moments.

Ferris Bueller’s Other Day Off

In the sequel to the 1986 John Hughes hit, an aging Ferris is sitting with sidekick Cameron in the bleachers at Wrigley Field, a reprise of an original scene whose outtakes reportedly include an inebriated Harry Caray singing “a one, a two, a five!” Of course, time has not been kind to Ferris—ever the schemer, he did a two-year stretch at Club Fed for securities fraud, and his wife, Sloane (née) Peterson, left him for a forgettable career in B movies—just as it has not been kind to the Cubs.

Indeed, the Cubs have produced more scapegoats than pennants in the 28 years since the two friends last watched a game at Wrigley, forging a lovable-loser identity that fans are starting to hate. Still, Ferris and Cameron are having a good time eating hot dogs (despite Cameron’s gout), drinking beer (despite Ferris’s gut) and creating their own food-mascot races by tearing hot-dog weenies into pieces and throwing them as hard as they can. (Ferris wins by weighting his weenies with nickels, a fact that causes Cameron to unleash his pent-up anger against the Cubs by hijacking the Lemon Chill cart and pushing it all over the lower concourse.) Of course, they really have fun when chanting in unison, “Batter, batter, batter, suhhhhhhwing, batter!”

In a brief cameo, Starlin Castro does so thrice, coming up empty each time.


In the sequel to the 1988 comedy Big, Josh Baskin is now an out-of-shape middle-management type who stumbles upon a mysterious fortuneteller machine at the Mysterious Fortuneteller Machine Tradeshow. After inserting a quarter, Baskin is told, “C’mon, dude, what do you think this is, 1988? Nothing is a quarter anymore. You owe me 75 more cents.”

Upon inserting the correct amount, Baskin is granted his secret wish. He turns into John Goodman and heads posthaste to Pancho’s Mexican Buffet. At the adjacent table are two equally gluttonous diners, played in convincing cameos by Matt Adams and Bartolo Colon. When Baskin/Goodman begins choking on his apps, Colon responds heroically by performing the Heimlich.

Once the food hits the floor, Colon asks, “More chips?”

Money Pit Too

In the sequel to the 1986 Tom Hanks comedy, the opening shot reveals an outer-space view of planet Earth and then pans down until it clearly shows the United States, then California, then Southern California, then greater L.A., then Anaheim, then Angel Stadium of Anaheim and then an open doorway in the team’s executive offices. From behind, the audience sees a head—a male head, closely shaved and somewhat dark-skinned—poke through that doorway and orient itself toward General Manager Jerry Dipoto, who is sitting behind his desk while working on a Jumble For Kids.

The audience then hears a voice, apparently coming from the facial part of that head: “Hey, Jerry, thanks again for the 10-year, $254 million contract, not to mention the bonuses and agreements that could make the contract worth as much as $268.75 million over 20 years. I realize that the previous sentence sounded a bit stilted, but hey, that’s how it was written. And since I’m just doing a cameo, I really don’t have a lot of creative license. I mean, yeah, these pretzels are making me thirsty, but still, I gotta say my line.”

The camera then pans around the head and focuses at last on the face, showing it not to be that of Albert Pujols but instead of Neifi Perez.

“Thanks, too,” says Perez, who last played (and not well) in the majors in 2007, “for the great parking space, the annual pass to Disneyland, the year’s subscription to Cigar Aficionado and the mid-sized Caribbean island.”

National Lampoon’s Animal House, Missionary Hut and Demigodly Condo

Mental Health and the CBA
A particular bit of language in the latest CBA could have negative consequences for some players.

In the follow-up to the 1978 John Landis hit, former Omega pledge Chip Diller (Kevin Bacon) is still a Christian missionary in Africa, a position (ha!) revealed in the first film’s epilogue, along with the diametric fact that Otter became a gynecologist in Beverly Hills. (For his part, Flounder is still a sensitivity trainer in Cleveland, where his work with Indians officials, especially with regard to Chief Wahoo, has clearly come to naught.)

It is a Sunday morning in a small African village, and, having just read the Table of Nations in Genesis 10:11—“. . . Sons of Japheth are Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras . . .”—Pastor Diller is in danger of losing his audience, quite possibly to a rebroadcast of The Air Up There, starring a dead ringer for the pastor himself. Disposed to revelation, Pastor Diller sees the light and says to his congregation, “The sons of Sandy are Sandy Jr. and Roberto, and the sons of Buddy are David and Mike, and the sons of Bob are Aaron and Bret, and the son of Bobby is a son of a bitch, excuse my French, but yeah, Barry is a bastard, everybody says so, and by the power vested in me, I say so, too.”

Suddenly intrigued, the villagers listen as Pastor Diller tells them of this “false prophet,” a man who, despite the crucifix dangling from his left earlobe, treated people like yesterday’s garbage and quite possibly cheated his way to several all-time records, including most home runs in a season (73), most home runs in a career (762) and most teammates alienated (327).

“However,” he tells the villagers, “there is a man—a godlike man—who is the polar opposite of Barry Bonds, just as Otter is the polar opposite of me.”

The congregation leans closer, eager to hear of this godlike man.

“His name,” intones the pastor, “is Jeter. And despite the fact that he has never publicly embraced the faith, he treats people right, going so far as to award them with gift baskets even though he’s known them for only a few hours, and who has never demonstrably cheated, though I will say he had to have some help in winning those five Gold Gloves. It’s a miracle, really.”

The scene cuts to a swank Manhattan condo, where Jeter is shown in a dreamy close-up. (Demanding that his Bacon Number move from 2 to 1—previously, he appeared in Anger Management with Marisa Tomei, who appeared in Loverboy with Bacon—Jeter has convinced producers to give him a meaningful cameo.) The camera then pans back to show Jeter, on a baseball-shaped waterbed, using the naked back of a faceless lover to sign several “New York Yankees 2001 World Series Champions” T-shirts.

Groundball Day

In the sequel to the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, the story opens at a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic. There, coaches put players through a variety of drills. The drills include sliding to both sides of the bag, throwing from a variety of angles and choosing any name other than Fausto Carmona when forging a new identity. As the weeks go by, the coaches institute daylong tutorials. These include Fly Ball Day, Curveball Day, Swinging At Bad Pitches Because You Can’t Walk Off The Island Day and Groundball Day. In the how-to session, Tony Fernandez ranges far to the right and then makes a jump throw. In the how-not-to session, Chuck Knoblauch makes the same error over and over and over.

Zoolander 2, Loria Nothing

In the sequel to the 2001 hit, Derek Zoolander has closed the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too and returned to the fashion industry, modeling for (N)e(g)clectica while also losing in fantasy-league play because he keeps putting Gisele Bundchen’s face on Adriana Lima’s body. Brainwashed by Marlins fans (all 623 of them) into kicking owner Jeffrey Loria in the shins during a Dade County fashion show, Zoolander begins striding down the catwalk in a (N)e(g)clectica-brand Marlins game jersey, which is reversible to show either the name Carlos Delgado or the name Hanley Ramirez, and a pair of 1997 Antonio Alfonseca practice pants.

Only steps away from Loria, who, incidentally, is stroking a Persian cat while grinning in sinister fashion, Zoolander spots the dreamy Chase Utley—what, you thought Aaron Harang?—making a sensuous turn at catwalk’s end and sauntering back the other way, his blue eyes containing multitudes. Lost in those eyes, Zoolander slows his pace. Bewildered, and bewildered as to why he’s bewildered, he keeps staring at Utley, who, in turn, stares back at Zoolander with the debut of his ultimate model look, The Double-Play Combo, featuring a full-lipped pout and an unwavering stare. Snapped from his trance, Zoolander stops, no longer subconsciously bent on kicking Loria in the shins. After a moment’s consideration, he kicks him in the kneecaps.

The Princess Bride II: Another Fantasy

In the sequel to the 1987 comedy gem, Westley and Buttercup are happily married and living in suburban Washington. On the same cul-de-sac, still unmarried, is old friend Inigo Montoya. Having won their fantasy baseball league two years running, the happy couple tries to convince Inigo to join them. But Inigo is still embittered by his fantasy-league experience in 2003, when his closer finished with zero saves and an ERA of 5.83 and ultimately cost him not only the league championship but also his marriage. (Still passionate and decidedly grudge-holding, he blamed his wife for suggesting the closer.)

While attending a Dade County fashion show, Inigo sees a handsome fellow wearing the practice pants of Antonio Alfonseca—the same six-fingered man who, he believes, cost him his wife and a $2000 Circuit City gift card!

Enraged, Inigo leaps to the catwalk and brandishes his sword.

“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya,” he says in a confident but menacing tone. “You killed my marriage and my Circuit City gift card. Prepare to die.”

“I don’t know who you think I am,” Zoolander says in this ambitious movie hybrid, “but I just kicked Loria in the kneecaps and can do the same to you!”

Unswayed, Inigo thrusts.

Zoolander parries by using his ultimate model look, The Magnum, to stop the sword’s momentum. As Inigo prepares to thrust again, he sees Chase Utley in his second cameo of the season. Utley then unleashes another look, The Hey, That’s Not Actually Antonio Alfonseca, It’s Derek Zoolander!

Snapped from his misplaced rage, Inigo puts down his sword.

He then turns to a man in the first row.

“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya,” he says in a confident yet menacing tone. “You killed the Miami Marlins. Prepare to get kicked in the shins.”

Three Amigos, Two

Down on their luck yet again—seems their Tuesday-night gig at Casa Bonita got canceled in favor of a Three Tenors tribute band—the Three Amigos embark on a journey to Santa Cano in the Dominican Republic. Having received a truncated telegram reading “ . . . save . . . us,” the Three Amigos—Lucky Day, Dusty Bottoms and Ned Nederlander—are unaware that the telegram actually read, “The save, to us, is a misleading and meaningless statistic, or, at the very least, hopelessly outdated,” and that it actually had been intended for Bud Selig, Tim Brosnan and Joe Torre.

Once in Santo Cano, the Three Amigos attend a Dominican Winter League game, where Lucky makes goo-goo eyes—or ojos goo-goo—at a gorgeous Dominican woman selling HGH and a collection of Junot Diaz short stories. Munching on tostones and quipes, they watch as a pair of highly skilled teams battle it out for 16 innings and five hours, only to see Dominican closer Joaquin Benoit stroll in for a cameo and earn the save. Predictably miffed, the townsfolk wait for the Three Amigos to resolve this miscarriage of beisbol justice, perhaps by eradicating the stat or at least placing an asterisk beside it, but the Three Amigos, still convinced that the villagers themselves need saving, attempt to drive away the visiting team by singing an a cappella version of Tiptoe Through The Tulips. (In another cameo, Licey catcher Tuffy Gosewisch explains to shortstop Jurickson Profar exactly who Tiny Tim was, and exactly why he was allowed on television.)

Annoyed, the visiting team refuses to retreat. Growing angry instead, they kidnap Ned Nederlander and hole up at an all-inclusive resort, getting the room at half-price after agreeing to a two-hour time-share presentation. There they force their captive to fold each hand towel into the shape of a swan. Some time later, Baseball-Reference rewards them with a “hold.”

Best in the Show

In the follow-up to the 2001 mockumentary Best in Show, a film crew spends three full weeks exploring MLB, i.e., “The Show,” to find the best player in baseball. It opens with a stunning sequence of Mike Trout theatrics—the leaping catches, the long home runs, the dashing triples, the stolen bases and the 3.53-second sprint down the first-base line, not to mention the ordering of a footlong sweet onion chicken teriyaki sandwich with jalapenos and pepper jack cheese—toasted—via three batted baseballs.

It continues with Miguel Cabrera hitting ropes, Andrew McCutchen swatting doubles and Joey Votto generally being awesome.

It then shows, in the quickest of cameos, Troy Tulowitzki between injuries.

Blazing Saddles, Not-So-Blazing Fastball

It is 1914, exactly 40 years after the time frame of the original film, and the citizens of Rock Ridge have started their own baseball team, the Von Shtupps. (It’s twue, it’s twue.) Problem is, the town is still located in the Old (albeit not quite as old) West, where there are fewer ballplayers than “rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, half-wits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers . . . bushwackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves . . . train robbers, bank robbers, ass kickers, #### kickers and Methodists.” Not only that, but rightie Franz Ferdinand was rendered permanently unavailable on the morning of June 28.

And so the Von Shtupps just can’t rustle up enough ballplayers. Even if they could, they don’t have a ballpark for the would-be players to play in. Enter, or re-enter, the Waco Kid, who hatches a “brilliant idea to save our team.”

The next scene opens with a fake replica of the Polo Grounds. (On it are the words Not Yet The House That Ruth Built.) On the field are replicas of Fritz Maisel, Roger Peckinpaugh and other Yankees, plus, for some reason, a perfect likeness of Sir Ernest Shackleton, who, unbeknownst to Von Shtupp management, recently embarked on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which will ultimately prove a lot less “Trans” than merely “Antarctic.”

Von Shtupp officials then send an Autochrome print of the fake stadium to Red Sox officials, who, upon seeing the print while drunk on Irish whiskey, agree to play an exhibition game against the Von Shtupps in Rock Ridge.

In the top of the first inning, the camera pans across the Boston dugout to show Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper, Everett Scott and Duffy Lewis. It then pans across the Von Shtupp infield to show fake Charlie Mullen, fake Luke Boone, fake Peckinpaugh and fake Maisel. Slowly it cuts to the plate. There, digging into the left-hand batter’s box, is talented Boston rookie Babe Ruth, portrayed by a fattened-up and therefore Oscar-seeking Justin Timberlake.

It then pans around to the pitcher’s mound. Toeing the rubber and gazing in for the sign is fourth-year leftie Jamie Moyer, portrayed by Jamie Moyer.

Raising Arizona, Lowering Minnesota

In the sequel to the 1987 Coen brothers classic, Hi and Ed wake from a long and wonderful dream to find that Nathan Jr. really did become a football star, parlaying his gridiron prowess into a full ride at State Tech. This includes three essay papers per semester and a $10-an-hour job that he doesn’t have to show up for.

After graduation, or, rather, once his football eligibility is up, Nathan Jr. switches sports and pursues a career in baseball. Drafted by the Twins in the first round, Nathan Jr. demands that Minnesota move to a warmer climate.

“Minnesota is cold,” says Nathan Jr. “I learned that in college.”

Twins owner Jim Pohlad is taken aback.

“Listen, we can’t move the whole team south just because some furniture scion tells us to,” he snaps. “We have commitments to the Minnesota Hot Dog Vendors Local 315.”

“I don’t mean move the team,” Nathan Jr. replies. “I mean move the state.”

Accustomed to getting what he wants, Nathan Jr. holds firm.

The Twins do likewise.

To resolve the impasse, Commissioner Selig suggests a compromise.

“Meet halfway,” he says.

And they do. Minnesota moves to Missouri, and so does Nathan Jr.

Suddenly, Minnesota is boasting The Best Fans In Baseball. One is portrayed in cameo by Kolten Wong, who is used to standing flat-footed.

History of the World, Part II

In the long-, long-, long-awaited sequel to History of the World Part I, the story opens, as promised in Part I’s closing previews, with a Viking funeral. Turns out that the funeral is merely symbolic, with Father Merrin giving last rites to the cellar-dwelling team while also casting the bad juju out of its embattled quarterback and rechristening him Devout Christian Ponder. The movie then moves on to segment titled Hitler On Ice, with Der Führer landing a shaky, under-rotated Salchow but with Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels describing it as “Die besten vier Grund-Salchow in der Geschicthe der Welt, Teil II.”

After the segment titled Jews In Space, in which Lenny Bruce and Sigmund Freud argue as to which of them is the best open-field runner, the movie segues to The Nation Passes Time With The National Pastime: This Time It Counts. It begins with a Burnsian shot of Babe Ruth (Justin Timberlake) hitting a dinger off Jamie Moyer (Jamie Moyer) and continues with Pete Rose (Sean Penn) running over Ray Fosse (an uncredited paparazzo) in the 1970 All-Star game. It then shows a player with his back to the camera while lying comfortably on a stack of 15 million $10 bills and 25 million $1 bills.

Turning over, Felix Hernandez says, “It’s good to be The King.”

School of Rock, Paper, Scissors

In the sequel to the 2003 Jack Black comedy hit, a film crew explores the fascinating world of selection processes. First it plumbs the realm of nepotism, using as examples the presidency of George W. Bush and the career of Peaches Geldof, and moves on to the BCS, where committee members get drunk and play golf while pretending to use “complicated rules and complex algorithms” just before placing Alabama in the National Championship Game. “Roll Tide!”

It then shows Baseball Writers Association of America members struggling to select new inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame, sometimes with careful consideration but at other times with Rock, Paper, Scissors (otherwise known as “roshambo”), especially in the wake of both the Steroid Era and the Pitching To The Score Era. Shown in brief cutaway cameos during the dramatic roshambo scene are Jeff Bagwell, pumping iron to relieve the stress, and Rafael Palmeiro, pumping Viagra to relieve the stress. Also shown is Jack Morris, making his pitch to the cameoing ghost of Herb Score.

Young Frankenstein, Younger Uggla

In the sequel to the 1974 Mel Brooks classic, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein—“That’s Fronk-en-steen . . . no, wait, it’s actually Frank-en-stine again. Sorry about the mix-up. I’ve have memory problems ever since the transference, especially since most of my blood now flows directly to my Schwanstücker”—is living quietly with wife Inga at the old family estate in Transylvania. Semi-retired from his work as a mad scientist, he now spends most of his time piddling around in his okra garden, selling bootleg DVDs of Silver Streak and, as one might suspect, staring at his Schwanstücker in the full-length mirror.

It is a typical Sunday evening, and the Frankensteins are at home watching Transylvania Tonight, which includes a feature on Harold the Blind Man’s delicious one-bean soup, when they get a visit from Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren. After agreeing on a price—seems that Mrs. Frankenstein still owes 12,000 euros to the Vaginale Verjüngung Klinik—Dr. Frankenstein fastens slump-ridden second baseman Dan Uggla to the platform and then straps to his head the sort of strange device that you always see in movies like this, a device that looks like a Burger King crown fitted with vacuum cleaner hoses and that will later turn up at a garage sale in rural Indiana.

Just as Dr. Frankenstein begins to raise the platform, thus initiating the scientifically valid method of harnessing lightning bolts to reanimate non-living tissue, Uggla raises an arguably valid objection: “I’m not dead yet.”

“Yes, you are,” replies the doctor. “I mean, essentially you are.”

“I’m not,” Uggla returns, making the most of his cameo and convincing producers to actually add his name to the film title. “I’m getting better.”

“Good sir, you hit .179 last year! Plus, this is not Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This is Young Frankenstein, Younger Uggla. And you are Uggla!”

“I don’t want to go on the platform,” Uggla cries, blue eyes flashing despite the film’s black-and-whiteness. “I feel fine. I think I’ll go for a walk.”

“You’re not fooling anyone, you know. I mean, you struck out 171 times!”

“I feel happy. I feel happyyyy! “

Unmoved, Dr. Frankenstein secures the platform to the Yes To Lightning, No To Rain position. He then puts on his protective Chris Sabo Goggles and waits. Minutes later, after an intense lightning storm, he lowers the platform.

Fade to black.

Another Christmas Story

In the sequel to the 1983 yuletide classic, Ralphie Parker is now a 40-year-old erotic-lamp dealer in Hohman, Indiana. As viewers might expect, the Hohman City Council sure has something to say about Ralphie’s Certain Glow, especially in the aftermath of the Schwanstücker Floor Lamp fiasco. (Seems that Mrs. Schwartz’s neighbors lodged bitter complaints about her light going on and off, on and off, on and off, not to mention the fact that several Japanese exchange students suffered episodes of photosensitive epilepsy when their bus went past the house.)

After visiting Mrs. Schwartz in the hospital, where doctors have continued to explore radical new treatments for her severe elbow bursitis, Ralphie decides to sell his erotic-lamp business to a Mr. Tom Haverford of Pawnee, Indiana, and embark on his lifelong dream of securing for Indiana a big-league team. (Ever the thinker, Haverford renames the business Tom’s Certain Glow.)

Unsure as to how this MLB thing works, Ralphie tells personal assistant Scut Farkus to appeal to that ol’ Hoosier spirit by enlisting only players from Indiana. Farkus does as he is told, sending out invitations to Toad Ramsey, Fritz Sheeren, Grover Lowdermilk, Hosea Siner, Punch Knoll, Arlas Taylor, Peek-A-Boo Veach, Huck Wallace, Dutch Wetzel, Dutch Distel, Rolla Daringer, Hub Knolls, Cy Williams, Paddy Baumann, Ollie Bejma, Nemo Leibold, Hooks Dauss, Rowdy Elliott, Jot Goar, Pinky May, Lefty Houtz, Harley Hisner, Craig Counsell and Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown

Upon discovering that each invitee is, shall we say, out of baseball, Ralphie takes a contemplative drive through the Indiana countryside, staring at grain silos as he considers his task. After stopping at a garage sale to find Christmas gifts for his three ex-wives—hey, owning an erotic-lamp store does have its consequences—he finds among the eight-track tapes, old Baywatch koozies and strange crown-and-tube devices a dusty but apparently functional Larry Bigbie, of Hobart, Indiana, making his first cameo appearance since he last pinch-hit for the Cardinals in 2006. Beside Bigbie are the damaged but evidently operable Alan and Andy Benes, of nearby South Bend. And behind a stack of Members Only jackets, acid-washed jeans, leg warmers and parachute pants is former Cub Carmen Pignatiello, of Hammond, now marked down to “25 cents or best offer.”

“Hmmm,” mutters Ralphie.

After a long few moments of careful consideration, Ralphie at last makes the purchase—a risky purchase, no doubt—and totes the merchandise to his 2015 Chevy Phallica. Two months later, he opens Ralphie’s Erotic Koozies.

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John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.
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dennis Bedard
dennis Bedard
What?  A column about baseball players appearing in movies and you omit The Long Goodbye?  I watched the film a few years ago on DVD.  The stars were Elliot Gould, Sterling Hayden, and a cameo by Schwarzenneger.  The movie was shot in the mid 70’s.  I am watching the film carefully as it was a goofball spoof of the Philip Marlowe genre and I see a face that looks familiar.  I look closer and then check the credits on the back of the Neflix paper insert and . . .YES!  The actor is none other than Jim Bouton, the former… Read more »

I thought Bouton was very convincing in that role.
The Long Goodbye came out in 1973 and has much to
recommend it.