Let’s get this out of the way: The single greatest occurrence of athletes appearing on TV or in movies is the Simpsons episode, “Homer at the Bat.” And it’s not even close. The episode featured cameos by Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey, Jr., Steve Sax, Ozzie Smith, José Canseco, Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry, and Mike Scioscia, all playing themselves as ringers on the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team. The moment that clinches this episode’s place as the greatest moment in western culture is singer-songwriter Terry Cashman parodying his own classic song, “Talkin’ Baseball,” with “Talkin’ Softball.”
While no other cameo could ever measure up to that standard, there have been a number of other occasions where athletes have appeared on TV or in movies. In most cases, athletes are terrible actors (see Brett Fav-ruh in There’s Something About Mary), but sometimes they pull it off. Here are a few of my favorites.
The League: “Shiva Bowl Shuffle”
Maurice Jones-Drew, Sidney Rice, Brent Grimes
Hilarious send-up of the Super Bowl Shuffle on one of the funniest shows out there.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Ryan Howard and Chase Utley
Both Howard and Utley start the year on the DL. Is there an Always Sunny curse? Anyway, the best moment in this cameo is when Ryan Howard holds back Charlie when he tries to attack a guy wearing a Mets hat. There’s better-quality video of this clip at Crossing Broad.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
I guess two World Series titles heals some wounds. Bill Buckner gets the stone cojones award for poking fun at his 1986 World Series miscue in this cameo. Some day after the Cubs have won a couple World Series, I wonder if we’ll see Steve Bartman making fun of himself on TV.
He’s Keith Hernandez.
Kareem Abdul Jabar
This scene makes me wish Kareem had gone into acting (and Shaq had not).
The problem with this clip is that the Phanatic is not an undersea king. Everyone knows he is the last remaining member of a species of Galapagos birds. This clip is made by the expression on noted Philadelphian Tina Fey’s face when she sees the Phanatic.
Hawaii Five-O: “EPISODE NAME”
Who better to appear on Hawaii Five-O than the Flyin’ Hawaiian? In fairness, this cameo is actually kind of terrible.
Paul Caputo is a grown man who collects plastic ice cream helmets from baseball stadiums. He is 1-0 as a defendant on the Judge John Hodgman podcast. In addition to serving as the managing editor of BTBNL, he contributes to SportsLogos.net.