When you think of the Minor Leagues on television, MASH and Breaking Bad immediately come to mind, right? Still, baseball fans have the ability to hone in on any reference to their favorite pastime on the box. And in response to our second installment of the Minors in pop culture
When you think of the Minor Leagues on television, MASH and Breaking Bad immediately come to mind, right? Still, baseball fans have the ability to hone in on any reference to their favorite pastime on the box. And in response to our second installment of the Minors in pop culture reviewing 10 times TV visited the farm, we’ve heard about a few others.
Since we have time and space to add other shows to our respective queues, let’s check them out.
All it takes is the sight of a character in a Minor League cap for fans’ eyes to light up. Witness when Finn Abernathy joined the “Bones” forensic team early in Season 7. On Nov. 10, 2011, in the episode “The Hot Dog in the Competition,” the Mudcats and their fans quickly took note of the caps he chose to don throughout Luke Kleintank’s eight-episode arc. At the time, our Ben Hill pondered on Twitter whether that would lead to an increase in the online sale of Carolina caps. There’s still an occasional tweet mentioning Finn’s penchant for Mudcats lids when a fan binges the show.
— Darren Headrick (@Darren_Headrick) January 10, 2013
MiLB.com’s Josh Jackson brought up the title character in the one-season “Backstrom,” which was about a brilliant special crimes detective who took on tough cases. Think of him as a chain-smoking, alcoholic version of House, M.D. Anyway, Everett Backstrom often donned a Portland Sea Dogs cap. Of course, the Portland Police Bureau he worked for was in Oregon and the Double-A Sea Dogs play in Portland, Maine. So consider it either artistic license or, even better, a craftily planned and executed tactic.
Sometimes an entire plot revolves around a Minor League scenario. Wisconsin Timber Rattlers radio announcer Chris Mehring recalled the sixth-season “Psych” episode “Dead Man’s Curve” that originally aired on Nov. 9, 2011, with the intrepid team of Shawn and Gus investigating the death of a Minor League coach. The offbeat sleuths went about it in typically atypical fashion, with Gus serving as the feathered mascot and Shawn as a coach for the Double-A Seabirds. The mascot even found himself in the middle of an on-field brawl with his own team.
As is tradition on “Psych,” pop culture references abound. There were Minor League references within references, including Shawn’s diatribe about things he believes in that was very reminiscent of Crash Davis’ speech in “Bull Durham” and series co-star Corbin Bernsen [who starred in all three “Major League” movies, including the third one in which his character owns the Triple-A Buzz] stepping to the plate.
Mehring laid another gem on us, the third-season “MacGyver” episode “Back from the Dead,” which originally aired on Oct. 5, 1987. Particularly notable for a rousing appearance by Hank Aaron, the show was about a relocated mob informant formerly known as “The Eraser” whose new identity was as a Minor League manager. He brought in the Hall of Famer to fuel his Bluebirds’ competitive juices.
We have a bit more from Ben Hill on “The Simpsons” front. Our list of 10 times the Minors guested on TV covered the Season 12 show that predicted an Isotopes’ move to Albuquerque. But another Minor League episode in the beloved series’ archive first aired way back in the second season, “Dancing Homer” on Nov. 8, 1990. Co-written by former Norfolk Tides broadcaster Ken Levine, the story found Homer serving as a Minor League mascot. As a special inside nod, the Capital City Capitals owner Dave Rosenfield who wound up firing Homer paid tribute to the Tides’ late longtime team president of the same name.
The first directorial effort by David Duchovny, co-lead of The X-Files and a devoted Yankees fan, was done for the show’s “The Unnatural.” He also penned the script for the sixth-season episode telling the fictional story of Josh Exley, an alien who wanted to play baseball but didn’t particularly want to make it to The Show. It’s an interesting concept from the man who played Fox “I want to believe” Mulder for more than 10 seasons; the most talented man in the game just might not have been an actual man after all.
We’ll be expecting more shows to bring the Minor Leagues onto the pop culture horizon in the future. They will inevitably be compared to Max Klinger from “MASH” and Walter White of “Breaking Bad.” We can only hope they have a similar impact on viewers, let alone merchandise sales.
Paige Schector is an editor for MiLB.com.