Lights, Camera, Baseball: The Top 10 Dodger TV and Film Appearances
Since they moved to Los Angeles in 1958, the Dodgers and Hollywood have had a relationship that can only be described as symbiotic. At any game, you’re guaranteed to see celebrities like Jeff Bridges, George Lopez, Jason Bateman, and Bryan Cranston nestled in a yellow seat.
Conversely, the Dodgers have taken their star power from the diamond to studio sets many times over the decades. In other instances, Dodger Stadium was the studio set. From cartoon hijinks to cameos to biopics, here are ten memorable instances where the Boys in Blue graced the silver screen and the TV screen.
10. Enrique Hernandez – The Bold and the Beautiful
While Clayton Kershaw’s appearance in New Girl got far more publicity, super utility man Enrique Hernandez nabbed himself a role a couple years later with even more lines. On September 12, 2016, during a day off from a heated division race, he starred in an episode of the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. With more lines than a mere cameo, he was quick to pick up the nuances of starring in daytime television. All the better since his wife, Mariana, is an actress.
Backstage Dodgers had a behind-the-scenes clip of the Rally Banana’s close-up.
9. Steve Garvey – Ice Cream Man
By far the weirdest entry on this list. This 1995 cult horror movie was originally released direct-to-video, and for good reason. With cheap production values, its story of a mental patient (Clint Howard, Ron Howard’s younger brother) who becomes a murderous ice cream man isn’t exactly something mainstream audiences or critics would warm up to. The most heralded first baseman in Los Angeles Dodgers history appears briefly as the father of one of the lead child characters. That the conservative, straight-as-a-whistle Garvey would appear in a movie with lines like “Eat this, ice cream dick!” is as bizarre as it is absolutely hilarious.
8 Clayton Kershaw – New Girl
Beyond being the best pitcher of a generation, Clayton Kershaw has the charisma, name recognition and looks to parlay into a decent acting career if he so desired. His first moment in the Hollywood spotlight is a brief one. In a February 2014 episode of the Zooey Deschanel sitcom New Girl, Kershaw awkwardly bumps into the title character, Jess, as she makes her way through a mansion party thrown by Prince.
It’s Kershaw’s public persona to a tee: humble, unassuming, and belying his elite athlete status. Furthermore, Jess has to be the only woman in L.A. capable of resisting the GOAT’s charms.
7. Kyle Farmer – The Blind Side
Given the storybook nature of his walk-off debut in 2017, one could say Kyle Farmer’s story is bigger than a movie already. Eight whole years before he made that season’s cinematic moment, he appeared (however nondescriptly) in actual cinemas via the Oscar-winning football drama The Blind Side. In addition to baseball, Farmer also played football at Marist High School in Atlanta, and was thus used during a key practice scene.
Farmer can be seen in the clip below, clad in yellow. He’s the one throwing the ball, but does not do any of the character’s speaking part:
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6. Dodger Stadium – Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” Music Video
This entry is a bit of a stretch as it’s the stadium itself, not a player, and the media in question is a music video rather than a show or movie. But it’s worth including, as Dodger Stadium played a key role in one of the best songs by one of the best bands of the ‘70s.
After conquering the pop world with Rumours in 1977, Fleetwood Mac followed it up two years later with Tusk, then the most expensive album ever made. Its title track was elevated by the USC Trojans Marching Band, whose forceful horn and rhythm parts were recorded at Dodger Stadium.
To capture the event, the band filmed the session, which took place on a June afternoon in 1979. The video is a glorious snapshot of the exorbitant lengths the band went to for the album, with 120 band members sprawled across the field right in the middle of baseball season. If anything, it’s the perfect summation of the album itself: excessive, odd and impractical, yet brilliant precisely because of it.
On a personal note, I had to include this on the list as Fleetwood Mac was my first ever favorite band as a kid, with “Tusk” as my favorite song. That the home of my favorite team is part of its conveyance makes it even more special. You can read more about the video’s recording right here.
5. Sandy Koufax, Leo Durocher and others – Mister Ed
The 1960s were a golden age for the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning three pennants and two World Series with a bevy of unforgettable stars. That peak also overlapped with a burgeoning time in show business, leading many players to star in television.
One of their best moments came in 1963 on Mister Ed, a comedy show about a mischievous talking horse (the title character) and his owner Wilbur. The episode revolves around the namesake horse’s frustration with the team’s lousy play, and somehow manages to call manager Leo Durocher (playing himself) with advice.
The golden moment, though, is when Mister Ed is invited to Dodger Stadium to demonstrate his hitting knowledge. He steps to the plate, bat in mouth, and wallops an inside-the-park home run for the ages. Maybe if the Yankees had taken Mister Ed’s advice, they would have done better against Koufax in that year’s World Series.
4. Leo Durocher – The Munsters
Two years after appearing in Mister Ed, Leo Durocher had an even funnier sitcom appearance to complement a championship season. In April 1965, Durocher hosted not a horse, but rather Herman Munster, the Frankenstein-esque member of the show’s title family, The Munsters. In his Dodgers audition, Herman can hit the ball so hard that it literally goes through an infielder’s glove and knock down part of a scoreboard. Durocher quips, “I don’t know whether to sign him to the Dodgers or send him to Vietnam.”
3. Vin Scully – Multiple Entries
It should come to the surprise of no one that Vin Scully accounts for a huge bulk of Dodger movie moments. Had Vinny not been moved by the Giants losing badly that fateful day at the laundromat, it’s easy to envision him becoming a powerful figure in Hollywood in an alternate timeline. With his penchant for storytelling, he could have been an exalted screenwriter on par with Dalton Trumbo and Ernest Lehman.
Of course, the world is a better place with his true destiny as a baseball announcer. But that didn’t keep him from lending his succulent voice to a plethora of movies about the great game. In 1999’s For the Love of the Game, he narrates Kevin Costner’s potential perfect game (even though the character plays for the Tigers). In 1966’s Fireball 500, he narrates the prologue of one of many Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello vehicles. His first appearance, 1960’s Wake Me When It’s Over, cast him as a CBS reporter, a nod to his first professional broadcasting career with the same company.
And that’s all before counting his actual broadcasts in the soundtracks of Experiment in Terror (1962), The Bucket List (2007), Game 6 (2005) and many other films. Befitting of his humble character, Scully downplayed his significance in the movie world, assuring he wouldn’t take any role to dilute his focus on baseball.
2. Jackie Robinson – The Jackie Robinson Story
Well before the franchise nestled itself in Tinseltown, they already had a presence in the movie world thanks (unsurprisingly) to Jackie Robinson. Three years after he broke the MLB color barrier, Robinson, right in the prime of his career, played himself in the 1950 biopic The Jackie Robinson Story.
The idea of somebody playing themselves in a biopic, especially when their story is far from finished, may seem tacky by the modern standards of the genre. Yet TJRS was hardly a hokey cash-in, starring the legendary Ruby Dee as Rachel Robinson and shot by esteemed cinematographer Ernest Laszlo.
Fortunately, the film was a box office and critical success. Robinson’s performance even garnered praise from the notoriously stringent film critic Bosley Crowther, who glowed: “..Mr. Robinson, doing that rare thing of playing himself in the picture’s lead role, displays a calm assurance and composure that might be envied by many a Hollywood star.”
1. Mike Scioscia and Steve Sax – The Simpsons
There exists no greater barometer of American culture for the past three decades than The Simpsons. If you are a figure of any renown, lending your voice to a yellow simulacrum of yourself is truly a universal measure of significance.
It’s all the better if you do it in one of the show’s very best episodes. In 1992, Mike Scioscia and Steve Sax (the latter a Yankee at the time) enjoyed that distinction when they and many other MLB superstars appeared in “Homer at the Bat.” The story follows Homer Simpson’s heroics leading the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team all the way to the championship game.
Mr. Burns makes a characteristic giant bet that his team will win, and enlists Scioscia, Sax, Ken Griffey Jr., Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Ozzie Smith, Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry, and Jose Canseco to ensure it. But then a funny thing happens: one by one, almost all of the players are lost to a freak accident before the big game. Sax is pulled over and arrested for every unsolved murder in New York City, while Scioscia contracts radiation poisoning from his job at the power plant.
With savvy baseball references and a gut-busting resolution, “Homer at the Bat” is widely regarded as one of the finest episodes in 30 years of the show. Not to mention, as some may remember, the Terry Cashman parody (sung by Cashman himself) during the end credits inspired the name for one of the original Dodger blogs.
You forgot Don Drysdale in the Brady Bunch. Cum on!!!!!!
AH! I knew I was forgetting a big one! All the more unforgivable on my part as I was thinking Drysdale was oddly missing from this list.
Koufax and Drysdale in “The Lawman”
I’ve gotta look that up. Koufax and Drysdale together is one I should have mentioned, but with only 10 entries I admittedly couldn’t fir them all in!
I seem to remember an episode of Married With Children that featured a small speaking part for Mike Piazza.
I was wondering if there were some recent ones I was forgetting, I’ll have to look that one up!
Kenta Maeda on Netflix’s Terrace House which he is a big fan of.
I’ve gotta see that one! Love Kenta.
And…..Jim Lefebvre and Wes Parker on Gilligan’s Island. Hmmm… too many obscure recent ones, IMO…
There were so many instances in the ’60s, it’d be hard to list them all. The book “The Last Innocents” details the Dodgers and Hollywood at that time really well.
Love this post Marshall. Good work!