The Coolest Item in Ozzie Smith's Memorabilia Auction: 'Simpsons' Animation Cel
Back in October, legendary former Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith announced that he is selling off a huge trove of his personal collection of sports memorabilia, including his thirteen consecutive Golden Glove awards and two World Series rings.
OzzieSmith.com and SCP Auctions Hundreds of thousands of dollars well spent.
"My family and I have decided together which of my pieces to keep and which to share," Smith wrote in a statement. "I will forever cherish every experience associated with earning these awards that I shared with the Cardinal Nation and the baseball community."
The auction's been live for almost two weeks now and we thought we'd check in to see what the items were fetching. That's when we discovered something only a '90s dweeb could love and to our eyes the absolute coolest piece of memorabilia in the whole lot.
In 1992, something magical happened on television. An episode of The Simpsons called "Homer at the Bat" achieved higher ratings than both the Cosby Show and the Olympics. The story of the episode is laid out in this fascinating Deadspin piece, but even without knowing the back-story the episode became an instant classic.
Quick refresher -- Homer carves a magic bat and leads the nuclear power plant softball team to a championship against Shelbyville, only to find himself and his friends replaced by nine ringers from the major leagues. That included Jose Canseco (allegedly a prima donna who demanded a rewrite of his liaison with Mrs. Krabappel), Ken Griffey Jr. and Darryl Strawberry. The Wizard made himself available to be Mr. Burns' shortstop.
The episode is iconic for lots of reasons -- its ambitiousness in casting nine Major League ballers from all over the country, the willingness of the players to poke fun at themselves, their game and their bosses, the subversiveness of the plot. But mostly, it's just funny as hell. Smith told Deadspin he considered his performance on the show a career highlight, even though the writers had him fall into a rip in the time-space continuum. (Here's a probably completely illegal website that has the episode streaming.)
Fast forward twenty years -- Smith is retired (and trying to plan for his "estate") and The Simpsons are barely relevant, but check this out: Lot number 188 is described as follows, "Ozzie Smith's 'The Simpsons' Cartoon Cel Inscribed by Matt Groening." SO. COOL.