Saturday Night Baseball
Most of SNL’s baseball-themed segments lightly mock the sport’s characters and quirks. But sometimes the show’s writers used comedy to deliver more pointed commentary. In the 1990 “Harassing a Female Reporter,” Steinbrenner (as himself) brushes aside the complaints Jan Post, playing a New York Post reporter, raises about clubhouse and locker room sexual harassment. And in 2015, “Their Own League” offered an alternate version of the 1992 Columbia Pictures film A League of Their Own about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
Dressed in Rockford Peaches uniforms, Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, Vanessa Bayer, and a tunic-clad Bobby Moynihan are coached by a gruff Taran Killam. The women question whether women really should play baseball, until McKinnon steps in to argue otherwise. After a “women CAN play baseball” cheer, Taraji Henson asks if she can join the team. The Rockford Peaches awkwardly mutter until McKinnon responds “we kind of already have the woman thing.”
Outside “Their Own League” and “Harassing a Female Reporter,” few SNL baseball sketches delivered such pointed commentary about inequality or discrimination in baseball. Most used a lighter comedic tone, as was the case in a 1984 “Little League Trade” sketch featuring Bob Uecker, Billy Crystal, and Gary Kroger. Playing Crystal’s father, Uecker tells his son that their efforts to use performance-enhancing drugs to stunt his growth (and keep in in League League longer) weren’t going to make up for his poor athletic performance. After finding out he’s “been optioned to the Martin family,” Crystal stares inside his living room as Uecker welcomes Kroger playing Juan, a 10-year old Cuban prospect.
Given the rich history of baseball and Saturday Night Live, fans of the sport and the show can only hope the partnership continues. From exaggerated impressions to biting parody, SNL has reminded multiple generations of baseball fans that at the end of the day, baseball should always be able to laugh at itself.
Katie Walden was the library research intern in the Class of 2016 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum