Twenty-five years ago this Saturday, a well-known stand-up comedian debuted a little-known sitcom during the 4th of July holiday week. It would be nearly a year before another episode appeared and probably a good two years before "Seinfeld" took hold with the American public. But I can safely say that I have never seen or probably ever will see a funnier television show.
"Seinfeld" is the sitcom of my era. The generation before me had "All in the Family." The generation after me had god knows what -- do they make sitcoms anymore? I remember watching one of the earliest Seinfelds sometime during 1990 in my co-worker's apartment, thinking "what is this?" I believe it was the one where Kramer fills the washing machine with cement.
Sometime after that, I was a faithful Thursday night watcher, like the rest of TV viewers. When the show hit syndication, I copied them on to videotape because I knew that a show this historically funny should be preserved (little did I know there would be so many ways to view it in the future).
Everyone has their favorite Seinfeld shows and mine include the Soup Nazi, the Yada Yada Yada episode, and Kenny Rogers Chicken Roasters among others. I've belted "Serenity Now" on a few occasions and quoted many phrases without even thinking -- "I was in the pool" has become the defense for just about every shortcoming since the show aired.
But here on a baseball card blog, I'd like to recognize this anniversary with, of course, baseball cards.
As you know, baseball, and sports in general, was a common topic on Seinfeld. And I found just over 10 cards that relate the most to Seinfeld episodes.
In a tribute to "a show about nothing," here is a countdown about nothing. Not that there's anything wrong with that:
10. The Face Painter, 1995
Elaine's boyfriend, David Puddy paints his face in New Jersey Devils colors because, you know, "you gotta support the team." Elaine's reaction to this is "well, you can't walk around like that." And Jerry and Kramer's reaction at the door is priceless.
9. The Chaperone, 1994
George gives Danny Tartabull hitting lessons (George: No, no! You're opening up your shoulder! Tartabull: Really? George: No, not really. I'm just saying this to you because I like to hear myself talk!). In the process, George decides the Yankees need to replace their polyester uniforms with cotton. He convinces Buck Showalter to do so, but the move backfires because of uniform "shrinkage".
8. The Note, 1991
Kramer swears he saw Joe DiMaggio at Dinky Donuts (he's a dunker), but nobody believes him. Until they see him with their own eyes at Monk's as Kramer tries to distract DiMaggio by banging on the table and yipping.
7. The Visa, 1993
Kramer goes to a baseball fantasy camp in Florida and comes back to report that he "plunked" Joe Pepitone for crowding the plate, and then, when a brawl breaks out "I punched Mickey Mantle in the mouth." Kramer gets special bonus points for also mentioning Hank Bauer and Clete Boyer, but the quote of the episode goes to George, who says:
"Kramer goes to a fantasy camp. His whole life is a fantasy camp. People should plunk down $2,000 to live like him for a week. Do nothing, fall ass-backwards into money, mooch food off your neighbors and have sex without dating; that's a fantasy camp."
6. The Letter, 1993
Elaine, George and Kramer enjoy a Yankee game in the owners box, but Elaine wears an Orioles cap, much like the one Jamie Moyer is wearing. Elaine is told to take the cap off and she refuses. When George, not wanting to make a scene, tells Elaine to take the cap off, she pokes her finger at him and "No! We are at a BASE-ball game. This is America!" But Elaine gets ejected anyway. Sounds like something the Diamondbacks owner would do.
5. The Abstinence, 1996
George, finding that his mind is sharper because he can't have sex with his girlfriend (she has mononucleosis), gives batting lessons to a very young-looking Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams. (George also learns Portugese). Bernie has the best line when he says "are you the guy who put us in that Ramada in Milwaukee?" George also mocks Jeter when Jeter tells him they won the World Series. "Six games," George smirks.
4. The Wink, 1995
Kramer promises a little boy in the hospital that Paul O'Neill will hit two home runs in one game for him, then goes to the Yankee locker room to inform O'Neill. At his whiny best, O'Neill tells him, "you just don't hit home runs like that, it's hard to hit home runs and where'd you get two from?" Actually, O'Neill is probably the most believable actor among baseball players to ever appear on Seinfield.
3. The Caddy, 1996
In the famed "George is dead" episode, George Steinbrenner comes to the Costanza home to inform the parents of the bad news. Frank Costanza, silent up to this point, unloads on Steinbrenner:
"What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for? He had 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs last year. He's got a rocket for an arm. You don't know what the hell you're doing!"
Steinbrenner's answer is to babble about Ken Phelps.
2. The Boyfriend, 1992
One of the most famous Seinfeld episodes, and certainly the most revered in baseball circles, Roger McDowell and Keith Hernandez both make an appearance, although McDowell shows his glorious mullet and spitting skills only on grainy video. McDowell receives the coveted role as "the second spitter" who targeted Newman and Kramer for Newman saying, "Nice game, pretty boy" to Hernandez, or maybe it was because Newman and Kramer heckled him the bullpen all day.
Sadly, the game date mentioned in the episode -- June 14, 1987 -- in which the Mets supposedly played the Phillies and Hernandez made a crucial error is not factual. The Mets actually played the Pirates in Pittsburgh on that day and won, 7-3. Hernandez went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs.
This episode also happens to be the first time "Hello, Newman" is uttered in Seinfeld.
1. The Boyfriend, 1992 and The Bubble Boy, 1992
Presenting the most Seinfeldian card of all. This card covers two episodes, actually three if you count the fact that The Boyfriend is a two-parter.
Hernandez not only gets to appear in both episodes, date Elaine, and utter "I'm Keith Hernandez," but appears on this Yoo-hoo card, which happens to be the drink that The Bubble Boy's father delivered for a living.
And there's your recap of the cards that I could find with Seinfeld connections. Unfortunately, I have no idea whether there is a George Steinbrenner card because that would wage a serious battle with Hernandez for No. 1.
I miss having a sitcom to look forward to every week. After Seinfeld disappeared (more than 15 years ago!), it was a series of diminishing sitcom devotions until I gave up. Most recently, Parks and Recreation gave it a good ride, but I don't think anything will produce the allegiance that Seinfeld did.
In fact, when I heard the news, I think I pulled an Elaine: