Twenty years ago, The Simpsons gave the Fox Network its first-ever prime-time ratings victory with an all-star baseball episode that beat out The Cosby Show and the Winter Olympics:
Aside from the logistics of recording nine separate guest roles, plot lines had to be rewritten on the fly. Jose Canseco’s scene originally called for him and Mrs. Krabappel to engage in Bull Durham-inspired extramarital shenanigans. Canseco’s wife rejected the scene, and the staff had to do a last-minute Saturday afternoon rewrite when Oakland came south on a mid-August road trip.
Instead of Lothario, Canseco got to play hero, rushing into a woman’s burning house to rescue her baby, then cat, followed by a player piano, washer, dryer, couch and recliner combo, high chair, TV, rug, kitchen table and chairs, lamp, and grandfather clock. Requesting the new sequence turned out to be the wiser move. Canseco and his wife had nearly divorced earlier that year before reconciling, and a week before “Homer at the Bat” aired, Canseco was arrested by Miami police for chasing down and ramming his wife’s BMW twice with his red Porsche at 4:30 a.m. After the chase ended, he allegedly got out of his car, came over to his wife’s driver-side window, and spit on it.