Monday, March 23, 2015

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Baseball

Baseball was once the “American pastime.” This bat-and-ball game is played between clashing teams of nine players each, who take turns in the field, and at bat.

Baseball has appeared in cult-television history more than any other sports, for some reason, owing perhaps to its popularity in the States from the seventies through the nineties.

More than one sci-fi series has fashioned an episode as an “ode” to the game, and love for the game.  

The Deep Space Nine (1993 – 1999) character Benjamin Sisko, for example, is defined from the first episode of the series ("The Emissary") as a fan of baseball.  In the 1998 episode, “Take Me Out to the Holosuite,” Sisko and his crew battle a Vulcan baseball team, forming the “Niners” in the process.

And on The X-Files (1993 – 2002), an episode directed by David Duchovny, called “The Unnatural” involves a baseball team (“The Grays”) in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.  

One of the players, Josh Exley (Jesse L. Martin) is actually an alien gray, hiding in human form, as a black baseball player. His identity as a black baseball player of prominence draws unwanted attention from the KKK, just as his presence as an alien on Earth attracts the attention of the alien bounty hunter (Brian Thompson).  

The story concerns baseball, and features a charming scene of Mulder (Duchovny) teaching Scully (Gillian Anderson) how to hit a ball, but in grander terms, the story is all about discrimination.

A far less grand story about the nature of man and the games he plays could be found on Galactica: 1980 (1980). 

The sixth episode was titled “Spaceball” (March 30, 1980) and found several children from the Colonial fleet trapped on Earth (“the super scouts”), playing a baseball game for charity and using their alien powers to win.  It’s every bit as rancid as it sounds.

On Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 – 1994), the premiere episode of the third season, “Evolution,” concerned a scientist who befriended Wesley, and lectured him about the glories of…baseball.

1 comment:

  1. There's also a great moment in one of the Season One episodes of The X-Files when Mulder says (and I'm paraphrasing), "what's the matter with right field. I was a right fielder. Everyone needs a good right fielder." So true!