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Today in White Sox History: February 20

Steve Sax “goes to jail”

Steve Sax’s “villain” turn on The Simpsons 31 years ago today foretold his disappointing White Sox career.
The Simpsons


Barely one month after being traded to the White Sox from the New York Yankees, Steve Sax ends up in jail during the “Homer at the Bat” episode of The Simpsons.

Despite a miracle turnaround and undefeated season powered by Homer Simpson’s “Wonderbat,” Sax is one of nine baseball superstars hired by Montgomery Burns to play on his Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team after making a million-dollar bet on the outcome of the championship game. Sax is playing upright bass in a jazz band called The Steve Sax Trio when Burns hires him as a ringer at the plant.

Nearly all of the stars fail to show up for the game — with miscellaneous pratfalls creating obstacles (Ken Griffey Jr. develops gigantism after drinking too much of Burns’ “delicious” nerve tonic, Jose Canseco is derailed when a desperate woman asks him to save her possessions in a house fire, Mike Scioscia is hospitalized after being exposed to radiation at the plant, Don Mattingly is suspended by Burns for failing to trim his sideburns, etc.) — which is won on a walk-off HBP, as pinch-hitter Homer takes a bases-loaded pitch to the head for the win.

Sax, for his part, ends up arrested and facing six life sentences, as the Springfield Police suspect him (at the time of production, still a Yankee) for being responsible for a string of murders in New York City. Sax spends the game behind bars.

Sadly, the episode foretold a terrible career with the White Sox ahead for Sax, as he forgot how to hit (coming off of a .304 average/110 OPS+ season in New York, Sax fell to .236 and a 69 OPS+ over 200 games in Chicago in 1992 and 1993) and developed throwing yips that forced him from second base to left field.

In addition to future White Sox players Canseco and Griffey, the producers originally had asked Carlton Fisk to appear in the episode (presumably, for a dose of radiation poisoning) but the catcher declined.

All of the players involved proved to be amenable and excited — except Canseco, who didn’t like his role and forced a re-write into his hero turn.