Let's Go to the Videotape: Baseball Sells!

A while ago, we took a look at Mike Piazza's forays into the world of commercials. Of course, he is not the only MLB star to lend his face to a corporate endorsement. Baseball and commerce are both as American as apple pie, and as long as we've had professional players, we've seen them in advertisements for everything from pipe tobacco to non-pipe tobacco. Seeing as how we're in a bit of a lull on the news front (the Yankees' recent spending spree notwithstanding), I thought this would be a good time to take a look at some of my favorite commercials featuring MLBers shilling for various things. Come with me, won't you?

If you're of a certain age and grew up in New York, then you surely remember Phil Rizzuto's ads for The Money Store. Longtime Yankee broadcaster Rizzuto appeared in roughly 9 million of these over the years, and nearly all of them featured his trademark phrase "Holy cow!" in one way or another. The following example appears to come from the 1980s, and features Scooter sawing a woman in half to demonstrate the Money Store's reasonable interest rates, or something.

The small-timery on display in these ads is kind of charming, as is the genuine kookiness of Scooter. You can't imagine Michael Kay or John Sterling being a good enough sport to engage in such tomfoolery as this.

Also from the 80s: To prove the superiority of their trucks to Ford's, Chevy asked Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt to beat the crap out of one of their vehicles with a Louisville slugger.

Speaking of the Phillies, here's a suite of local ads from the mid 80s, urging fans to come on out to the Vet. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something slightly off about each one of these, as if they're missing segments from Tim and Eric. I think it's mostly the weird Veteran's Stadium graphic at the end of each one, along with the ominous synth music underneath. Von Hayes' appeal to come out to the ballgame is oddly chilling.

As team promos go, this one made by the Twins is top notch. It was produced prior to the 2010 season, when they were just about to move into Target Field. We see a bubble-wrapped Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer and Denard Span emerging from a box of foam peanuts, and a White Sox fan violently tossed into the back of a moving truck.

So apparently, there was a product called Bubble Fudge...wait, don't run away! There was a product called Bubble Fudge, and Johnny Bench was charged with the thankless task of promoting it. He was also given some disturbingly tight closeups while trying to blow bubbles with Bubble Fudge. If you skip this one, no one would blame you, but that won't make it go away.

At roughly the same time, Pete Rose did a series for commercials for Aqua Velva. This one is my favorite, for a number of reasons. Rose slides into second base headfirst, with all the recklessness he exhibited during actual games. Then former teammate Joe Morgan says, "Hey, it’s Pete Rose of the Philadelphia Phillies," as if Pete stopped by his house and wasn’t playing against him. Would he do this to every guy who stole second? ("Why hello, Ron Leflore of the Montreal Expos!") Then Pete Rose sings the Aqua Velva jingle in a voice that sounds like someone’s got a gun to his back. Considering how much money this guy owed to the mob, that may not be too far from the truth.

In this ad for a local Ford dealership, Bronson Arroyo shows off his acting chops and his potty mouth. Did the commercial actually air this way? if so, awesome. If not, it's still great. (slight NSFW language)

I have no memory of this Nolan Ryan Strike Zone Game from the early 1990s, but it actually looks pretty rad. However, I don't envy the poor director who had to tell Nolan Ryan what to do while filming this commercial. Also, if anyone can understand what Ryan says at the end of this ad, you're a better interpreter than I.

Finally, Nike's "chicks dig the longball" ad of the late 1990s, a once ubiquitous commercial that I hadn't seen in many moons. Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine are jealous of Mark McGwire's chick-attracting abilities because [SEE CATCHPHRASE MENTIONED EARLIER]. So they decide to bulk up and hit the batting cage. If nothing else, this video offers the opportunity to see Glavine hit repeatedly with a baseball bat, something I'm sure many Mets fans have dreamed of doing for years.


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