Futurama Episode #54: A Leela of Her Own
Date: Sunday, April 7, 2002
Intro Caption: "Scratch here to reveal prize"
Special Guest Stars
- Hank Aaron (as Hank Aaron's head in a jar and Hank Aaron XXIV)
- Bob Uecker (as Bob Uecker's head in a jar)
During a friendly Blernsball game between Planet Express and a large family of vaguely Italianesque alien immigrants, the manager of the New New York Mets notices Leela continuously beaning every single player who comes up to bat. As has been hinted at several times during the series, cyclops depth perception isn't the best. He signs her on the spot as a novelty act to keep butts in the stadium seats, since fans are leaving in droves due to the Mets' poor season.
While Leela manages to delude herself into thinking that she's acting as a role model as the first female Blernsball player, she's actually an embarrassment to female athletes everywhere. In 77 innings, she hasn't pitched a single strike and has beaned every player who came up to bat (it should be noted that she has also pitched a perfect career no-hitter). She does however have an ironic fan club calling themselves "Leela's Bean Counters" and a steady income doing commercials for Bean Bay Beans in various languages.
After a humiliating encounter with amateur female Blernsball player Jackie Anderson, Leela vows to become the best Blernsball player ever, and then lowers her expectations to not the worst Blernsball player ever after Hermes Conrad informs her that's statistically impossible at this point. She enlists the help of the current worst Blernsball player ever, Hank Aaron XXIV — descendant of the famous Hank Aaron — who teaches her how to throw a straight pitch.
In the final game of the season, Leela has one last chance to prove herself on the pitcher's mound. If she can get just one out, she won't be the worst Blernsball player ever. The batter turns out to be Jackie Anderson, who worked hard to become the second professional female Blernsball player in order to prove that female athletes can be taken seriously. She hits a grand slam home run off of Leela's straight pitch, the Mets lose, and Leela goes down in history as the worst Blernsball player ever. The story does have a happy ending though as the alien immigrants manage to sell their pizza restaurant to Fishy Joe (from The Problem with Popplers) for $100,000.
- Bob Uecker: I've never seen anything this bizarre, and I've seen Mr. Belvedere naked!
- Leela: The fans haven't been cheering for me, they've been cheering at me.
- Leela: I've been training with Hank Aaron.
Coach: You've been training with the Hank Aaron?
Leela: I've been training with a Hank Aaron.
- The word "Blerns" is an inside reference to Blernsday, a fictional eighth day added to the week to allow the Futurama production team enough time to finish their work before tight deadlines during Season 1.
- This episode features some of the most realistic pitching animation in cartooning. The animators studied real baseball pitches to get it just right, since the episode featured it so much.
- According to the DVD commentary track, Hank Aaron didn't want to do the episode until he found out Bob Uecker signed on.
- Also according to the commentary, the writers originally wanted Bob Uecker to say "...and I've seen Mr. Belvedere naked!" but had second thoughts over whether he'd want to say that. However, the replacement line they came up with wasn't as good, and Bob Uecker himself suggested the very line they never intended to show him.
- Leela's Blernsball career closely matches the real life baseball career of midget actor Billy Barty in a number of ways. Most surprisingly, this appears to be completely coincidental! There is no mention of Billy Barty on the DVD commentary and no web site I can find appears to have noticed the connection.
- Both players were signed on as a novelty act because the team wasn't doing well that season.
- Both players wore the highly unusual number 7/8, Leela because all the whole numbers have been retired, and Billy Barty as a joke about his height.
- Both players were (in)famous for the hitting part of game, Leela as pitcher and Barty as batter.
- Leela walked all but one player she pitched against. Barty was walked on nearly every pitch (45 career walks total) because his strike zone was so small and oddly placed.
- Leela's pitches were hit only once in her entire career. Barty only hit one pitch in his entire career (he swung twice, for a whopping batting average of 0.500)
Thanks to Servo5678 for a Blernsday correction.
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