Seinfeld was one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. It also has a long history of athlete cameos. Most of the cameos were New York baseball-related, which is no surprise given Seinfeld’s standing as a longtime Mets fan.
Here are a few of the athletes who guest-starred on Seinfeld and managed to steal the show.
Former Yankees right fielder Paul O’Neill was known for his rocket arm and his sweet left-handed swing when he played for the Yankees. He wasn’t known for his home run hitting ability. That’s what he was asked to tap into when he guest-starred in the season seven episode “The Wink.” To convince a sick kid to give him back a greeting card George needed, Kramer asked O’Neill to hit two home runs for the boy. O’Neill ends up hitting one homer and a triple with a one-base error.
The former Yankees outfielder known as “The Bull” appeared in two episodes, “The Chaperone” and “The Pledge Drive.” In “The Chaperone,” he took tips on his swing from George before Costanza quizzed him on what material the uniforms were made out of. This situation ended with the team switching to cotton uniforms — and first baseman Don Mattingly splitting his pants.
In Tartabull’s second starring role, he was set to appear on a PBS pledge drive with Jerry when George forced them to miss the appearance. George was pursuing a car with a driver he thought had given them the finger. It led to Costanza proclaiming, “No one gives us the finger. We’re Yankees!”
Keith Hernandez had what is probably the best-known athlete cameo in Seinfeld history when he played himself in the hour-long episode “The Boyfriend (Parts 1 and 2).” In it, Hernandez strikes up a friendship with Jerry, attempts to date Elaine, and corrects one of Newman and Kramer’s long-held conspiracy theories about who spit on them after a Mets game one time.
Hernandez coined the catchphrase he would use for the title of his autobiography: I’m Keith Hernandez.
Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams
In the season eight episode “The Abstinence,” George achieves genius powers due to maintaining abstinence. One of the new skills he picked up was the ability to hit use geometry to hit a baseball out of the ballpark. He showed off this skill to Yankee legends Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams. After giving them the lesson, Williams asks, “Aren’t you the guy who put us in that Ramada in Milwaukee?”
Mentioned, but never appeared
The characters on Seinfeld discussed several prominent athletes over the years, but those sports stars never had any screen time.
Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds
When George is attempting to get hired as the Yankees’ new GM in the season seven episode “The Caddy,” he concocts a trade to get Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds in the Yankees’ outfield “without having to give up that much.”
The Mick is mentioned in the season two episode “The Pony Remark” when Kramer accidentally punches him at Yankee fantasy camp. He was also referenced as George’s hero in the episode “The Seven.”
When Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner thinks Geoge Costanza has passed away in the season seven episode “The Caddy,” he goes to George’s parents’ house to break the news himself. While Estelle is distraught, all Frank can do is ask Steinbrenner, “What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?”
Honorable mention: “George Steinbrenner”
This entry on the list wasn’t an athlete and never actually appeared on the show himself, but was too funny and prominent on the show to leave off. From the season finale of season five until the end of season eight, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner regularly “appeared” as a character on the show. The performance was actually a playful caricature of the real-life Steinbrenner portrayed by Seinfeld co-creator Larry David. Steinbrenner reportedly loved David’s sendup and even filmed a scene for the show that was later cut.