In 2009, Parks and Recreation first aired. A spiritual spin-off (but not an actual spin-off) of The Office, it follows the life of the Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and the rest of the staff of the Parks and Recreation Department in the fictional, Springfield-like city of Pawnee, Indiana.
In 2011, Knope released a book on Pawnee in the show, entitled Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America. NBC released the book in the real world.
In 2013, as part of a Netflix/Hulu binge to get caught up on Parks and Recreation before the next season starts, I also read Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America. I got it from the library (thankfully, my local library is not run by Ron Swanson’s second ex-wife Tammi). In doing so, I was able to catch a clever baseball reference in it during a section on Pawnee’s school board- which is filled with people who have lots of A’s at the start of their names in order to be at the top of the ballot, helping them win simply through the laziness of the voters of Pawnee. I’ve put the page up below the jump*, can you spot it?
*(Please don’t sue me, NBC!)
Anyway, do YOU see the baseball reference in it? Well, it’s the name of the candidate who won a school board election in 1998 simply because his name put him first alphabetically on the ballot: David Aardsma.
“So what?”, you say, “How do you know that that is meant to be a reference to the baseball player?”
Well, a few reasons:
- It’s not like David Aardsma is just a name thrown in there randomly, the context for the joke (Pawnee’s David Aardsma was first on the ballot alphabetically) fits in well with one of the claims to fame of the baseball David Aardsma (first in alphabetical order in baseball).
- David Aardsma is not a common name- it’s not like the writers of the book wrote in a name like “John Anderson”- so it can’t just be a coincidence.
- The co-creator of Parks and Recreation, Michael Schur, was the one who apparently wrote most of the book, and who did the interviews about it. Why is that significant? Well, Schur is also known as Ken Tremendous, who tweets about baseball with some regularity and who once ran the sports-media blog “Fire Joe Morgan”.
So, as the past three item show, there is little chance that David Aardsma’s inclusion in Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America isn’t a baseball reference. What I’m surprised by is that this seems to be the first time anybody has caught it.
Also, totally unrelated, but today, September 19, is Talk Like A Pirate Day, matey. But, as those scurvy dogs over at Parks and Recreation reminds us landlubbers, November 19 be Talk Like a Pittsburgh Pirate Day. Savvy?
Edited in Later: A tweet to Schur himself attracted Aardsma’s attention, leading Schur to confirm that it was meant as a homage to Aardsma (although he notes that fellow co-author Nate DiMeo might have been the one who actually wrote that part), which then led to David Aardsma buying a copy.
That escalated quickly.