Baseball. It’s America’s Pastime. It’s the game we play as children, watch as adults, and share with our children and grandchildren. It’s played a role in shaping the nation, from the Civil War through to the Civil Rights Movement, and has permeated many aspects of American life, including culture, fashion, food and entertainment.
In the entertainment sphere, baseball and comedy can come together like a perfect game. An example of this is Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First?” routine. The skit, which was first performed live on Kate Smith’s radio show on March 24, 1938, is the duo’s most famous comedy routine. It is believed the they performed the routine 15,000 times before they performed it one last time on the night of October 7, 1956, when it was officially inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The following day, Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. Coincidence? I think not.
Now baseball and comedy can also come together like a lengthy at bat, where the batter has swung at a couple of pitches, and fouled off a few more, before finally getting a hit. And that’s how I classify this 1963 Three Stooges comic book, which I discovered in a bric-a-brac store a little while ago. I know it’s not a card, but this had to be done.
Looking at the cover, it is clear that the comedy trio and their designer were trying to provide us with an amusing image. We can see Curly-Joe at bat, looking directly at us, with Larry squatting behind him as the catcher. Larry has a look of bewilderment on his face, not surprisingly because a baseball is heading directly for his mouth. Moe is standing behind Larry, and is the home plate umpire. He is staring off into the distance, away from the action, not unlike actual umpires do. Kidding.
On the whole, this image would be highly amusing, were it not for three glaringly obvious errors. The first is that neither Larry nor Moe are wearing any protective equipment. The second is that Larry is using a first base mitt and not a catcher’s mitt. And the third is that all three of them are wearing street shoes.
I know what you’re probably thinking. Don’t be so fussy. But as a baseball fan, I can’t overlook these errors entirely. Keep fouling it off, fellas.
The main comic inside the book is entitled “Double Play”.
In the story, Curly is hypnotised by a gang of criminals and is convinced that he is a famous ballplayer named Homer McSlugger. The gang kidnap the real McSlugger and replace him with Curly, who they hope will perform poorly in a game they have placed a bet on.
However, the hypnosis works so well that Curly not only believes that he is McSlugger, but that he can play like him too – and he does, hitting five home runs and pitching a no hitter.
The ensuing chaos between the gang of criminals, and also Larry and Moe (who try in vain to convince their friend that he is not actually McSlugger) is amusing and is as true to The Three Stooges slapstick comedy style as you’re going to get.
And there you have it. You got your hit fellas.