In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.
I warned you. I told you it was coming. You could have gone away, but, no, you had to go and actually come here and read this installment of Bizarre Baseball Culture. This is a very special Bizarre Baseball Culture, as, for the first time, it’s something that I actually have in my very small personal collection of comic books. You see, in 2007, each Triple-A baseball team had a day celebrating superheroes, and as a giveaway, there was this comic:
And, as you can probably guess, I was at that game and got the giveaway. And so, it sat in a drawer for almost seven years, ignored. Until today. Yes, true believers, tremble and prepare yourself for the 2007 edition of Triple-A Baseball Heroes, featuring the superheroes of Marvel Comics.
Now, a few notes before we get going here:
- All of the images in this post were scanned by yours truly, and any problems with the quality of the images are my fault.
- All characters and logos in the comic are property of their respective owners (such as Marvel Comics or Minor League Baseball). The excerpts from this comic used in this post are being used under fair use doctrine and are meant merely to support and enhance the opinions and facts stated in said post.
- Click on any of the images to make them bigger.
- To the best of my knowledge, the only way to get this comic nowadays is to find it on eBay or have gone to the games that had them released.
Now, go below the jump for the rest of the post:
As I said earlier, this comic was released as a giveaway to the 30 AAA teams in August of 2007. As far as I can tell, it served four purposes:
- It served as an advertisement for Marvel Comics.
- It served as an advertisement for movies featuring Marvel characters. Almost every member of the cast either had a movie come out in 2007 or had one that was going to come out within the next year.
- It also is meant as an advertisement for AAA Baseball and how it is not only good family fun but also a thriving business with big events and record attendance.
- To put more butts in the seats. Minor League Baseball is built around promotions and giveaways like this.
So… Triple-A Baseball Heroes. It’s a mildly-amusing-at-best mess, hampered by the inanity of it’s concept and the fact it only has twelve pages to build a story. But, as you can probably guess, it does definitely have a good, strange charm.
Take the cover, for example. It’s a neat image (done by John Watson), with the many mascots of AAA baseball running alongside the Marvel heroes towards the viewer. It also has some nice touches, like the fact that the alien mascot of the Las Vegas 51s is traveling using some type of UFO and that the mascots seen flying seem to mainly be birds or bats. However, the cover is also misleading: few if any of the mascots actually show up in the comic, and even some of the heroes, like Wolverine, Captain America and Storm, are missing from the story itself.
And, what’s more, the main characters of the comic are missing from the cover! Okay, three of the four main characters are missing from the cover. Those main characters are the Fantastic Four, who we see on the first page going to the home of the Albuquerque Isotopes for the 2007 AAA All-Star Game:
This first page gives us some interesting facts:
- The Fantastic Four occasionally takes days off. Presumably Galactus and Doctor Doom are the Avengers’ problem those days.
- Little Franklin Richards is a Cubs fan. Something to note here is that at certain points in Marvel history he has had the powers to bend reality and tap into vast psychic power (SOURCE: Far too much time in the graphic novel section of the local library when I was younger). In other words, the Cubs have had a god-child on their side and they still haven’t won a World Series since 1908.
- The Richards family basically just drop mini-advertisements for Minor League Baseball on this page. Can you see them? Note: If you cannot see them, please see an optometrist.
- Reed Richards has a Norfolk Tides shirt for some reason, while Ben Grimm, no doubt a film aficionado, is rocking a Durham Bulls t-shirt.
- The 2007 AAA All-Star Game included such players as Adam Jones and Joey Votto. Actually, that isn’t on the page, I’m just throwing that in there, since it means that the Marvel Universe versions of Adam Jones and Joey Votto are probably in this comic book, just out of view.
- The writer of this tale is Chris Eliopoulos. Although mainly known for being a letterer (the guy who… writes the letters in the bubbles and boxes), he also has written a bunch of all-ages comic books.
- Doing the art was Robert Q. Atkins. He’s since done some GI Joe comics and a mini-series based on the TV series Castle.
Wow, that’s a lot that can be gained just from one page of a giveaway comic. And on page two, we also see that Peter Parker and Aunt May are at the ballpark. Okay, I can get the Fantastic Four going, seeing as how they have, like, hover-jets or something, and it is said that Peter is on assignment for the Daily Bugle, but the idea that Spider-Man could afford bringing his Aunt to Albuquerque seems to strain belief. Not only that, though, but, we have some other serious continuity and logical errors here. Take this panel to the right, in which Aunt May is talking about how Uncle Ben used to bring her to AAA baseball games. There’s a major problem there, logically. Since I believe that the Parkers have always lived in New York City or the surrounding areas, there wouldn’t have been any AAA teams for them to go to. The last New York City-area AAA team was the Jersey City Skeeters, who haven’t played a game since the early 1950s. There is no way that Aunt May would have been able to have attended those games with Uncle Ben. None. However, this isn’t the most egregious mistake here. The biggest mistake can be seen HERE: You see that? On Peter’s shirt? That’s a New York Yankees logo. And, well, there is no way that Peter Parker would be a Yankee fan. At all. It goes against everything he stands for as a character. Spider-Man is meant to be the champion of the underdog, forever being beaten down by life but still plugging away- his victories always bittersweet and his successes always fleeting. Also, he lives in Queens. Does that sound like a Yankee fan to you? Well, even if it does, while doing research for this article, I found two pieces of evidence that show that Parker is a Mets fan (which makes much more sense): first off, our friend Michael Clair (who became unusually excited when he saw the preview for this) has evidence that Spidey had his wedding at Shea Stadium, and he also had a segment of The Electric Company depicting him as a Mets fan. Secondly, there apparently was a comic book story about how Uncle Ben would bring Peter to Mets games. Clearly, a continuity error.
However, is it a continuity error? After all, Peter had to fly from New York City to Albuquerque for this game. It’s possible that whatever airline he bought tickets from lost his Mets stuff in the luggage, and, still wanting to represent his home town of New York City, he had to suck it up and buy a Yankees t-shirt because they weren’t selling any Mets gear.
(I await my No-Prize, Marvel.)
Anyway, end of that little tangent… let’s go forward, shall we? On the next page, Iron Man arrives to throw out the first pitch in full power-suit. Not surprisingly, the first movie featuring Iron Man was due to come out the next year. Total coincidence, I am sure. Also, you know how on the first page somebody asked for The Thing’s help with something? Well, it turns out it wasn’t moving a batting cage or anything, it was to take part in a sausage race:
Now that is funny. Far funnier than the next page, where we hear Tony Stark get a big speech about how good a business AAA baseball is and we see that Bruce Banner is incognito as a vendor there. Yes, Bruce Banner has taken a job where people will no doubt be yelling at him if he doesn’t do a good job getting them a beer or hot dog. That isn’t what causes him to hulk-out, though, instead, it’s because the Sandman (who, not coincidentally, was in that year’s Spider-Man movie) knocked a kid over to catch a foul ball and wouldn’t give it back to the kid:
What I’m trying to figure out is how Sandman went from being in the stands to being knocked onto the field of play through an outfield wall. Doesn’t seem like that could happen, since the stands are above the wall.
This splash page of the Hulk is cool, though:
The Thing using his catch-phrase
In the end, however, this battle is not won through fisticuffs and THROOM sound effects, but by the power of love. Okay, maybe not the power of love, but at least the power of Triple-A Baseball. You see, the kid who’s ball the Sandman stole doesn’t want Hulk to fight people, he just wants everyone to have fun. Isn’t that right, Iron Man?
Well, it’s not exactly James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams, but Hulk gets the point, and, what’s more, the Sandman gives the ball back to the kid (while being given a wedgie by Spidey). Everybody is happy. But wait! The kid has a request for the Hulk! He wants to do something!
What is it?
Why, to sing a duet of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”, of course!
I believe Spider-Man sums this up quite well:
Indeed, Spidey. Indeed.
And so, in our final page, we get brief vignettes of our heroes settling down to enjoy the game. Aunt May talks about how Triple-A Baseball is what family is all about, Franklin Richards talks about how Triple-A Baseball is more exciting than even seeing his family have a throw-down with the Hulk, and, perhaps most importantly of all, Tony Stark tells War Machine about how Triple-A Baseball can make everyone happy while The Hulk gorges himself on hot dogs:
So, there you have it: 2007′s Triple-A Baseball Heroes. A short, strange, funny trip where several superheroes coincidentally show up at the AAA All-Star Game and the Hulk sings, all while telling us how awesome AAA baseball is. You would think that is the end of the story…
…but you would think wrong.
Previous installments of Bizarre Baseball Culture:
Prologue: “Rockets on the Mound” (short story)
10. 2007′s Triple-A Baseball Heroes (you are here now)