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.
So, for the first time ever, we have a very special DOUBLEHEADER in Bizarre Baseball Culture, as we belatedly celebrate Thanksgiving with TWO comics. The reason behind this is because both of them are kind of short- one of them is only 3 pages! We’ll open up with the aforementioned 3 page story, a public-domain tale starring “Dick Blaze” (seriously, that’s the name), and then move on to celebrating the family time we have at Thanksgiving with a look at a short comic starring Franklin Richard, son of the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards (AKA Mr. Fantastic) and Susan Storm Richards (AKA The Invisible Woman).
So, let’s get started:
First off, the 3-page story of “Dick Blaze, Four Letter Man at Yardley” can be found in Whirlwind Comics #2, viewable here on page 45. I can find basically nothing about this character, at least partially because I’m not going to be putting “Dick Blaze” into Google because I’m afraid of what might come up (shivers). The GCD doesn’t know a thing either. However, this came out in July 1940, published by Nita Publishing, which would later become part of Holyoke Publishing. Holyoke was one of the various comic companies that existed back during the “Golden Age” and then disappeared.
Anyway… the story.
We begin near the end, which isn’t a surprise, given that this story is just three freaking pages. As the little info-box on the page says, it’s the final game of what seems to be the College World Series, and Dick Blaze’s (STOP LAUGHING, YOU JUVENILE) Yardley team is down by one but with two men on. Also, Yardley has very, very blue uniforms. It’s obvious, based on the situation, that Dick (STOP IT) is the best hitter, something that the Wentworth battery confirms as they deviously scheme:
This is a rather suspect strategy. I mean, for one, it’s mean and unsportsmanlike, unless Dick has broken some unwritten rules earlier in the game. And for another, it’s dumb. There are two men on. You are going to load the bases to send a message, and, what’s more, your going to do it with a intentional HBP that could well go to the backstop if you miss the guy’s head?
On the other hand, Old Hoss Radbourn (or at least his Twitter incarnation) would be pleased.
The first attempt to bean Dick in the head (you’re probably the same type of people who laugh when you read “Uranus”, aren’t you?) fails. But the second one succeeds, and he’s shaken up. Everyone is trying to tell him to get out of the game, but Dick doesn’t care, he says he’s FINE:
Dick succeeds in convincing his coach and teammates that he can stay in the game, which isn’t really a surprise, since this is the Golden Age: When Men were Men and concussions weren’t considered a major threat to an athlete’s future physical well-being and mental health. After all, nobody who suffered from concussions back then became erratic and violent…. right?
(Jeez, this is up there with Dash Dartwell in ironically-uncomfortable-in-retrospect comics)
Anyway, you can probably guess how the rest of this comic (which has about… a page and a line left in it) goes: Dick comes up in the 9th inning despite still being dizzy and socks a walk-off homer….
and then goes to the opponent locker room and beats up the pitcher:
So, remember kids: if you get a serious injury from having a fastball hit you in the head, ignore the pleas of your teammates and stay in the game no matter how dizzy you are. And then, make sure to take revenge against the pitcher who hit you by storming into his locker room and knocking him out.
Man, that’s dark. Let’s go to something a bit more happy: Franklin Richards. A look at his story can be FOUND UNDER THE JUMP:
As I mentioned earlier, Franklin Richards is the son of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. He appeared back in the 2007 AAA Baseball comic, and there I made note that he’s a Cubs fan. That’s funny since he at certain times has been an all-powerful god-child who presumably could have literally willed the Cubs to a World Series victory.
Well, guess what? When he’s not an all-powerful god-child, Franklin Richards is just an ordinary kid who happens to grow up in an extraordinary family, usually acting as a supporting character in Fantastic Four books (except for the times where his mutant powers again come back and he again becomes a god-child).
However, he also had (has?) his own series of special all-ages kids books that look at the humorous side of his life, entitled Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius. These books were storied and drawn by Chris Eliopoulos (who, it should be noted, wrote that first AAA Baseball comic as well and who briefly talked to me about it on Twitter) and co-written (for the first few specials) by Marc Sumerak (who wrote the second AAA comic). Written and drawn in a style that is somewhat reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes, it tells of Franklin’s everyday life as he gets into misadventures, much to the aggravation of HERBIE, the Fantastic Four’s robotic assistant.
And, in 2006’s Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius Super Summer Spectacular, there was a short comic about Franklin playing baseball, entitled “Field of Screams” and done in tribute to Charles “Peanuts” Schultz.
The story begins with Franklin getting all excited for his little league game, saying that he is going to be MVP… and that gets HERBIE suspicious:
So, just before the game (where we see Mr. Fantastic using his stretching powers to create a “We’re number one” finger), Franklin starts rubbing some sort of goo upon his bat. Not surprisingly, this is what his plan is, as he helpfully explains when HERBIE accosts him for this:
Yes, a gel to make his baseball bat a SUPER baseball bat! This is one of those themes that seem to come up a lot in Bizarre Baseball Culture. There were the Little Wise Guys with their Flubber-bat, the leather-repellant coated bat from Pinky and the Brain, and even, to a degree, the anti-gravity bat from that Superman comic. Yes, the super-bat is a mainstay of this feature… but, as HERBIE points out, the best bat in the world is useless if you can’t make contact. Right, Franklin?
So, Franklin suddenly faces a dilemma: if he catches another baseball with that goo on his hands, he’ll explode. You probably see the dilemma that poor Franklin faces at the end of the game… here’s the last page of the comic:
Well, that’s our doubleheader! See you next time!
Next time: Off to see…
Prologue: “Rockets on the Mound” (short story)
20. Shortstop Squad
21. Cosmic Slam
22. Thanksgiving Doubleheader (Dick Blaze and Franklin Richards) YOU ARE HERE