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.
The “Dick Cole” story in Blue Bolt (Volume 9) #1 is one of the most pedestrian stories I’ve ever featured here. There are no superheroes, science fiction elements, cartoon elements, or unintentionally hilarious outdated views on concussions. And yet, it is also just like a ton of other stories, in that it’s about somebody trying to fix a amateur game of baseball. So, in search of any way to make this interesting whatsoever, I’m going to look at this from various perspectives, trying to find any sort of meaning in it.
Here’s what I mean:
Back in college, we learned all about stuff like close reading and literary criticism, and more-or-else I realized that anybody can find anybody if they look closely enough. A Marxist, looking at Wizard of Oz close enough, will be able to find enough things to make him or her claim that it’s a Marxist work. Feminists looking at the same thing can also find something that will make them claim it is a feminist work. Still others can find meaning by looking at something psychoanalytically. There are countless others as well. Symbolism! Biography! Deconstructionism! Post-Modernism!
So, surely some sort of meaning in this story can be found by looking at it from various ways… right?
In the public domain, it is the first story here. So, from June 1948 and Novelty Press, it’s the Dick Cole story from Blue Bolt (Volume 9) #1.
Here’s the cover, the rest is after the jump:
GO BELOW THE JUMP FOR MORE!
First, let’s go over what actually happens in the story, which was drawn (and perhaps written) by Jack Hearne, who I can’t find anything interesting about.
Our hero is Dick Cole, a student at Farr Military Academy, where he is a baseball player. They are currently playing Holden Military Academy in a big championship game, and his little brother, Rod, is there to cheer him on:
Yes, that is young little Rod Cole just accidentally punching a guy while cheering? Why do you ask? Trying to hold him back is Laura Bradly (Dick’s girlfriend) and, behind them, her old uncle Uncle Ben. Rod says he likes to see his brother pitch, but he really wants to see him hit a grand slam. Dick yells into the stands that grand slams are rare.
The fact the kid socked a guy in the jaw is never mentioned again and seems to carry no consequences whatsoever.
Now, the antagonists of our tale: Gamblers! Gamblers, to be exact, who speak in earshot of Rod Cole:
Yes, gamblers again. What is this, the sixth time the antagonists have been gamblers and/or somebody else trying to fix a game? What’s the plan this time? Are they going to kidnap a star player? Have they stacked the opposing team with ringers?
Nope, they bought off the umpires:
With only pitches right down the middle being called strikes, the Holden players are able to tee off on the pitchers from Farr, forcing some defense to keep the Farrians (I just made that term up) in it. Also, among the name of the Farr players are “Bark” and “Slip’ry”.
So, despite the coach’s hope that the ump will call the same strike zone for both teams, that turns out not to be true:
The Major who runs the academy, however, tells the players to stop it, since Farr men are sportsmen! As he lectures, however, little Rod again hears the gamblers talk, and grabs Uncle Ben’s hearing-aid to get a better listen:
(Assault and now stealing something from an old man…)
Anyway, whatever could be in the stables? Surely, Rod will let everyone know this and not just go run and check it out, right?
Pfffffttt! Of course he goes alone, and there he finds the real umpire, tied up.
And, of course, they then tie up Rod, too. But Rod is able to get his gag off, and is able to blow the Uncle’s hearing aid as if it was a trumpet, getting the attention of a farmhand. So, on the next page, we see the fake umpire dealt with:
Well… after he calls his shot:
And that’s how the story ends.
…So, let’s dive deep into thing:
The Metafictional Perspective: This story is so by-the-numbers that one can almost see this story as a parody or commentary on the by-the-numbers nature of most Golden Age baseball stories. The gamblers! The young hero! The tying up of a key character! The use of a baseball as a weapon! Of course, it’s not a particularly funny parody, is it?
Marxist Perspective: The fans and players are the proletariat being held down by the bourgeoisie that are the gamblers and the fake umpire, and it is only through revolt that the fans and players can truly have power over their fates. Or something. I didn’t learn Marxist literary perspective that much.
Freudian Psychoanalysis: Dick Cole. Rod Cole. A Freudian would see penises everywhere here. Everywhere. Oh, and “Bark” Hall? Bark is part of wood. And the shortstop “Slip’ry”? Well, use your imagination.
Feminist Perspective: There’s a grand total of one speaking female character in this story and she is more-or-less background dressing. So I’m going to pass on this.
Historical-Political Perspective: This was written in 1948 and involves a kid at a military academy. WWII is no doubt still fresh in the mind of the author. This story is no doubt telling America that it still must be prepared to face enemies, both foreign and domestic!
Moral Perspective: Game-fixing is bad, using a baseball as a weapon against game-fixers is good.
Swedish Chef Perspective: Thees is a stunderd Guldee Ege-a besebell stury thet is nutheeng perteecooler speceeel, und es a Svedeesh Cheff I du nut hefe-a tuu mooch tu edd. Bork Bork Bork!
Realist Perspective: It’s just a stupid story about a baseball game that is almost thrown by gamblers.
Hmm… maybe this wasn’t the best idea.
NEXT TIME ON BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE: CAL RIPKEN IS THE WOLVERINE OF BASEBALL COMICS
Previously on BIzarre Baseball Culture:
Prologue: “Rockets on the Mound” (short story)
20. Shortstop Squad
21. Cosmic Slam
23. Mariners Mojo
32. Mr. Go
36. Dick Cole (You are here)