Bizarre Baseball Culture: The Detroit Tigers, A Talking Tiger, and the Power of SHAZAM!

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.

Nothing is going to beat Mr. Go. It just can’t be done. But, I’ll give it my best shot by bringing to you a comic from 1977 in which DC’s Captain Marvel and his talking anthropomorphic tiger mascot Tawky Tawny join the Detroit Tigers to defeat a team of alien All-Stars.

It’ll have to do.


So, here’s Shazam! number 32, from late 1977. I covered most of Captain Marvel’s complicated history (and why most people think he’s called Shazam) way back in May 2012, so if you want to know that, go there. However, an update is in order: DC has more or less given up calling him “Captain Marvel” and now is referring to him as “Shazam”. This is partly because everyone who doesn’t read comic books calls him that anyway, and also partly because Marvel has recently given the title of “Captain Marvel” to a character named Carol Danvers (who appeared as “Ms. Marvel” back in one of the AAA baseball comics) to great success, to the point where it’s thought they might make a movie starring her, likely with the name “Captain Marvel”.

Personally, the Shazam Captain Marvel will always be the real Captain Marvel to me, but, hey, you can’t beat copyright/trademark law, I guess.

(Incidentally, the Hero-Formerly-Known-As-Captain-Marvel-And-Now-Officially-Known-As-Shazam will reportedly be played by The Rock in a future movie.)

(Also, all characters, images and panels from the comic are trademarked and copyrighted to their owners and rights holders, all pictures here are are being used under fair use doctrine and are meant merely to support and enhance the opinions and facts stated in this post.)

But enough Captain Marvel background, go below the jump for an analysis/review of this comic!

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Random Thing: Captain Marvel meets the 1944 Cardinals

Miss Bizarre Baseball Culture? Don’t worry, it’ll be back soon, but to hold you over, here’s a bit from Captain Marvel Adventures #36, from June 1944, in which Billy Batson (who transforms into Captain Marvel with one cry of SHAZAM!) meets some of movers-and-shakers at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, including Dizzy Dean (who was an announcer for the Browns at the time) and HOF Cardinals manager Billy Southworth.

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 2.36.21 PMIt’s not quite teaching baseball to Martians, but maybe it’ll hold some of you over.

Bizarre Baseball Culture: Captain Marvel teaches baseball… to Martians

Baseball has an unusual relationship with the rest of popular culture. There are more baseball movies than basically any other kind of sports movie (with the exception of boxing, which is very easy to stage), Charlie Brown’s ineptness on the mound lasted fifty years, and almost every TV series ends up having at least one casual mention of the game at point or another.

But with this, sometimes popular culture about baseball can get, well… weird. Bizarre!

This is part of a series about those times. Sometimes it’ll be short stories (like that old tale about 2044 baseball), other times comic books, occasionally a movie clip or advertisement. No matter what, it’ll be weird, it probably won’t be very good, and I’ll give it far more attention than it really deserves.

So, for the first edition of BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE (I’ll consider the 2044 baseball story as something of a prologue), I bring to you this:

Captain Marvel. Playing baseball. On the planet Mars. In a story that is about how Captain Marvel taught the Martians baseball. Fittingly, this has been set to go up on a Saturday morning. More underneath the jump.

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