In Bizarre Baseball Culture 2.0, I take an updated look at some of the more unusual places that I previously covered where baseball has reared its head in pop culture and fiction. In the process, I clean up some mistakes of mine and add some more perspective.
Note: The original version of this post can be found here. It has some mistakes and out-of-date information that has been corrected in this post, but remains up for posterity.
As the latest Spider-Man film continues to break records, there is perhaps no better way to start up Bizarre Baseball Culture 2.0 than by renovating one of my old posts about the web-slinger. Now, ole’ Web-Head is no stranger to Bizarre Baseball Culture, having had shown up on several occasions (including fighting Doctor Doom alongside Billy the Marlin), but those were generally promotional comics that happened to feature Spider-Man. Peter Parker Spider-Man (Volume 2) #33, by contrast, is canon. It happened in the main Marvel Universe and presumably could be referenced by any writer working in those stories today. This issue from 2001 is about Peter Parker’s relation with his late Uncle Ben, and how baseball was a bond between them.
Now, before we begin, I’d like to write a bit about Spider-Man in general. What made the Marvel characters different when they first started appearing in the 1960s was that they were, in general, more relatable and flawed than the DC counterparts and the Marvel superheroes that had been created in the 30s and 40s. The Fantastic Four was often bickering with each other (like an family does), the X-Men were shunned by most of society (Stan Lee has said that being a mutant is basically meant to be a stand-in for being a minority), the Hulk was shunned by basically all of society… and Spider-Man, for lack of a better term, was a loser.
Okay, maybe not a loser, but definitely the closest thing there had been up to that point: an unpopular kid with no parents, only one family member of any sort (Aunt May) and little money. To make matters worse, when supervillains weren’t coming after him, the press and/or the police were. If things could go wrong for Peter Parker, they probably have. Parents? Dead. Uncle? Dead. Aunt? Perpetually sick. First true love (Gwen Stacy)? Murdered (and, amazingly, never came back to life). Second true love (Mary Jane)? Marriage magically annulled in a story far too stupid to talk about. At one point in the not-that-distant past poor Peter Parker evensaw his body body-snatched by Doctor Ocopus while he was forced to die in “Doc Ock’s” cancer-ridden body (don’t worry, he got better). But all of this pales in comparison to the greatest, most horrible fate to ever fall upon Spider-Man:
Being a fan of the New York Mets.