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.
Steroids and other performance-enhancers are, to sports, a plague. They provide some players an unfair advantage, threaten the integrity of records, and could also endanger the long-term health of the user. The great struggle of 21st century sports has, in many ways, been the struggle against PEDs.
But, as today’s installment of Bizarre Baseball Culture shows, the the view that PEDs are bad goes against human nature and human fantasy. The human experience, the human dream, has always been about becoming better. It is one reason why, for example, that larger-than-life heroes have been popular since ancient times.
So it is perhaps not surprising that fictional superhumans (who by their nature are better than human) have often gone hand-in-hand with PEDs (which by their very nature make the user better than the average human). Steve Rogers, for example, became Captain America after being given a Super-Soldier Serum by the American government. Bane, the villain who once broke Batman’s back and appeared in less-steroidy form in The Dark Knight Rises, got his great strength from a drug known simply as “Venom”. Even Popeye, with his spinach, could be said to be using some type of performance enhancers.
But few stories actually have an athlete using a PED… but I have found at least one, featuring the obscure hero Dash Dartwell (sometimes called “The Human Meteor”), a college athlete who has gotten “Metabo-tablets” from a biochemistry professor that make him superhuman until the pill’s effect wears off.
Amazing Man Comics #22, the issue from May 1941 which contains this story (it starts on page 41), can be found here. Go below the jump for the rest of this installment of Bizarre Baseball Culture.