Friday, August 22, 2014

Catch It!

By the spring of 1981, the four blank RCA tapes which came with our VCR were getting full. So we did the sensible thing and began recording over previously-viewed material we didn't feel the need to save.

On May 31st, Disney's Wonderful World aired a special compilation of baseball-related cartoon shorts. Baseball Fever had premiered on the October 14th, 1979 edition, but this rerun was fortuitously timed to coincide with my burgeoning interest in the game. Thanks to the hometown Oakland A's, who were off to an amazing start that year (20-3 at the start of May) under Billy Martin, I was wrapped up in the sport that season. 

So Baseball Fever was captured at the start of tape A1, erasing most of From All Of Us To All Of You. As I was watching and pausing during the commercial breaks, the final few minutes of the latter were spared.

A letter from my grandparents dated June 9th noted that I was now collecting baseball cards, as had my father when he was about the same age. For some reason, Fleer became my favorite cards to collect; I think it was their colorful design, although I also picked up plenty of Topps and the occasional Donruss.

As luck would have it, the MLB Players Association went on strike June 12th, canceling all games until August 9th, but my love for the game remained. There will be more Oakland A's content in upcoming posts.

As for Baseball Fever, it seems Disney had a hard time finding enough baseball-themed cartoons in their library to fill the show. It opens with the wonderful 1942 short How To Play Baseball, starring Goofy. Other obvious inclusions are the "Casey At The Bat" segment (from 1946's feature Make Mine Music) and its sequel, the 1954 short Casey Bats Again.

We also get Donald in a 1949 effort, Slide, Donald, Slide, which is not about baseball as such, but rather Don's attempt to listen to the World Series on his radio, foiled by a classical music-loving bee. And three more Goofy shorts are pure filler: 1949's Goofy Gymnastics and 1951's Tomorrow We Diet (because "athletes need to stay in shape"), and 1951's Lion Down, because… they had another 6 minutes to eat up. At least it contains a nice YA-HOO-HOO-HOO-EE!

Here is the original open (narrated by Gary Owens), the sole surviving commercial, and the closing credits, with the inescapable Casey Kasem touting CHiPs, The Missouri Breaks, and Little House On The Prairie:

I just realized Gary's intro about being a World Series watcher makes no sense in May, but would have been timely during the original October '79 broadcast.