The Screwball: Comedy is in the (Baseball) Cards 9 and Final

Joe DiMaggio is cartoonishly excited.

Joe DiMaggio is cartoonishly excited.

Welcome, readers, to the ninth and final installment of “Comedy is in the (Baseball) Cards.”

And welcome, therefore, to your final quiz.

Introductory question: Why nine installments?

Correct! Nine is the number, fittingly, of Dante’s Circles of Hell.

Nine is also a notable baseball number — nine players, nine innings, nine mentions of the Yankees in each 30-minute segment on MLB Network — though it’s hardly the only one.

Nor is it the most sanctified.

Second introductory question: What is the most sanctified baseball number?

Nope, it’s not two, i.e., the number of career doubles hit by Stubby Clapp.

Yep! It’s 56: the number of consecutive games in which The Yankee Clipper hit safely in 1941. And so, in honor of that esteemed number, I present to you 56 final exam challenges.

Good luck!

And remember: For extra credit, you may write essay answers in the space provided below.


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Billy Wagner:
A) is sad he failed his audition for the New Village People.
B) doesn’t enjoy Halloween as much as he used to.
C) has grown weary of the team’s weekly Fire Safety Day.
D) is starring in the film Backdraft 2: They Already Put It Out.

<a href=Bill Skowron:
A) is about to kill two birds with, um, two bats.
B) is glad he brought giant chopsticks because that’s a huuuuuuge egg roll.
C) is preparing to install the TV antenna he made in wood shop.
D) is returning these poorly designed snow skis to the manufacturer.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

<a href=Hal Morris:
A) is trying to escape a highly advanced arachnid.
B) always gets the feeling something is holding him back.
C) thinks these new knee braces are kind of bulky.
D) is tired of being a kite.

<a href=Leo Foster:
A) is mesmerized, as always, by the pregame dachshund race.
B) is curious about Bud Harrelson’s kneecaps.
C) is wondering if he can actually see gravity.
D) is providing a visual demonstration of the Mets’ position in the standings.

Larry Osborne

Larry “Bobo” Osborne:
A) is renting out his cheek as a double-occupancy unit.
B) just returned from his dentist, Dr. Sugar Ray Robinson.
C) is storing food from the pregame spread in case he gets cut.
D) ignored instructions by inflating his cheek to 350 PSI.

<a href=Brent Mayne:
A) is known throughout baseball for his foul-shooting form.
B) is performing a dramatic interpretation of Isadora Duncan’s Crossing.
C) is telling teammates, “Okay, we’ve got anywhere from one to five outs!”
D) wants ET and his four younger siblings to phone home.

<a href=Earl Torgeson:
A) is fending off a rattlesnake in the Arizona desert.
B) is afraid home plate is built on an Apache burial ground.
C) just saw the ghost of Shorty the chuckwagon cook.
D) throws a tantrum whenever the heat reaches 106 degrees.

<a href=Len Barker:
A) is judging the annual Brightest Flashlight Tournament.
B) enjoys telling ghost stories around the locker-room campfire.
C) is watching the flash in the pan that is Joe Charboneau.
D) is a reflector post in the players’ parking lot.

<a href=Dave Wickersham:
A) was voted baseball’s Least Intimidating Pitcher.
B) just threw the funniest curveball he’s ever seen.
C) likes to hit batters right in the funny bone.
D) just realized his fly is open.

<a href=Albert Pujols:
A) is pointing at the socket where the light bulb should go.
B) thinks he might have found an exit from the lava tube.
C) is pointing out that not only is the closet dark, it’s also tall.
D) is directing attention to the humorous card of Dave Wickersham.

<a href=Bernie Allen:
A) is teaching the worst aerobics class in American history.
B) is stretching the old-fashioned way: the old-fashioned way.
C) is protecting the man in brown pants from a rabid squirrel (not pictured).
D) thinks there must be an easier way to mow the lawn.

<a href=Merritt Ranew:
A) is an exceptionally large Pez dispenser.
B) is inventing a new, albeit ill-considered, military salute.
C) is giving himself a “cap mullet.”
D) is trying to get a better view of the game, that’s all.

<a href=Frank Linzy:
A) has been waiting a long time to see the sprinklers come on.
B) is beginning to lose his enthusiasm for earthworms.
C) has never actually seen the grass grow but still has hope.
D) is deciding whether to field the sacrifice bunt.

<a href=Kirk Gibson:
A) is happy — and fortunate — that his conjoined twin plays on the same team.
B) is currently ranked 18th in artistic pairs.
C) has added a new dimension to his take-out slide.
D) is experimenting with an early form of the CamelBak hydration pack.

<a href=Ray Blades:
A) is pole vaulting into his own face.
B) is trying to remove stubborn ear wax.
C) is applying the final touches on a Ray Blades billboard.
D) is performing what he calls “incredibly invasive dentistry.”

<a href=Brian Hunter:
A) is just gonna go sleep on the couch, okay?
B) isn’t stealing the bases; he’s going out to get them washed.
C) is the founder of Large, Square & Indigestible Marshmallows, Inc.
D) is the league leader in caught stealing.

<a href=Harry Chiti:
A) is watching the team’s inaugural Booger Picking Tournament.
B) just noticed that Woodie Held has spinach in his teeth.
C) is suddenly downwind of Dick Donovan’s pastrami burps.
D) just saw a hot-dog vendor violate the five-second rule.

<a href=Ken Dayley:
A) is known around the clubhouse as Lobster Boy.
B) is planning to win the Gold Gloves Award.
C) is the league leader in really terrible pitches.
D) is amphibious, for sure.

<a href=Hank Fischer:
A) just realized that earthly pursuits are transient and meaningless.
B) suddenly understands that life is short, and careers even shorter.
C) is being honest, brutally so, about his MVP chances.
D) ate some bad clams.

Garrett Stepheson

Garrett Stephenson:
A) asked Santa for a new arm, and he got one.
B) is the first to actually “talk to the hand.”
C) is about to go out on a disembodied limb.
D) is developing a knuckleball, though with someone else’s knuckles.

<a href=Jim Davenport:
A) is in the “Okay, now show me fear!” portion of his acting class.
B) gets scared whenever Willie Mays performs a cheerleading stunt.
C) is ready to catch a critical third-down pass from John Brodie.
D) just saw Invasion of the Neptune Men and is a bit on edge.

<a href=Jay Bell:
A) has a favorite all-time player, and it’s Eddie Mulligan.
B) is also a fan of Pumpsie Green.
C) has a favorite all-time playing partner, and it’s Chipper Jones.
D) has never been fond of Howie Shanks.

<a href=Bob Tillman:
A) accidentally called his teammate “Frito Tancona.”
B) is enjoying the comedy stylings of Mike Lum.
C) is watching Clete Boyer and Felipe Alou in a staging of Some Like It Hot.
D) thinks cap theft is pretty funny.

<a href=Carlos Delgado:
A) has always admired the fountains of Kauffman Stadium.
B) doesn’t understand why the turf won’t grow.
C) enjoys Gatorade, especially when it comes in powdered form.
D) has an absolute cannon, man.


Clay Dalrymple:
A) is gazing enviously at Jim Palmer’s hair.
B) is watching Boog Powell experiment with a smoked brisket.
C) is looking on as Earl Weaver practices his tantrums.
D) can’t get over the fact that locals call it “Balmer.”

<a href=Jermaine Allensworth:
A) is shocked by the prices at this restaurant.
B) is wondering: Can they really say that?
C) is doing the ol’ hide-a-Playboy-in-a-comic-book trick.
D) can’t believe it was all a dream.

<a href=Larry Burright:
A) is still being potty-trained.
B) is teaching a class called Excessively Awkward Calisthenics.
C) just told the starting second baseman, “Jump! I’ll catch you, I swear!”
D) moonlights as a snow shovel.

<a href=Phil Leftwich:
A) is outing himself as the legendary Grass Monster.
B) is finally confronting the neighborhood cat.
C) is auditioning for the role of Catwoman’s mutant son, Catworm.
D) is terrible at plowing fields.


Lenny Green:
A) just caught a glimpse of the Beast of Yucca Flats.
B) is watching Cookie Lavagetto attempt the hula hoop.
C) just noticed that Billy Martin is arguing with himself.
D) is recalling the time he got socks for Christmas.

<a href=Mike Stanley:
A) just lost the Easter egg hunt, and knows it.
B) is not enjoying this game of keep-away.
C) can’t believe he couldn’t solve the trick: The ball was in the other hand!
D) just remembered he left the milk out.

<a href=Ken Hunt:
A) kind of likes it when Albie Pearson tickles his feet.
B) is enjoying the team’s renewed emphasis on good, clean humor.
C) says the “L.” is for “Laughing Gas.”
D) is happy just to be here, man.

<a href=Tino Martinez:
A) is saying, “This crab dip looks delicious.”
B) is saying, “This bedpan is magnificent.”
C) is saying, “This is really the Holy Grail?”
D) is planning to melt it down for some sweet rims.

<a href=Bob Veale:
A) is ordering two orange whips.
B) is telling the tale of Mordecai “Two Fingers” Smith.
C) says he needs “two contact lenses,” not just one.
D) is bad at the peace sign but knows it’s the thought that counts.

<a href=Scott Brosius:
A) is still confused about ticket scalping.
B) has hired a minimum-wage worker to doff his cap for him.
C) is saying, “It is from baldness we come; it is to baldness we go.”
D) enjoys mentoring rookies.

<a href=Mike Ryan:
A) has never been a fan of Earle Combs.
B) has never been a fan of Bob Groom.
C) has never been a fan of Bob Brush.
D) is a fan of Paul Musser.

<a href=Milt Thompson:
A) is conducting the Funkytown Symphony Orchestra.
B) is auditioning to carry the Olympic torch in a really interesting way.
C) is the world’s coolest, most unorthodox drum major.
D) is made of Silly Putty, for sure.

<a href=Carl Erskine:
A) is often mistaken for a mob enforcer.
B) ignored advice when his handlers told him to “open up.”
C) doesn’t have time for your psychobabble.
D) just learned that Rube Walker’s name isn’t actually Rube.

<a href=Matt Holliday:
A) is a Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man.
B) picked a terrible time to surrender.
C) is suggesting that this run should be worth six points.
D) is Missouri’s largest marionette.

<a href=Pete Richert:
A) is going for the “I’m in the military but I’m also nuts!” look.
B) often applies Brylcream in front of a large industrial fan.
C) enjoys what he calls an “abstract-expressionist scalp.”
D) wants his martini like his hair: neat, but messy.

McDowell Tools

Roger McDowell:
A) has all the tools, for sure.
B) takes a DIY approach to pitching.
C) just wants to keep his team in the game — and then build a school.
D) is telling umpires he has to leave due to “union rules.”

<a href=Bill Hepler:
A) is hiding a five-tiered wedding cake beneath his cap.
B) often refers to his cap a “three-story walk-up.”
C) frequently uses his cap as an in-home movie screen.
D) is actually Herman Munster.

<a href=Greg Pryor:
A) doesn’t look both ways before crossing but does look one way twice.
B) is marketing oversized tree ornaments that feature his profile.
C) understands the cost of film these days and is okay with photo duplication.
D) has always wanted to appear on a U.S. coin.

<a href=Don Demeter:
A) won’t take any guff, especially from photographers.
B) just wants to get this over with, fella.
C) is also a school principal and named his paddle “Ol’ Slappy.”
D) doesn’t like weekdays — or weekends.

<a href=Phil Nevin:
A) is known among teammates as “Monopod.”
B) learned this trick from an old mentor, a crusty Russian gymnast.
C) is a pioneer of the planking trend.
D) is reenacting, as part of his therapy, a painful childhood belly flop.

<a href=Tom Hilgendorf:
A) is amazed that the tanning lamp worked.
B) is attempting to imitate manager Red Schoendienst.
C) always blushes when he sees Joe Torre streaking.
D) is red-faced with embarrassment that this is his baseball card.

<a href=Deion Sanders:
A) is leading the league in high choppers.
B) is gonna take a quick peek at ballpark traffic.
C) is hoping to start a website called RotorGraphs.
D) is off to play some professional basketball, probably.

<a href=Vic Davalillo:
A) is hoping a nice lady will adopt him from the pound.
B) is watching They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
C) thinks it’s sad when clouds disappear.
D) is upset that catcher Buck Rodgers hasn’t yet reached outer space.

<a href=Mike Trout:
A) often swims to third base in an effort “to make it fair.”
B) just fell from Heaven, though with uncharacteristic awkwardness.
C) likes to squirm in the dirt while pronouncing the word “noodle.”
D) is going for a triple in the Giant Bowl of Oatmeal Series.

<a href=Chuck Stobbs:
A) is still watching the 565-foot homer Mantle hit off him.
B) is angry because he can’t find his contact lenses.
C) is envious of Cookie Lavagetto’s hula-hoop skills.
D) is known in certain circles as Chuckie Tight Lips.

<a href=Bobby Del Greco:
A) is learning how to clap and needs the glove for added safety.
B) enjoys cracking eggs in glove-shaped pans.
C) is solving what some people call the “Rube’s Cube.”
D) is about to release a baby dove for no apparent reason.

<a href=Coco Crisp:
A) is creating, with his face, a partial eclipse of the ‘fro.
B) is ultra-absorbent, for sure.
C) is taunting attendees at the Oakland Bald Men’s Convention.
D) is in the market for a size 18 cap.

<a href=Max Alvis:
A) wants to make clear that he does not know the answer.
B) is terrible at jazz hands.
C) is practicing to deliver a large three-topping pizza.
D) is demonstrating Max Alvis, as opposed to Min Alvis.

<a href=Gail Hopkins:
A) is experiencing an early bout of rigor mortis.
B) is surprised the lockjaw moved to his elbow.
C) is always careful when petting large zoo animals (not pictured).
D) likes to keep the cameras at arm’s length.

<a href=Ozzie Smith:
A) is being informed of this morning’s surf report.
B) is being informed of today’s forecast: sunny and 72.
C) is being informed of the new panda at the San Diego Zoo.
D) is being informed, alas, of his trade to St. Louis.

Johnny Keane

Johnny Keane:
A) is leading fans in a cheer of “Deee-fense! Deee-fense!”
B) is adamant that you “swing your partner round and round.”
C) is saying rapidly, “Ten-dollar bid, now 12, now 12, will ya give me 12?
D) is calling the pitcher — quote — “a belly itcher.”

<a href=Joe DiMaggio:
A) is, as you might expect, ready for the Bugs Bunny changeup.
B) is, as you might expect, unfazed by these Mickey Mouse tactics.
C) is, as you might expect, about to produce some cartoonish stats.
D) other.

John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.
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Frank Jackson
7 years ago

Lenny Green is actually thinking about Tor Johnson in his last film, “The Beast of Yucca Flats,” and reflecting on what a precipitous drop-off it was from his penultimate film, the classic “Plan 9 From Outer Space.”

Paul G.
7 years ago
Reply to  John Paschal

Tor Johnson on MST3K:
The Unearthly
Bride of the Monster
The Beast of Yucca Flats

Also was in Plan 9 From Outer Space, which the successor RiffTrax riffed.

7 years ago
Reply to  John Paschal

Poor Jim Davenport. Hopefully, Krankor of the Chicken Men will drop by and we can all share a laugh as we reminisce.

7 years ago
Reply to  Paul G.

So nice to have baseball & MST3K in one place at the same time! The MST guys actually include a lot of baseball references in their riffs; might be nice to do a feature on that some time.

Paul G.
7 years ago

Joe DiMaggio is wondering how John Paschal, in a moment of uncharacteristic thoughtlessness, could put a thirty-thousand dollar baseball card at the end of the list, waiting to the very last moment to crush the dreams and/or bank accounts of those who wanted to collect the whole set.

Paul G.
7 years ago

Hank Fischer:

E) very much thinks mauve is not a good color selection for the Braves, as you can plainly tell.
F) is only happy when it rains.
G) is, without a doubt, not in Topps form today.
H) was just informed he is the illegitimate child of Gomez Addams.

Frito Tancona
7 years ago

We all raise our glasses of orange whip, in a toast to you for this “Comedy is in the (Baseball) Cards” series.

Frito Tancona
7 years ago
Reply to  John Paschal

Fix the cigarette lighter.

Paul Blocklyn
7 years ago

Tor Johnson also made an uncredited appearance as a strongman in the 1956 film adaptation of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel.” It was probably his best (and possibly only good) film.

Dennis Bedard
7 years ago

Johnny Keane is yelling at Augie Busch: “wanna bet $500 I won’t resign at the end of the year?”

John Autin
7 years ago

Thanks for this series. Sorry to see it end. (Extra innings, perhaps?)
P.S. Were you inspired by “The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book,” by Fred Harris & Brendan Boyd?

7 years ago

Thanks John. I needed something to smile about today and got into full-blown laughter somewhere around Ray Blades.

Great nine innings!

7 years ago

Great series, John. I’m looking forward to whatever is on deck.

You do have something on deck, right?

7 years ago

Man I’m going to miss these!

Can't Pronounce the letter "O"
7 years ago

Clay Dalrymple:

Dalrymple can’t believe that all the Balmer cabdrivers call him Hon.

7 years ago

My wife got mad at me for reading this while she’s trying to watch a sad TV show. Apparently my nonstop giggles were killing the mood.

Thanks for all of these. They were terrific.