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May 20, 2011

Wezen-Ball

Playing Baseball in the Land of Superheroes

by Larry Granillo


I just wish Batman could appreciate a base on balls without having to bring RBIs into it.

As a nice, end-of-the-week bit of fun, I was hoping to write something about baseball in the world of comic books. You know, Batman or Spider-Man or even Aquaman playing a nice game of baseball while battling the evils of their respective worlds. Maybe the Joker or the Penguin slipped a bomb in the umpires rack of game balls, or the Green Goblin decided to attack Shea Stadium while Peter was taking Mary Jane to see the Mets, or Aquaman having to fight, um, underwater baseball playing megalomaniacs who... you know what I mean.

That was the plan anyway, until I discovered this excellent write-up of nearly the same topic over at the Comics Alliance. Needless to say, those guys over there are much more knowledgeable about the topic than I ever could be. There's no way, for example, I would ever be able to tell you about the Sportsmaster:

Deciding one day that he'd had enough, Crock decided to pursue a life of crime and after a while he took on the name and identity of Sportsmaster. In his adventures, he used a variety of sports skills and sporting equipment to accomplish his goals and took on any one who tried to stop him. He'd knock the guns out of police officers' hands with well-aimed golf balls and would use javelins or bows and arrows to hit enemies from a distance. Of course, more than once, he used baseballs and baseball bats, the latter of which was especially dangerous to the Green Lantern Alan Scott. Given that Scott's ring didn't directly affect wooden objects and had trouble dealing with plant matter, the hero could fly and walk through Wally, but a baseball bat to the back of the head affected him like any other regular guy.

Sportsmaster may now be my favorite comic book villain. I must find more comics featuring this brilliant character.

The rest of the piece features some tales of Batman, the Punisher, the Hulk (which must have been published in 2001!), and even Doctor Who(!), though that may be a bit of a stretch. Go read the piece and let me know what stories I should be looking for to expand this list. There have got to be hundreds of great examples.

And if you really enjoy the cross-over of baseball and comic books, I invite you to take a look at this, shall we say, interesting comic book that is actually from 2001 called "Texas Rangers - in Dangerland!". The illustrations of Ivan Rodriguez, Ken Caminiti, Rafael Palmiero, and Alex Rodriguez in their super-hero alter-egos are just classic. Here's a sample:

How can you not love that?

13 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Jason Wojciechowski

Semi-OT is the all-time classic NFL Superpro -- https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/NFL_Superpro

I had the first two issues when I was a kid. I have no idea why.

May 20, 2011 00:28 AM
rating: 0
 
dianagram

Well, it wasn't a comic book, but the Tampa Rays were put into an (awesome/terrible) animated superhero cartoon series:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCa5_ySlcPM

May 20, 2011 05:30 AM
rating: 0
 
BWoodrum

Wow. I totally forgot about those. So much lolwut.

Anyone else think the Umperor looks like Joe West?

May 20, 2011 06:45 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

I remember that. Pretty fantastic, if you ask me

May 20, 2011 13:46 PM
 
BrewersTT

In the first (or maybe second) issue of Marvel's KA-ZAR, there is a brief episode of unrest among the jungle tribes that KZ rules, and it turns out to be a dispute about the infield fly rule - KZ has taught them baseball because he can never return to the regular world where he lived as a kid to see the real thing.

May 20, 2011 05:44 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

Someone on Twitter mentioned a two-part story about Bullseye becoming a pitcher so he could kill a man with a fastball.

These may be the two greatest comic book plots I have ever heard of.

May 20, 2011 13:47 PM
 
batts40

I'd like to see the Pitch f/x data on balls 1 and 3. They both look like they caught a chunk of the plate.

May 20, 2011 06:31 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

The ump wasn't giving the pitcher the low strike. I can respect that.

I love the screwball shown in Ball Four, though.

May 20, 2011 13:48 PM
 
dianagram

Were any of those Rangers bitten by a radioactive growth-hormone enhanced spider?

May 20, 2011 07:04 AM
rating: 2
 
jhardman

I always wondered why Bobby Witt wasn't included in that "Texas Rangers - In Dangerland" comic. He was scarier than any of those other guys because no one had a clue where his pitches were going.

May 20, 2011 07:49 AM
rating: 1
 
leites

Will Eisner, author of the Spirit, published a comic that was just baseball stories (no super-powers). You could find a reprint of it for cheap on eBay. http://cgi.ebay.com/Baseball-Comics-1-Eisner-Rube-Kitchen-Sink-Comix-/220312056579#ht_500wt_922

May 20, 2011 08:00 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

I did come across that and considered posting about it. Wasn't sure how common knowledge it was, though. I wish they had done more issues of it.

May 20, 2011 13:49 PM
 
BrewersTT

Cool note about the nefarious Bullseye, thanks! I wonder if he set up the victim with a couple of breaking balls down and away, first. I can just imagine the argument on the mound if the manager came out to make a change, with the target coming up to hit.

Sort of on topic, there's a pretty good graphic novel called THE GOLEM'S MIGHTY SWING, about, yes, a golem who plays ball. Can't recall the creator(s). I suppose a golem is a superhero, of sorts.

May 20, 2011 20:50 PM
rating: 0
 
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