|Looney Tunes (Bugs Bunny) series|
The title card of Baseball Bugs.
|Directed by||I. Freleng|
|Produced by||Edward Selzer|
|Story by||Michael Maltese|
Tedd Pierce (uncredited)
Bea Benaderet (uncredited)
|Music by||Carl W. Stalling|
|Layouts by||Hawley Pratt|
|Backgrounds by||Paul Julian|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||7 minutes|
|Preceded by||Hare Tonic|
|Followed by||Hare Remover|
Baseball Bugs was directed by Friz Freleng and written by Michael Maltese. Voice characterizations were performed by Mel Blanc, with additional uncredited performances by Bea Benaderet as Lady Liberty and the screaming baseball, and Tedd Pierce as the stadium announcer and several of the Gas-House Gorillas.
The cartoon's title is a double play on words. "Bugs" was then a common nickname for someone who was considered to be crazy, erratic, or fanatical. In addition to its adjective form being the indirect inspiration for the Bunny's name, the noun form was sometimes applied to sports fans.
A baseball game is going on in New York City at the Polo Grounds (but the depiction of the frieze on the top deck was borrowed from Yankee Stadium), between the visiting Gas-House Gorillas and the home team, the Tea Totallers. The game is not going well for the home team as the Gorillas, a group of oversized rough-necks, are not only dominating the Tea Totallers, made up of old men, but intimidating the umpire by knocking him into the ground like a tent peg after an unpopular judgment. The Gorillas' home runs go screaming, literally, out of the ballpark and the batters form a conga line, each hitter whacking a ball out.
Bugs Bunny, watching from his hole in the outfield, is fed up with the unfair game and the Gas-House Gorillas playing dirty. He talks trash against the Gorillas, claiming that he could win the game single-handed with an endless barrage of home runs. He loses a bit of his bravado when he suddenly gets surrounded by the Gorillas. They force him to take up his own challenge and, as a result, Bugs now has to play all the positions on the opposing team, including speeding from the mound to behind the plate to catch his own pitches.
Bugs throws his fastball so hard that it zips by the Gorillas' batter but, as he catches it, he is propelled off- screen, crashing into the backstop. In the course of his dual role, he shouts encouraging words to the pitcher before going back to the mound to make the next pitch, then returning to home plate to catch it. Next, Bugs decides to "perplex 'em with [his] slowball", throwing a pitch so slow that three Gorillas in a row strike out attempting to hit it.
For his first time up, Bugs selects a bat from the batboy, a literal hybrid of a bat and a boy. As promised, Bugs starts smacking the ball. On the first pitch, he makes a long hit, dashing around the bases while also showing off for the crowd, only to find a grinning Gorilla holding the ball just ahead of the plate. To allow himself to score his first run, Bugs pulls out a pin-up poster, which distracts the Gorilla player. The scoreboard now shows the Gorillas as the home team, with 96 runs, and Bugs batting in the top of the fifth with one run so far.
Bugs hits another one deep, and while rounding the bases, a Gorilla ambushes the plate umpire and puts on his uniform. Bugs slides into home, obviously safe, but the fake umpire calls him out. Bugs gets in his face, actually behind the umpire mask, and argues the call, pulling his time-honored word-switching gag until the umpire ends up demanding that Bugs accept the safe call or go to the showers. Bugs gives in, and the faux-umpire gets wise too late as the board flashes another run.
The story jumps ahead to the final inning, announced by a radio-style jingle, with Bugs leading 96–95, the Gorillas having lost a run somewhere along the way. Blanc's voice is now heard as the announcer as the radio booth has lost its original play-by-play man. With two outs in the last of the ninth, a Gorilla is on base and another, menacingly swinging a bat he has just fashioned from a huge tree, is ready for the pitch.
Bugs proceeds with a tremendous wind-up, lets the pitch go, and the ball is rocketed out of the stadium. Startled, Bugs desperately gives chase. He grabs a cab and is almost led astray until he realizes a Gorilla is driving it; he jumps out and catches a bus which takes him to the "Umpire State Building'. He takes an elevator to the roof, climbs a flagpole, throws his glove in the air and manages to catch the ball. An umpire appears over the edge of the roof, calling out the Gorilla player who has followed Bugs there. The Statue of Liberty agrees with the call.
- Mel Blanc as Bugs Bunny, Grandpa-Baseball, Gas-Gorilla
- Tedd Pierce as Announcer-Radio, Referee
- Bea Benaderet as The Statue of Liberty
- The outfield wall ad for "Mike Maltese, Ace Detective" refers to writer Michael Maltese.
- The outfield wall ad for "Filboid Studge" refers to a fictional breakfast cereal mentioned in a short story by Saki.
- The ad next to "Filboid Studge" is for "Culvert Gin", a take-off on "Calvert Gin."
- The wall ads on the third base side are for "Manza Champagne", "Lausbub's Bread" and "Ross. Co. Finer Footwear for the Brats" named for animator Virgil Ross.
- The ads on the left field wall are for Camuel's (a reference to Camel Cigarettes) and "Urbo."
- Another outfield reading "Daltol" refers to animator Cal Dalton. A product named "Chi-Chi" is on a sign to the left.
- The sign held by Bugs after the 2nd out stating "Was this trip necessary" refers to gas rationing during WWII
- Animation historian Michael Barrier points out that there was a change in formula in Bugs' cartoons before and following World War II. Before his enemies were hapless boobs which he held in contempt. In this film and others by Freleng, the enemies are actually dangerous. But this makes outwitting them more delicious. In this case, the enemies are the Gas-House Gorillas. "A whole team of interchangeable ... hulking, blue-jawed, cigar chewing monsters".
- Bugs launches a fastball from the pitcher's mound, accelerates past it, and moves in position at home plate to catch it. This is a demonstration of cartoon physics, since such acceleration would be impossible in real life.
- The sequence where Bugs throws a pitch so slowly that three batters strike out swinging on it in succession inspired the term "Bugs Bunny Change-Up" in baseball slang. The term refers to an especially effective off-speed pitch, especially one that is much slower than the pitcher's fastball.
- Barrier, Michael (1999), "What's Up, Warner Bros., 1945–1953", Hollywood Cartoons : American Animation in Its Golden Age, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0198020790
- Van Riper, A. Bowdoin (2002). "Acceleration". Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0313318221.
- Baseball Bugs on IMDb
- Baseball Bugs at The Big Cartoon DataBase
- A mock-serious and detailed review of the cartoon
- Baseball Bugs on the Internet Archive
| Bugs Bunny Cartoons