Baseball Bugs

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Baseball Bugs
LC baseballbugs.jpg
Directed byI. Freleng
Produced byEdward Selzer (uncredited)
Story byMichael Maltese
StarringMel Blanc
Frank Graham (uncredited)
Tedd Pierce (uncredited)
Bea Benaderet (uncredited)
Music byCarl W. Stalling
Animation byManuel Perez
Ken Champin
Virgil Ross
Gerry Chiniquy
Layouts byHawley Pratt
Backgrounds byPaul Julian
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • February 2, 1946 (1946-02-02)
Running time
7:36
LanguageEnglish

Baseball Bugs is a 1946 Warner Bros. Looney Tunes theatrical animated cartoon directed by Friz Freleng.[1] The short was released on February 2, 1946, and stars Bugs Bunny.[2]

In the short, Bugs Bunny singlehandedly defeats the "Gas-House Gorillas", a baseball team of hulking, cigar-chomping bullies. The cartoon has been called Bugs "at his best" and is still referenced by baseball fans and observers.[3][4][5]

Overview[edit]

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 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.

Plot[edit]

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, a team made up of just one elderly player, but intimidating the umpire by knocking him into the ground like a tent peg after he makes a “ball” judgment instead of a “strike”. 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 home plate, just waiting to tag him out to once again prove their superiority. 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.

Bugs slams a third pitch, and as the ball soars across the field, one Gorilla in the outfield races towards the ball with his mitt, screaming, “I got it, I got it, I got it!, only for the ball to hit him with an incredibly strong impact and drive him underground; a gravestone then pops up from underground, reading “He got it”. Bugs then whacks the fourth pitch, and a burly, cigar-smoking Gorilla attempts to catch it, but the ball strikes him in the face - with the powerful impact sending him backward and smack into a large wooden sign, which reads, “Does your tobacco taste different lately?”.

Bugs hammers the fifth pitch on a line drive that bounces off each Gorilla with a ping sound as in a pinball game. The scoreboard then blinks a random series of numbers and the word "Tilt."

Bugs returns to pitching, and one Gorilla lands a hit. Just before he can score a home run, Bugs, with one foot on the home plate, shoves him to the ground with baseball in hand, tagging him out. As the dazed, concussed Gorilla sits there with several small illusionary winged Gorilla players swirling around his head, Bugs munches a carrot and pulls out a sign reading "Was this trip really necessary?" (a reference to a slogan used in a fuel rationing campaign during World War II).[6]

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, and calls out the Gorilla player who has followed Bugs there. The Statue of Liberty agrees with the call, repeating, “That’s what the man said- you heard what he said - he said that!”. Bugs also joins her in repeating these words.

Voice cast[edit]

Billboards[edit]

  • 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 really necessary?" refers to gas rationing during World War II.[8]

Analysis[edit]

  • 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".[9]
  • 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.[10]
  • The sequence where Bugs throws a pitch so slowly that three batters strike out swinging on the same pitch 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. It is also known as an "Eephus pitch".[11]
  • The ruling that the batter is out is incorrect. According to rule 5.06(b)(4)(C) (formerly 7.05(c)), if a fielder throws a glove at a fair ball and the glove makes contact, all runners (including the batter) may advance three bases, and "the ball is in play and the batter may advance to home base at his peril."

Home media[edit]

  • (1988) VHS - Cartoon Moviestars: Bugs!
  • (1988) LaserDisc - Cartoon Moviestars: Bugs! and Elmer!
  • (1992) LaserDisc - The Golden Age of Looney Tunes, Volume 3, Side 7
  • (1999) VHS - Looney Tunes: The Collectors Edition Volume 9, A Looney Life (1995 USA Turner Dubbed Version)
  • (2003) DVD - Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 1, Disc One
  • (2010) DVD - The Essential Bugs Bunny, Disc 1
  • (2011) Blu-ray, DVD - Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 1, Disc 1
  • (2012) Blu-ray - Looney Tunes Showcase: Volume 1
  • (2020) DVD - Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny Golden Carrot Collection, Disc One
  • (2020) Blu-ray - Bugs Bunny 80th Anniversary Collection, Disc 1

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • 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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Beck, Jerry; Friedwald, Will (1989). Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons. Henry Holt and Co. p. 164. ISBN 0-8050-0894-2.
  2. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. pp. 58–62. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  3. ^ "Bugs Bunny, role model with a cottontail". 12 October 2010.
  4. ^ "Looney Tunes Offer to Help Losing Baltimore Orioles". 9 May 2018.
  5. ^ "This National Bugs Bunny Day, let's remember his simply unhittable pitching career".
  6. ^ "Ration Officers Get Instructions". Spokane Daily Chronicle: 5. 1942-11-02.
  7. ^ Beck, Jerry (September 1, 2020). The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes. Insight Editions. p. 15. ISBN 978-1647221379.
  8. ^ Guion, Robert M. (2009). "Was This Trip Necessary?". Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 2 (4): 465–468. doi:10.1111/j.1754-9434.2009.01174.x. S2CID 144241654.
  9. ^ Barrier (1999), p. 471
  10. ^ Ripper (2002), p. 4
  11. ^ Glossary of baseball (B)[circular reference]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Hare Tonic
Bugs Bunny Cartoons
1946
Succeeded by
Hare Remover