Baseball Bugs

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Baseball Bugs
Looney Tunes (Bugs Bunny) series
Baseball Bugs title card.png
The title card of Baseball Bugs.
Directed by I. Freleng
Produced by Edward Selzer
Story by Michael Maltese
Voices by Mel Blanc
Tedd Pierce (unc.)
Bea Benaderet (unc.)
Music by Carl W. Stalling
Animation by Manuel Perez
Ken Champin
Virgil Ross
Gerry Chiniquy
Layouts by Hawley Pratt
Backgrounds by Paul Julian
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s) February 2, 1946
Color process Technicolor
Running time 7 minutes
Language English
Preceded by Hare Tonic
Followed by Hare Remover

Baseball Bugs is a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes theatrical cartoon short released on February 2, 1946, starring Bugs Bunny.

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 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.

Plot[edit]

Bugs distracts the catcher on his way to home plate

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 bunch of oversized, roughneck players, are not only dominating the home team, 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 out of the ballpark and the batters form a conga line, with each hitter knocking a ball out.

Bugs Bunny is wearing a straw hat and eating a carrot on a hot dog bun, Bugs 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. His challenge is forced on him by the Gorillas 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 first throws his fastball so hard that it zips by the opposing batter but also knocks him offscreen and into the backstop with a crash as he catches it. In the course of his dual role, he shouts encouraging words to the pitcher before going back to the pitcher's mound to make the next pitch, then returning to home plate to catch it.

Bugs takes his first at-bat, and selects a bat from the stack brought out by the (somewhat chiropteran) batboy. Bugs starts smacking the ball as promised. 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. Bugs then pulls out a pin-up poster, distracting the player and allowing Bugs to score his first run. The scoreboard now shows the Gorillas as the home team, still with 95 runs, and with 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 and argues the call, pulling his time-honored word-switching gag so that the umpire demands that he accept the safe call or go to the showers. He gives in, but the faux-umpire gets wise too late as the board flashes another run.

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

Jump 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. The radio booth has also lost its original play-by-play announcer and Blanc's voice is now heard as the announcer. With two outs in the last of the ninth, a Gorilla is on base and another is up at bat, having just fashioned a bat out of a big tree and swinging it menacingly.

He proceeds with a tremendous wind-up and lets the pitch go, but the ball is crushed and rockets out of the ballfield. Startled, Bugs goes chasing after it desperately, clear out of the stadium, is almost led astray by a Gorilla driving a taxi, jumps out and catches a bus, goes to the top of the "Umpire State Building", climbs a flagpole, throws his glove in the air and manages to catch it.

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.

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".[1]
  • 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.[2]

Availability[edit]

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barrier (1999), p. 471
  2. ^ Ripper (2002), p. 4

External links[edit]

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