Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday School: The Baseball Bunch (1982)

Major League Baseball's television divison struck a gold mine in the 70's with the launch of the syndicated This Week in Baseball, which now airs during the season on Fox as a prelude to the network's game of the week. In 1982, a second series, clearly aimed at children, was added.

The Baseball Bunch was hosted by future Hall of Famer Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds. Each week, a different ballplayer was brought on to act as a guest instructor to the kids, with the San Diego Chicken serving as comic relief. Providing further comedy, albeit unintentionally, was Tom Lasorda, then the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who appeared as the "Dugout Wizard", imparting additional wisdom on fundamentals. Lasorda, who built his reputation for being over the top with his antics as the Dodgers' 3rd base coach before succeeding Walter Alston as manager, was lucky he wasn't dressed up as Merlin.

The following clip features another future Hall of Famer, shortstop Ozzie Smith, who played with San Diego & St. Louis during his career.

Oh, I'm sure Ozzie has heard every one of those "Wizard of Oz" jokes over the years.

Regrettably, The Baseball Bunch was cancelled after three seasons. Seeing as how Fox has infomercials filling their Saturday morning block these days, don't ya think they talked to MLB about reviving this show?

Rating: A.

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