On June 12th, 10TV launched Antenna TV on 10.2, with a schedule of television shows from the past, like McHale’s Navy, Dennis the Menace, Good Times and Sanford and Son.
When I get nostalgic for old television programs, one show pops into mind for me: The Baseball Bunch.
Those warm memories were triggered last week when I heard Dave Mason’s "We Just Disagree" on the radio (Okay, fine, it was on my iPod. Okay, fine, I admit that late 70’s/early 80’s “soft rock” is a guilty pleasure).
Each and every time I hear that song, it reminds me of an episode of “The Baseball Bunch” which used that splendid tune with video of major league umpires arguing with managers and players. Brilliant, right?
The Baseball Bunch ran on Saturday mornings in the early 1980’s. Cincinnati Reds star Johnny Bench was the host, with Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda appearing as “The Dugout Wizard”, and the San Diego Chicken as well, the San Diego Chicken.
You can find a list of clips from the show here.
Major Leaguers would appear as guest stars, teaching the kids (the “bunch”) about fundamentals and playing the game of baseball.
For me, every Saturday morning in the late spring/early summer meant rapidly getting dressed as soon as I woke up for my little league game (in full uniform).
I would gulp down a bowl a cereal, and eschew the usual Saturday morning cartoons for “The Baseball Bunch”
Then it was outside to play catch and practice what I’d just learned before heading off to Detwiler Park (Toledo) for my game.
To be honest, even though I’m old enough to remember the “Big Red Machine” and saw Bench play in person a handful of times, I associate him more with that show than his own Hall of Fame career.
I’ve had the fortune of meeting him and interviewing him twice, and both times “The Baseball Bunch” came to mind.
When he was moved to third base towards the end of his career, it was like seeing Joe Namath in a Rams uniform, Franco Harris with the Seahawks, or Willie Mays with the Mets.
Without his catcher’s equipment, Bench looked vulnerable and exposed, although he handled the position just fine. There was something just not right about it.
Life was a lot simpler back then, when Ozzie Smith was doing backflips, Bill Caudill was wearing an inspector’s hat, and Pete Rose was showing how to round first base.
Even now, it’s a nice reminder that baseball, and other sports, are still at heart kid’s games.
If you don’t think so, that’s fine, too. “We just disagree”.