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A bunch of fun and good advice
Franz Lidz
May 25, 1981
The flutterball style of The Baseball Bunch, a syndicated half-hour show for kids that was first aired on May 2 and will be shown every weekend until Labor Day, found a comfortable groove when host Johnny Bench smacked a Tug McGraw pitch into a neighboring solar system.
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May 25, 1981

A Bunch Of Fun And Good Advice

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McGraw talks about the Zen of tossing his changeup. "It's a white demon," he says. "It's nothin' shakin' but the bacon, nothin' cookin' but the beans in the pot, and they ain't cookin' 'cause the water ain't hot. It's the same old soup; they just keep warmin' it up."

But what about a curveball, Tug? asks a girl Bunchie. "A curveball!" he screams. "What do you want to throw a curve for? It can hurt your pretty elbows. It can hurt your pretty shoulders. You twist your bones in weird ways, and your bones are still soft. Your muscles aren't strong. And your tendons are weak."

The players' tips are intercut with film clips of game action. There is historic footage of past greats like Connie Mack, John J. McGraw and Mickey Mantle as well as shots of present-day big-leaguers that illustrate the pitfalls of such faux pas as trying to one-hand fly balls, not getting into the proper position to field a grounder and missing the cutoff man.

Adults might find the appearance of Tommy Lasorda as the Dugout Wizard toward the close of every show the most diverting. The Dodger manager materializes in a cloud of smoke, wearing a rhinestone-studded tiara, lavender feathers and the turban of a store-front swami. He intones Gandalfian phrases like "Let the manager do the talking."

Former Cincinnati skipper Sparky Anderson, who now manages the Tigers, appeared on a recent show to do some talking. He and Bench threw odds-'n'-evens fingers. Anderson won.

"Come on, Spark," said Bench. "Let's make it two out of three."

"I will not."

"Aw, come on. Remember how I went out there when I was hurt. I'm not asking for much, Spark."

"No. For nine years I gave in to you."

But Sparky gives in. Bench wins the next two rounds, which goes to show managers don't know when to shut up.

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