Who's on First
2005 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
2005 Papa Bear Awards - Third Place
Most Unique Story
This story takes place the day after the events depicted in the episode The Witness, hence the reference to Hochstetter and the Russian rocket scientist.
The story makes reference to a few baseball related facts that might not be familiar to everybody. The title of the story comes from the famous Abbott and Costello routine of the same name. If you are not familiar with that routine, then you should read the full text of it at http://www.baseball-almanac.com/humor4.shtml.
Unless you are a true fan of American professional baseball, or live in the Boston or New York City areas, you might not be familiar with another fact that this story borrows from. The Boston Red Sox have not won a World Series championship since 1918, only appearing in 4 World Series since then, and losing all 4. From 1901 to 1918, they won a total of 5 World Series. The key turning point (according to many long-suffering Red Sox fans) was when The Red Sox sold their best player, one George Herman Ruth – better known as Babe Ruth or the Bambino, to the New York Yankees for $100,000 in cash so that the Red Sox owner could sponsor a Broadway play. Ever since then, the Red Sox have been under the “Curse of the Bambino.” You can read more about this at http://www.bambinoscurse.com/whatis/.
Hogan refers to the great double play combination of “Tinkers to Evers to Chance”. The three players played for the Chicago Cubs in the early 1900’s, and lead the Cubs to a couple World Series championships. Hogan also uses this reference in one of the episodes. You can find some information about this trio at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/bbcards1.html.
Many thanks to Patti and Marg for beta reading this and all their editing suggestions for this first effort, and also for their encouragement for this newbie wanna-be author.
The standard disclaimer applies: Other than Corporal Roth, I make no claims to any of the characters of the Hogan’s Heroes universe.
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Kinch sat at the table in the barracks playing a game of solitaire. While he dealt the cards, he listened to Carter and Newkirk at the table beside him.
“Okay Newkirk,” said Carter, “Let’s try this again. Who’s playing first base?”
Newkirk looked at Kinch for some help, but Kinch just shrugged. “What? I thought we were talking about second base now,” said a confused Newkirk.
Carter shook his head impatiently. “No, no, no, we haven’t got first base down yet. Now who’s playing first?”
Newkirk sighed, “I don’t know.”
The barracks door opened and Colonel Hogan stepped in. “Hi guys! What’s going on?”
Kinch could barely hide the smirk on his face. “Hi Colonel. Carter is trying to teach Newkirk what a double play is.”
“Ah, the old Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance,” replied the Colonel, expecting everyone to understand the famous baseball reference.
Looking a bit confused, Carter replied, “Sir? What team do they play on in the camp baseball league?”
“Never mind Carter, just forget I said anything,” muttered the Colonel.
Shrugging off the interruption, Carter continued, “C’mon Newkirk, you’re not even trying.”
“It’s not my fault that baseball is so complicated!” exclaimed Newkirk. “Why can’t it be easy to understand, like cricket?”
Hogan stifled a laugh. “Cricket? Easy to understand? That’s like saying Klink is a violin virtuoso!“ He saw a fleeting look of indignation on Newkirk’s face, so he quickly changed the subject and turned his attention back to Carter. “So Carter, the camp baseball league championship game is tomorrow and you’re pitching. Do you think the Red Sox will beat the Yankees?” he asked.
Kinch looked up from his cards. “Um, Colonel, it’s the Indians playing the Yankees. The Red Sox are out of it.” He felt a little uncomfortable correcting his commanding officer.
Kinch started to say more, but Carter interrupted, “That’s right Colonel, you know the Red Sox haven’t won anything in months, ever since they traded their best player to the Yankees for some extra Red Cross packages.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right,” Hogan remembered. “What’s his name? Bill? Bruce?”
“No, his name is Bob,” corrected Carter.
“Yeah, that’s him, Corporal Bob Roth,” the Colonel said. “He still plays for the Yankees, right? Isn’t he the one that keeps hitting the home runs out of the camp into the woods? Klink is getting tired of Schultz having to gather all of our baseballs up for us.”
“Old Klink’s just mad because Hochstetter is poking his nose around here again,’ LeBeau said, bringing the coffeepot over from the stove.
“After what happened last night, I can’t blame him a bit!” Newkirk said excitedly. He was happy that the conversation was no longer about baseball.
Hogan sensed that Newkirk was glad the subject of the conversation had changed. “I’ll have to admit, I was a bit surprised when Hochstetter let the Russian rocket scientist escape back to Russia. Anyway, there’s nothing going on for a while except the baseball game tomorrow. That mission is over, so let’s forget about old Hochstetter.” Then with a quick glance at Newkirk and a twinkle in his eye, he turned to Carter and asked “Carter, how’s your arm feel? You’re pitching for the Indians, right?”
“You got it boy! Um, sir”, said Carter. “It’s going to be a good game too!”
“Yea, good for the Yankees!” teased LeBeau. “I can see it now, Little Deer Who Throws Straight and True pitching for the Indians. We’d better tell Schultz to stand in the woods ready to chase all the home run balls that Corporal Roth will hit off Carter!”
“Hey, that’s not fair LeBeau! I don’t see you out there playing!” cried Carter.
“Of course not! Baseball? Never! Now if it was a football game tomorrow, that would be different.”
“Football?” asked Carter. “You don’t look big enough to play football, LeBeau.”
“Um, Carter, I think he’s talking about what we call soccer,” Kinch corrected.
“Oh,” said Carter. “I see.” But he didn’t see what was so fun about kicking a ball around to try to get it into a big net. Baseball was a more exciting game. “Newkirk, are we ever going to finish this baseball lesson?”
Rolling his eyes, Newkirk moaned, “Aw Carter, do we ‘ave to?”
“Yes. You’re going to learn it if it kills me!” said Carter.
LeBeau leaned over and whispered into Newkirk’s ear. “Now there’s an idea.”
“Okay tell me, who’s playing first base?” continued Carter.
“What? We’re back at first base? I thought we skipped to second base,” said Newkirk looking tired. “We’re never going to get to home base!”
“Home plate, Newkirk. It’s home plate,” corrected Hogan.
“No. We didn’t skip anything. We’ll get to what’s at second base next. Now who’s on first?” asked Carter again.
Newkirk sighed, “I don’t know.”
“Newkirk come on, at least try!” cried an exasperated Carter.
“I think this is where I came in,” muttered Hogan as he got up and headed to his office.
“You know, you two would make a great comedy team,” chided LeBeau. “Who’s on first? What’s on second? I don’t know!” he mocked.
“Be quiet LeBeau. The only position you could play would be shortstop!” exclaimed Newkirk.
At the doorway to his office, Hogan stopped and turned back to his men. “Newkirk, I think you finally got it!” Then he shut his office door, leaving his men laughing.
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This story makes reference to a camp baseball league. During the war in several of the Stalag Luft camps, the prisoners would play baseball for recreation, usually using equipment supplied by the YMCA to the POW camps. According to one source during the peak summer of 1944, there were upwards of 200 teams active just in Stalag Luft III.
Text and original characters copyright 2004 by Jeff Evans
This copyright covers only original material and characters, and in no way intends to infringe upon the privileges of the holders of the copyrights, trademarks, or other legal rights, for the Hogan's Heroes universe.