Baseball is the national pastime and for many of us it is a passion. I remember my first trip to see a Major League Baseball game. In 1956 for a fifth birthday present my dad took me to Yankee Stadium; I have vivid memories of that exciting day. I recall being awe struck upon entering the Stadium; Mickey Mantle hit a home run and I was convinced that he did that just about every time at bat. This was the first time I would hear the vendors yelling, “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard”.
Along with a love for baseball, like most folks I enjoy good comedy. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello are among the greatest comedy teams ever and their “Who’s On First?” routine is a classic. Abbott and Costello have several versions of the skit; in the various scenarios Abbott is the manager of a baseball team and Costello wants to know the names of the ball players.
The Baseball Hall of Fame Museum in Cooperstown, New York has a video exhibit which runs the “Who’s On First?” routine. A number of years back I took my children to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame; they were unfamiliar with Abbott and Costello and the comedy spoof. I felt a bit sad, recognized it was a generational thing and explained that Bud Abbott and Lou Costello are comedy icons. My kids loved watching “Who’s On First?”
The famous comedy sketch starts with Abbott forewarning Costello that the players have strange names. “Who” is the first baseman, “What” is the second baseman, “I Don’t Know” is the third baseman; throughout the line up the odd names continue. Abbott is the consummate straight man while Costello is totally confused. The routine is executed with perfect comedic timing. I recently watched a video of “Who’s On First?” on You Tube; I have included the link in my source notes below.
I am confident that most people of my generation are fondly familiar with this wonderful comedy act. For many of us the phrase, “Who’s on first?” is synonymous with a confusing, befuddling situation.
Lou Costello and Bud Abbott artistically merged a passion for baseball with great comedy. I am delighted that “Who’s On First?” has been recorded and preserved for all generations to enjoy.
I have been going to Major League Baseball games for many years and like that first time many years ago, when I hear the vendor shout out, “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard”, I think of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.