George Rears - Growing up in the 1970s near a military base overseas, any piece of Americana was in high demand.
Probably none more so than comics. Except for maybe baseball cards. Baseball cards, of course, were seasonal. Sometime every March, a case would come into the PX, and it would be sold within a week.
Usually, they would reorder, and another case would come in some time in April, but that would sell out too. Just as fast. Think of all the dollars left on the table by not ordering baseball cards…
If nothing else, the one lesson I learned from my father serving our country, is that the Soviet Union was destined to collapse. Why? Because a centralized economy (as exemplified by the PX) was doomed to failure.
So anyway...by 1976, I was a huge comic fan. However, I wasn't much of a baseball guy. But, I did buy baseball cards. That is, I bought baseball cards when they were available. It didn't take long for my parents to realize I was headed toward a life of couch potato-hood, so they signed me up for baseball that year. Hey, I liked baseball cards, right?
So, off I want to play baseball. One problem. I hated it. I had never played before, and I was awful. Terrible. Even the outfield couldn't hide me. The season couldn't end soon enough for me. It wouldn't be long before I could go back to the comforts of comics. Except Julius Schwartz wouldn't let me.
DC Super Stars #10 featured Strange Sports Stories; however, not just the typical Strange Sports Stories that DC published--this was much wackier...essentially, the DC Super-Villains challenged the DC Super-Heroes to a baseball game. I know what you are thinking--"Shouldn’t they have challenged them to a softball game?"--but no. A Baseball game.
This is the point were I should start making fun of the story. Bruce Wayne and Ollie Queen in a bowling alley when Matter Master and the Joker attack. The Sportsmaster and Huntress solving a marital spat by placing a bet on the sporting event. And the baseball game. Can't forget the baseball game. However, I can't make fun of it. As a nine year old, this story rocked! As a 40 year old, well, not so much (although in place of the letter column is a play by play description of the entire game).
But what is wrong with fun comics for nine year olds? I loved the Killing Joke, Dark Knight Returns, and Batman: Year One, but many years ago I loved this crazy story where Uncle Sam gets to be the Umpire because everybody trusts him--and so does Amazo, because he is an android and can't lie (he can kill the Justice League, but he'll tell the truth while doing it, I guess).
Needless to say, I went on to love baseball (although I still can't play), and have come to view baseball's Opening Day as one of the great American holidays. I have been playing Rotisserie baseball (some call it Fantasy baseball) for 20 years now, which ironically, made me into even more of a couch potato than collecting just comics.