199. Baseball Bugs – Friz Freleng

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SUMMARY: Bugs Bunny takes on an entire brutish baseball team singlehanded in one of his most famous routines.

WHY IT’S HERE: Friz Freleng’s ‘Baseball Bugs’ has become one of the most well known Bugs Bunny cartoons of all, so much so that it was referenced in hugely popular the sitcom ‘Friends’ in such a way that took for granted that the audience would recognise it. Commonly known as “that one where Bugs takes on a whole baseball team and plays all the positions”, ‘Baseball Bugs’ brings back many a fond memory from my childhood. Watching it today, it’s a fairly standard cartoon largely made up of visual gags of varying quality, the best involving a highly unconventional batboy. The main reason it has become semi-legendary would seem to be entirely down to its ingenious premise of pitting the rabbit against a whole team of thuggish ball players. Freleng does some interesting things with the premise but you can’t help but feel a wackier director like Bob Clampett could have made so much more of it. Another problem with ‘Baseball Bugs’ is the more than usually abundant use of old references that inescapably date the cartoon. For cartoon aficionados like myself, these reference points always prove interesting (and ‘Baseball Bugs’ includes my favourite regularly used saying, “Was this trip really necessary?”, which always cracks me up) but to most people they will prove perplexing and the fact that the cartoon ends with one of these forgotten catchphrases makes for a somewhat anticlimactic finale. Nevertheless, ‘Baseball Bugs’ is a fun short which I always enjoy seeing and which is not wholly undeserving of its reputation as a classic, even if it does pale in comparison to the truly great Warner cartoons.

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