Johnny Bench and The Baseball Bunch: TV Magic
If you were a baseball fan as a kid in the early to mid 1980’s, there was one must-see show to watch. Every Saturday afternoon, we would tune it to see Johnny Bench, The San Diego Chicken and the entire crew of The Baseball Bunch. We watched to learn, we watched to see which player would make an appearance but most of all we watched because it was a load of fun. Instead of running Hot Stove 15 times a day during the offseason, you mean to tell me MLB Network can’t find the time to put this classic program on once or twice a week?
You name it, they had. Whether it was Bucky Dent using shaving cream to break in a glove, Ozzie Smith demonstrating wall ball to practice his fielding or Tug McGraw showing us how to grip the baseball, The Baseball Bunch gave us impressionable youngsters the idea that if you followed their advice, you could succeed like them on the field. For laughs, we saw Bill Caudill as an Inspector Clouseau look-alike, Tommy LaSorda as The Wizard and the Chicken performing stunts like pole vaulting into a wall. Maybe a show like this would seem cheesy (not to me) in today’s reality-driven viewing society but back then it represented a more innocent and dare I say fun era. Today, there are no shows like the Bunch that are shown nationally although most teams probably do have some sort of programming geared toward kids. This seems to be the case not only in baseball but most other sports as well.
MLB Network will be well-served to at least consider a revival of The Baseball Bunch or something like it. Kids will be needed to sustain the game for future generations. Judging by the attendance during the current season, baseball needs a lot more fans filling their ballparks. For now we have memories, a DVD or two and the magic of YouTube to bring us back to Bench and company. Relive one of those memories now by clicking here and seeing Tom Seaver use a Frisbee to teach kids how to throw a curve.