Friday, October 1, 2021

Mild Fear 2021 debuts with Boris terrifying Buster

It's time for a month of Mild Fear! Leading off, this photograph is from the "Comedians vs. Leading Men" charity baseball game that was held in front of about 25,000 fans at Los Angeles' Wrigley Field (not the one in Chicago) on August 8, 1940. Wouldn't you love to turn back time and have been in the front row for that one? 

The pregame ceremonies even included a parade with Paulette Goddard, who served as captain of the Comedians, and Marlene Dietrich, captain of the Leading Men. (According to news reports, others who were scheduled to appear included Jack Benny, Hedy Lamarr, Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn, Lana Turner and Myrna Loy.) 

According to the Associated Press account of the game, "old reliable Buster Keaton drew a big hand and once proved that he can really catch the ball. ... The Three Stooges played third base, all the same time, armed with butterfly nets." 

And we'll let Boris Karloff pick it up from there. This is what he wrote for an essay that was published in the Oct. 4, 1941, issue of Liberty magazine: 
"By way of a leavening note, I might add that the only time I really enjoyed playing the Monster was at the last annual charity baseball game in Hollywood between a team of comedians and a team of leading men. I strode up to the plate in my full make-up as Frankenstein's Monster — whereupon Buster Keaton, who was catching for the comedians, promptly shrieked at the sight of me, did a backward somersault, and passed out cold behind the plate. I waved my bat. The pitcher tossed the ball in my direction, and I swung at it as best I could, encumbered as I was with the Monster's metallic overalls. Luckily enough, I managed to tap the ball, which bounced crazily in the general direction of the pitcher's box. It should have been an easy out at first. But as I approached each base the opposing player fainted dead away. And the Three Stooges, who were playing second, all passed out cold. It was a home run — though horrible!"
So, were the Stooges playing second base or third base? Who cares! Meanwhile, the final score was reported by the Associated Press as 4½ for the Comedians and "three plus" for the Leading Men, pending whether a home run by the Invisible Man truly counted.

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