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Spring Has Sprung
Frank Deford
April 10, 1978
It's Opening Day, so buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, remember to hold the label up and tell me Who's on First?
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April 10, 1978

Spring Has Sprung

It's Opening Day, so buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, remember to hold the label up and tell me Who's on First?

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This is why, I think, they never came up with a rightfielder.

You might say that this is all a lot of gobbledygook. These' were two downtown comics who worked bawdy routines out front while the strippers were getting ready backstage. Maybe, but genius pops up in funny places and those who have it are often unaware of it.

On the afternoon of March 3, 1959, right after the Dodgers went off to spring training, Bud Abbott turned on the television in L.A. to watch an old Abbott and Costello movie. Who's on First? was in the film. Near the end of the routine the phone rang, and Abbott answered it. He was told that Lou Costello had died. "Tell me," Abbott would often say after that, "why did I happen to be watching that picture at that time? Will you tell me why?"

Probably because all along, surely, the rightfielder in the routine was God.

* There is a similar incongruity in another famous piece of baseball literature, Casey at the Bat. In the poem's third stanza, the two batters preceding Casey are identified as "Flynn" and "Jimmy Blake." In the next stanza, after Flynn has singled and Blake doubled, Ernest L. Thayer writes: "There was Johnny safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third." Why did Jimmy become Johnny? Why didn't anyone ever catch this? How could the poet have made such a mistake? What does it all mean?

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