Cartoon of the Day: How to Play Baseball

How to Play Baseball
1942
Directed by Jack Kinney
Available on: Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Goofy

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged.  I’ve been on the road a lot lately, but finally I get to be home for awhile.  Besides getting to be in my own bed, another reason to celebrate this week is that it’s the start of baseball season!  In the past I’ve mentioned how many famous cartoon characters have fought the bull…well many of them have played baseball as well.  So in honor of the annual start of the greatest of all games, let’s look at Goofy’s effort to make it to Cooperstown, “How to Play Baseball.”

There are many “how to” films in Goofy’s filmography and they are among his finest moments.  Of all the cartoon characters to play baseball, Goofy may have been best suited for it.  His slim, flexible figure lends itself well to parodying some of the awkward looking poses that baseball players put themselves into.  Just look through your stack of old baseball cards to see how odd some baseball players look when the camera captures them in action.  The Disney animators obviously drew some inspiration from real players while also allowing their creativity to run wild.

Supposedly this film was produced at the request of Samuel Goldwyn to accompany prints of “The Pride of the Yankees,” which told the story of Lou Gehrig’s battle with the disease that would bear his name.

Like in many of Goofy’s “how to” films (this was the first, by the way), all the characters in this short are a variation on Goofy. This makes the level of humor higher than we see in most of the Disney shorts. With every character capable of such extremes, the opportunities for laughs are many. There are plenty of jabs at some of the sillier aspects of our national pass time as well, but done in a way that shows a real love for the game.

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