So you're watching your favorite show. It might be romance, or supernatural, or anything at all. The characters are not shown to participate in sports, and it doesn't really matter in context. Then, the next episode comes up and... wait a minute, why are they playing baseball?
Enter the Baseball Episode, in which for some reason, the heroes participate in a baseball game. It might be in order to save the world, save the town or just waste time. Whatever the reason, it's common, and shows up in all kinds of works...
... at least coming from the United States or Japan. Most other countries don't even know what this "baseball" thing is. The British equivalent would be a Cricket episode; this is rarer, though not unknown.
Also can apply to softball, an equivalent sport played with a larger ball, a smaller playfield and quite a bit more alcohol among the participants.
Anime and Manga
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya had one. And since Haruhi is involved, they have to win the game in order to save the world. At the end of the episode Haruhi is trying to decide whether they should enter the local soccer or American football tournament next.
- Episode 4 of Angel Beats!.
- FLCL episode 4 "Full Swing".
- Sonic X. Sonic and crew vs. Eggman's robot team with a Chaos Emerald at stake. To be fair, Knuckles did tell them it was a dumb idea...
- Urusei Yatsura did several baseball episodes...basically whenever Tobimaro showed up.
- Maison Ikkoku did one too, with the manager from Cha Cha Maru (a local bar) organizing a game against local store owners.
- The first episode of Clannad After Story centered on the characters playing baseball. It is based after a common normal ending of the original Visual Novel.
- Also in Episode 20 of Season 1 where Nagisa accidentally confessed to Tomoya.
- Pokémon has a baseball Fan Girl named Casey with whom Ash and the group meet up from time to time. She even has a Day in The Limelight episode in the Pokemon Chronicles spin-off series involving a Charizard that lost its firepower (literally) and a washed up baseball pitcher.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX showed in one episode that the kids play baseball (card games may be Serious Business, but at least they can apparently have other hobbies).
- The Midori no Hibi manga has a chapter where a baseball game is used to settle a gang conflict.
- The Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars (season 5) episode "The Power of a Shining Star! ChibiChibi's Transformation" had a softball game as its focus.
- Samurai Pizza Cats
- While playing baseball out of nowhere is surprising in any series, it's double surprising in Eyeshield 21, which is already about American football. However, this is one of the cases where it's justified; Banba used the baseball game as a way to train Kurita and the other Devil Bats for the upcoming game with the Hakushuu Dinosaurs.
- It wasn't the actual sport that was important either, they just needed to get used to playing sports inside a dome rather than outside, due to the difference in air pressure. A baseball dome was chosen because Hiruma had dirt on the night guards watching the place.
- Sora Wo Kakeru Shoujo's ninth episode plucks up the entirety of its main cast and sets them in a modern day world that tells a baseball story instead of the colony warfare one that had been playing out up until then. QT powers are still present despite this.
- One of the One Piece movies opens with a short featuring the crew playing baseball against some villains, complete with Zoro wielding three bats. In another short, they play soccer.
- The Prince of Tennis has a baseball episode, featuring all the characters in chibi form.
- The Hajime no Ippo manga has the Kamogawa Gym boxers playing a baseball game. It was pretty much the only time Aoki and Kimura were better than everyone.
- Axis Powers Hetalia: Involving World Baseball Classic.
- Hell Girl features one of these - though not too unexpected since every episode revolves around a different set of characters. This time, it just happens to be someone who gets away with murder since he's such a great ballplayer.
- A short segment in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. May be a bit longer in the manga and sound novels.
- Parodied in an episode of Excel Saga. The girls are sent to Excel's old high school to find out what today's youth are interested in, and up coaching the school's baseball team, a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits that are the worst team in the city.
- Episode 9 of Maburaho - playing against a team from hell.
- Onegai My Melody Spin-Around Shuffle episode 8
- Hanaukyo Maid Tai La Verite episode 6. The maid departments (security, medical, technology etc.) compete in a softball tournament to determine budget allocations.
- This was taken from the manga.
- Voltron once had the good guys and the bad guys play American football.
- Science Ninja Team Gatchaman had an episode take place in a baseball stadium. As usual, Galactor gets involved.
- Samurai Champloo also had a baseball game between purported Americans (including Abner Doubleday) and a local team that includes Mugen, Jin, and Fuu. Guess who wins. Well, okay, technically nobody, but whatever.
- CLAMP School Detectives features a baseball game between Nokoru and Suoh. Nokoru has a full team of girls from the CLAMP School's kindergarten division, while Suoh covers the entire field himself and uses 'Ghost Runners'.
- Mega Man NT Warrior
- Detective Conan features a baseball episode at least once which involves the culprit of the week planning his attack depending on the game's outcome.
- School Rumble had both a softball episode and a "pool hockey" episode.
- Kyo Kara Maoh has these by the bucketload. Part of Yuuri's coming-of-age ceremony in Shin Makoku is a baseball game, even.
- Kirarin Revolution has a baseball episode as well.
- In the Comic Party anime, characters formed two teams to play against each other; the game was eventually called a tie due to some complicated exigent circumstances.
- For some reason or other this comes up fairly frequently in Keroro Gunsou, which has had several episodes in which characters play various sports against each other. These include a soccer episode, a swimming episode, a tennis episode, and an Olympic-style winter sports episode.
- You're Under Arrest features the clueless vigilante Strike Man, a baseball-themed hero whose pursuit of justice tends to cause more problems than it solves. Natsumi earns the nickname Home Run Girl from Strike Man himself for her efforts in fighting him off in baseball duels.
- This also happened in an issue of Young Justice, which played out very much like the Samurai Champloo episode, only here, the invaders were aliens. (The justification, such as it was, was that the aliens had once been led by Doiby Dickles, so their culture was largely based on 1930s New York City.)
- The justification for the planet Myrg resembling 1930s New York was indeed because they had been led by Doiby Dickles. However, that has nothing to do with the baseball. Apparently the aliens that were invading Myrg simply learned the game from Earth TV, and found it convenient as method of Trial by Combat and began to use it on their own. Young Justice was very often somewhat bizarre or slapstick and this storyline pushed it even farther than usual, prompting one character to say "That's it, I'm joining the [Teen] Titans."
- The Incredible Hulk incognito, got a gig playing outfield for a minor league team. The gig ended when he had a fight with the Rhino, who was playing catcher for a rival minor league team. Foul-tempered, mutated superbehemoths playing baseball? Shocking.
- The Justice League had a baseball game against the Injustice Gang in Strange Sport Stories.
- Similarly, there was a Titans/Villains baseball game in an issue of Teen Titans Go.
- The X-Men are to be expected actually, considering who the comics focus on and where they take place. An X-Men baseball game will always start with the rule "no powers". And it will always be broken. That gray stuff in the above picture, that's the guy's skin!
- They also played basketball once with similar results.
- Way back when Marvel's Avengers were only split up between East Coast and West Coast, the two teams would meet up for an annual game of baseball. One of these games was interrupted by a cosmic being called the Grandmaster (who, as it happens, is obsessed with sports and games), but that's a long story.
- And way way back in the earliest years of the Fantastic Four, the issue after the storyline of the very first introduction of the Black Panther, it opens with them playing baseball. Hilarity Ensues, due to the fact that the Thing is the pitcher.
- Bart Allen's adventures in Impulse are normal superheroic fare—bank robberies, time travel, speeding cars, megalomania—which makes it all the odder that Impulse #20 is just 22 pages of Bart playing baseball (and losing badly).
- Not to mention the annual softball game between Marvel Comics and DC Comics staffers.
- The Young All-Stars played against the All Star Squadron for charity.
- The first issue of New Men opened with the titular team relaxing with a game of basketball - the use of powers encouraged.
- The inmates of Arkham Asylum have even played against Blackgate prisoners. It didn't go well.
- Nearly an entire issue of Power Pack took place in or around Shea Stadium, dealing with a slightly-crazy former baseball player who was willing to blow up the stadium to prevent his seven-home-runs-in-seven-games record from being tied.
- The Captain Britain and MI 13 annual had a story with the cast playing Cricket.
- A football variant occurs in The Room.
Live Action TV
- Deep Space Nine: "Take Me out to the Holosuite." In the middle of a WAR, this is what Sisko chooses as his latest obsession. Get some help, man. Your OCD is way out of control.
- Sisko's obsession with baseball goes back to the pilot, where Sisko uses baseball to explain the concept of linear time to the wormhole aliens. He goes nuts here because that obnoxious Vulcan captain taught his crew the game specifically to spite him.
- It's also worth noting that by the 24th century, baseball has almost died out and is only kept alive by enthusiasts like Sisko and on a few distant colony worlds, so it's not as mainstream as in other examples.
- Death to the opposition!
- Or how about this line from Sisko, complaining to the umpire, Odo, about a call:
Benjamin Sisko: What were you doing, regenerating?!
- At this point in the war, Deep Space Nine is no longer on the front lines, and those returning from the front lines regularly take advantage of the station for shore leave purposes while their ships are being repaired, which is exactly why the opposing team was there in the first place. The station personnel, constantly at work supporting and organizing the war effort, would also need to spend some nights "on the town" on occasion. So it is perfectly reasonable for those involved to sync up their days off for some practice sessions and a game.
- Married... with Children:
- Al helps start up a nudie-bar-sponsored baseball league when MLB goes on strike.
- And the episode where the mall softball team benches him.
- Arrested Development: "Switch Hitter"
- Small Wonder: "Victor/V.I.C.I."
- Seinfeld: Jerry and George are seen playing softball in two episodes, where the plot surrounds this event.
- Due South: "Dr. Longball"
- Early Edition: "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"
- Monk : "Mr Monk Goes to the Ballgame"
- WKRP in Cincinnati
- The X-Files: "The Unnatural"
- Wiseguy had "Player To Be Named Now" in which the mad Arms Dealer Mel Profitt decides to live out his childhood fantasy of becoming a baseball star, by buying an NBL team and forcing them to accept him as a player. He even forces the current owner's company into bankruptcy so he can buy at a cheaper price. The closest we see to an actual game though is Mel batting with the protagonist Vinnie pitching (Mel turns out to be a lousy batter compared to Vince). In the end the NBL rejects Mel based on his reputation, resulting in an Aesop that Money, Power, And A Gang of Mooks Isn't Everything.
- In an episode of The Greatest American Hero, Ralph uses his super suit to pitch for the LA Stars.
- An episode of Galactica 1980 has a baseball game central to its plot.
- Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: "Traveling All-Stars."
- An episode of Dads Army had the Home Guard playing a Cricket match against the ARP wardens (guest starring Fred Trueman!) The Home Guard win when Godfrey, of all people, hits a six.
- Freaks and Geeks. In "The Diary", the geeks' plot centres around playing baseball in gym class.
- Bones didn't have an actual baseball episode, but "The Rocker in the Rinse Cycle" features Arastoo Vaziri using baseball metaphors incessantly in anticipation of the baseball season starting. The other characters end up telling him to shut up.
- They didn't play baseball, but the MythBusters did a whole episode on baseball myths.
- Ugly Betty has one. Of course, this being Ugly Betty, Hilarity Ensues.
Betty: "No! You can't jump on people!"
- Little House On the Prairie had an episode, "In the Big Inning", which has the residents of Plum Creek play a game against a team from Sleepy Eye. In typical Little House fashion, the opposing team is full of cheats and bad sports.
- British example: Doctor Who had a cricket episode, in "Black Orchid"
- Just Shoot Me: Maya, who played softball in college, joins the Blush softball team after it's revealed that she has a hell of a pitching arm. She gets too competitive, however, just as she did in college, and the others try to get her to quit.
- Man v. Food has Adam Richman touring three minor league parks showing the food they serve. One park's challenge involves Adam having to finish a giant burger in between the seventh-inning stretch and the game's final out, which meant that he didn't know how long he had to finish since each game's outcome varies. But he did managed to finish it off only because the final batter fouled off an 0-2 pitch.
- Babylon 5 doesn't have a whole episode, but there are a few scenes where Sheridan and Garibaldi are discussing station issues while facing a pitching machine with a digital umpire.
- Corner Gas has an episode with a slow-pitch softball game.
- Grey's Anatomy invented an annual hospital-vs-press softball tradition just to have a softball episode. No one even pretends the doctors have the slightest chance of winning; the entire on-field action consists of acting out of thinly-veiled personal issues.
- Leverage features this in the Three Strikes Job with Eliot becoming a catcher for part of the con so that they can steal the ballpark and the team.
- Australian show My Place has a cricket episode early on. Like the UK, Australia is cricket-mad and baseball indifferent.
- Band of Brothers uses a baseball game to wrap up the miniseries, with a voice-over describing what major characters did after the war.
- CSI: NY 'The Closer'-the victim was a baseball fan found dead, and the team investigates. The episode let Carmine Giovinazzo show off his real life pitching skills-both the actor and his character Danny Messer wanted to be pro baseball players but had careers cut short by injury.
- The regular CSI had an episode in season 12 with an intermural game between the CSIs and police department. Cue fangirl squees about the guys in uniform.
- The 1993 song Cheap Seats.
- Adventures in Odyssey has featured episodes centered on baseball, usually with some kind of moral in mind.
- The musical Let 'Em Eat Cake (sequel to Of Thee I Sing) had the Supreme Court, reconstituted as a baseball team after Wintergreen became dictator, playing against the League of Nations, with Throttlebottom as umpire. The United States loses, blames Throttlebottom for calling a foul ball fair, and sentences him to the guillotine.
- Played with in Disgaea. In one chapter, a bunch of rogue Prinnies challenge Laharl and company to a baseball game out in Blair Forest, but Laharl and Etna have a different game plan on their minds (i.e. "kill 'em all"). This is made easy by the fact that prinnies explode when thrown, providing a quick match if you are underleveled.
- Makai Kingdom, on the other hand, had a fight as a (association) football match. You're caught in the middle, while the enemies are split into two teams and can and will attack each other.
- The Super Mario 'verse deals with baseball in Mario Superstar Baseball and Mario Super Sluggers.
- Mega Man 10 invokes this with Strike Man's stage. Of course, Mega Man (or whoever you're playing as) doesn't deviate from what he usually does, and there are just general sports references, but baseball is the strongest theme (even the Robot Master himself looks like a baseball).
- The Kunio-Kun baseball game Downtown Nekketsu Baseball Monogatari.
- The classic Woody Woodpecker short The Screwball.
- On The Boondocks, Huey was forced to participate in a baseball— er... Kickball game... against China. To save the town? This episode was transparently a metaphor for current economics, and an homage to the Samurai Champloo episode.
- In the South Park episode "The Losing Edge", the kids try to lose at baseball so they won't waste their whole summer playing it — a strategy that proves difficult, as every other team is trying to do the same. It's also one of the few episodes in which Kenny's face is shown.
- The Magic School Bus had a baseball episode which they dedicated to friction, of all things.
- Looney Tunes did this several times, most commonly involving Bugs Bunny.
- There was an episode of X-Men: Evolution with this plot. The "no-powers" stipulation evaporated quickly.
- Pac-Man had an episode called "Southpaw Packy". After the Ghost Monsters disrupted the Pacland World Series, Pac-Man and his family challenged them.
- Popeye played baseball in "The Twisker Pitcher".
- One episode of The Real Ghostbusters saw two groups of Native American spirits (one good, the other evil) awaken to do battle, as they have done every thousand years. Since their burial ground had become a baseball stadium, they chose for their modern-day battle to take the form of a baseball game. The Ghostbusters' interest in the game is due to Winston getting drafted to the Good team, and therefore risking the loss of his soul if the Evil team wins. After the game is over, Winston reveals that it wasn't his soul at stake, but Peter's.
- And then there's Futurama, which has its own blernsball episode, "A Leela of Her Own. It starts with the more typical expression of this trope (a friendly game between friends and neighbors), but soon Leela becomes an actual Major Leaguer.
- They then did a half-
baseballbasketball episode in 'Time Keeps on Slipping', in which the Harlem Globetrotters (they're aliens) challenge Earth to a game "with absolutely no consequence of any kind."
- They then did a half-
- The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin did it, only with Grunge Ball.
- In the King of the Hill episode "Take Me out of the Ball Game," Hank coaches the company softball team and has problems dealing with putting his wife in the team who is an ace pitcher.
- Not to mention "You Gotta Believe (In Moderation)" which features Hank and the gang attempting to win against a Harlem Globetrotters-style team of clownish all-stars.
- Another episode from season 13, "Bad News Bill" when Hank realizes that a little league coach's encouragement techniques were giving Bobby false hope and ulitmately humiliating him.
- DuckTales (1987): Stodgy butler Duckworth has to play substitute coach to Huey, Dewey and Louie's Little League team despite having no working knowledge of the game.
- The Simpsons episode "Homer at the Bat" featured Homer becoming a star player on the company softball team, and Mr. Burns hiring a team of Major League all-stars (Roger Clemens, Mike Scioscia, Don Mattingly, Steve Sax, Wade Boggs, Ozzie Smith, Jose Canseco, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Darryl Strawberry) to play the final game to win a bet.
- In a case of Hilarious in Hindsight a running gag in the episode has Burns getting mad at Mattingly for failing to cut his sideburns (even after he shaves off most of his hair). After getting cut from the team Don is heard saying "I still like him better than Steinbrenner." A few weeks after the episode was produced, but before it was aired, Mattingly would be suspended from the Yankees for failing to cut his long hair as per team owner George Steinbrenner's policy.
- In another episode, Homer is the mascot for the Isotopes.
- In yet another episode, Bart is a player on the Isotots and Lisa is the numbers-crunching manager.
- Pinky and The Brain did it in "Pinky at the Bat."
- There was also the Animaniacs episode "Mighty Wakko At The Bat" which is based off the poem "Casey at the Bat".
- Buster Bunny replayed Casey's role in Tiny Toon Adventures and twisted the end by actually hitting the ball.
- In another baseball episode, Perfecto Prep was easily defeating Acme Looniversity until the antics of some game crashers revealed how they were cheating.
- Beetlejuice had an episode in which his rival Scuzzo challenged him to a game of baseball.
- Goofy's Classic Disney Shorts "How To Play Baseball"
- Batman the Brave And The Bold. The Justice League plays baseball against the Legion of Doom.
- Fairly Oddparents did it. Timmy wishes Chester was the best baseball player in the world (since he's very bad and unfortunately named Mc Badbat, so bad, in fact, he has to hide his face in shame with a paper bag) to make their little league team, the Losers, stop losing against all the other teams... one of which consisted of toddlers.
- Norm the Genie once came under Chester's possession and granted his wish to make Bucky an all-star ballplayer. Insanity ensued.
- Later episodes reiterate the same plot: one has Timmy wish to be a basketball champ on Dimmsdale's Ball Hogs, while another brings back every element of the Baseball Episode, except this time, it's soccer, Timmy's the hapless team member, and Poof lends a hand.
- Jimmy Neutron: Jimmy and the gang successfully cheated with science to make their Retroville team, consisting of him and his friends, to win so utterly and remarkably they appear to be the greatest baseball players ever known, and end up catching attention overseas to stake it out in the World Championship in Japan. Unfortunately, Jimmy's underhanded secret is revealed and the team gives into morality, feeling they should rely on their own skills... which are severely lacking. The big game takes place offscreen- mercifully- Japan completely thrashed Retroville.
- Hey Arnold! had several prominent baseball episodes. The original pilot, reworked into the series as a regular episode, had Arnold bean Harold, and Harold was not amused at all. He called Arnold out for a fight (Helga even taunting Arnold through the night counting down the inevitable showdown)... but Arnold used the intimidating power of craziness to convince Harold to back off.
- While The Mighty Ducks played hockey in nearly every episode (they were a professional hockey team, after all), "Mad Quacks Beyond Hockeydome" had the the ducks kidnapped by an Evil Overlord from another galaxy and forced into a tournament of space hockey where the losing team gets disintegrated.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy had a baseball episode featuring Billy's team versus Mindy's. Mandy wanted in but Billy was sexist on that regards (and too stupid to notice the other team wasn't all-male either). Mandy then put on a Paper-Thin Disguise (namely covered her hair with a baseball cap). Billy never realized "Manfred" wasn't a real boy.
- Johnny Bravo once tried to help his mother's little league team to win a game for an all-girls championship. The Opposing Sports Team, the "Bad Girls", were cheating and Johnny decided to disguise himself to enter his mother's team. When the Bad Girls' coach unmasked him, Little Suzy did the same to the Bad Girls and the umpire disqualified both teams.
- Michael Jordan is well known for a short baseball career in between his threepeats.