Ozzie Smith (1992)
“The Kid Who Could!“
Writer – Your Guess is as Good as Mine!
Pencils – Joe Staton & Angelo Torres
Inks – Mike DeCarlo
Alright gang, got something a little… well, a lot off the “beaten path” today. You know me, I have a weird love of the weird and novel things DC has produced. That might not always (or ever) translate into “views”, but… dammit, it’s a lot of fun.
Today, we’re going to look at the first (of three) issues of “Tony’s Sports Comics” from Kellogg’s, Sports Illustrated, and DC Comics. These are going to be weird and obscure… and I haven’t the foggiest idea who wrote, drew, colored, or lettered a single one of ’em! If you have any ideas about the creative team… or, if perhaps you are part of the creative team, please shoot me a line!
SAME-DAY UPDATE: Thanks to the intrepid readers for hunting down some more information on the creative team for this issue! Joe Staton and Angelo Torres provided pencils, while Mike DeCarlo was on inks. Still don’t know who might’ve written this bugger though!
Our issue opens with a young fella named Peter having “part of a complete breakfast” with, I’m going to assume, his little brother. They’re watching an… early-morning Cardinals game, you know Major League games usually start at 6 in the morning, right? I dunno, maybe they’re playing in Japan or something. Anyhoo, out the window, Peter sees the other neighborhood kids gathering to play some ball themselves. He’d really like to be a part of this… and so, he shovels what’s left of his Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes down his gullet and heads outside to join in the frivolity. Only one problem with that… looks like the mastermind of the Neighborhood League, Andrew thinks that our Peter is too puny (wow, that’s not a comfortable sentence to type out). Enter: A giant cat beast.
Turns out, as luck would have it, Tony the Tiger just so happened to be hanging out in St. Louis… and he’s down to just hang out and watch some neighborhood kids play ball for a few hours. Anyhoo, after the game (which poor Peter sits out), Tony asks the gang if they’d like to meet a friend of his… a “little guy” who’d become a “giant” in Major League Baseball. They agree… hop into Tony’s windowless van, and are never seen agai–, err, they’re taken to a nearby ball field where some of the St. Louis Cardinals are practicing… including the man of the hour, Ozzie Smith!
After the practice session, Tony introduces Ozzie to his new friends. Ozzie is cordial, but confused… though, in fairness, he was just approached by a giant bipedal tiger beast. They decide to give Peter the opportunity to show ’em he’s a tiger… show ’em what he can do, and so Andrew is ordered to the mound to throw some pitches. Whattayaknow… Peter just murders the ball with every swing!
After proving he can hit, Ozzie decides it’s time for Peter to show his prowess on the field. Andrew is remanded to the mound again to pitch to the Wizard of Oz. Ozzie hits a few pitches in Peter’s direction, but the poor kid winds up pullin’ a Bill Buckner! Whoops! Ozzie shouts some words of support at the kid, and sure enough, Peter picks up on it quick!
As the sesh wraps up, Andrew’s all “Yeah, Peter’s pretty good… but, he’s still too small!” Jesus, Andrew… whatta you want from this kid? He can’t just decide to grow! Tony decides to intervene again… and gives the two kids tickets to the next Cardinals game. This really feels like it’s building to a “don’t talk to strangers” lesson, doesn’t it?
Before we know it, Tony, Andrew, and Peter are at the game… and hanging out with Ozzie while the teams warm up. Ozzie and Tony decide to waste away the minutes before the game by… quizzing the kids on baseball! There are a lot of words on these pages, maaaan… no joke. It’s neck-and-neck in the quiz-off, until Peter is able to answer a question that Andrew doesn’t know!
Ozzie steps away to, ya know, play the game… and says Tony should continue quizzing the kids. It’s here where Ozzie delivers the line of the book: “If they pass the test, they’ll have a perfect score!” Da hell? First, that don’t make no sense… Second, Andrew’s already missed a question! Pay attention, Ozzie man!
The next several pages feature Ozzie Smith kickin’ butt on the field… making amazing catches and even scoring the winning
We wrap up with Andrew finally relenting and, with a wink to the reader, allowing Peter to play in his neighborhood league.
Not since we joined LeBron James on his quest to find “the flava”, have we read such a weird sports story here at the site… and, for the most part… it was pretty fun! Dumb, borderline creepy, and somewhat inarticulate… but fun!
It’s definitely one of those books that “defies analysis”… and so, I’m not going to go too deep. I also feel like, looking back with (urgh) 2020-vision, this could be viewed a bit differently than it was intended… maybe? I feel like there’s a fair amount of “innocence” we need in order to to “buy-in” and fully appreciate this… but, call it jadedness, cynicism, or just a tendency toward black humor, and this one could go sideways at any moment.
The “lesson” taught here isn’t anything all that novel… and really, why the hell am I even going down this path? It’s a feel good story facilitated by a cereal mascot. I really ought to just let it be. The art was good… Tony’s depiction was especially “spot on”. Yeah, I guess that’s all I really have to say!
Overall it wasn’t…
… but, it wasn’t the worst thing either! If you come across this thing for a buck-or-below (like I did), I’d encourage you to snag it for the novelty alone!