A befuddled Lou Costello asked Bud Abbott, “Who’s on first?” in their famous comedy routine of the same name, first performed in the 1930s.
Numerous versions of the sketch are preserved on film and audio tape, but Abbott’s answers to Costello’s questions about the strange names in that baseball line-up have remained the same for 70 years.
But things are very different with the names in a Short Season Class-A baseball lineup. Most players are new, so to present this year’s line-up, here’s our annual “Who’s On First?” column:
Who Is On First?: The key question here is, “Who’s not on first?” And the answer is Ike Davis. The Mets’ first-round draft pick this year, and eighth in the draft overall, the Arizona State slugger has finally signed a contract. He was a 2008 Collegiate Baseball first team All-American, with a batting average of .385, and 16 homers and 76 RBI. Davis, the son of former New York Yankee reliever Ron Davis, is on his way to Brooklyn, where he will start as a DH and then take over at first. Meanwhile, Cyclone returnee Jefferies Tatford has been holding the fort.
What’s On Second?: Josh Satin. Satin started the season 0-for-15, but don’t worry, he’ll hit. At Cal-Berkeley, he had a school record 27-game hitting streak, and hit .379 with 18 homers this year, and was named a 2008 second team All-American by Rivals.com. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, but is even taller, so he’s one big second baseman, and he makes up part of a hard-hitting infield.
I Don’t Know: Oh, but we do know who is on third base: Zach Lutz. He was the Opening Day third baseman last year, but broke his right foot in the game and missed the rest of the season. He’s recovering nicely and has been ripping the ball so far, hitting .353 over the team’s first seven games. He missed Tuesday’s game nursing a minor sprain, but Lutz says he’ll be back soon.
I Don’t Give a Darn: Brooklyn fans do give a darn that a guy named Reese is playing shortstop for Brooklyn again, but it isn’t Pee Wee, it’s Reese Havens, the Mets’ first-round pick, 22nd overall, in the 2008 draft. Manager Edgar Alfonzo says Havens “has good hands, and some pop in his bat.” At the University of South Carolina, Havens showed that pop as he started in all 63 games and hit .359 with 13 doubles, two triples, and 18 homers. Just before Opening Day, Havens developed a sore elbow and hasn’t played yet, though he isn’t expected to be out for long. Meanwhile, Matt Bouchard, who played for Brooklyn last year, has been covering until Havens’s return.
Why?: Brandon Kawal, Will Vogl and Michael Parker. In the decade of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ greatest success, from 1947 through 1956, Duke Snider was established in center and Carl Furillo was in right — unchanging. But left field remained a revolving door — and it remains that today. Kawal, a New York–Penn League All-Star with Brooklyn last year, has been sharing time with Vogl, who hit .240 for the Cyclones last year, and Parker, who played earlier this year at Savannah, the step above the Cyclones.
Because: Kirk Nieuwenhuis — because he hit .400 at Azusa Pacific University, that’s why he’s in center field. Nieuwenhuis (pictured) earned NAIA All-American first team honors and combined his high average with 15 homers. He was the Mets’ third round draft pick.
Today: Cesar Cordido and Ralph Henriquez. So far, Cordido and Henriquez have split the playing time behind the dish. Cordido played well defensively, but was only 2-for-14 (.143) in his four games with the team. Henriquez, a switch-hitter who had a now famous at-bat against Yankee switch pitcher Pat Venditte, got hot after that appearance and is now 5-for-12 (.417).
Right Field: John Servidio. Abbott and Costello never actually named a right fielder, but no matter — the Cyclones have one. Servidio hit .366 at Barry University, with 14 homers. He’s hard-nosed, and hustles, so he’s sure to be a favorite with Brooklyn fans.
Tomorrow: We’ll tell you about the Cyclones’ already-impressive pitching staff in our next issue.
Each week, Ed Shakespeare, the bard of Brooklyn baseball, will take a page from his ancient ancestor — yes, he’s really related to Shakespeare! — and add a bit of iambic pentameter to all our lives. This week’s contribution is called, “Only Fitting”:
The place of Kings, the Borough had things bizarre,
Of runners perched on third, the Dodgers — three
At once, oh my! Babe Herman went so far
As to be hit upon the noggin as he
Was waiting for a fly, and did survive.
Some said he told a lie, “’Twas the shoulder,”
Said Brooklyn’s Babe. Last week, things came alive
Against the Yankees. Venditte got bolder,
And took up arms against a sea of troubles.
Prepared he was to throw with either wing.
Henriquez stepped to bat, a man who doubles
As batter — left or right — the strangest thing.
The two went back and forth, fans laughed at it,
Such comic beauty. Brooklyn? Oh, it fit!