Lots of physical comedy and sight gags as super baseball fan William Bendix ends up an umpire. You know it’s going to get manic since the opening theme is “Three Blind Mice”, the same one used by The Three Stooges.
An interesting note for TV fans. Tom D’Andrea plays his roommate. The two would reunite for “The Life Of Riley”(1953-58) in which D’Andrea played Riley’s best friend Gillis.
His playing days are over but Bill Johnson (William Bendix) is obsessed with baseball. He keeps getting fired from various jobs because he can’t stay out of the ballpark. He’s a vocal fan that keeps yelling “Kill the umpire.” One time he’s thrown out of the park for threatening to hit an ump over the head.
His long suffering wife Betty (Una Merkel) threatens to leave him. He promises to get another job and only go to games on weekends. He gets a job with the phone company. While climbing into a manhole he can’t help but notice a bar across the street. It’s got a TV. There’s a game on. He stays and gets drunk. He goes back to work and starts splicing phone cable while singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” He interferes with so many calls he gets fired again.
Betty has had it and wants to start packing. His daughters Lucy (Gloria Henry) and Suzie stand up for him. Coming to his rescue is his father-in-law Jonah (Ray Collins). Bill balks at Jonah’s plan. Jonah was a former baseball umpire and wants Bill to go to umpire school. Bill finally gives in and he’s off to Jimmy O’Brien’s (William Frawley) umpire school.
Bill tries a number of tricks to get thrown out because the last thing he wants to be is an ump. Since Jimmy is a friend of Jonah’s he puts up with it. Bill’s roommate is Roscoe Snooker (Tom D’Andrea). He has a medicine cabinet with a number of items including two different kinds of eye drops. There’s a long sequence where Bill battles an over inflated chest protector. Jimmy has had enough and tells Bill to leave.
Bill has an hour and half wait for the train. Some kids are playing sandlot ball and he ends up being the umpire. It gets him a respect for the job and he goes back to the school and asks to be readmitted. He takes it seriously and is successful.
During graduation exercises a rep from the National League and one from the American League are in attendance. They’re looking for umps. Before the game Bill uses one of Snooker’s eye drops. It gives him double vision. He makes every call twice. He make a good impression and is now known as Two-Call Johnson.
He and Roscoe are hired by Sam Austin of the Texas Interstate League. Sam warns them that Texans take their baseball seriously and umps have been threatened and even shot at. During their first game fans throw things at them and Bill is hit in the head by a fan’s boot. Sam says the fans like him.
Now it’s a game for the pennant. On the overnight train ride to the sight of the game gambler Panhandle Jones leaves a thousand dollars in Bill’s berth telling him how to call the game. Bill calls Sam and tells him about it. One of Panhandle’s men overhears the call and now they have to get the envelope back. Through an accident Bill gets more of the eye drops. He ends up falling out of the window.
Sam and Roscoe find him and now it’s time top play ball. On a close call the catcher drops the ball and the runner is called safe. That starts a riot. Only Bill saw the ball drop and the catcher is in the hospital out cold.
An angry mob is outside Bill and Roscoe’s hotel. Bill is determined to get to the park to call that night’s game. He says if he doesn’t fans will think he made a wrong call and that would hurt the integrity of the game.
Lots more physical comedy and sight gags are on the way. If you’re in the mood for real silliness and want to get away from the seriousness of life for a while and are a baseball fan then check this one out.
Gloria Henry played Alice Mitchell on “Dennis The Menace” (1959-63).