To celebrate the advent of this year’s MLB playoffs, which I am looking forward to with rapt anticipation (no, really), I’d like to do a few posts featuring YouTube finds representing each team that’s made their way to October. Next, the Reds.
How long ago were the 1970s? Back then, Johnny Bench was considered handsome. Really! According to Joe Posnanski’s excellent book, he was quite the eligible bachelor in the hotbed of sensuality known as Cincinnati. He also parlayed his good looks into several hundred endorsement deals.
Here’s the most horrifying of them all: Hall of Famer Johnny Bench schilling for something called Bubble Fudge. I can’t put my finger on it, but something about a chocolaty bubble gum product makes my skin crawl. And if that didn’t, then I’d still be creeped out by the tons of unappealing close ups of the best catcher of all time failing to blow bubbles in this ad. See you in my nightmares, Bubble Fudge!
Johnny also hosted a kids’ show in the early 80s, The Baseball Bunch, which taught children fundamentals and sportsmanship and all that other crap. As a kid, I knew this existed, but somehow never got a chance to see it and always wondered what I missed. Now I know: Pete Rose screaming at children. YOU MISSED THE BAG!
Rose did his fair share of commercial work, too. (Couldn’t keep the knuckle-breakers away from your door on a ballplayer’s salary in those days.) He did a bunch of ads for Aqua Velva, but this one is my favorite, because it has a unique combination of bad acting, poor dialogue, and singing.
Rose slides steals second base headfirst, and Joe Morgan says, “Hey, it’s Pete Rose of the Philadelphia Phillies,” as if Pete stopped by his house and wasn’t playing a game against him. Then Pete Rose sings the Aqua Velva jingle in a voice that sounds like someone’s got a gun to his back.
I have an enormous mental bank of hideous ads from the 1980s, but I have absolutely no memory of this one for Kool-Aid. Little kids play baseball in weird pleather uniforms, while the Kool-Aid Man destroys a stadium and takes away a sure double from Pete Rose. The set looks vaguely like the landscape that appeared when Homer Simpson at a Guatemalan Insanity Pepper.
Finally, no survey of Reds YouTubery would be complete without the stellar acting chops of one Bronson Arroyo. Watch the high-kicking righty do a spot for a local Ford dealer and get all potty mouth on us. You’ll never play the big rooms working blue, Bronson!