Top Ten Sidekicks in Baseball

Roy Rogers & Gabby Hayes (R) were saddle-up hero & sidekick buddies.

“Sidekicks” have always been the glue that made movie western, mystery, and comedy heros stick in the minds of film-watchers. Roy Rogers had his Gabby Hayes; Sherlock Holmes had his Dr. Watson; and Abbott and Costello, well, they both had each other. The net effect for all is that every fictional serial movie story always contains an attractive central hero-sidekick relationship in some form.

Yesterday the MSN Internet Search Site published their Top Ten List of the Greatest Sidekicks of All Time. Their choices ll derived from movies, television, radio, and (ever-s0-slightly) literature, but they were a fun exercise, even if you disagreed, as did I, with all their choices and their relative placement in order to each other:

MSN List of Top Ten  Sidekicks-Principals:

10. Chewbacca – Han Solo (from the movie “Star Wars”)

9. Kato – The Green Hornet (from radio, tv, & the movies)

8. Garth Algar – Wayne Campbell (from the “Wayne’s World” skit on Saturday Night Live, TV)

7. Tattoo – Mr. Roarke (from “Fantasy Island”, TV)

6. Dr. John Watson – Sherlock Holmes (from movies and literature)

5. Ethel Mertz – Lucy Ricardo (from TV’s “I Love Lucy”)

4. Robin – Batman (from comic books, radio, tv, and movies)

3. Ed Norton – Ralph Kramden (from TV’s “The Honeymooners”)

2. Deputy Barney Fife – Sheriff Andy Taylor (from TV’s “The Andy Griffith Show”)

1. Tonto – The Lone Ranger (from radio, tv, and the movies)

Billy Martin & Mickey Mantle: Who's sidekicking who?

I thought it would be kind of fun to open up this whole idea of sidekicks to pairings that go beyond simple human relationships and to come up with a list of My Top Ten Favorite Sidekick Pairings in Baseball. My list includes some flat out human matches, but it also takes in a few chemicals, substances, and conditions that are sometimes the sine qua non on total experience in one thing or another.

What I’m talking about should clear up as we go through the list:

10. Lou Gehrig – Babe Ruth. Great as he was, Lou Gehrig signed with the wrong club at the wrong time to be its leading man or major hero. As a junior teammate of The Bambino, Lou Gehrig was destined to do all of his great things from the sidekick seat in this Hall 0f Fame bound cycle.

9. Red Schoendienst – Stan Musial. Even his late career trade to Milwaukee failed to get the old redhead completely out of The Man’s shadow.

8. Billy Martin – Mickey Mantle. Who’s sidekicking who – or whom? Maybe I should have thrown in Whitey Ford and made it a three-way question.

7. Jack Daniels – Paul Waner. Paul Waner drank a lot, but he also hit safely a lot. He rounded first, heading for second, many a time with old Jack breath filling the air along his warpath. Paul Waner was not the only big league star that ever side-kicked his way into live action with assistance from Jack Daniels. He’s just the first guy that comes to my mind when I think of great players who succeeded in spite of themselves.

6. Peanuts – Cracker Jack. One sidekicks the other and they are both ballpark reasons why we fans don’t care if we ever get back.

5. Slippery Elm – Burleigh Grimes. As one of the spitball pitchers who got grandfathered into a lifetime pass on the new prohibitions against the use of saliva and other foreign substances on a baseball, I’ve always pictured Grimes walking to the mound with a pocketful of Slippery Elm bark and ready to snap at any young umpire who checked him out: “I’m Burleigh Grimes and I can do what I damn well please. Now just move along. I’ve got a ballgame to pitch.”

4. Mustard – Hot Dogs. (See #6 above. Mustard and hot dogs travel on the same level, They just aren’t mentioned in the game’s anthem.)

3. Change of Pace – Fastball. “Because, Mr. Fastball, you are absolutely nothing to fear without me!” – Change of Pace.

2. Absorbine Jr. – Athlete’s Foot. This one stands as an historic tribute to the kinds of clubhouse showers we had back in the day.

1. Bud Abbott & Lou Costello – Baseball. Who’s on First? These two funny guys became baseball’s ultimate sidekicks with their famous routine. They are priceless and ageless through their landmark contribution and they most likely will be the first voices you hear on your first visit inside the Hall of Fame Museum in Cooperstown, NY.

Have a great Thursday, everybody!

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One Response to “Top Ten Sidekicks in Baseball”

  1. Mike McCroskey Says:

    There are a lot more of these sidekick pairings then you would think. Based on a friendship that dated back to the 1950ish Texas League Championship with the Fort Worth Cats, Dick Williams had sidekick Ozzie Virgil as a coach for almost every year he was a major league manager. Likewise Lou Pinella had Houston native, Johnny McClerran, with him as a coach for several different teams.

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