Who’s On First?

Costello: "Well then who's on first?" Abbott: "Yes!"

The routine never grows old to those of us who love baseball. The Hall of Fame even uses it as a greeting sound to visitors at their Cooperstown museum and exhibit hall. The recorded voices of the late comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello go on forever in tandem daffiness there over their perpetual misunderstanding of what each is saying in the vain effort to nail down the name of the player assigned to first base and other positions on the diamond for the legendary, but fictional St. Louis Wolves.

Subtract Bud Abbott as the manager of 1895 St. Louis Wolves and insert Brad Mills of the 2011 Houston Astros and the whole absurd collision of misunderstandings goes away with all the fun too:

Costello: Well, then who’s on first?

Mills: Brett Wallace.

Costello: Thanks, Brad. Now who’s on second?

Ouch! As long as “who” can be anywhere, including first, we’ve got no comedy wedge-point, but thanks to Abbott and Costello and the St. Louis Wolves, baseball rides an ongoing comedy premise that never dies or even ages.

Here it is again in complete script form for your whatever-time-of-day-it-is reading amusement. This time through, if you haven’t done so previously, pay attention to the fact that “the boys” eventually name eight of the nine players at each position in the field. If you use a strong fingers and toes count, you will be able to identify the one position on the field that they never tie to a player’s name in their insane routine.

Sometimes we get to hear or read this comedy classic on a day it does us the most good. Hoping this is one of those thirty times for you too, here it is again in all its unedited glory:

“Who’s On First?” by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

Abbott: Well, Costello, I’m going to New York with you. Bucky Harris the Yankee’s manager gave me a job as coach for as long as you’re on the team.

Costello: Look Abbott, if you’re the coach, you must know all the players.

Abbott: I certainly do.

Costello: Well you know I’ve never met the guys. So you’ll have to tell me their names, and then I’ll know who’s playing on the team.

Abbott: Oh, I’ll tell you their names, but you know it seems to me they give these ball players now-a-days very peculiar names.

Costello: You mean funny names?

Abbott: Strange names, pet names…like Dizzy Dean…

Costello: His brother Daffy

Abbott: Daffy Dean…

Costello: And their French cousin.

Abbott: French?

Costello: Goofe’

Abbott: Goofe’ Dean. Well, let’s see, we have on the bags, Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third…

Costello: That’s what I want to find out.

Abbott: I say Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know’s on third.

Costello: Are you the manager?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: You gonna be the coach too?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: And you don’t know the fellows’ names.

Abbott: Well I should.

Costello: Well then who’s on first?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: I mean the fellow’s name.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The guy on first.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The first baseman.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The guy playing…

Abbott: Who is on first!

Costello: I’m asking you who’s on first.

Abbott: That’s the man’s name.

Costello: That’s who’s name?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: Well go ahead and tell me.

Abbott: That’s it.

Costello: That’s who?

Abbott: Yes. PAUSE

Costello: Look, you gotta first baseman?

Abbott: Certainly.

Costello: Who’s playing first?

Abbott: That’s right.

Costello: When you pay off the first baseman every month, who gets the money?

Abbott: Every dollar of it.

Costello: All I’m trying to find out is the fellow’s name on first base.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The guy that gets…

Abbott: That’s it.

Costello: Who gets the money…

Abbott: He does, every dollar of it. Sometimes his wife comes down and collects it.

Costello: Who’s wife?

Abbott: Yes. PAUSE

Abbott: What’s wrong with that?

Costello: I wanna know is when you sign up the first baseman, how does he sign his name?

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The guy.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: How does he sign…

Abbott: That’s how he signs it.

Costello: Who?

Abbott: Yes. PAUSE

Costello: All I’m trying to find out is what’s the guys name on first base.

Abbott: No. What is on second base.

Costello: I’m not asking you who’s on second.

Abbott: Who’s on first.

Costello: One base at a time!

Abbott: Well, don’t change the players around.

Costello: I’m not changing nobody!

Abbott: Take it easy, buddy.

Costello: I’m only asking you, who’s the guy on first base?

Abbott: That’s right.

Costello: OK.

Abbott: Alright. PAUSE

Costello: What’s the guy’s name on first base?

Abbott: No. What is on second.

Costello: I’m not asking you who’s on second.

Abbott: Who’s on first.

Costello: I don’t know.

Abbott: He’s on third, we’re not talking about him.

Costello: Now how did I get on third base?

Abbott: Why you mentioned his name.

Costello: If I mentioned the third baseman’s name, who did I say is playing third?

Abbott: No. Who’s playing first.

Costello: What’s on base?

Abbott: What’s on second.

Costello: I don’t know.

Abbott: He’s on third.

Costello: There I go, back on third again! PAUSE

Costello: Would you just stay on third base and don’t go off it.

Abbott: Alright, what do you want to know?

Costello: Now who’s playing third base?

Abbott: Why do you insist on putting Who on third base?

Costello: What am I putting on third.

Abbott: No. What is on second.

Costello: You don’t want who on second?

Abbott: Who is on first.

Costello: I don’t know. Together: Third base! PAUSE

Costello: Look, you gotta outfield?

Abbott: Sure.

Costello: The left fielder’s name?

Abbott: Why.

Costello: I just thought I’d ask you.

Abbott: Well, I just thought I’d tell ya.

Costello: Then tell me who’s playing left field.

Abbott: Who’s playing first.

Costello: I’m not…stay out of the infield!!! I want to know what’s the guy’s name in left field?

Abbott: No, What is on second.

Costello: I’m not asking you who’s on second.

Abbott: Who’s on first!

Costello: I don’t know. Together: Third base! PAUSE

Costello: The left fielder’s name?

Abbott: Why.

Costello: Because!

Abbott: Oh, he’s center field. PAUSE

Costello: Look, You gotta pitcher on this team?

Abbott: Sure.

Costello: The pitcher’s name?

Abbott: Tomorrow.

Costello: You don’t want to tell me today?

Abbott: I’m telling you now.

Costello: Then go ahead.

Abbott: Tomorrow!

Costello: What time?

Abbott: What time what?

Costello: What time tomorrow are you gonna tell me who’s pitching?

Abbott: Now listen. Who is not pitching.

Costello: I’ll break you’re arm if you say who’s on first!!! I want to know what’s the pitcher’s name?

Abbott: What’s on second.

Costello: I don’t know. Together: Third base! PAUSE

Costello: Gotta a catcher?

Abbott: Certainly.

Costello: The catcher’s name?

Abbott: Today.

Costello: Today, and tomorrow’s pitching.

Abbott: Now you’ve got it.

Costello: All we got is a couple of days on the team. PAUSE

Costello: You know I’m a catcher too.

Abbott: So they tell me.

Costello: I get behind the plate to do some fancy catching, Tomorrow’s pitching on my team and a heavy hitter gets up. Now the heavy hitter bunts the ball. When he bunts the ball, me, being a good catcher, I’m gonna throw the guy out at first. So I pick up the ball and throw it to who?

Abbott: Now that’s the first thing you’ve said right.

Costello: I don’t even know what I’m talking about! PAUSE

Abbott: That’s all you have to do.

Costello: Is to throw the ball to first base.

Abbott: Yes!

Costello: Now who’s got it?

Abbott: Naturally. PAUSE

Costello: Look, if I throw the ball to first base, somebody’s gotta get it. Now who has it?

Abbott: Naturally.

Costello: Who?

Abbott: Naturally.

Costello: Naturally?

Abbott: Naturally.

Costello: So I pick up the ball and I throw it to Naturally.

Abbott: No you don’t you throw the ball to Who.

Costello: Naturally.

Abbott: That’s different.

Costello: That’s what I said.

Abbott: you’re not saying it…

Costello: I throw the ball to Naturally.

Abbott: You throw it to Who.

Costello: Naturally.

Abbott: That’s it.

Costello: That’s what I said!

Abbott: You ask me.

Costello: I throw the ball to who?

Abbott: Naturally.

Costello: Now you ask me.

Abbott: You throw the ball to Who?

Costello: Naturally.

Abbott: That’s it.

Costello: Same as you! Same as YOU!!! I throw the ball to who. Whoever it is drops the ball and the guy runs to second. Who picks up the ball and throws it to What. What throws it to I Don’t Know. I Don’t Know throws it back to Tomorrow, Triple play. Another guy gets up and hits a long fly ball to Because. Why? I don’t know! He’s on third and I don’t give a darn!

Abbott: What?

Costello: I said I don’t give a darn!

Abbott: Oh, that’s our shortstop.

Costello: (makes screaming sound)

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One Response to “Who’s On First?”

  1. Robert Stevens Says:

    Just reading that routine still makes me laugh out loud. My wife just asked me what’s so funny, and I said you mean the second baseman.

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