I'm pretty sure this show was on in the late morning on Saturdays...possibly the early afternoon (either way, it's a pretty strange time to watch a TV show on Saturdays). My old man, who was also my little league baseball coach for years and years, used to plop me down in front of the TV so I could pick up useful tips from the Big Red Legend. I was around 9 when the show started and pretty much tired of it within a couple of years.
It was a pretty campy show, with lots of silly SD Chicken antics. Tommy Lasorda was actually pretty cool as the Dugout Wizard. He'd pop out wearing a turban or something, looking like a Genie, and then spout philosophical about some aspect of the game...good sportsmanship, etc. Or maybe Johnny and his "bunch" (a handful of young ballplayers, which, in perfect early 80's pre-PC fashion, always included at least one girl) would have some kind of problem and the Wizard would help them solve it.
The guest stars were the best part. One of the bunch would be having a problem making the throw to 2nd from home, and out would walk Gary Carter and say, "Hey Johnny!" and they'd shake hands like old buddies and Johnny would say, "Little Eric here is having some trouble making the throw to 2nd, maybe you can help us out." And then Gary would show the Bunch some good catching fundamentals.
Anyhow, this show brings back great memories. Johnny always seemed like a very cool guy who genuinely liked kids and wanted to help them become better ballplayers. The camp factor was huge, but the baseball fundamentals were genuinely useful and it was pretty exciting to get a little coaching from a different superstar each week.
I hope there's something like this on TV when my son gets old enough to play ball.
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