Robert Kanigher's Baseball Fandom in Zip Comics #25, at Auction

Best remembered for his long association with DC Comics and his co-creation of characters ranging from Sgt. Rock to Barry Allen, comic book writer and editor Robert Kanigher seems to have had at least a passing interest in America's Pastime.  He featured baseball in unusual ways across several comic book tales, including the Flash story in Flash Comics #90 called "Nine Empty Uniforms," a Wonder Woman #78 story in which Wonder Woman teaches a gorilla how to play baseball, and a G.I. Combat #59 story about the exploits of a soldier and former major leaguer nicknamed "Boy Wonder."  But the Zip Comics #25 Steel Sterling story written by Kanigher and drawn by Irv Novick holds its own among these strange baseball stories, and it seems to have been inspired by the 1941 World Series between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees.  A fascinating reflection of sports history in a Golden Age superhero comic book story, there's a Zip Comics #25 Trimmed (MLJ, 1942) Condition: Apparent FR/GD up for auction in the 2022 May 15-16 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122220 at Heritage Auctions.

Zip Comics #25 (MLJ, 1942)
Zip Comics #25 (MLJ, 1942)

The story opens with regular Steel Sterling associates Looney and Police Officer Clancy exiting a baseball game that the Brooklyn Dodgers have lost, with Clancy complaining bitterly about the outcome, which seems to have cost the Dodgers the championship.  Notably, Zip Comics #25 hit the newsstands in late January 1942, which makes the timing right for this story to have been written shortly after the New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series Oct 1 – Oct 6, 1941.  The Yankees were already a dynasty at this time, and the 1941 win was their fifth World Series victory in six years and their ninth overall.  By contrast, that year had marked the Dodgers' first National League pennant in 21 years, and they had never won a World Series up to that time.

As a long-suffering Dodgers fan, Officer Clancy decided to buy a "victory cup" and present it to the Dodgers himself.  He buys a cheap old trophy with an unusual history from a second-hand shop, and as he's polishing it, he disappears.  Looney and Steel Sterling himself soon follow, and the three of them find themselves in the distant past of Ancient Greece 2,000 years ago.  Steel Sterling must then fulfill an ancient prophecy to get them back to the future of 1942, and while he's doing that, Looney and Clancy put together a baseball series among the Greeks.  By the end, it seems relatively likely that this saga was put together just so that Kanigher could use the punchline, "It took 2,000 years for us Dodgers to win the series, but it was worth it!"

While the Dodgers lost to the Yankees in the 1941 World Series and would lose to them again in 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953, they finally won their first World Series in 1955 — something short of 2,000 years, but it can be hard to keep perspective on the passage of time when you're a long-suffering sports fan.  Zip Comics #25 doesn't come up for sale too often in any grade, but there's a nicely-presenting example of this wonderful combination of sports and superhero history up for auction with this Zip Comics #25 Trimmed (MLJ, 1942) Condition: Apparent FR/GD up for auction in the 2022 May 15-16 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122220 at Heritage Auctions.

Zip Comics #25 (MLJ, 1942)
Zip Comics #25 (MLJ, 1942)
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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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