Saturday, April 01, 2023

Who's on April First


Carlos May waving to the crowd on April 1, 1972

Instead of the usual April Fools’ Day post, I present one of the best April Fools Day stunts ever. Here’s the text from an old Parade Magazine clipping I dug up recently that was published on April 1, 1985.

When it comes to innovative and wacky ideas in baseball, Bill Veeck was a true legend. As a team owner and promoter, Veeck was known for his creative approach to the sport, from planting ivy on the walls at Wrigley Field to his famous "exploding scoreboard" at Comiskey Park. But did you know about the time Veeck pulled off an unforgettable April Fools' stunt by having the 1972 Chicago White Sox wear the names from the classic "Who's on First?" sketch?

It was April 1, 1972, and the Chicago White Sox were getting ready to play a game that would go down in history. Bill Veeck had decided to pay homage to the iconic comedy routine by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, considered by many the greatest comedy sketch ever performed. For those unfamiliar with the sketch, it revolves around a series of misunderstandings based on the names of the players on a fictional baseball team. The names sound like common phrases, leading to a hilariously confusing conversation.

In Veeck's version of the stunt, the White Sox players would take the field with the names of the "Who's on First?" team on the back of their jerseys. The players, initially skeptical of the idea, eventually embraced the spirit of April Fools' Day and played along.

As the game commenced, fans were treated to a scene straight out of the Abbott and Costello routine. Instead of their usual names, the players' jerseys featured names like "Who," "What," "I Don't Know," "Why," "Because," "Tomorrow," and "Today." Here was the starting lineup:

  1. Who - First Base: Dick Allen
  2. What - Second Base: Mike Andrews
  3. I Don't Know - Third Base: Bill Melton
  4. Why - Left Field: Carlos May
  5. Because - Center Field: Ken Berry
  6. Abbott - Right Field: Jay Johnstone
  7. I Don't Care - Shortstop: Luis Aparicio
  8. Today - Catcher: Ed Herrmann
  9. Tomorrow - Pitcher: Wilbur Wood
The right fielder is never named in the sketch. Pat Kelly pinch hit for Johnstone in the 6th wearing “Costello”. 

The confusion was not only limited to the fans in the stadium. The opposing team and the umpires struggled to keep track of the game, often leading to comical misunderstandings on the field. For instance, the umpire might have shouted, "Who's out!" only to be met with the response, "No, Who's on first!"

Though some traditional baseball fans were initially taken aback by the stunt, the majority embraced the humor, making the game one of the most memorable in White Sox history. It was a testament to Veeck's genius that he could seamlessly blend comedy with the sport he loved.

The "Who's on First?" game became a cherished part of baseball lore and added to the legend of Bill Veeck. It demonstrated his willingness to think outside the box, engage fans, and remind everyone that, at its core, baseball should be a source of fun and entertainment.

The 1972 Chicago White Sox "Who's on First?" April Fools' Day game captured the spirit of Bill Veeck's inventive approach to baseball. As we celebrate April Fools' Day this year, let's remember the time when the White Sox took the field with the most confusing lineup in baseball history and showed us all that, sometimes, laughter truly is the best medicine.


  1. This appears to be an April Fool's Day post. A few things about the text struck me as off (the word "might" in "For instance, the umpire might have shouted, 'Who's out!' only to be met with the response, 'No, Who's on first!'" doesn't really make sense when referring to a real event, the kicker at the end of the article doesn't quite work, etc) so I looked into things more. A search for the prank described in the article turns up no results other than this blog post, Bill Veeck didn't even own the White Sox in 1972 and the picture at the top is clearly edited to add the jersey number and name.

    Based on some features of the text and Lance's recent preoccupation with LLMs, I suspect the article was written by GPT-4. If so, it's impressive how good it sounds.

    1. Got me. If Chatty is going to hallucinate might as well use it for the one day that matters. I did do some minor editing and "fact checking"--GPT got some of the positions mixed up from the sketch. I should have fixed the "might".

  2. Did ChatGPT make the faked photo too?

    1. Impressed you found the original. I took the Tribune photo and just used Microsoft Paint. No AI involved.