Strange Sports Stories, a blending of science fiction with sports tales, makes its debut as a series in the pages of Brave and the Bold during the period 1960 – 1964: the Silver Age. There would be no recurring characters in this concept, and in truth I debated whether or not it deserved an actual entry. But geez, I gave entries to Spaceman at Work and Know Your Animals, so why not Strange Sports Stories? As there was no real development during the run of the series, I am going to write up the stories from the first issue of the run, and the final issue.
The cover story is also the first one in Brave and the Bold 45, and features humans playing baseball against aliens, who have no visible bodies. It seems a fairly simple story at first, but then we get a really complicated plot about invaders and a deadly weapon. The power source is being dangerously depleted, and it gets stolen by another alien and brought to Earth and concealed in the flag pole of the baseball stadium.
So when the invisible aliens say that if they win all they want is the flag, there is much more at stake. The pitcher on the team winds up learning all of this, and so all the stress lies on him as he goes up against the alien team. The humans win, and the aliens leave without the pole. The best thing about these stories is the use of silhouettes throughout, although in this particular case they do not add much to the specific tale.
The second story in the issue deals with a scrawny man who winds up becoming a star football player. He is into science, but finds that girls only are attracted to jocks. When one of his formulas produces extremely hearty plants, he eats the berries from one of them, and winds up getting a new, super-jock body himself. He adopts a new name and identity to become a football player, and his appearance is apparently so different no one catches on. Although he really doesn't look THAT different. But neither his parents nor the girl he was after can tell who he is at first.
He gets to live his dream, but has to keep using the formula, and runs out of the rare chemicals. He wins the big game, just before he has to revert to his true identity for good. But by then the girl has figured things out, and fallen in love with him anyway.
Strange Sports Stories comes to the end of its run with Brave and the Bold 49. As with each of the issues of its run in this book, there are two stories. The cover story, by Fox, Infantino and Giella, has gorillas playing baseball. They are trained by a scientist who increases the mind power of the gorillas, but is unaware when the gorillas start using a mind wiping ray on him, and manipulating him to bring them to the US.
While the gorillas do play baseball during the day, by night they are placing special devices which they intend to set off to reduce humans to the level of beasts, and conquer the world. The scientist figures out what is going on just in time, and uses the mind-wipe ray on them, turning them back into the animals they were before he started teaching them.
The second story is by Broome, Infantino and Giella, and deals with a soldier in the far future who uses his sports skills while battling an alien invasion. The tale opens with the man being a star athlete at spaceball, a game played in a zero gravity chamber. When war breaks out, he leaves the team to enlist. At the climax of the story, his knowledge of ricochets and weightless maneuvers allows him to triumph over his alien enemy.
For quite a few years after the end of this run Strange Sports Stories would be a frequent theme in reprint books, which would cull their tales not only from this run, but also from assorted sportsy stories from Strange Adventures, House of Mystery, Mystery in Space, and so on. Strange Sports Stories would return its own book, briefly, in the early 70s.
Strange Sports Stories: Brave and the Bold 45 - 49 (Dec/Jan 62/63 – Aug/Sept 63)