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ABBOT
Well Costello, I’m going to New York with you. You know 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.

ABBOT
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.

ABBOT
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?

ABBOT
Strange names, pet names…like Dizzy Dean…

COSTELLO
His brother Daffy.

ABBOT
Daffy Dean…

COSTELLO
And their French cousin.

ABBOT
French?

COSTELLO
Goofè.

ABBOT
Goofè 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.

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

COSTELLO
Are you the manager?

ABBOT
Yes.

COSTELLO
You gonna be the coach too?

ABBOT
Yes.

COSTELLO
And you don’t know the fellows’ names?

ABBOT
Well I should.

COSTELLO
Well then who’s on first?

ABBOT
Yes.

COSTELLO
I mean the fellow’s name.

ABBOT
Who.

COSTELLO
The guy on first.

ABBOT
Who.

COSTELLO
The first baseman.

ABBOT
Who.

COSTELLO
The guy playing…

ABBOT
Who is on first!

COSTELLO
I’m asking YOU who’s on first.

ABBOT
That’s the man’s name.

COSTELLO
That’s who’s name?

ABBOT
Yes.

COSTELLO
Well go ahead and tell me.

ABBOT
That’s it.

COSTELLO
That’s who?

ABBOT
Yes…

COSTELLO
Look, you gotta first baseman?

ABBOT
Certainly.

COSTELLO
Who’s playing first?

ABBOT
That’s right.

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

ABBOT
Every dollar of it.

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

ABBOT
Who.

COSTELLO
The guy that gets…

ABBOT
That’s it.

COSTELLO
Who gets the money…

ABBOT
He does, every dollar. Sometimes his wife comes down and collects it.

COSTELLO
Who’s wife?

ABBOT
Yes.

ABBOT
What’s wrong with that?

COSTELLO
Look, all I wanna know is when you sign up the first baseman, how does he sign his name?

ABBOT
Who.

COSTELLO
The guy.

ABBOT
Who.

COSTELLO
How does he sign…

ABBOT
That’s how he signs it.

COSTELLO
Who.

ABBOT
Yes.

COSTELLO
All I’m trying to find out is what’s the guy’s name on first base.

ABBOT
No. What is on second base.

COSTELLO
I’m not asking you who’s on second.

ABBOT
Who’s on first.

COSTELLO
One base at a time!

ABBOT
Well, don’t change the players around.

COSTELLO
I’m not changing nobody!

ABBOT
Take it easy, buddy.

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

ABBOT
That’s right.

COSTELLO
Ok.

ABBOT
All right.

COSTELLO
What’s the guy’s name on first base?

ABBOT
No. What is on second.

COSTELLO
I’m not asking you who’s on second.

ABBOT
Who’s on first.

COSTELLO
I don’t know.

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

COSTELLO
Now how did I get on third base?

ABBOT
Why you mentioned his name.

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

ABBOT
No. Who’s playing first.

COSTELLO
What’s on first?

ABBOT
What’s on second.

COSTELLO
I don’t know.

ABBOT
He’s on third.

COSTELLO
There I go, back on third again!

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

ABBOT
All right, what do you want to know?

COSTELLO
Now who’s playing third base?

ABBOT
Why do you insist on putting Who on third base?

COSTELLO
What am I putting on third.

ABBOT
No. What is on second.

COSTELLO
You don’t want who on second?

ABBOT
Who is on first.

COSTELLO
I don’t know.

BOTH
Third base!

COSTELLO
Look, you gotta outfield?

ABBOT
Sure.

COSTELLO
The left fielder’s name?

ABBOT
Why.

COSTELLO
I just thought I’d ask you.

ABBOT
Well, I just thought I’d tell ya.

COSTELLO
Then tell me who’s playing left field.

ABBOT
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?

ABBOT
No, What is on second.

COSTELLO
I’m not asking you who’s on second.

ABBOT
Who’s on first!

COSTELLO
I don’t know.

BOTH
Third base!

COSTELLO
The left fielder’s name?

ABBOT
Why.

COSTELLO
Because!

ABBOT
Oh, he’s centre field.

COSTELLO
Look, You gotta pitcher on this team?

ABBOT
Sure.

COSTELLO
The pitcher’s name?

ABBOT
Tomorrow.

COSTELLO
You don’t want to tell me today?

ABBOT
I’m telling you now.

COSTELLO
Then go ahead.

ABBOT
Tomorrow!

COSTELLO
What time?

ABBOT
What time what?

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

ABBOT
Now listen. Who is not pitching.

COSTELLO
I’ll break your arm, you say who’s on first! I want to know what’s the pitcher’s name?

ABBOT
What’s on second.

COSTELLO
I don’t know.

BOTH
Third base!

COSTELLO
Got a catcher?

ABBOT
Certainly.

COSTELLO
The catcher’s name?

ABBOT
Today.

COSTELLO
Today, and tomorrow’s pitching.

ABBOT
Now you’ve got it.

COSTELLO
All we got is a couple of days on the team…
 You know I’m a catcher too.

ABBOT
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 base. So I pick up the ball and throw it to who?

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

COSTELLO
I don’t even know what I’m talking about!

ABBOT
That’s all you have to do.

COSTELLO
Is to throw the ball to first base.

ABBOT
Yes!

COSTELLO
Now who’s got it?

ABBOT
Naturally.

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

ABBOT
Naturally.

COSTELLO
Who?

ABBOT
Naturally.

COSTELLO
Naturally?

ABBOT
Naturally.

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

ABBOT
No you don’t, you throw the ball to Who.

COSTELLO
Naturally.

ABBOT
That’s different.

COSTELLO
That’s what I said.

ABBOT
You’re not saying it…

COSTELLO
I throw the ball to Naturally.

ABBOT
You throw it to Who.

COSTELLO
Naturally.

ABBOT
That’s it.

COSTELLO
That’s what I said!

ABBOT
You ask me.

COSTELLO
I throw the ball to who?

ABBOT
Naturally.

COSTELLO
Now you ask me.

ABBOT
You throw the ball to Who?

COSTELLO
Naturally.

ABBOT
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!

ABBOT
What?

COSTELLO
I said I don’t give a darn!

ABBOT
Oh, that’s our shortstop.

This sketch, in my opinion, is one of the finest examples of word play I can think of.
The premise is easy enough to understand; there is a baseball team on which every player has an odd name, such as ‘Who’, ‘What’ and ‘I don’t know’. Costello wants to get to know the names of the players, but due to their odd names, asks a series of difficult questions he does not understand the answers to.

A classic example of information being lost in recitation, and confusion over similar words, this is one of the finest sketches I can think of in terms of it’s wit, speed, delivery and conception. And all it really boils down to is the misunderstanding of a few words: the basis of most comedy.

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