Did you play little league baseball or little league football when you were a kid? How about your own children? It’s fun being part of a team, especially when you’re young. In this episode, Beaver, Gilbert, Whitey and three other guys form a football team. Beaver’s the captain and the quarterback. Ward kindly supplies his son with a football helmet, a sweatshirt with a number on it and shoulder pads, but not until after he lectures Beaver on how when he was a kid, he stuffed newspaper in a cap and used it as a helmet and stuck cardboard in his pants for knee pads. I like how Beaver explains his need for a helmet. He wants one with rubber inside so, “I can bang my head around everywhere.” Oh my, had he not ever heard of a concussion on how bad that could be for him in later life? Yes, once again, the lack of worries in the 1950s and early 1960s is well represented.
I guess you can find a few peculiar things in every Leave it to Beaver episode, most often it has to do with the writing. In this episode, Wally asks Beaver if he wants him and Eddie to coach his team. When Beaver objects to Eddie helping, he speaks of how much he doesn’t like Eddie and tells Wally that Eddie is mean. The way the lines are said, it’s almost as if this is a new phenomenea when in fact, Eddie has been a mean rascal to Beaver for three entire seasons of the show. Is this something you ever noticed while watching Beaver’s Team? Maybe I’m making too much out of it, huh? Maybe it was just an off week for Mosher and Connelly or maybe the man credited with the story, if not the teleplay itself, Edward J. O’connor really wrote the script and wasn’t too familiar with the story line of the show. We’ll never know.
Beaver’s team is called The Lightning Eleven even though they start off with only six players, adding a seventh player later in the episode, just before the big game. Their rival is the Grant Avenue Tigers. Richard Rickover is the star of that team. Beaver’s team could’ve won if it wasn’t for Beaver’s big mouth and his classmate Penny, whose mouth was even bigger. On his way home from practice, Beaver tells Penny about their secret play. After he leaves, Penny sees Richard and another boy whose name was Harry, I think. She tells the two boys a thing or two about how Beaver and his Lightning Eleven will defeat the Grant Avenue Tigers. They wonder how they’ll be defeated and Penny tells them, “Because the Lightning Eleven have a secret play” and then she tells them the name. It’s called “Ole 98.”
As you can imagine, the Lightning Eleven lose. The trick play is what loses the game for them. Beaver finds out later that Penny told Richard about their trick play. Boy, is Beaver ever mad. And why does Beaver say he deserved what happened? I look forward to your answers below in the comments and I’d love to hear about your Leave it to Beaverish experiences of playing sports as a child.