February 14, 2006


Michaels, Traded, Says, Th-Th-That's All, ESPN (RICHARD SANDOMIR, 2/10/06, NY Times)

When you have been swapped from ESPN to NBC for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, as Al Michaels has, it pays to maintain your sense of humor. [...]

The trade, which was engineered Tuesday but announced yesterday, appears to be as lopsided as the Lou Brock-for-Ernie Broglio deal in the 1960's. Michaels is 61, active, productive, camera-ready, capable of flawless game calls.

Oswald, who was born in 1927 and has been dormant since the 1950's, belonged to NBC Universal. He lacks the currency of Bugs or Roger, and certainly would not know Shrek.

But Oswald directly preceded Mickey Mouse in Walt Disney's animation canon. Except for his elongated ears, and the absence of white gloves, Oswald is a ringer for Mickey Mouse, even if he is a different species.

Disney made 26 Oswald cartoons in 1927 and 1928 under contract to Universal Studios, but learned belatedly, and to his dismay, that Universal, not he, owned the rights to Oswald. That inspired Disney to create Mickey soon after and to never risk losing ownership of his creations again.

Coincidentally, it was Michaels's friend Robert A. Iger, the president of the Walt Disney Company, the parent of Mickey and ESPN, who vowed to Walt Disney's daughter Diane last year that he would bring Oswald back.

"I appreciate that he is a man of his word," Diane Disney Miller said in a statement. "Having Oswald around again is going to be a lot of fun."

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 14, 2006 12:00 AM

There was a team in some A or AA leauge a few years back that traded a player for a box of frozen catfish fillets and a Muddy Waters record.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 14, 2006 11:22 AM

Someone over the weekend noted that Ernie Harwell was traded for a minor leaguer who eventually became that team's manager back in 1950. The odd thing here as I understand it is Disney gets rights to the character and the cartoons made by Walt, but the Oswald cartoons done after him by people like Walter Lantz, Friz Freleng and Tex Avery remain the property of NBC-Universal. They had done nothing with the films in about 50 years, and since they no long own the character's rights, presumably those Oswalds are now assured of being locked up forever.

Posted by: John at February 14, 2006 1:30 PM

Oswald apparently "evolved" into Mickey, changing species along the way. Scientific American should look into this.

Posted by: jdkelly at February 14, 2006 2:03 PM