The second- through fifth-season openers of The Brady Bunch were always very special. Seasons 3 and 4 saw the Brady family (don't forget Alice) go on vacation, and the fifth-season episode focused on Greg's short-lived solo singing career (because he didn't want to be a guy named Johnny Bravo).
The second season opener of the Brady Bunch was special, too: one of America's most prolific, successful baseball players the Los Angeles Dodgers' ace pitcher, Don Drysdale was a Very Special Guest of southern California's favorite family ... and it was up to him to stop Greg from being ... "The Dropout."
Here, it's established that Mike isn't designing just commercial and government buildings, but houses for the rich as well. (Mike did also design the Bradys' home.) And it is Drysdale who pays a visit one afternoon and sees Greg here, starting his freshman year at Westdale High practicing his pitching for fall Pony League. Greg's showing real potential, but he could use a few pointers. Drysdale meets Greg, who just like Peter and Bobby are awed to no end. But while Drysdale's remark that Greg has a lot of potential to be successful was meant to be taken for what it's worth, Greg takes the compliment as a sign that he is going to be the next Don Drysdale.
Greg begins focusing all his time on baseball, and soon neglects his chores and his school work. He becomes obsessed with baseball, and nobody seems to like that Greg is sold on becoming the next Hall of Famer-to-be. Mike sees Greg as building himself up for a big fall, but just to ward that off, he re-invites Drysdale over to talk about the not-so-glamorous side of baseball. (It's all G-Rated, with broken down buses, the booing and catcalls after poor performances and fans that forget who you are once your career is over; heck, even Barry Williams, in his retrospective Growing Up Brady, remarks that Drysdale could have also spoken about hookers and groupies, the drugs and alcohol and other things associated with baseball's less-glamorous side). Greg laughs it off and is still convinced he's going to be a big star, heck maybe even good enough to be one of those ultra-rare teen-aged Major League stars.
And then, the game. And we mean the game.
Greg is called to start a Saturday morning Pony League game ... and the big-headed Brady kid is quickly in for a big fall. He gets into an early jam, refuses to listen to his coach on how to work his way out of the situation ... and it gets far, far worse. Worse, as in 12 runs without a single out recorded! The coach finally has enough and sensing that Greg has finally gotten the message pulls him from the mound. Greg doesn't even stick around for the rest of the game ... and when he arrives home, he barely acknowledges Alice and tells her basically to shut up (OK, so he said the more polite, "Can't a guy come into the house without being asked a lot of questions?!" he snaps. Still ... .) Peter and Bobby gleefully and laughedly fill in Alice with all the juicy details and continue rolling on the floor laughing until Mike comes in and, after saying in essence that the game was an unmitigated disaster, tells the two boys that they've had their fun and they can knock it off now.
Mike then finds Greg, shell-shocked and teary-eyed from his disastrous outing. Greg tearfully vows to quit baseball for good, but Mike convinces him that it's not the attitude to take ... that instead, successful players use such a poor outing as a learning experience and get better from it. The fatherly advice also includes a gentle admonishment to stay in school, study hard, listen to his coaches and do the right thing. Greg perks up and then decides to continue with baseball ... and then he asks his dad why he didn't stop him from getting such an ego. "Because you're mature and old enough to stop yourself," Mike responds.
Incidentally, Greg would be more associated with football as the series wore on, what with the episodes "Click" and "Quarterback Sneak." It would be Bobby who would go on to play baseball ... and quite well as in The Brady Girls Get Married, he'd play the sport in college, helping his team to a conference championship and a spot in the College World Series.
Tropes present in this episode:
- Acquired Situational Narcissism: The unintended result of Don Drysdale's complement ... and later, his talk about the bad side of playing on the road. Greg thinks he'll bypass all that and become baseball's next big star.
- Baseball Episode: Greg playing baseball and the visit from Don Drysdale.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Starting with this episode, the Brady Bunch kids perform the theme.
- Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: Despite the ending, Greg is never seen playing organized baseball again, although it is sometimes implied he continues to play the sport in later seasons.
- Humiliation Conga: Peter and Bobby do this for all its worth after the debacle at the ballpark ... and one wonders if they indeed literally did this in front of a bawling Greg (formed a conga line and danced in front of him solely to mock him).
- Kids Are Cruel: Peter and Bobby make sure that a shell-shocked, thoroughly beaten and humbled Greg knows just how badly he pitched on the way home. They continue their yuk-parade into the house, laughing it up to no end as they explain things to Alice ... and then Mike tells them to cool it.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Greg goes through this in spades, only coming to this realization after he endures a 12-inning, top-of-the-first inning shelling in his Pony League game, in which he is unable to get even one batter out.
- Special Guest: Don Drysdale, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who was well on his way to the Hall of Fame.
- Very Special Episode: Not in the morality sense, but that a real-life baseball superstar whom everybody knew was guesting on one of the greatest family TV shows of all time.