When Captain Solok of the Federation starship T'Kumbra challenges former classmate Sisko and his crew to a game of baseball, Sisko refuses to lose and begins to take the game too seriously.
When the USS T'Kumbra docks at Deep Space 9 for repairs, her Captain – a Vulcan named Solok – visits Sisko in his office to discuss the maintenance schedule, and apparently to disparage Humans in general. Solok had recently received the Christopher Pike Medal of Valor and makes a point of reminding Sisko it is his second. The T'Kumbra has been in combat in the Dominion War for six months, and Solok makes a point of reminding Sisko that DS9 is well behind Federation lines. He even makes a point of disparaging the maintenance schedule as "inefficient."
Then he brings up a final matter that prompts Sisko to call for an immediate assembly of his senior staff in the wardroom the instant the turbolift carries Solok out of Ops. It seems that Solok and his all-Vulcan crew have challenged Sisko and the crew of DS9 to a "contest of teamwork, courage and sacrifice" that Sisko couldn't turn down – a game of baseball!
Deep Space 9's senior staff is skeptical, especially since none of them has played the game before, but they accept the challenge and promptly start learning all they can about the game. As they learn the basics and quite a lot of terminology (Bashir is convinced "Fancy Dan" is a phrase Dax invented until he reads it for himself), the excitement spreads to others aboard the station. Leeta and Rom are both interested in trying out for the team as a way to get closer to Nog. Even Quark begrudgingly agrees to try out after some harsh "encouragement" from Leeta.
So, an unlikely collection of baseball players, dubbed the "Niners", gathers in one of Quark's holosuites -- Benjamin and Jake Sisko (the only two who actually know how to play), Worf, Kira, Ezri, Bashir, O'Brien, Quark, Nog, Rom and Leeta. After an inspirational speech from Coach Sisko, the players pair off for some easy throw-and-catch to get started. Nog, Worf, O'Brien, and Bashir get off to a good start, but everyone else clearly need more than a little practice. Quite a few balls go sailing past the target catcher, while others seem to be aimed right for someone's head. Rom has more trouble than anyone, missing balls even as they fly right past him.
By the end of the first practice most of the team is in the infirmary with various injuries. Quark's had some bones in the back of his skull repaired (after an incident involving Rom and an errant bat). Ezri is just generally in pain (after thinking she could do all the things Emony Dax once did as an Olympic gymnast). O'Brien, worst of all, has torn his rotator cuff once again and won't be able to play. Disappointed, Benjamin recruits him as the batting, pitching, and first base coach. He also recruits Odo as the umpire – the only person he trusts to be impartial.
Unfortunately, that still leaves a hole to fill, so Benjamin "pulls a few strings" and brings in Kasidy Yates. With her next few cargo runs mysteriously reassigned, she has just enough free time to join the team as third base coach. With the addition of Kasidy and plenty of practice the team improves a little, though Rom still hasn't actually hit a ball, and isn't especially good at catching either. Nog and Leeta keep encouraging him, but Sisko eventually gets so discouraged he kicks Rom off the team completely.
The other players insist they'll quit the team if Sisko won't let Rom play, but he won't hear of it. He'll watch from the stands and give his encouragement, but he won't be playing. With Rom off the team it seems like they're improving quite a lot. Baseball has even permeated their normal activities. Quark, for instance, has his waiters throw glasses down to him from his second level so he can practice catching, and Kira is delighted to see Odo practicing umpire moves in the security office.
Meanwhile, Yates makes Sisko explain the real reason he's so vehement about winning the game. Solok was in Starfleet Academy with him, and he met Solok in a bar called the Launching Pad where he made disparaging remarks about how Humans were "emotionally handicapped." They got into a fight, which Sisko naturally lost (and ended up in the infirmary). What's more, Solok continued writing about the incident in a host of papers even after they'd graduated. Still, Sisko doesn't want the Niners to know why he's so concerned about the game, and makes Yates promise not to tell anyone either. Despite her promise, she does tell the team, who just take it as further motivation to win the game – for their Captain.
So the Niners face Solok's Logicians on the holosuite field, though without spectators (per Sisko's wishes) and start the game with Odo in his umpire's uniform overseeing everything. A Vulcan batter hits the first pitch completely out of the park, and it doesn't take long for the runs to rack up against the Niners. By the end of the first inning the Logicians already have four runs, while the first three Niners up to bat strike out. They manage to keep the Logicians down to just one run per inning the next three innings, but that's still a score of 7 - 0 to the Vulcans.
The Logicians don't score at all in the fifth inning, and Kira actually makes her way to second. With two outs, Worf steps up to bat. Strike. Ball. Ball. Strike. Ball. He prepares himself for the last pitch and when the ball flies by on the outside he steps back, then tosses the bat aside and starts to jog to first even as Odo calls, "Strike three!" Benjamin and Worf are both incensed and scream at Odo while he calmly asserts that the ball "caught the outside corner." Benjamin gets furious at that and pushes Worf to protect his batter aside and argues chin to chin, going so far to jab Odo chest as he's shouting. Without hesitation, Odo throws Sisko out of the game, who quotes the rule book regarding physical contact with the umpire, and tells him to look it up in the stands.
Benjamin stalks off to the stands muttering to himself that it was a ball, not a strike, and throws himself into a seat near where Rom has been sitting the whole time. The Niners manage two outs against the Logicians at the top of the ninth inning, and Worf throws the ball to Nog at home plate just as the Vulcan batter steps across. Nog doesn't manage to tag him out, but the runner didn't actually step on the plate. Odo watches silently, and O'Brien realizes what must have happened, but Nog doesn't know which player it was! Failing any better idea, he starts tagging every player, but the last one on the bench runs toward home at the last second. Nog throws to Jake, who tags the Vulcan out as he slides in. They get the third out!Even Benjamin, up in the stands, is overjoyed. "That's what I love about this game – you never know what's going to happen next, every situation is different." With a gleam in his eye, he looks over at Rom. The Niners still haven't scored a single run in the bottom of the ninth, but Nog is on third when Benjamin sends Rom to bat in full Niners regalia. He fills the stadium the holographic spectators and even calls upon an announcer to introduce Jake Sisko's pinch hitter, but Rom completely misses the first two pitches. Bashir and O'Brien try to signal that he should bunt the ball down the baseline as the third pitch sails toward the plate. Rom leans forward to try to decipher their signal, bringing his bat right into the ball's path. It glances off and rolls down the first base line. The crowd cheers and Nog takes off, sliding into home just in time. They've scored!
The Niners rush onto the field and lift Rom in the air. Solok is confused and angry, and grabs Odo by the shoulder to protest, but Odo just grins and tosses Solok from the game. The Niners have decided to end the game before even a single out in the ninth inning, and Solok can't understand it. Even as the team celebrates in Quark's, Solok protests that they're only attempting to "manufacture triumph where none exists," but every one of the Niners is willing to accept that, even going so far as to toast "manufactured triumph". When Solok protests further, they just accuse him of being emotional – irritated, defensive, angry, jealous, and quite bitter. To top it all off, Kira tosses Benjamin a new baseball for his desk – signed by every player on the team. Benjamin offers it to Solok, asking "Would you like to sign it?" Solok storms off, amid laughter.
"We will destroy them!"
- - Worf
"I hope you learned your lesson."
"Always look behind you before swinging a bat."
- - Quark and Rom in the infirmary as Quark is treated for a skull fracture
"How many is that?"
"Today? I think he's missed ten."
- - Sisko and Nog, mulling over Rom's ineptness in right field
"War is an inefficient business."
- - Sisko
"They just... chewed it?"
"No, they infused the gum with flavor."
"What flavor did you infuse it with?"
- - Julian Bashir and Miles O'Brien, about chewing gum
"I know that look. It's the I'd-really-like-to-smash-something-but-she'll-think-I'm-crazy look. Well, don't let me stop you — they're your quarters. Smash away if it'll make you feel better!"
- - Kasidy Yates to Benjamin Sisko
"Computer, eliminate the spectators!"
- - Solok, after hearing Benjamin Sisko's request
"Alright, Niners, let's hear some chatter."
"Hey, batter, batter, batter, batter, batter."
"Hey, batter, batter, batter, batter, batter, batter, batter."
"Death to the opposition!"
- - Kasidy, Leeta, and Worf, responding to Benjamin Sisko's instruction
"WHAT?! What're you talking about? That ball was at least a half a meter out! How come you called it a strike? Reverse the call! Reverse the call!"
"That was low and outside!"
"The ball was clearly outside!"
"Oh, what the hell were you looking at? You can't tell me that ball was over the plate. What were you doing, regenerating?"
- - Worf and Sisko, arguing with Odo over the called third strike on Worf
"'No player shall at any time make contact with the umpire in any manner.' The prescribed penalty for the violation is immediate ejection from the game. Rule number four point zero six, subsection (a), paragraph four — look it up, but do it in the stands. You're GONE!"
- - Odo, while ejecting Benjamin Sisko from the game
"What do I do?"
"Find him and kill him!"
- - Nog and Worf, upon realizing that the Logician runner didn't touch home plate
"Did I forget to wear my spots today?"
"All that intelligence and he still doesn't know what a human looks like!"
- - Ezri and Quark, after Ezri was called a "human" by Solok
- This episode was based on an episode of the TV show Fame; a fourth season episode entitled "The Ol' Ball Game", written by Ira Steven Behr. The plot involved the characters of Morloch and Danny setting up a softball team that has no talent whatsoever, but who, through luck and perseverance, somehow manage to pull off a big victory. Several scenes in "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" are directly taken from "The Ol' Ball Game", such as the scene where Nog is unsure which player to tag (although Behr says that that particular event was based on a real life incident that happened to him in the little leagues), or the scene involving Rom's fluke bunt at the end (which involved a woman rather than a Ferengi in the original episode). The general plot outline, character development, and burlesque tone of this episode are also very much in the spirit of the classic 1976 Michael Ritchie Little League film The Bad News Bears, which was also produced by Paramount Pictures.
- Captain Sisko wore a San Francisco Giants baseball cap during practice, while Jake wore an Atlanta Braves cap. Cirroc Lofton is the nephew of Major League baseball player Kenny Lofton, who the season before this episode was filmed (1997) had played for the Braves, and would later play for the Giants.
- At the time the episode aired, the Giants shared their stadium with the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL - a team often referred to, even in "official" circumstances as the "Niners".
- Rom was given the unlucky (or lucky) number of 13. Kasidy wore number 47. Jake is wearing number 78, a possible reference to Cirroc Lofton's birth year.
- The Niners' baseball uniforms have the word "Niners" written in the Deep Space Nine/Voyager episode credits typeface, while the players' names are written in the DS9/Voyager main title typeface. The Logicians' uniforms appear to have the players' names written in Vulcan script. []
- Kira's uniform reads either "Nerys" or "Kira" at different times during the course of the episode. Leeta's uniform reads simply "Leeta"; her character was never given a full name during the series.
- Max Grodénchik, although he was playing the worst player on the team, was in fact the best baseball player amongst all of DS9's regular and recurring cast. Grodénchik was a semi-professional in high school and considered going full professional before deciding to become an actor. In fact Grodénchik was literally incapable of playing as badly as he was supposed to, which is why Rom plays left-handed; it was the only way Grodénchik could avoid looking like a skilled player trying to play like a bad player. Avery Brooks, Cirroc Lofton, Armin Shimerman and Aron Eisenberg are all also talented players. Nana Visitor was by far the worst player. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Joey Banks acted as baseball coach for the cast. Son of the Major League baseball legend and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame Ernie Banks, Banks is considered one of Hollywood's foremost baseball coaches. Banks also assembled the Vulcan team, which was apparently an extremely accomplished team of players. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- All the exterior baseball scenes were filmed at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
- This episode marks the first and only time the Anthem of the United Federation of Planets is played on-screen.
- In the final scene at Quark's, neither Michael Dorn nor Rene Auberjonois are present. Their photo doubles (James Minor and an unknown actor) stand in for them.
- The baseball given to Sisko after the game bears the signatures (in character) of the Niners team members. In Quark's signature, the letter "Q" has big lobes.
- This episode marks the first time Rom appears without wearing a Ferengi headdress.
- The Christopher Pike Medal of Valor mentioned by Solok at the start of this episode was awarded to Sisko in "Tears of the Prophets".
- In the episode "Afterimage", Ezri states that she is left handed; however, in this episode she both throws and bats right handed.
- Worf throws left handed but bats right handed. Michael Dorn is left handed.
- The original series episode "The Immunity Syndrome" also featured a Federation starship completely manned by Vulcans, the USS Intrepid, which was only mentioned but not seen.
- The original airing of this episode coincided closely with the 1998 World Series. Ronald D. Moore commented, "We knew it would air close to the series, but didn't know it would be the same week." (AOL chat, 1998)
- Ira Behr was a little disappointed with how this episode turned out, stating "If there's anything about the show I don't think was successful, it's that we didn't do enough with the Vulcans. The lead protagonist - who comes in so strong at the beginning - is absent through big chunks of the episode. We didn't realize it until we saw a rough cut of the show, and by then it was too late. So the structure is weird. The thing with Sisko and the Vulcan goes about halfway through the show, and then it becomes Rom's story. And the fact that the show works as well as it does is due to Max, who really makes you care about Rom." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 7.2, 12 April 1999.
- As part of the DS9 Season 7 DVD collection.
Links and references
- Avery Brooks as Benjamin Sisko
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Nicole deBoer as Ezri Dax
- Michael Dorn as Worf
- Colm Meaney as Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Julian Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Kira Nerys
- Max Grodénchik as Rom
- Aron Eisenberg as Nog
- Gregory Wagrowski as Solok
- Chase Masterson as Leeta
- Penny Johnson as Kasidy Yates
- Elle Alexander as a Vulcan baseball player
- Joey Banks as a Vulcan baseball player
- Cathy DeBuono as
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Dan McGee as a Vulcan baseball player
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Unknown performers as two Vulcan baseball players
Stunt doubles and stand-ins
- Jennifer Berlant as photo double for Nicole de Boer
- Jay Caputo as stunt double for Nicole de Boer
- Uriah Carr as photo double and stand-in for Alexander Siddig
- Randy James as photo double and stand-in for Colm Meaney
- James Minor as photo double and stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Nancy Paradis as photo double for Nana Visitor
- Denise Lynne Roberts as stunt double for Nana Visitor
- Darius Toussant as photo double for Cirroc Lofton
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