Murder, She Wrote 5.20 “Three Strikes, You’re Out”

Jessica Fletcher is in Arizona this time. She’s staying in Tuscon but makes a trip over to Scottsdale where her nephew Johnny is training with the Comets, a Major League Baseball team.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was the sports journalist, Loretta Lee!
Click to reveal the killer It was the players’ manager, Al Sidell!
Click to reveal the weapon It was a bump on the head from falling during a struggle!
Click to reveal the location It was in her hotel room!
Click to reveal the motive Al Siddell wanted to protect Charlie after Loretta found out his true identity–he used to be called Freddie Masters and skipped bail on an assault charge!

Cast of characters:

As this is a baseball-centered episode, we have members of the baseball team:

  • Todd Bryant plays Johnny Eaton, Jessica’s nephew. (Bryant’s on screen work has primarily been in the role of a stuntman.)
  • Tim Dunigan plays Charlie Holcomb, Johnny’s buddy.
  • Rick Dean plays Mike Warlop, the star hitter.
  • Shea Farrell plays Pete Briggs. (This is Farrell’s third of four total appearances on MSW.)
  • Beau Billingslea plays Kel Murray.

We also have people who are involved in team management.

  • Paul Sorvino plays Al Sidell, Johnny and Charlie’s manager. This is Sorvino’s only appearance on MSW, but he did have regular roles on other detective shows. He starred in the short-lived Bert D’Angelo/Superstar (1976) and The Oldest Rookie (1987-1988) and also went on to have a recurring role in Law & Order.
  • Vince Edwards plays Harry Dial, the team manager.
  • Robert Mandan plays Irving Randolph, the team owner.
  • Jake Jacobs plays Avery Burns, the team travel secretary.

And there are other team and sports-related characters.

  • Anne Lockhart Roz Briggs, wife of Pete, one of the players. (This is Lockhart’s third of four total appearances on MSW.)
  • Roxanne Reese plays Nancy Murray, wife of Kel, one of the players.
  • Hank Robinson plays an umpire. (This is Robinson’s second and final appearance on MSW.)
  • Harry Woolf plays a fan. (This is Woolf’s second and final appearance on MSW.)
  • Bernie Casey plays Doc Evans.
  • Loretta Lee, a sports journalist.

And as usual, there are characters involved in local law enforcement.

  • Reni Santoni plays Lieutenant Caceras, Scottsdale PD. (This is Santoni’s first of two total appearances on MSW.)
  • David Elliott plays a young officer. (This is Elliott’s first of three total appearances on MSW.)

Other trivia and final notes

A contributor to has written that the writer for this episode (Donald Ross) is known for naming characters after Jazz musicians. To that end, this episode has:

  • John Eaton is a pianist and jazz educator.
  • Doc Evans was a traditional jazz cornetist from the 1930’s until his death in 1977.
  • Pete Briggs was the tuba player for Louis Armstrong’s Hot Seven in 1927.
  • Harry Dial was a drummer who also worked with Armstrong.
  • Irving Randolph was a 1930’s trumpeter who played with Cab Calloway.
  • Lt. Caceras is named after 1940’s baritone saxophonist Ernie Caceres.
  • Kel Murray was a non-jazz bandleader who shared the 1935 “Let’s Dance” broadcasts with Benny Goodman and Xavier Cugat.
  • Mike Warlop is named after 1930’s French jazz bandleader Michel Warlop.
  • There is also an unseen but mentioned character named Flip Phillips, after the star tenor saxophonist from Woody Herman’s First Herd in the mid-1940’s.

Donald Ross did a similar thing with naming the characters in Season 4’s “A Fashionable Way to Die“.

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