Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I’m not old enough to land deep within the “boomer” parameters, but close enough to catch the tail end of some of the childhood remembrances. Like many pre-teen boys, I was a sports fanatic. Football, basketball, and baseball. When it was too dark or cold or rainy to go outside to play the sport of the season, I would turn to sports board games. There were a few that were popular at the time and, at my pleading, my parents were good enough to buy them for me. Video games like Madden Football didn’t exist in those days. Television was for watching TV, the phone was for phone calls, and there were no household computers around. Imagination required. All of these games are designed for two people to play as opponents, but on the occasions when a friend either wasn’t available or was unwelcomed by my parents (odd hours, school night, etc…), I’d play the games by myself.
I’ve included YouTube links and photos because it’s difficult to describe these games with words. I tried my best to do so anyway.

No electricity for this game, either. This game utilized an important component in many a board game back in those days: a spinner. I suppose today’s generation will need an explanation. A spinner is like a small clock with only one metal hand loose enough to “spin” in circles at a high speed. A player activated it by cocking his forefinger behind his thumb and giving the spinner a good whack with said forefinger. Whatever number the spinner landed on referenced a specific result. Kinda like a small version of the “Wheel of Fortune” dial. Wait, does today’s generation even know about “Wheel of Fortune”? Anyway, in those days, whenever “randomness” needed to be utilized in a board game, spinners or dice were about the only options. This game came with 
little circular cards that fit underneath the spinner. The card had various numbers sectioned off around the outer edge representing results of an “at bat” by a baseball player. The number 1, for instance, represented a Home Run. 9 represented a walk, 7 a base hit etc.. Each card had a major league baseball player’s name and playing position printed in the center and the numbers were sectioned off in spaces that reflected that particular player’s statistics. A home run hitter like Hank Aaron had a larger space designated as 1 for home run than say, a singles hitter like Rod Carew. Conversely, Carew had a larger portion of his card designated for base hits than guys like Aaron. The idea of the game was to put together a starting roster using the cards, one for each position. Then stack the cards in your preferred batting order, leadoff hitter on top, and insert them into your spinner dial (there were two spinners, one for each team). Give the spinner a whack, see what the player does, and record the result on the cardboard playing field which had a stand up scoreboard. The playing field had little holes at each base on the diamond that pegs could be inserted into to represent baserunners. The scoreboard was manually operated to record the score and current number of outs. After the leadoff hitter’s results are carried out, his card would be removed from the top - which reveals the next batter - and easily slid to the bottom, thus maintaining the batting order. There were “situation” cards that could be used for stealing, hit and run, tagging up on fly balls, etc.. But we were too young to mess with that crap so there really wasn’t much strategy other than picking out a lineup. After that it was up to the spinner. Instead of using the situation card for results of how far a runner advanced on a base hit or for the possibility of an error or other occurrences on a fly ball or ground ball, we just moved the runners the number of places equal to the hit (base hit - runners advance one base; double- runners advance two bases…), a fly ball was simply an out, and a ground ball was a force out at the first open base.
I can’t remember if the game came with full rosters of certain teams, but I do know it came with enough all-star names to make up at least four full teams. Which is what I did. This was one of those games that I could easily play by myself and usually did. I put together four teams, named ‘em after animals like the Elephants, the Beavers, etc.., made up a season schedule and had ‘em square off against each other. I was a “stat” freak so the best part of the game for me was the record keeping. I kept “book” on every game and maintained the standings and the batting statistics for each player. Periodically I would make a list of the top players in each batting category, just like the Sunday paper would do for real live baseball.  And the pitchers’ stats too, even though who was pitching had no defensive significance.  All by hand. No calculators. No computers to figure it for me. I learned how to divide figuring batting averages. In fact, for me, the game turned out to be great for developing basic math skills.


Part 3: CADACO BAS-KET                                                                              Part 5: MARX PRO BOWL LIVE ACTION FOOTBALL

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