Thursday, December 13, 2007

Talking Football, Subbuteo, and Sure Shot Baseball

Here's one that Bigbro ought to like:

The Czabe had a segment yesterday called "Know Your Gear" where callers were invited to dredge up memories of their favorite sports-related equipment, games, or toys. I'm hoping Bigbro and I can tag-team on this one.

One caller mentioned Talking Football.

I believe it actually belonged to Bigbro; he and I played it all. the. time. There were 10 tiny records that the player on offense used, with each one representing a different play (Madden Football this wasn't). He'd drop the appropriate record into a miniature record player, then hand it to his opponent who would select one of six different defenses by rotating the record until the defense he wanted appeared. Then he'd press the record down to find out what happened.

If there was a mismatch, the offense would benefit, such as a Inside Run defense against a QB Option; I think that resulted in a TD. And the way to stop someone who blitzed early and often was to throw a Screen Pass or run a Draw Play. But the blitz was devastatingly effective against the Long Pass, resulting in a fumble. There were separate, unmarked records for Punt, Kick (FG and extra point), Kickoff, Penalty, Interception, and Fumble.

Each quarter was determined by the number of plays (20 per). The field was essentially a corrugated cardboard box with holes in it for the plays and the down marker, and sliding indicators to show the ball and the 10-yard chains.

I think the record player eventually busted and/or the records became too scratched. So in the later 70s, Mattel re-branded the game as Talking Monday Night Football, and we got that too.

There was also a Talking Baseball, but that was far more complicated and not as much fun. We also had a few versions of Electric Football with the vibrating metal fields and plastic players who invariably wound up swinging each other square-dance style. When the motor (inevitably) wouldn't work, we tapped the board instead.

Another caller, much to Czabe's chagrin (what's wrong with him?), brought up Subbuteo.

Pronounced "sub-BOOT-ee-oh," this was a table/floor soccer game that was a tad different from table soccer or foosball (we had one of those games when we were kids, although not like the ones you see these days). The soccer pitch was a green felt cloth, and the ball was almost as large as the players.

As you see, they had bases like Weebles, and we used our fingers to flick the player toward the ball and thus kick the ball toward the opponent's goal. The same player could only hit the ball three straight times before another player had to hit it. If he hit an opponent before hitting the ball, that was a foul. If the ball hit an opponent or the player whiffed, the opponent's side would take over. The players had an unfortunate tendency to break, however, requiring generous amounts of glue applied by Dad.

When I was in college, Subbuteo unveiled an indoor edition of the game, and some of us played my friend Steve's copy of it in the literary magazine office, which is more than usually took place there.

These memories sparked my recollection of Bigbro's Sure Shot Baseball.

This game was pretty simple: the "pitcher" rolls a marble-sized ball down a ramp, and the batter twists a knob to swing a bat. If the pitcher catches the ball once it goes over the sloped walls, the batter is out. Otherwise, the batter gets a hit, depending on which portion of the wall the ball went over. I don't recall the runners being there; wouldn't they get in the way? I was never that good on catching the ball, so Bigbro won quite a bit.

So that's some of what our sports gaming life was like Back In The Day. There were others, but I need future blog topics!


bigbro said...

I thought i had commented when you first posted this. Stupid computer. Anyway..."Double reverse to the flanker. He's going to throw a pass. Touchdown!" (Gadget Plays) Talking football was an awesome game. I'd still whup you at it. I also got into the Avalon Hill (strategey game company on Harford Road just north of Herring Run Park) Statis Pro Baseball and Football games when I was at Loring AFB. But when you're a tween in the 1970s nothing beat Talking Football. "The blitz is on. The quarterback is sacked. Ten yards back, a fumble!" Those recordings are still in the back of the brain.