Baseball, the all American game, was always a popular motif for coin machines.
A baseball machine, however, is not really baseball unless a ball is pitched to you, and you, as the batter, swings a bat to hit the ball.
Typical of the early pitching - batting baseball machines was the Keeney's Texas Leaguer.
These 1930's and 1940's machines have a small steel ball rolling down a steep ramp. The player, as the batter, squeezes the trigger on a gun type handle, and activates a bat. The object is to hit the ball as it leaves the ramp and flies pass the home plate. Every five seconds another ball comes down the ramp and you get nine balls for a penny or a nickel. If you hit the ball hard and accurately, it lands in the home run compartment in the outfield.
Watching the steel ball roll down the ramp creates a great sense of anticipation and it's not uncommon for the batter to swing too early or get transfixed on the ball and totally forget to swing.
In the late 1940's and in the 1950's, the standard pinball machine was converted to a baseball machine. The larger pinball type steel ball was used and, rather than rolling down a ramp, the ball comes out of the ground at the pitchers mound and rolls pass home plate where the batter, by pushing a button, activates the bat.
Since the pitcher is also activated by a button, the game can be played by two players, a pitcher and a batter.
By the late 1940's the game was designed to register singles, doubles, home runs, and outs, as well as strikes. Just like real baseball, you can swing and miss three times for an out and you get three outs for a nickel. To increase player interest, the pitcher is given the option of pitching a fast ball, curve ball, or a slider.
To add even more interest, some games feature a realistic playing field with players actually running around the bases when you get a hit. For some games, the players are just on the backglass of the pinball machine. In other games, like the Bally Ball Park, there is actually a small three dimensional playing field.
For a list of books on arcade machines, go to GameRoomAntiques Bookstore
For a list of sport-related arcade machines for sale, got to: Arcade Machine Sales List
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