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Just as baseball, boxing and racing were popular themes for coin operated machines, so was basketball. With basketball, however, you the player had to exhibit skill and toss the ball in the basket.

One of the early basketball games was the 1930's vest pocket basketball. This countertop or wall game was a variation of the highly successful Whirlwind game introduced by the Peo Manufacturing Company in 1931.

You received one ball for a penny. You tossed the ball by pressing the lever in front of the machine. If you got a basket you receive another shot. You kept on playing until you missed. A counter registered your score so you could compete with yourself or a friend.

The all time favorite basketball game, however, was the 1940's Chicago Coin Basketball game. This game was real basketball, real men, a real basket, one man trying to shoot and the other waving his arms trying to block the shot.

You inserted a coin. You turned your man to the left and a ball was automatically fed into his hands. You turned towards the basket, your opponent was in front of you moving back and forth, raising and lowering his hands. You moved into position, hesitated a moment, waiting for your opponent to lower his arms, and then you squeezed the handle to shoot. If your aim was good and your timing right, you got a basket and the score was automatically shown on the lighted marque.

For those who preferred to play against a real competitor, there were two player basketball games. The countertop version featured a lever for each player. On the playing field were ten holes where a ping pong ball could rest. Five of the holes were red and five were black.

If the ball landed on your color, you flipped your lever and the ball was tossed toward your basket. If your flip was right, you got a basket. You and your opponent got twenty flips for a penny. Since players would always argue about the score, in later models, manufacturers added scoring devices to the machine.

The floor model two player basketball game featured multiple levers, one for each hole. The player not only had to flip the ball just right but also had to select the right lever. In the excitement of the game, players would frantically push one lever after another as the ball rolled around over multiple holes before it came to a stop.

With a colorful playing field featuring players, scoreboard, and fans, you were convinced you were playing the real thing as your arms swing back and forth from one lever to another.


Copyright: 2006 Ken Durham.





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Ken Durham
3000 Galloway Ridge, C-306
Pittsboro NC 27312
For Orders Only: 202-213-1585
All others, please email: durham@GameRoomAntiques.com