This page contains Ball Park Baseball memorabilia. A sincere thank
you is in order to
Professor and Mrs. Sidman for supplying the items on this page.
Below are two of the first cards ever created by Professor
Sidman. The cards are for Pee Wee Reese and
Eddie Cicotte. They were created in ink and handwritten in 1959, as you will see by the printed notation on the back of the card.
|Lawrence, Kansas, Friday, January 15, 1971|
|Out in the Hillcrest Shopping Center, just north of the
theaters, a small building is being constructed. Target date for
completion is March 1.
What is it? They're calling it "The Ball Park." In your leisure time, or over the lunch hour, you'll be able to go there to eat, drink and play baseball.
That's right. Play baseball.
The concept is unique. It all began about 14 years ago in Germany where Chuck Sidman, now a Kansas University professor, devised a tabletop baseball game.
"We were dog poor," recalls Sidman, a Germanic history instructor, "and we couldn't afford to do anything. My wife became concerned because I didn't have anything to do."
So she suggested they sit down and think of something. What developed is the most realistic, most complete, most amazing baseball game I've ever seen.
"My father always wanted me to be a major league baseball player," Sidman noted, "and I've always loved baseball so ..."
Easy to Play
It is a game so complicated and yet so easy to play that it is almost incomprehensible it could have been culled from the mind of a single man. But it was.
"I've always been pretty good at figures and statistics," Sidman understates.
At first the game was just a toy that Sidman and his wife played with. Then when he came to Kansas about nine years ago, he found that several other professors on the Hill were in the same category as he was. Baseball nuts, that is.
What evolved out of this was the oldest, established, permanent, floating tabletop baseball game in Lawrence. Caught up in the enthusiasm for the game were Bert Reynolds, Tom Beisecker, Ron Calgaard, Lloyd Sponholtz, David Dineen, Wil Linkugel, Clark Bricker and others.
So each Wednesday night, instead of playing poker or going bowling, the eight gather at one of their homes to play the game. Over the years they have become so jaded with established teams they they've drafted their own players and formed their own teams.
Draft Coming Up
Wednesday night they completed their own 42-game season based on American League players' records for the 1922 season. Next Wednesday, they'll protect their 14 best players and throw the rest into a draft pool along with rookies and begin the 1923 campaign.
Reynolds who had Babe Ruth, won the 1922 pennant. Sponholtz and Bricker shared the cellar and are reported seeking to trade for help.
Surprisingly no money is involved in these games. There are no bets on games and you can't buy a player "for a waiver price." No money is exchanged at any point," Sidman points out. "We play for pride."
Ultimately several of the players thought so much of the game they decided to form a joint venture and open their combination game room and lounge. Thus "The Ball Park."
Most tabletop sports games are either marketed in stores or in the mail. But this group decided against that. Everything is in the process of being printed up to be used at "The Ball Park" only.
"We hope to get leagues going just like in bowling," says Sam Shipstead, the former Lawrence High and Washburn cager who will mind the store for the professors. "We're going to have to seek out the baseball buffs. But they're around town I'm sure."
Probably the most unusual thing about the game itself is the number of nuances that have been inserted - things like a catcher's throwing arm, his ability to handle pitchers, a pitcher's effectiveness with men on base and his ability to hold a base runner.
All players cards are based on official baseball records for each year. First offerings at "The Ball Park" will be World Series teams from 1919-1970. Eventually there should be cards for every team that has played from 1901 on.
Action evolves around a random electronic computer that will be built into the game tables. It will, on touch, give any number from 1-50. Those numbers will prescribe, according to the cards, the ball park chart and the play book, what happens to each batter.
You have to see the game to believe it. If you're a baseball buff, it will precipitate salivation. If you're just a gamesman, it will invoke your competitive instincts.
And if you're simply a curiosity seeker, it will whet your appetite. Sidman, et al, think they have the greatest thing since salted peanuts. They may be right.
Below is a partial interior shot of "The Ball Park" in Lawrence, Kansas.
The areas were designated the "Dugout" (shown in the
photo), the "Bullpen," the "Bleachers," etc. Note
the random number generator (1-50) in the middle of the tables.
Several problems were said to have resulted when a triple or
home run was hit and one of the
"managers" got excited and spilled their beverage in the generator.
"The Ball Park" Menu - Front
"The Ball Park" Menu - Back
Below are two 1971 Ball Park Baseball cards for Lou Gehrig and Mort Cooper.
These cards were printed on glossy card stock and are 3 1/4
inches high and 2 1/2 inches wide.
Note that the pitchers had their "batting card" on the reverse of their "Pitching card."
Here's a page taken directly from out of Bill James' 1984 Baseball Abstract
I used to be in a
table-game league. This was ten, twelve years ago. We played a local
game called Ballpark, which was never marketed in a very professional
way but which was ahead of its time: complex, layered, intricate. We
were replaying the seasons of the American League in the 1930's; I had a
roster made up of players like Bill Dickey, Hank Greenberg, and Earl
Whitehill, not to mention Frank Doljack, Larry Rosenthal, and Milt
in a more accurate way. I had thought about
these things before, of course, but to win that damn little league I had
to know. That focused my interest in the game onto analytical questions;
and then there was an economic accident, and there I was on the
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