Game Name: Harry’s Grand Slam Baseball
Publisher: Out of the Box Publishing
Designer: Harry Obst
Artists: Cathleen Quinn-Kinney and Lisa Teach-Swaziek
Year: 1962 (2007 OOTB Edition Reviewed)
Players: Two players
Playing Time: 20 Minutes
Genre: Quick playing, light baseball card game
Retail Price: $14.99
Originally printed in 1962, and designed by Harry Obst (thus the title), Harry’s Grand Slam Baseball is released by Out of the Box Publishing as one of their “Heirloom Games” line. The object of this card game is that of any other baseball game; score more runs than your opponent at the end of nine innings or after extra innings if the score is tied at the end of nine.
I’m impressed by the reproduction Out of the Box has done. You’ll find within the attractive storage tin a set of rules tailored for the modern gamer as well as a scoreboard in which to track the inning, outs, and runs but also a faithful rendition of the original game from the sixties. Even a reproduction of the original rules are included as well as the artwork on the cards from 1962. You might make a note that rather than having a scoreboard with little dials to track inning and runs, players used to have to write up a score sheet. Good luck getting someone to do that here in the twenty first century…
You’ll find the plays on the cards included are all the basics you’d expect in America’s Pastime: Singles, doubles, homers, strike outs, double plays, etc. You don’t have to be a baseball fanatic to learn and enjoy the game either, as you’ll find that setup and teaching the rules takes no more than five minutes. You might have to peek at the reference card from time to time to double check the results of a play but that’s only the first time you sit down to the game.
The breakdown of play is rather simple overall. You shuffle the fifty four card deck, determine who’s going to be the visiting team, and proceed to deal three cards to each player. You’ll take turns playing one card from your hand and replacing that card from the draw deck. Of course the team at the plate is trying to play cards that put runners on base or advance those same said runners while the player in the field is trying to play out cards. Each player must play a card in their hand regardless if it benefits their team or not. For example, if I’m in the field and all I have are cards that put runners on, I’m going to have to play one of them. Hopefully, it’s just a walk or error or single and I can draw an out card from the deck to use next time. The same goes for the player at the plate.
One interesting little card is the pinch hitter/relief pitcher. As soon as you draw one of these you take the next card from the deck and place that facedown under this special card. You don’t look at the drawn card but now you’ll have that available in case you find you don’t have a hand of cards that will benefit you – maybe I’m at bat and all I have are out cards so I’ll flip the pinch hitter to see what card they are hiding. Sure, it might not be a hit but at least there’s a chance they’ll come through in the pinch. The same goes for the defense – maybe that relief pitcher will have an out card because all I have are hits in my hand.
At the end of the third and sixth innings all the cards are reshuffled, except for pinch hitter/relief pitch cards, including those in your hand. Three new cards are dealt to each player and you move on to the next inning.
Of course, nothing more than luck is in play – although there is a little bit of strategy involved in determining what order to play your cards – and that could be a big turn off for some gamers but I’ll be honest here and point out that this game isn’t targeted to those sorts of players anyway. Harry’s Grand Slam Baseball is (and no doubt always was) geared to those who want to play a quick, light game with the flavor of baseball mixed in. This isn’t for the Strat-o-matic or APBA crowd but more for parents and kids or friends kicking it on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
I’ll jump outside the review for a moment just to mention that Leah Sugar at OOTB was kind enough to give Elliott and I each a copy of HGSB at Origins. Seeing we’re both big baseball fans and we were interested in the game to start with we brought it back to the hotel that night and took it for a spin. The hilarity that ensued was priceless as our ongoing play-by-play had us rolling on the floor with tears streaming. I’m sure the folks in the rooms nearby were wondering what the hell was going on as we carried on about “Chubby” McWilliams managing from the concessions stand, “Flash” Nukem endlessly toiling on the mound until he could only pitch with his feet, and the incessant blathering of drunken color commentary to the stonily silent play-by-play man simply known as Vern.
Our game of Harry’s Grand Slam Baseball stands as one of the highlights of our trip Origins, in my mind.
If you even have a passing interest in baseball, or in the history of our wonderful hobby, you really should pick up a copy of HGSB. It’s a fun filler for a rainy day or while listening to your favorite team on the radio and the job Out of the Box has done lovingly reproducing the original 1962 edition will make a fine addition to anyone’s gaming wall. Leah did mention to me that OOTB may not continue to produce Harry’s Grand Slam Baseball much longer so the time may be now to grab yourself a copy!