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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Player of Games, #80: Entex Baseball 3

With Major League Baseball's Opening Day upon us, it seems the right time to talk about this vintage gem. A little online sleuthing tells me that Entex released their Baseball 3 handheld electronic baseball game in 1980, but it wouldn't be until four or five years later that I discovered it in our house. I'm guessing it was a gift someone had given our dad that he promptly ignored, and which lay hidden like the One True Ring in the murky depths of the Anduin until it found me. And then, well, boy, it was game on.

Again like the Ring, this simple trinket ensorcelled me from the first moment I touched it. Put the batteries in, flip the switch to on, and you are now playing an entire baseball game, pitch by pitch. The little red LED light would begin at the pitcher's mound, flash a couple of times, and then move toward the plate, at varying speeds. Your job was to determine whether it would be a strike or a ball and swing accordingly, at the precisely correct moment. When you did, a bunch of the lights would flicker until settling on one solid result. A single, maybe, or a double. Or, more likely, an out. Occasional a dinger. I liked to think the timing and force with which I depressed the "BATTER" button determined the outcome, though it was more than likely random. But don't tell 11-year-old me that.

I played this endlessly during the endless summer days, lying on the floor in my room or in front of the TV while real baseball played. These were the days of the mid- to late-1980s Red Sox, the curse-stricken victims of the 1986 World Series, and I knew that lineup by heart. I still do. I would pull out a spiral-bound notebook and write down those names. Marty Barrett at second, Wade Boggs at third, Dwight Evans in right, Jim Rice in left, Rich Gedman behind the plate. Then I would play that Entex Baseball 3 with each batter being one of my Sox heroes, dutifully recording the results of their at-bats. Yes, I kept stats for the blinking red lights. Game after game, tallying up the hits, the runs, the RBI. It was my earliest clumsy foray into sports simulation and statistical analysis. Almost forty years later, I'm still a fool for both. Thanks, Entex.

Oh, and there was a two-player mode. I never used that. This was one game I kept secret, and safe.

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