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Baseball Game

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Herbert Pickett, Jr. writing:

      Early in 1926, perhaps before, Dad asked himself, “Why isn’t there a parlor game based on baseball.  He began tinkering in his workshop in a corner of the basement.  He wanted it to be the size of a standard card table.  It would use glass marbles.  He designed a pitching arm powered by a clock spring that hit on a cam. This could be turned so the marble could be controlled from side to side.  This was at one corner, and was the pitcher’s mound.  At the opposite corner was the batter’s box.  The bat was the width of the home plate, painted on the deck and was powered by a flat spring.  The playing field was about six inches above the base. Another board sloped from the home plate to an opening below the pitcher’s position.  There were openings in the playing field behind home and in left and right field, so a marble dropping there would roll back to the pitcher.  

      Around the perimeter of the board there was a track, in which there was a cloth tape to which were attached wooden blocks, far enough apart to hold a marble. With the tape at rest, each set of blocks would be at the corners, that is at first, second and third bases. There were also three blocks bout two inches high one inch deep with a piece of lead fastened to the base.  One was one inch wide, one two inches, the third three inches.  If a hit knocked over the largest, it was a double, the next a triple and the smallest a homer.  The pitcher could place them on the base lines at his discretion.  If a block was hit but not tipped, it was an automatic single.  If a hit went into the openings, a marble designated as the runner would be dropped into the tape and moved to first base.  If the pitcher recovered the ball and touched the runner with it before reaching base, it was an out.  There were provisions for bunts, steals, fouls and other baseball activities.  

      Dad finally put this together, probably with “beaver board”, a material sort of like heavy cardboard.  He then decided to patent it so that it might be sold to one of the game manufacturers.  He talked to Cooper Walker’s father, an attorney, who referred him to a firm of patent attorneys in Washington in February 1927. He took the game to their office and discussed the process.  They felt it was worth a patent.  An application was made to the Parent Office dated April 9th.  This gave him the protection of “Patent Pending.”  He filed seventeen claims of originality.  Five other patents of baseball games were submitted to him, to prove his game was original.  The examiners threw out five claims.  Draughtsmen had to make drawings of the game. Finally on October 9,1928, patent Number 1,687,180 was issued stating:  “Now therefore these Letters Patent are to grant unto the said Herbert E. Pickett, his heirs or assigns for the term of Seventeen years from the date of this grant.”  The attorney’s fee was about $170 and the Government’s $25.  The description of play in the patent is in fascinating detail, proving my memory as above to be correct.

      Changes were made later, especially making the tape run from home to first rather than on the whole perimeter.  Then as trough from the pitchers box to first provided for the ball to be rolled to make or not make an out.  I don’t, know whether Dad made any effort to sell it.  The depression came along which made manufacturers wary.  A few years later, he talked to a man who ran a body shop in Richfield Springs, and he built, I think, six copies in plywood.  It was as popular game at camp.  I had one I left in New Preston.

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