Angry Ward: Greatest Christmas Sports Gifts Ever

BRONX, NY – Tomorrow is December 1st, the day when the holiday crunch really takes hold. Up until then, we are still slumbering in post-Thanksgiving comas, occasionally opening one eye to check whether Jerry Jones is flying a slobbering, seatbelt-less Odell Beckham Jr. on his private jet to Dallas, Team USA beat Iran (they did… barely), or Suzyn Waldman got inducted into the Mynah Bird Hall of Fame. But, tomorrow, it’s game on! Time to get out there and buy those so-called “loved ones” some gifts. With that spirit in mind, here are some of the greatest sports gifts ever.

Electric Football. I pity those of you out there that never got to experience the magic that was (and still is) Electric Football. Much like football in the 1970s, it was a vicious 11 on 11 battle to the death on a loud, vibrating metal surface much like they had at old Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia. Also like the ’70s, many of the players simply spun in circles like they were concussed. A bonus feature of this wonderful toy was that, long after the games were over, awkward lads could turn vibrate mode to HIGH and spend “quality time” dry-humping the gridiron. Hmm, might make the perfect gift for Deshaun Watson, who returns this week.

Strat-O-Matic Baseball.Almost everyone who has ever played Strat-O-Matic baseball is a better manager than Aaron Boone. There, I said it. Randy Levine doesn’t know this because he spent his entire childhood bouncing on his Hippity Hop Ball clutching an ice cream cone yelling: “I’m gonna be President of the Yankees!”

Table Hockey. Now perfected into the arcade Bubble Hockey version, Table Hockey or “Rod Hockey” (somewhere Short Matt is snickering) was a pretty solid game. I used to kill countless winter hours playing marathon series on former MTM contributor Grote2DMax’s dining room table. If you whipped the puck just right, you could score from almost anywhere. Granted, the players were flat two-dimensional frozen-faced cut-outs, but have you seen the Rangers play lately? Zing!

Puff Basketball, Mattel Basketball, and Atari Basketball. What a golden age the late-70s–early-80s was for fans of hoops-based gaming. Puff Basketball was a staple of semi-furnished basements just waiting for some bucktoothed kid to put his fool head through fake wood paneling going for a rebound. Mattel’s hand-held red-blip B-ball game was just a continuation of their football, baseball, and auto racing models that kept brats quiet for hours on long car rides. They were truly doing God’s work at Mattel. And Atari Basketball (circa 1978 or so) had no lateral movement whatsoever, but was still amazingly entertaining… in a Bill Laimbeer kinda way.

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. Look, one year for Christmas my Dad gave me and my brother actual boxing gloves which I loved… my big brother, less so. Another year the only gift I wanted was a electronic game called Bambino Knock ‘Em Out Boxing, and I got it! (I still have it, by the way, and it works.) But these things have to take a back seat to Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, which basically was a preview for the real-life boxing violence Mike Tyson would unleash in the 1980s. In fact, I think the first thing Michael Spinks said after coming to was: “You knocked my block off!” Anyway, two plastic robots just mashing each other, great game.

That’s all for this week. Please feel free to chime in with your own favorites. And come back tomorrow for Buddy Diaz, whose favorite game is still Ants in the Pants.

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About Angry Ward 747 Articles
Angry Ward, who has admirers at the New York Times, is the quintessential angry sports fan but for one exception... he's flat-out funny. And the angrier he gets, the more amusing his work becomes. Psychiatrists say, "Angry Ward's 'anger' is a direct result of "Bronx/Mets syndrome: growing up in the Bronx as a Mets fan." As if that weren't enough, his Minnesota North Stars abandoned him for Dallas, forcing him to embrace The Wild the way Nancy Pelosi embraces Mitch McConnell at charity events. And while his Vikings only tease him with success, his Golden State Warriors actually win these days. A-Dubya is MTM's longest-tenured indentured servant, its Larry David and quite simply, "The Franchise." (Junoir Blaber disputes this). Vent, curse and giggle with him on Angry Ward Wednesdays.