Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Disappointing Childhood Toy: The Pitchback

Stupid piece of shit

Back when I was in Little League, like most kids around that age, I really wanted a pitchback. I'd see ads for them on TV, and they'd look pretty cool: Hey, you can play catch by yourself! You can work on new pitches and stuff, and build up your arm strength! You can throw pretend line drives to yourself, and dive to catch 'em like you're Graig Nettles or Rico Petrocelli! It looks awesome just sitting on your lawn!

What a sorry-ass hunk of crap it turned out to be, though. First of all, they cost about 30 bucks back then, so you knew once your parents bought you one, you weren't getting another toy for a very long time. On top of that, the netting was so soft that it had no action at all, meaning that if you threw at it from a pitching-rubber-to-the-plate type of distance, the ball would plop to the ground thirty feet in front of you. You had to stand right on top of the thing and wind the ball at it as hard as possible just to get a tepid little pop-up back in your direction.

Worst of all were the gaps between the netting and the frame, which were big enough for a baseball to pass through easily. Any off-center pitches would sail through the gaps, with the ball skipping away for you to run after it. Wasn't the reason you got the pitchback in the first place was so you wouldn't have to fetch the ball afterwards?

Then, half the time, the pitchback would just fall over, since it was made with all the stability of a window envelope. Who designed this pile of junk, anyway?

Eventually, you found out that you were better off going behind the school or any other concrete building that had empty parking lot, and throwing a baseball (or even a tennis ball) against the wall that way. In the meantime, the store that sold you the pitchback still had your parents' thirty bucks, and you were out on getting the Coleco Head-to-Head Football game or whatever else it was that you really wanted.

Darn it.

Life sucks, kid.



Anonymous mrs. brushback said...

Even though I'm a girl, I always wanted one of those Johnny Bench things that had a ball attached to a metal arm. It would swing around when you hit it. It was cool. Really.

7/2/07, 11:36 AM

Blogger Brushback said...

I practiced throwing a football through a tire swing, because I had read that that's how Johnny Unitas had done it.

That was my major piece of sporting equipment after the pitchback turned out to be a bust and ruined everything.

7/2/07, 1:04 PM

Anonymous You Know Who said...

You sir are are too much of a spaz to have played sports.
But i bet you did fine in the tablespoon egg race spaz spaz spaz.

7/3/07, 8:44 AM

Blogger Brushback said...

No way-- I was on the all-star team one year in Little League (3B - CF -P).

Of course, nowadays I look like a schlub in the 60 MPH booth at the batting cages.

7/3/07, 9:46 AM

Anonymous quint said...

Sorry Brush, I have to disagree with your assessment of the pitch-back. My parents bought one for me and my brothers. The thing worked great. In fact, my brothers and I developed other games using the pitchback — not just the straight pitching stuff.

The only problem was those little spring clips that held the netting to the frame. They continually wanted to pop-off. This problem was easily solved by taking some string and weaving it through the edges of the netting to the frame.

I never owned the Coleco football game but had several friends who did. We soon learned to snip the wires to the cheesey little speaker and eliminated all the little noises and beeps the toy made. This modification was done so that we could use the game in study hall. And this allowed us to use the games in confirmation classes as the old priest tried to teach us something. Playing Coleco football in church. I continue to shake my head in disgust.

7/3/07, 11:32 AM

Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Totally disagree that it was crap. It was great. Had a ton of fun with the pitchback. I met Mr. Bench recently he had a great laugh hearing about how much how played with that thing growing up

1/27/16, 8:01 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

Hes right, it did all those things, but was still cool.. i tied those gaps w kite string, and put weight on the support bar, big rock, or whatever..a heavy tool box i think.
Johnny Bench Pitchback no pics of the box, or commercials online..i looked

2/12/19, 6:04 PM


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