Santa Claus is coming to town
With Christmas morning (sorry if that offends anyone) rapidly approaching I remember what it was like to anticipate if I was going to get the things I had asked for from Santa. Being the sports fanatic I have turned out to be, sports related toys were all I ever asked for.
I know that this article doesn't make reference to a game that was played or being played or players or a player in those games but it's how I grew to love sports and my way of remembering how Christmas was made so special for me.
Without fail every year mom (God rest her soul) and Dad came through like champions. I'm forty so there was no internet ordering to make the shopping season easier.
Dad worked countless hours while mom did the shopping the good old fashioned way. Dealing with angry sales associates and endless lines along with store hours that didn't get extended till midnight.
I asked for everything and anything and I wasn't the only child in the house. Every Christmas morning was filled with joy because without fail, everything I wanted was there, wrapped neatly and proudly.
In honor of my late mother, she passed tragically and suddenly six years ago, here are the ten greatest sports gifts I received as a kid. She always made Christmas very special as a kid and an adult and without her, Christmas is not the same, nothing is. I miss you mom.
One more thing, thank you Dad, because without your tireless effort working 18 hour days at the meat plant none of these great presents would have been there for my enjoyment. Thank you for also playing all of them with me and introducing me to sports, you have no idea how much it all meant to me.
Hopefully some of these presents on this list you received growing up. I hope if you did it will bring back fond memories of a time before 100 million dollar contracts and the egos. A time in sports when you picked a team and had a hero on that team.
Don't get me wrong I love today's sports. I just don't love the players that play them anymore. There are a few that remind me of Unitas or the Brooks Robinson's of the world, but not many.
So enjoy my list and leave some comments about the sports toys and sports games that made your Christmas's special. This list is in no particular order.
Rock-em-sock-em Robots. I remember this didn't last very long, this game took more abuse than any other toy I ever received.
Rock-em-sock-em-robots can still be purchased through most toy companies for about $21.99.
This was a great toy to have. I can remember setting up ramps, winding up the motorcycle and letting it loose. My Evel Knievel jumped over everything in the house and I do mean everything. The biggest problem I ever had with this toy was trying to get the dog to stay still so the Evel could clear her.
Evel Knievel was the greatest dare devil of my generation. Every time ABC Wide World of Sports had a jump Knievel was attempting, the entire neighborhood stopped and would run in the house and watch. Whether it was jumping over the Snake river Canyon or 20 school busses, he was without a doubt a great entertainer.
My Uncles would always steal my bike and jump curbs and milk crates and before every jump they would say Evel Knievel has nothing on me. After they would get up off of the ground and I would stop laughing another attempt was made.
The thing that amazed me the most about Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel wasn't all of the jumps he made, it was the fact that he lived until he was 69 years old. Not bad for a guy that broke every bone in his body on more than one occasion.
If you never had the pleasure of playing this game as a kid then you missed out. This was a game my dad and I played a lot together.
Inside this game was a football field and 50 or so little records that you slid into a little red player and whatever came out of the little speaker is what you did on the board. It was actually a great way as a kid to learn about the technical terms of football
I didn't have this one but I had one that was similar. Mine had the same concept, hit a marble into an area that gave you runs or outs. Although I liked the game, pinball or pinball type games were not my style.
A great classic game that I got as a present as early as 1976.
Did you know that table top hockey is alive and well? There are actually Canadian and American classic hockey table federation leagues you can join. I loved mine and played it for hours.
This game was also one my dad's favorites as he would also play this with me for hours. I even remember the teams that I received in my very first one, The Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers.
I do remember that this game was pain to put together. All of the players were on paper and had to be peeled and placed onto their plastic model shooters on the game board. If you made the mistake of putting a left hander on a right handed mold you were in trouble. The stickers did not peel back off very easily.
The game was saved from extinction when in the mid to late 80's. A bubble version appeared in almost every arcade in North America. The USA v. The Russians. I would spend hours and many quarters playing anyone that would oblige.
The only issue I ever had with my Mr. Quarterback was the plastic footballs.
My Mr. Quarterback was named Unitas.
Boy If I catch you throwing a ball in my house," was a phrase commonly heard in my youth. The NERF football and this Nerf basketball set was unbelievable fun and were the only balls I could throw around the house. That is until the end table lamp went down one day, then it was just this Nerf basketball hoop that was allowed to be played.
Without fail I got one every year. I was always a tall kid and loved dunking the ball. The suction cups generally held up long enough for you to finish whatever game you were playing and the net was surprisingly tough.
What a great investment for my parents, $1.99 and occasionally replacing a ball and I was occupied for hours. I can remember having contests with my sister. "If I make this shot you have to take out the trash". What great fun.
No disrespect to the new aerodynamic Nerf balls but just because they go further doesn't mean they are better. Nerf is now 40 years old. Now doesn't that make you feel old?
This was perhaps the toughest sports toy I ever owned. Hit this little guy on the head and watch the little toy plastic footballs fly.
The goalposts were wobbly but the little guy could kick that plastic football all the way across the living room or kitchen. Footballs weren’t the only thing I used to have him kick. Whatever would hold steady enough in front of his foot while I popped him on the head was launched across the room.
Great toy and wouldn't mind having one now.
I was a very lucky kid. Not only did I have Mattel's electronic Classic Football but I was fortunate to have received the classic baseball and basketball game as well.
Of course I never figured out that it was all the same philosophy with different screens but I loved to play them. To say that hours were spent playing these games is a gross mis-understatement.
I once played this game for a 14 out of a 22 hour bus ride to Miami. The other eight hours were spent sleeping.
I actually discovered my first one in the back of the car before my dad and I left the house on Christmas Eve 1977. We were headed to the Baltimore Colts and Oakland Raiders divisional playoff game.
This was the second NFL game I ever attended, The Ghost to The Post playoff game. After discovering it in the trunk, I asked my father if I could have the game to play when we got home that night. He proposed a deal, if the Colts won I could have it that night, if not then I had to wait, all the way until the next morning. Can you imagine?
The Colts lost in double overtime when Kenny Stabler hit Dave Casper 43 seconds into the second overtime.
To make matters worse back in those days the two teams that came with the game were usually the two teams that played in the Super Bowl the year before, you guessed it. The Raiders had beat the Vikings in the Super Bowl the prior January.
It was a great toy and one I treasured for a very long time, even if I lost every little foam football that I ever got for the game. I still to this day probably couldn't figure out how to get the little kicker to kick the ball.
I hope you enjoyed my list, please add to it in the comments section. I would love to hear about your experiences with the games and toys on this list or ones that do not appear.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year