culture

21 Years of ‘Backyard Baseball’: Who Was Your Favorite Player?

backyard baseball mobile
Humongous Entertainment

BAH profile
October 29, 2018

Damn, 1997 was an epic year. Titanic became the world's highest-grossing film ever for a dozen years, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott released one of the greatest hip-hop albums with her debut outing Supa Dupa Fly and Humongous Entertainment hit a homerun with the Backyard Baseball game.

 

Backyard Baseball, which came out 21 years ago this month, would go on to become a PC classic. All these years later, gamers still remember the game's diverse cast of 30 characters fondly. I mean how can you forget drafting Angela "Super Pop" Delvecchio for her pitching prowess, Pete "Wheelie" Wheeler for his running rating ("I can run real good"), Achmed "Axeman" Khan for this batting abilities, graceful ballerina Vicki Kawaguchi for her quick reflexes, Stephanie "Bubbles" Morgan for her shortstop skills, or Pablo "Secret Weapon" Sanchez for his all-around aptitude. You took pride in creating your team name—i.e., Humongous Melonheads, Little Giants, Junior Bombers—and picking the perfect lineup to take you to the Backyard Baseball World Series.

 

We asked our ONE37pm team what they remember about playing Backyard Baseball on Macintosh or Microsoft Windows and which characters they loved the most.

backyard baseball players
/

Tyler Huyser, 24

aka "TyHy" as a kid in Kingstown, Virginia

 

While I wasn't allowed to have video games, I was allowed to have Backyard Baseball. I was first exposed to the game during after–school care on the shared Windows 96–operating computer. I remember eight of us crowding around Zach, the resident computer nerd of our after–school care universe and the small, dusty screen of the hand-me-down machine watching as Pablo Sanchez would strike home run after home run. When each game was over, we'd all scramble and fight over who would play next and when the dust finally settled, somehow Zach would be the one playing again.

 

I begged my parents for the game for years, but it wasn't until we finally traded in our old Zena computer (imagine the computer from the Hatch on Lost) for one that ran Windows XP that I was finally gifted the game for my eighth birthday. From then on, I would spend countless sunny afternoons (perfect for a game of catch) inside, working my way to numerous Backyard Baseball World Series titles with the help of Pablo Sanchez, Vicki Kawaguchi and Luanne Lui. All in all, I'd say it was time well spent.

Madison Russell, 24

aka "Madi" as a kid in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

 

There was an unintentional pathway, stamped among the bushes, separating my next door neighbor's house and mine. Every day after school, we'd retreat to my neighbor Elizabeth's playroom. Computer games were all the rage in the late '90s and early 2000s and the two of us embraced the movement. Remember when games came on CDs that you'd feed into a disc player? Backyard Baseball was one of those computer games and it appeared in high rotation. We adored the characters, but I'm pretty sure we had little to no idea what their rankings implied or their abilities on the field.

 

There was a little girl who clutched a teddy bear (Luanne Lui) and like Helen of Troy, she inspired great wars every game as to who would get to be her. Was she even good? No idea. I'm also pretty sure we spent the majority of our time designing their outfits, but c'est la vie. I didn't play a single sport in real life, opting for a devoted regiment of ballet, but those hours spent playing out a fantasy life of Backyard Baseball recall a time of carefree abandon.

backyard baseball in article edit
/

Omari White, 28

aka “O” as a kid in Brooklyn, New York

 

All I ever wanted to do was become a pro athlete, and Backyard Baseball was the game that let me live out that fantasy of becoming the next Ken Griffey Jr., my favorite baseball player at the time. Summertime was the best because my close friends in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, would always spot my pair of baseball cleats and a bat whenever I joined them for some of the best basketball tournaments the borough had to offer. They knew that once I was done with playing hoops, next on the agenda was hitting home runs and diving for catches on the diamond. With my parents chauffeuring me to all of my games, I felt that I was living out the best Deion Sanders impersonation of a two-sport superstar.

 

Backyard Baseball is a classic gem for computer gaming because it carried the tradition of introducing grassroots baseball at its best. The quirky trash–talking ("We want a batter, not a broken ladder") and the authentic locations, such as Ernie Steele's backyard or Cement Yards, showed kids everywhere that no matter where you came from, you don't need to be at a state-of-the-art facility to enjoy America's Game.

 

There's nothing better than running up the score in a regular season game with perhaps the greatest Backyard Sports athlete of all time in Pablo Sanchez or blasting a gazillion-foot home run thanks to the "aluminum power up." This classic game brought out so many nostalgic memories which made you feel bad for today's young generation of sports gamers because they're missing out on seeing their childhood unfold one pixelated pitch at a time. I can remember winning it all at the Super Colossal Dome, where you got to unlock the game's REAL "secret weapon" who's been sitting in the playhouse all along—the unstoppable, un-hittable Mr. Clanky!

 

Backyard Baseball will forever be the GOAT of all sports games; case closed!