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Major-smolinski | Ethan Allen

Major-smolinski | Ethan Allen



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Published by steinbl

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Published by: steinbl on Jul 16, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Ethan Allen: the originalspin doctor
Ethan Nathan Allen (1904-1993) was not your averagemajor league baseball player. He went from thecampus of the University of Cincinnati to thehometown Cincinnati Reds in 1926 and remained inthe majors for 13 seasons, also playing for the New  York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies,
Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Browns. He retired with a.300 lifetime batting average, having his best season in1934 when he hit .330 and tied future Hall of FamerKiki Cuyler with 42 doubles, tops in the NationalLeague that season. Allen (above) still holds the University of Cincinnatirecord for the highest batting average (.475). He laterearned a master’s degree from Columbia University. After retiring as a player, Allen was the NationalLeague’s director of motion pictures. He also wroteseveral instructional books about baseball.He became the Yale University baseball coach in 1946,retiring in 1968. His teams played for the NCAA  baseball championship twice, losing to SouthernCalifornia in 1947 and California in 1948. His 1948 Yale captain was a first baseman named George H.Bush. Allen’s Yale teams won more than 300 games,earning him a place in the College Baseball CoachesHall of Fame. Allen also was pictured on the Wheaties cereal box in1946. That may have involved a promotional gimmick connected with what many of us remember most aboutthis remarkable fellow – his board game. All-Star Baseball was introduced in 1941 by Cadaco,then a fledgling Chicago company known as Cadaco-Ellis. The game was instrumental in establishingCadaco one of the giants in the toy and game industry,though it took a few years before the company honoredthe creator by changing the game’s name to Ethan Allen All-Star Baseball. All-Star Baseball is considered one of the 50 mostimportant board games of all-time, but its appeal waslimited. Cadaco stopped making it in 1993, though ten years later the company marketed what it calls a classic
 version. I don't know if it's available in many stores, but it can be ordered from Cadaco through thecompany's website,
. Allen always claimed he created his game for boys aged9 to 12, boys who were avid baseball fans. He was bothamused and frustrated when All-Star Baseballdeveloped a cult following among those who played thegame as boys in the 1940s and ‘50s, then continued toplay it as adults in the 1960s and beyond. Allenconsidered these people odd. I know, because he toldme so – several times. More on that later.
Okay, what is it?
The game was conceived in 1933 when Allen was withthe St. Louis Cardinals. Always analytical about baseball, Allen came up with an idea for a game afterhe broke down hitting statistics into several categoriesand created pie-chart representations of theperformances of several major league players. He putthose pie charts on paper discs about 3.5 inches indiameter. The discs were cut out in the middle to fitover a spinner, creating what you might call BaseballRoulette. Flick that spinner over a disc and the result would tell you what the player did in one at-bat. There were 14 possibilities, from striking out to hitting ahome run. (There are sample discs elsewhere on thispage. You'll notice none is cut out in the middle because Cadaco soon improved the spinner, mountingit on a plastic sleeve into which the discs could beslipped.)If you played a season’s worth of games, each player’sstatistics would approximate those he had generatedon the field.The focal point on most discs was the space alloted forcategory number 1 – the home run. Everybody loves aslugger, and those who played Allen’s first gameprobably chose Joe DiMaggio for their team earlier

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