Batter up! Want to play ball but don’t have a field or enough players?
Before the advent of video games, with their colorful graphics and realistic interactions, Topps introduced the Baseball Scratch Off game, which was included in packs of baseball cards along with the obligatory stick of bubble gum in 1970.
Series 1 featured 24 cards with the cover representing a Team Captain from each major league team. Designed as a two-player game, each player would need to have their own card.
The captains were chosen randomly, as the MLB had abandoned the team captain designation years earlier.
Jim Spencer started as first baseman with the California Angels in 1969 and played through the 1973 season; his long career included playing for the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, and finished with the Oakland A’s in 1982.
Outfielder Lou Piniella was chosen as team captain for the Scratch Off game card representing the Kansas City Royals.
Inside the bi-fold card, rows of black squares (44 total) represented a baseball play: single, double, triple, home run, and outs. Each player would scratch a square using a coin until they ended up with three outs.
Players would keep score using the scoreboard on the back of the card. Usually, they would run out of scratch spaces before completing nine innings.
Series 2, in 1971, used the same team captains with slightly different background colors, then the series was discontinued.
As part of Topps Heritage Series in 2019, the original Scratch Off game version was reproduced and updated using current “team captain” playing in the MLB roster.