Sunday, April 9, 2023

A Piece of Childhood Reclaimed: Entex Hand-Held Baseball Game

Let's go back to my mid-1980s childhood for a moment.
I was a baseball-loving kid from New York, spurred on by mom and dad, friends, Little League, the trading card boom, and a golden age of local professional baseball. The Yankees had Mattingly, Rickey, Righetti ("Rags"), Pagliarulo ("Pags"), and Winfield. The Mets had Strawberry, Gooden, Hernandez, Carter, HoJo, and that entire cast of characters who were about to win a World Series.

And video games were everywhere. At that point in time they were coming in all imaginable varieties, from full-on arcade cabinets to the smallest, dinkiest of hand-held consoles.
Well, at some point last year, a memory from that time popped up: I had one of those hand-held consoles. Specifically, a baseball version. 
I must have only been 6 or 7 years old at the time, so I couldn't remember the name, model number, or company that manufactured it. But the image of the console? And the sounds it produced? I sure remembered those. I figured I might be able to find the game with a quick online search using keywords like hand-held, baseball game, and 1980s. (Take a moment to enter those keywords into a search engine, select the "images" filter, and marvel at the sheer variety of games that come up.)

Happily, among the outrageous number of results, I did find an image of the same game that I had all those years ago. And better yet, after plugging the game's specific name into an eBay search, I found that there were quite a few working models up for auction at reasonable prices!

The nostalgia factor was high here. High enough, in fact, that I placed a bid and soon reclaimed that little piece of childhood.

Here it is:

Electronic Baseball 2, brought to you by Entex Electronics. Complete with box! Here's a look at the back. Check out that detailed inner panel.

And even more details on the flap. 

"Knuckle-ball" speed control
Continuous cumulative scoring for both teams
Inning indicator
Base stealing
Sacrifice fly
Double play
And best of all...
No TV set Needed!

Also included was a fairly detailed instruction booklet.

And even a scorecard! (Be sure to make some photocopies. Only one scorecard is included.)

Now let's look at the console itself.

Who needs a fancy touchscreen when you have those glorious buttons and switches?
Here's a look at the two-player mode with the pitching controller detached, ready for game play.

And a closer look at pitch selection.

It's interesting to note that the fastball does move noticeably faster than the other pitches. The change-up stays straight like the fastball, just slower in speed. The curve breaks around one side of the plate, whereas the slider breaks around the other. Sometimes those two pitches will come back around for a strike, while other times they stay outside for a ball. As a hitter, you can choose to swing or lay off. If you do swing, it is possible to make contact on both of them for hits or outs. 
Then there's the "knuckler" option. It's only available in two-player mode. However, you don't select it as your pitch. Instead, you select a change-up, curve, or slider. Once that pitch is on its way to home plate, you can press the knuckler button, and it'll speed up the pitch. As you can imagine, this can completely throw off the timing of the hitter. The knuckler button also functions as a catcher's throw to second base if your opponent attempts a steal, which the game indicates with a separate warning sound.
Considering the game has a copyright of 1979, I'm impressed with all that sophistication.
You know what else is sophisticated? Your timing when you press the "batter" button actually affects the outcome of your swing. Tap the button too early, and the batter "pulls" the ball to third base or left field, often for an out. Swing too late, and the batter "pushes" the ball to first base or right field, again, often for an out. (Yep, the batter is always considered right-handed in this game.) There's some randomness to the game too, of course. But you do need to practice your timing.
Want to see some game play now?

What a festival of 1980s sights and sounds and technology.

With the demonstration complete, I'm not sure how much I'll actually play this game. Battery-operated electronics that are 40 years old tend to be sensitive when it comes to things like temperature changes, metal tabs, and corrosion. (I've already removed the batteries from their compartment, to be safe.)

But it's very cool to have this game in my possession again. I think I'll open up the box and play a few innings every now and then, just for that dose of nostalgia.

How about you readers? Do you have any memories of hand-held games like this one?

Share in the comment section, and thanks for reading!


  1. Cool. I had the Matel one myself. Bought another one in the late 80's. Not sure where it is now. But I loved that game. I have a huge collection of vintage sports box games, in fact I just picked up a dozen yesterday. That stuff is so cool.

    1. Good memories, Johnny! Hope you share some of that collection on your blog one day. (If you haven't already.)

  2. Wow, this takes me back.

    After seeing this, I did a search to see what the first edition looked like, and it matched what I had as a kid. I spent so much time playing with it.

    Thanks for the post, and the memories.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Angus! Fun times, for sure. The game must have been successful if they cranked out a few different editions.

  3. I think my brother and I had this at one point. Good times.

    1. Did you play against each other using the pitching controls? Must have been some fierce battles there.

  4. Oh cool! When I was a kid I had the next version of that - Electronic Baseball 3 - which came out in 1980. It was basically the same console, except it was black with red buttons and I think some of the details were different (its been almost 40 years since I played with it so my memory is a bit fuzzy). It was actually my dad's but he sort of gifted it to me when he lost interest in it.

    1. Glad to know quite a few collectors have good memories of this game. Did you play against your dad? Did he go easy on you? ;-)

  5. That's pretty cool that you found one of these that came with the original box.

    I didn't recognize the game until I watched the video... but that triggered a memory. I definitely had this game or one of the different versions. The thing is... I don't remember the pitching controller... so maybe mine was a completely different brand with blinking red lights.

    1. I'm happy that this post brought back some good memories, for you, Fuji. It's likely that you did have some version of the game. There were certainly enough variations out there back then!

  6. I never owned this, but I knew a few kids way back when that did. Of course, by then everyone had an Atari or NES and games like this were no longer played.

    1. Good point there, Jon. It was the end of an era. But then a few years later, Game Boy entered the arena, and hand-held games were cool again. Heh.

  7. My older brother had an electronic hand-held football game, but I've never seen a similar baseball game. It might just inspire me to dig out my Starting Lineup Talking Baseball stadium someday soon :)

    1. Sounds like great content for a future blog post over there, Chris!