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Historic Baseball Pool Table

JonPurpleHaze

Site Nudger
Staff member
An Interesting Slice Of History
Chester Pollard Amusement Company
by tiltjlp & Susan Ford


Even before the days of arcade games, there were all sorts of amusement and game devices to while away your leisure time. In fact, the variety for players was much more diverse than nowadays, as is evidenced by the baseball table I found offered recently on eBay. Believed to be the only remaining one like it, the Chester Pollard Amusement Company's coin-op game looks similar in size to a pool table, and possibly even used a cue stick for part of the game. I have studied the five pictures, one of the rules placard, and still haven't been able to figure out just how this game might have been played. Take a look at the photos to follow and see if you get a fix on what was involved in this unusual game.


As the photos show, the game would have made a nice companion for billiard tables of the early part of the 20th century, although I wonder how the revenue from the two games would have compared. Unless it made the operator the same kind of money billiards did, it probably would have worn out its welcome rather quickly. I also am curious as to how long a game of Baseball Pool lasted, since I don't think it could have cost too much, considering the times. Possibly Baseball Pool was a flop, since they surely aren't all the rage today, or maybe, like a slew of other amusement devices, such as Bagatelle, something else came on the scene to take its place.

From the photos, the Baseball Table looks as if it was made to last, sturdy and was detailed, and the bed of the game might be slate of some sort, but it could be wood. The reason I'm not sure if it's wood, is that I don't know if high gloss paint had been available in those days. It also could have been a complicated thing to keep in working order, with levers and probably any number of hidden mechanical working underneath the table. If it had been prone to need repairs very often, that in itself could have and surely would have doomed it from being a money maker for operators, and for Chester Pollard and his company. While it's an interesting oddity from the past, it probably will remain somewhat a mystery, unless someone stumbles over an unknown history of either the Chester Pollard Amusement Company, or his unique Baseball Pool Table.

The following information is provided by writer Susan Ford, who was impressed by the pictures on TMOF site. She has been kind enough to share some material from a Pollard Family book she is currently
doing. Much thanks, Miss Ford.


The Pollards is a remarkable family whose origins began in Australia as a touring Juvenile Theatrical company, known as Pollards Lilliputian Opera Company. It was owned and operated by Mrs Nellie Chester with her brother Charles Pollard. They toured the Far East, the USA and Canada between 1896 and 1914 and were extremely popular with audiences. When Mrs Chester's sons grew too old to be considered juveniles in the operettas, they, being inventive, branched into scenery production for the original moving picture industry in Hollywood (circa 1914-1916).

The Chester boys moved to Asbury Park around 1917, and set a small business. Their mother, Mrs Nellie Chester financed it. It was Frank who was the innovative one - he invented the coin operated game Rabbit Racer and the Balloon Racer. These were made in their home workshop. The amusement arcades in Asbury Park, New Jersey proved to be the perfect place to trial these games. They were a huge success. The business took off and demand for their amusement park pinball games was such that they were forced to expand.

They set up a factory to manufacture the games in New York state, and produced a variety of innovative and highly successful pinball and later home recreational game tables. No one else was doing this. I believe they were the very first to invent this type of game. They were raking in millions of dollars through direct sales and by franchising to different states. The mafia got into the action and raided their New York factory premises, holding them up with machine guns and demanding a cut of the business. Needless to say they sold their New York enterprise and moved to Seattle where they set up as Chester Bros Enginering circa 1930s. Frank Chester who was the engineering genius behind their success later worked for Hughes Aircraft Company.

I have a poor quality laser print of an advertisement for Chester Pollard games. The advertising gives a Seattle address for Eddie Bauer's Sports Shop on Second Ave and Seneca St., Seattle, Wash. The pictures show the game tables being used. Apparently The Chester brothers were conducting a sales test at Eddie Bauer's Sporting Goods Store. This is from December 1939.

Here is some of the advertising blurb:

"ONE LOOK IS~WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS."
You are cordially invited to visit
Eddie Bauer's "RUMPUS" ROOM

For the FIRST TIME in Seattle the 'POPULAR CHESTER-POLLARD ADULT ACTION GAMES are being displayed and demonstrated in this Model Home Recreation Room. Also on display are other games, amusements and furnishings, in fact everything requisite for a good time in the home, at moderate prices.

Table Baseball, Table Golf, Table Tennis, Table Hockey, Billiards - Pool, Klick Ball, Bagatelle, Kentucky Derby, Roll Down and Cucamonga. All of these games are played in the home on an inexpensive UTILITY-COMBINATION GAME TABLE. While the chief use of the CHESTER-POLLARD ACTION GAMES is in the home, they are also used in clubs, penthouses, schools and in public recreation centers. EDDIE BAUER'S SPORTS SHOP 2nd Ave. and Seneca St. Seatle, Wash. Phone SEneca 2525
This was all part of a sales test which the Chester brothers conducted; "To
prove that there was a need for this equipment, we are manufacturing in Seattle and conducting a sales test at the Eddie Bauer's Sporting Goods store at Second Ave. and Seneca St., Seattle. We are pleased to say since December 1st 1939, we have sold 118 games, which are proving practical and very enjoyable in homes....

This was all part of a marketing survey document...it goes into great detail about why people build the new style "rumpus" rooms - "there are approx 4,500 homes in Seattle and 150,000 in the United States with built in recreation rooms. The cost of building these rooms in new homes is from $250.00 to $500.00 and up..."

The survey goes on to say they had questioned 142 people living in Seattle, possessing home recreation rooms and had learnt that they tired quickly of their Ping Pong. "It is a good game but it is not everyone who can play it, owing to poor vision or other physical defects. The only other game available for adults is billiards, which costs from $500.00 to $1500.00, much too expensive for the average family." The survey goes on to sing the praises of a variety of entertainment in these rooms, as advertised above, and goes into much more detail about the rooms, sizes, flooring and surfaces, ceiling lighting, storage and suggested closet space for such.

The cost of their multi-purpose game table was $67.50 and it comprised the practical portable table on which seven games could be played, including Billiards, Pool, Table tennis, and four new action games that Chester-Pollard had invented Table Baseball, Golf, Hockey and Bridge Bagatelle. All the games were included in the price. Or, they could be bought seperately. "The table when reduced from 5' by 9' to 3 1/2, by 6ft will seat eight or ten people comfortably and may be used for serving meals or other domestic purposes."

Having read it all and studied the advertising pics, I think you have the game table that was specifically made as the Baseball Table. The legs on the multi-purpose table look to be collapsable where as your table looks fixed with solid leg supports that don't fold. This marks only ONE of many Chester -Pollard inventions.The partnership took on a different profile in Seattle as they established themselves and their market on the west coast. They later called themselves Chester Brothers Research Engineers. Frank Chester, who was the inventive brain behind the business, branched out on his own after WW11 and worked for HUGHES AIRCRAFT COMPANY Research and Development Laboratories in Culver City, California. He retired in 1959 as Senior Associate Engineer in the Airborne SystemsLaboratories - Product Design Section. How about that? AND that's only a small part of the Chester-Pollard history.

tiltjlp & Susan Ford



Updated Jun 29, 2004 Written by tiltjlp & Susan Ford
 

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Pinball Nudger
I have recently acquired one of these baseball tables. It needs a little bit of TLC, but is fully functioning. Does anyone have anymore information on them, or what year they were made?
 

JonPurpleHaze

Site Nudger
Staff member
I have recently acquired one of these baseball tables. It needs a little bit of TLC, but is fully functioning. Does anyone have anymore information on them, or what year they were made?
Fascinating!
Unfortunately, I don't know much more than what was in this article from over a decade ago, here's a link to some more info about the Chester-Pollard Amusement Co.:
http://www.arcade-museum.com/manuf_detail.php?manuf_id=254
The baseball machine is not listed but I'd guess it was manufactured in the early 1920's.

One of the authors listed above (Susan Ford) gave us additional information back then because she was working on a book about the Pollard's.
 
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