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Uni Watch DIY Project: Building a Ballpark

For most of today’s photos, you can click to enlarge

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Jeff Callahan, who’s come up with a great DIY project. Enjoy. — PL]

By Jeff Callahan

I’ve always loved ballparks, and I recently built one of my own — sort of. It’s a tabletop baseball game that’s similar to the classic paper football game where you nudge the “ball” across the board.

The basic premise is that you flick a wooden puck (the ball) across the board, which has regions designated for outs, double plays, sacrifice flies, singles, doubles, triples, and home runs. There’s also a die, which can be rolled head-to-head with your opponent for stolen bases. To give you an idea of how it works, here’s a short video of me “hitting” a home run:

I first got the idea for this game in 2003, while sitting in algebra class. I created that first “ballpark” out of a piece of notebook paper, and I’ve developed the idea further since then. Unfortunately, I no longer have that original piece of notebook paper, but I do my first prototype board, from 2015, which I made using Pages for Mac (and probably most of the ink in our printer):

That was a decent starting point, but I wanted more. Initially, I wanted to use a fancy wood, like mahogany or cedar, to create a new game board. But my wife, who’s an artist who works with wood, recommended that I choose a wood that’s easy to manage and carry around with minimal alterations, so I went with particle board. I asked an employee at Home Depot to cut it to size.

Once I had my piece of wood, I began marking it up to create the game board. I love stadiums that have odd dimensions, so I included as much variety with the outfield dimensions as I could while keeping it fun to play:

If you look closely, you’ll see lots of small blue dots scattered across the layout. That’s because I “batted” and recorded over 100 hits to make sure the hit-to-out ratio was reasonable.

The next steps were to apply the first coat of acrylic paint, and to use masking tape to help apply the foul lines:

Then I added a second coat and a matte finish, and boom — I had a stadium.

Now that I had a ballpark, I needed players to play in it. In the early days, we used Clue game pieces. But it didn’t feel right having Colonel Mustard stealing third when he was supposed be murdering Mr. Boddy, so I decided to create my own players.

I purchased blank game pieces from a craft store and thought about how to paint them. I knew I wanted the players to reflect the uniform element I love most: the socks. I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan, so I designed one team with a stripe pattern based on the Redbirds’ classic socks and stirrups:

For the second team, I used a navy/orange color scheme. I’ve always loved how teams like the Tigers and Colt .45s have looked when wearing those colors on the field.

Getting the stripe pattern on these small pieces was difficult. I used electrical tape, which worked really well.

Final step was to paint the wooden puck/ball to look like a baseball. With that step completed, I was ready to play ball.

Now that this game is complete, I’ve started on a new project. Can you guess what it is? Here’s a hint:


Paul here. Let’s have a standing O for Jeff and his awesome project. Thanks so much for sharing it with us, Jeff.

•  •  •  •  •

The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: Cleveland will reportedly be the host city for the 2019 MLB All-Star Game. It’ll be interesting to see how much, if at all, Wahoo is used in the game’s promotional graphics. Looking back at previous ASGs played in Cleveland, the 1997 logo was Wahoo-free, but the 1981 logo included Wahoo. The press pin for the 1963 game included Wahoo, as did the pin in 1954. (Logos notwithstanding, Cleveland sure has hosted the game a lot of times!) … More on the Wahoo/All-Star connection in this good analysis piece (from reader/commenter Andrew). … The 2018 U.S. Open golf tournament will take place at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, which is promoting the event with, among other things, this cap (from drewizz, who didn’t give his real name).

Baseball News: LSU will retire Todd Walker’s No. 12 on April 14. … Whoa, check this out: Willie Mays in a circa-1980 Giants pullover jersey, which he never wore on the field (from Ferdinand Cesarano). … Here’s the first thing I’ve heard or seen about new Spring Training caps. Isn’t the Reds version the same as last year? (From Andrew J.) … Longtime Uni Watch reader/contributor Cort McMurray has written a piece about which Astros cap Jeff Bagwell should wear on his Hall of Fame plaque. … The Indians are giving away a bobblehead during spring training featuring uniform that’s no longer part of the team’s wardrobe (from Robert Hayes). … At the end of yesterday’s lede, I showed a photo of Mary Tyler Moore wearing a Twins jersey and toss her cap in the air while making an appearance to throw out the first pitch. Turns out the back of that jersey had a “Moore” NOB and an American flag patch. … Yesterday’s entry included a mention of how the Brewers used to bring relief pitchers to the mound on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. While trying to find a photo of that, Paul Deaver found two shots of the Braves using a Harley scooter in 1959. Look here and here. … This seems odd: Former UNC baseball player Dustin Ackely had his number retired last night — at a UNC basketball game. “As far as I can tell, that’s not a jersey style he ever wore at UNC,” adds James Gilbert.

NFL News: Should’ve seen this one coming: It appears that the Pro Bowl will have a Color Rash theme (from Wyatt Beltz). … The Maryland Transit Authority has unveiled some buses with Joe Flacco wraps. Note the absense of the NFL and Nike logos (from Kevin Beebe). … Former Eagles RB Brian Westbrook says he didn’t like the blue/yellow throwbacks that the team wore in 2007 (thanks, Phil). … Packers RB Ty Montgomery, who was originally signed as a receiver and continued wearing No. 88 after moving to the backfield, will get a new number next season. … Kit Kat, the chocolate bar, produced a promotional Marcellus Bennett jersey with a misspelled NOB (from Chris Flinn). … I talked on a Vermont radio station yesterday about the Super Bowl uniforms and the Celtics’ advertising patch. You can access the audio here. … Here’s a close-up of the Super Bowl LI patch on a Pats jersey (from Moe Khan).

College Football News: The Senior Bowl has some seriously ugly neon practice jerseys. … “I received my 2017 Syracuse Football schedule email this morning and immediately noticed the different jersey,” says Brandon Munger. “The ‘skyscraper’ number font seems to have been replaced with something much better and the number is outlined in (hopefully) white. I don’t know if these changes are for real, but one can hope!”

Hockey News: Fans attending “watch party” for last night’s Blues game got these team logo socks (from Stan Capp). … A Connecticut legislator has proposed a Hartford Whalers logo license plate. Kinda surprised that wasn’t already available (from @LouiseBrooksFC). … Tragically Hip-themed jerseys tomorrow night for the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. … Here’s a shot of a 19-year-old Wayne Gretzky playing baseball while wearing nothing but sneakers and short-shorts (from @PleatedFront). … Brad Marchand of the Bruins wore former teammate Milan Lucic’s gloves last night. Here’s Marchand from last night, here’s an old shot of Lucic, and here are the two gloves side by side (from Peter Fahey). … Also, as you can see in that previous photo of Marchand, he appears to have his sleeves tailored extra-short (from Shane Bua). … The Erie Otters will wear these jerseys for “Guns and Hoses Night,” which will benefit local police and firefighters.

NBA News: The 76ers will wear these Chinese New Year shooting shirts prior to tonight’s game against the Rockets. Houston will wear the same New Year’s uniforms we’ve seen them wear in the past. … NBA coaches wore bow ties last night, in memory of former NBA Coaches Association head Michael Goldberg, who passed away earlier this week (from Zachary Loesl).

College Hoops News: Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, upset with his team after a loss to NC State, has banned his players from wearing Duke apparel on campus (from Brinke). … The Colorado coaching staff wore sneakers for Coaches vs. Cancer last night. Note the ref’s pink whistle, too (from Andrew Wharton).

Soccer News: Info on Tottenham’s 2017-18 kit has leaked. The big news is confirmation of the rumored change from Under Armour to Nike (from John Muir).

Grab Bag: F1 driver Lewis Hamilton has challenged fans to design his new helmet. … New hat for golfer Dustin Johnson. … New 150th-anniversary logo for the province of Ontario. “What makes it especially grotesque is that it cost the taxpayers of my province $30,000 to create this piece of crap!” says a disgruntled Sandy Dardick.

•  •  •  •  •

QBC reminder: I’ll be chairing the Mets uniform panel at tomorrow’s Queens Baseball Convention. Panelists include Phil, Todd Radom, and other stars. Tix available here. Hope to see you there.

Comments (64)

    Also, the Blues’ sock giveaway was not at last night’s game (because they were playing the Wild in St. Paul) but at a watch party at the Ballpark Village complex next to Busch Stadium.

    RE: Spring Training cap- looks like that’s a new design for the tribe. last year’s BP/ST hat was a white front with blue everything else

    also..ready to see some grown men cry on here link

    I’m more offended by the $35 price tag for the cap than the New Era logo creep. Plus, 5950s do not look good on 99% of the population.

    i started buying NE caps in the late 90’s and they were $25.00 .. according to an inflation calculater that’s roughly $36.02 by today’s standards..

    they can if you know how to shape them right

    While it is odd that Dustin Ackley had his number retired at a basketball game, there are a couple of factors 1) schedule, spring training is starting soon, and UNC baseball’s “First Pitch” dinner is this weekend and 2)crowd size, ~20,000 people got to see it.

    Side note, the only one of my high school’s basketball games I attended, while in high school (or since for that matter), was the one where a baseball alum (in college at the time) was honored. Scott Bankhead, link

    He won’t have a pro jersey retired, that’s for certain. One of the bigger draft busts of the recent past…ask any Mariners fan.

    There’s really nothing new with that Syracuse jersey- It just looks different with the lighting effect. The orange jerseys feature numbers with a blue to black fade so the lines blend together really easily. If you look closely you can see the lines inside the 7.

    The game reminds me of the pinball-type machine Williams made in the 90s, where you’d slap a pinball into targets and lights on the playfield representing baserunners would run around the bases.


    That game was called “Slugfest” and was the last (and best) of its kind, but they sure made plenty of this type of game in the 50s and 60s: link

    Forgot to mention that Slugfest would dispense actual baseball cards when you did well! There are a couple of these machines in NYC but I don’t think the card dispenser is working, even though the games play great.

    I remember playing this at Marty’s Playland in Ocean City, MD. I remember getting some 1990 Topps out of it.

    Oops! In your item about Martellus Bennett’s misspelled last name, you misspelled his first name. :-)

    “Longtime Uni Watch reader/contributor Cort McMurray has written a piece about which Astros cap Jeff Bagwell should wear on his Hall of Fame plaque.”

    Good article, but I will point out only the squatchee on the original blue Astros cap was orange. When the Astros brought back the blue caps as a road cap in 1980, the squatchee was blue. It stayed blue until they got rid of them after the 1993 season, it’s blue on the current home caps and it’s even blue on the orange-billed road caps (a major no-no, in my opinion).

    I agree with Cort that it would be great if “The Classic” was represented in Cooperstown. But I think Bagwell had his best years in the mid-to-late ’90s in the thin, leaning-star cap so I think he should wear that one. I know Biggio went with the 2000s cap (probably because he got hit 3,000 and the Astros went to the World Series in that cap), but his best years were also in the ’90s.

    And I’m a life-long Astros fan so I have a special interest in this. Cort did a good job on the story.

    I’m with McMurray. The ‘classic’ cap. He played a good number of years in that before they switched to the shooting star.

    “A good number of years” in the ‘classic’ cap??? He only played three years in that cap.

    If you break down his 15 years by the cap, it seems like a clear choice for the shooting star to me.

    Classic – 3 years (1991-1993) Highlights: Won a Rookie of the Year. Slash: .295/.380/.464

    Shooting Star – 6 years (1994-1999) Highlights: Won the MVP, all 4 All Star Appearances, Gold Glove, 3 Silver Sluggers. Slash: .309/.435/.588

    Enron Era – 6 years (2000-2005) World Series Appearance. Slash: .285/.394/.534

    Eh. Three’s a “good number” to me if the cap looks better.

    Okay, you may be right, but it’s still not my preference. Guess it only matters what his is.

    “I know Biggio went with the 2000s cap (probably because he got hit 3,000 and the Astros went to the World Series in that cap), but his best years were also in the ’90s.”

    Is it just me, or is it hard to tell whether the cap on link is link from the mid- to late-’90s or link (as Cort refers to it) from the 2000s? It wasn’t until I found link that confirms it’s the cap from the 2000s that I knew for sure. It kind of looks to me like the sculptor left it intentionally ambiguous.

    “Logos notwithstanding, Cleveland sure has hosted the game a lot of times!”

    As a lifelong Clevelander, I love it, but I have to admit I was a bit stunned. That’ll be 3 times in less than 40 years! We’re not used to this much attention (and love). It’s admittedly a bit disproportionate, but after a lifetime of being the butt of the joke, it’s awfully nice to see the rest of the world catching on to the awesomeness of the CLE. If you’ve never been, come visit us sometime!

    Cleveland. City of champions, all-stars…and the Browns.

    Since the Cavs’ arena is being renovated, I’m assuming they’ll get another ASG as well.

    Here’s a good article discussing the notion that the awarding of the All-Star Game to Cleveland could be an indication of how MLB will address the usage of Chief Wahoo: link

    My favorite thing about those Tragically Hip jerseys Kingston will be wearing is in the promo photo the jersey they show is a #2 jersey with the name plate Grace. The Hip have a song called Grace,too. Love it.

    I agree, that is a really neat reference to one of their most popular songs. I will be at that game with my sons tomorrow night!

    It would be perfect if the Frontenacs were playing the Wheat Kings but you take what you can get.

    As a total digression – the performance of Grace Too at the final Kingston Concert is just about the best concert moment I’ve ever seen. Bar none.

    Oh man does that game look like a lot of fun! Great work, I’m impressed.

    All-Star Game in Cleveland would continue the pattern of the host team being the visiting team — after the NL is the visiting team in DC in 2018, then the AL will be the visiting team in Cleveland in 2019.

    Speaking of Cleveland hosting the ASG, a local radio team has posted video of the 1981 ASG in its entirety. A whole lot of HOFers (and Pete Rose) on the field:

    RE: US golf Open at Shinnecock in 2018 – it has been common for the USGA to promote USGA memberships with a “free” cap if you join, complete with the logo of the host club (hence the native American).

    SO…they’re off the hook on being accused of the racial insensitivity, but can be called for dealing with a place that could change.

    True. It’s more Shinnecock Hills that’s on the hook for the racially insensitive logo.

    Also, from what I’ve read, there’s a big legal battle as to if the land that the course is built on was illegally seized from the Shinnecock Tribe back in the 1800’s.

    another possibility for the cap – maybe it’s being sold in the Shinnecock pro shop; hence would have the club logo on it, and probably has the license to use the USGA 2018 as part of the deal to host the tournament.

    This would get the USGA totally off the hook – except for dealing with this place. (BTW, it’s an awesome golf course)

    Cort’s piece on Jeff Bagwell’s Hall of Fame cap choice is exceptional. Highly entertaining and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

    I agree with Cort that the classic serifed “H” over the star would be the best-looking choice. But the part of me that argues for historical significance thinks that he should probably wear the Shooting Star cap.

    The years that the Astros wore that cap – 1994 to 1999 – correspond with what is fairly obviously the peak of Bagwell’s career. During that stretch, he won the MVP award, had two other top-three finishes in MVP voting, and made all four of his career All-Star Game appearances.

    So should we honor Bagwell for when he looked his best, or when he played his best? Tough call…

    Good job with the game, Jeff. Any plans to pitch this to a company for possible mass production?

    Also, a few questions about the rules:

    1. If you go for a home run, and the ball travels too far and off the board, is it an out?
    2. If the ball hits a player, is it an out?
    3. If a ball stops on the line between two areas, how is the play ruled?


    No plans to pitch to a company for production currently. Never know, though.

    Your questions:

    1. If you go for a home run, and the ball travels too far and off the board, is it an out?

    A: Yes, it’s considered an out. Home runs are big deal when they happen.

    2. If the ball hits a player, is it an out?

    A: This happens mostly when a player is on 2nd. We typically just call a do-over. We don’t have a great solution for this yet. The puck is about a half inch larger that I’d like it. (1 inch diameter)

    3. If a ball stops on the line between two areas, how is the play ruled?

    A: This is really fun. When the ball stops on the line, and it’s a little too close to call one way or another, we roll a die, and the person with the higher number wins the best outcome for them.

    Side note: You can also roll dice to steal a base which is a risky, yet exciting way to manufacture runs!

    Not my kind of tabletop baseball game, but I appreciate the work you put into it; good job, Jeff. I have another question:

    4. If the ball lands in one of the brown areas beyond the red Home Run area, such as the one in the deep center field corner, is it still a home run, or will die rolls come into play?

    Too bad about Ty Montgomery changing his number to an RB number next year. Loved seeing a RB wearing 88, thought it was cool.
    Anyways, sounds like thats what he wants to do.


    -That DIY baseball game is amazing. I’d love to play it.

    -When I think of Jeff Bagwell, I immediately think of the shooting star cap. I understand it’s not the popular choice aesthetically, but that’s what he should be wearing in the HOF.

    Proofreading: “Brad Marchand of the Bruins former teammate Milan Lucic’s gloves last night.” There’s a verb missing.

    Jeff, love the project!

    I once made something exactly like this out of a junior high school binder. Mine was Wrigley Field. The Cubs had just won the NL East in 1989 and I filled the bleacher area with little fans holding up signs like the “Shawon-O-Meter”.

    My inspiration was an old copy of “Games” magazine, which had something similar; I think it was 1987 or 1988. I’m having an impossible time searching for it online, because the name of the magazine is so generic.

    Everyone who played it quickly discovered that you could get good at flicking the penny right into the gaps, just short of the wall, and we ended up scoring 50-60 runs per game. And this was after the decision that if any part of the coin is touching a line, it’s an out. People got good at flicking it just right really quickly. My next idea was to have players use different coins each time, so that their differing weights would make it harder, but even then you can still aim for the gaps every time. Really what might work best would be to somehow have the opposing player “pitch” the coin to the batting player, and we tried that, but then people started throwing “fastballs” that were impossible to hit.

    I’d be interested to see what kinds of tweaks you come up with so that the game is balanced!


    Awesome! Sounds like you can relate to this project!

    My wife is really good at hitting the gaps, so we play with strikeout cards that can be played to limit the offense in the game a bit.

    Each person has a strikeout card that can be played for the 1st or 2nd out of an inning.

    (Can’t close out an inning with a strikeout because that is a horrible way to end an inning or the game)

    I loves me a good DIY, and Jeff’s is a good DIY.

    I’ve been wanting to make a baseball game using repurposed electric football players. I even started drawing dimensions for 3 Rivers, Griffith Stadium and Municipal Stadium (for the ’81 ASG, to tie together two of today’s topics). Then I found out I can’t paint pinstripes well, so there went the ’54 Senators and ’81 Dave Winfield. I might do a game like yours instead, since I’m now using my players for ski jumping and cricket. Anyway, great job!


    I’ve thought recently that doing a cookie cutter stadium (complete with dirt base patches) would be awesome. Especially the blue/green turf.

    I love asymmetrical outfield walls too much, though…choices choices.

    Yankees Spring Training cap design (at least the home one) has supposedly leaked. If they were going to go with a pinstripe design, I wish it had been the pinstriped crown, blue brim design.

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