As the photos show, (Gallery Images) 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, someting 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 comapny. 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
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 withsolid
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
tiltjlp & Susan Ford