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History and Baseball

Sportsbooks should have prop bets on spitting distances

History and Baseball

I’ve been looking through a lot of casino blogs lately on news sites in regional casino markets that are not really familiar with casinos. There are a lot that give advice on how to win at slot machines, a few offering misinformation, like those “guaranteed” scam slot methods in the old days.

One news site offered the “History of Slots.” It defined slot machines as “gaming devices that are operated by inserting tokens, coins or an electronic card.” That was my first clue that a novice wrote the article. Umm… Bill acceptors? Tickets? Outside of nostalgia areas like at the D Las Vegas, I haven’t seen a coin or token put in a slot machine in 20 years.

And an “electronic card?” Either he’s from the future, or he mistook player’s loyalty cards for debit cards.

Some of the stuff was accurate, like the fact slot machines “require little or no gaming knowledge and allow virtually anyone to play the game—including chimpanzees, who really enjoy gaming.”

OK, I added the bit about the chimps, but they really do enjoy banging on slot buttons. Just ask any university gambling researcher. (Rats love the slots, too. They tend to prefer video poker, though.)

Anyway, the blog goes on to say how slot machines have come a long way “since their inception in 1887.” I’m wondering where he got that factoid. Before the late 1890s, the only “slot machines” were mechanical poker machines on bartops in San Francisco that used 50-card decks. It was the mechanical three-reel machine invented by Charles Fey that was the first to be identified with the term “slot machine,” short for “nickel-in-the-slot machine” (short for “put-five-nickels-in-the-slot-to-win-one nickel machine.”)

The article did get it right about Fey inventing the slot machine in the mid 1890s, although it states he was a car mechanic, which is not correct—he worked with electrical equipment and telephones, when he wasn’t inventing the slot machine.

The next part of the slot story, right after Fey, is “The Rise of the Internet and Mobile Gaming.” Wait. Did he leave out a few other things? I’m pretty sure some stuff related to slot machines occurred between 1895 and the early 2000s. I seem to remember something about New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia dumping slot machines into the East River in the 1930s, and something about Las Vegas.

Maybe I’m mis-remembering.

Moving on, it’s come out that the St. Louis Cardinals players who tested positive for Covid-19 got the virus from an asymptomatic person who had entered their clubhouse in Milwaukee’s Miller Park when they were playing the Brewers—not from going to the Potawatomi Casino, like some nitwit broadcaster rumor-mongered on Twitter.

Everyone had been up in arms after the tweet, assuming it was true, because hey, casinos are where you get Covid-19, right? It couldn’t be that someone got infected and then went about their job, which, as we all know, includes not only hitting, catching and throwing baseballs, but a lot of spitting. In fact, there’s more spitting in Major League Baseball than any of that other stuff. Players spit through their teeth at the plate, spit in the dugout, spit at the bases… spit, spit, spit.

The rules set up to allow baseball to return, as I recall, said players were to refrain from spitting. Yet, there they are on TV, hocking loogies left and right. Sportsbooks should have prop bets on spitting distances.

In the old days, it was much worse. Anyone my age remembers when ballplayers went to the plate with their cheek bulging from a big chaw of tobacco. I even remember that Bill Mazeroski’s baseball card showed him with his cheek swollen from a big tobacco wad. In little league, we used to stuff our faces with “Big League Chew” bubble gum so we could look like our heroes.

Needless to say, ballplayer spitting in those days was much more gross. When I was in my mid-20s, I landed a freelance story for a local Pittsburgh paper that had me interview Elroy Face, the legendary Pirates relief pitcher, who was a coach at that time. I got a dugout pass to do the story, and I sat there in the dugout at Three Rivers Stadium during batting practice, trying to do my job while watching guys spit. On artificial turf. It was positively grisly.

But I digress…

The Potawotami Casino was easily able to quash the rumor that Cardinals players had visited the property. At the time, reservations were required to visit the casino, so they checked. No Redbirds.

They would have gotten thrown out anyway. No spitting in casinos.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.