Thursday, March 25, 2021

Condition is secondary - games we played

I'm sure this has been a topic on the blogs before, but did anyone ever play "knock down the leaner" as a kid?  Or even know what that is?  For the uninitiated, it's a baseball card throwing game that would be basically blasphemy today!

Here is the basic idea (though my brothers and I didn't quite do it this way).  Two or more players set up, each with their own stack of baseball cards, a set distance from a wall.  Each player takes a turn throwing one of their cards toward the wall (we used a frisbee-like throwing motion), trying to get as close to the wall as possible.  Whoever flips their card closest to the wall wins the round.  I don't know what they win exactly.  If one of the players gets a 'leaner', where the thrown card ends up leaning against the wall, then each player gets three cards to try to knock the leaner from its wall perch.  The first one to knock down the leaner gets all the cards thrown!

As with any childhood game, I am sure there are endless variations, but my brothers and I usually skipped the attempt to toss a leaner, and just set one up manually.  Then we took cracks at it until someone successfully dislodged it.  Winner takes all the cards!

Seaver the Leaner

I remember as we got older and started to understand that the condition of our cards was important, we got a little more sophisticated in our gambling.  First, only commons would get thrown, never anything potentially valuable.  And we would bet on each round, using Beckett prices as our guide.  So if one player bet a 1987 Topps Canseco, which booked for $1.25, then the other players would have to put in one or more cards that added up to that value.  Winner take all!  It was OK to put in a couple of cards to get up to the value of the pot, but I had one friend that always wanted to put in a bunch of commons, which at the time, Beckett valued at 5 cents each.  So if the pot was 75 cents, he would try to put in 15 commons.  We didn't like that.  But that's why rules can be changed, right?

Today, I doubt this kind of game is played much.  Not only are most card collectors adults, but condition of your cards is maybe the most important thing there is.  Fortunately, we now have MILLIONS of cards that are encased in sturdy plastic cases!!

I would dearly love it if I walked into a card show and saw some old guys tossing graded cards with flicks of their wrists, trying to knock down a leaner.  That. Would. Be. Great.

Probably not good for the walls though.

Did you play something like knock down the leaner?  Did you have another cool game with cards?


  1. I wasn't a "bicycle-in-the-spokes" kid, in fact that seemed old-fashioned even back in the '70s, but I sure did play this game. I can't remember what we called it.

  2. Never did this game... but I'm pretty sure I tried the clothespin and card in the spokes trick. And you own a PSA 10 Griffey? Wowza.

    1. No, I definitely do not own that Griffey!! Photoshop and Google Images, that's all!

  3. I never did any card games. Even the ones geared at kids, like the back of 1995 Bazooka cards or the game cards that came in Collector's Choice, never became actual card games for me and my friends.

  4. I've played that game with a standard poker card deck, but never with baseball cards.

  5. Never heard of it, or anything like it.

  6. Never heard of it nor would I try to play it. I would ocd over the dented corners lol

  7. Didn't play those games. Worst thing we did with them (besides store them with rubber bands) was a few times my brother and I would divide up the contents of a pack(s) by mixing them up on the floor under a bed and then randomly grabbing one to divy them up. I don't remember if we saw the cards before mixing them up but you definitely can't do that today with those hot rookies and insert cards.