Review: The Chicken Grand Slam Baseball Game
Publisher: Adco International
Year: 1980
Tagline: Featuring Antics of the Famous San Diego Chicken

The cover shows the playing field with the chicken mascot holding a bat

how we met

I found this weird game at thrift and, even though I could see that it played like Pass the Pigs, for some reason I wanted it. The game is obscure and simple, and it might be fun to document.

how it plays

There are two teams in The Chicken Grand Slam Baseball Game, and the scoring is similar to baseball: the rounds are innings, players score when their runners get to home base, and the runs are determined by the dice. Runners are tracked using small chips.

The playing field showing all bases loaded
The playing field with all bases loaded! Pretty sure all versions will be this uneven as the vinyl is stored folded

The first team to go shakes the chicken dice in the batter’s box dice cup, flips the cup down on a flat surface, and uses the guide to determine the result of your roll. A roll may cause runners to advance, batters and runners to advance, no advancing, etc. If the chickens are touching that’s an automatic Strike Out!

The dice cup says Batter's Box
The Batter’s Box dice cup which has two chicken images on it
This is a portion of the diagram showing what different chicken positions mean in baseball terms
This is not the entire diagram but represents the possible HITS depending on how you roll

When the team gets three outs, the next team goes. Scoring is tracked on the scorepad, which resembles a baseball scoreboard. At the end of nine innings, the team with the most points wins! In the event of a tie, the scorecard includes extra innings.

The scorepad
This is what the scorepad looks like

how it went

We played this briefly one evening while waiting for a fifth person to join us. It’s certainly a simple game. The back of the box not only contains all of the rules but implies that the San Diego Chicken is the game designer. You need enough baseball knowledge to know how to play through a game because the rules don’t tell you how many strikes are allowed, how many outs, etc.

The corner of the playing field and two chickens showing a Ground Out
This combination of chicken positions is not on either the HITS or the OUTS diagrams but the Ground Out is used for any positions not identified so this would be a Ground Out

I can’t remember who won our game. I suspect that Bill and I were Home team, so John and Keri probably won The Chicken Grand Slam Baseball Game, and not even on their home turf!

Both chickens standing up representing a Walk
This is a Walk
This is a Ground Out since it is not on either diagram
This is another combination not on either diagram, so it’s another Ground Out
This shows one chicken on its rear and one laying on its side representing a Bunt
This is a Bunt
This shows two chickens almost touching but not quite
This is from our play, the closest chickens we had that weren’t actually touching. This is a Home Run!

I mentioned that when purchasing the game, I figured it was just a Pass the Pigs copy, only with chicken dice instead of pigs. I had never played Pass the Pigs so I looked into it. Here’s what appears to have happened:

1945: The game Pig was described in text somewhere by John Scarne. The object of Pig is to be the first player to get to 100 points by rolling a single die. So if you roll a 5 you get 5 points and can choose to roll again or hold. The trick is that if you roll a 1 then you lose all the points for that turn, so you have to be careful about when to bank any points you received so far.

1977: Presumably because the original game was called Pig, someone released a version where the dice are pigs and the scoring is based on how the pigs land. This is commonly called Pass the Pigs now, but Pig Mania is another vintage version of the same game. Gameplay is the same as the original Pig game with the exception of referencing the pig positions for scoring. Same objective and same “press your luck” mechanic.

1980: Someone, maybe a chicken and maybe not, designed a game that marries Pass the Pigs with baseball and prominently features the San Diego Chicken mascot. This is a well done version of matching these two things, but unfortunately it strips the game of a lot of its best elements in deferring to the baseball theme.

Press your luck is a critical part of the staying power of the original Pig dice game. But there’s no stealing bases in this game. I always appreciate when a theme is applied liberally, and I really think it should drive most decisions in a lot of games. But that leaves The Chicken Grand Slam Baseball Game lacking, where a single die, a pencil and a piece of paper are superior.

FUN FACT: Reading about the San Diego Chicken mascot played by Ted Giannoulas is fascinating. You can also learn a little about him at this video, uploaded by YouTube user thefamouschicken

As stated above, this video is embedded from thefamouschicken’s YouTube channel

play or pass

Pass on this one. Pig the dice game is a better game, and if you are reading this you probably have a die laying around somewhere. The Chicken Grand Slam Baseball Game applies theme well. The cheesiness is appreciated, and I very much enjoyed learning about The Famous Chicken. But I don’t want to play again.

If you do pick up a copy of this game to play, I highly recommend having some tape handy to tape down the vinyl playing field.