Hostess Baseball Stadium Displays

(By Christopher Wilson)

Ever been intentionally thrown at by Twinkie the Kid? That was the peril one faced when stepping into a batter's box in the 1970s, thanks to Hostess.

From 1975 through 1979, Hostess produced sets of 150 baseball cards each year, giving away three free cards in boxes of cupcakes and Twinkies. In '78 and '79, they reasoned the best way to promote said cards was with stadium displays in stores, depicting Captain Cupcake and the aforementioned Twinkie the Kid playing baseball with a group of kids. It may have been the most inspired decision in all of history.

The '78 display features the Kid pitching and the Captain catching, while four boys and girls manned the infield, making up a six-person team. The seventh figure in the display was batting, and fortunately for him, due to the size of the field, his options included either hitting a homerun . . . or bloodying someone's face with a line drive, considering the infielders were merely inches away.

The playing field may not have been large, but the outfield stands held hundreds of fans. Had I been alive and aware of a game between snack cakes and kids, I would have either begged to play or begged my parents to buy tickets to the game.

Though the Kid and Captain were from the same family, I'm not sure how well they meshed as battery-mates. The Captain preferred the sea, while the Kid was partial to dry land. The Captain rode a boat, the Kid a horse. Were they able to put aside their differences for the betterment of the team? Or did their egos lead to a divided clubhouse?

Unfortunately, no one knows how this game ended. The stadium scoreboard and outfield walls don't show a score, instead chosing to advertise the free cards. I know Rod Carew is a Hall of Famer, but it can be argued that one of his greatest honors is his card being the lone one shown on the Hostess stadium.

Interestingly, whoever managed this club decided to relieve the Kid of his pitching duties the following year, instead allowing him a chance to hit. The '79 display features the Kid batting, with the Captain manning a shallow first base, a young girl playing a very drawn-in third and a young boy catching. Unfortunately, there was no pitcher, meaning the Kid may still be standing at the plate.

This stadium was shown from the opposite direction as the '78 stadium, as fans are treated to a view of the backstop. Though this display offers something the previous display did not: an underage child flying a blimp while doing a TV broadcast. Twinkie the Kid may be smiling, as the blimp flies closely overhead, but it is a nervous smile.

The '79 display also advertises the collector cards, as Ron Guidry's card is shown. Guidry is not a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and since there is no pitcher included in this display, it can be safely assumed Guidry was supposed to be the starting pitcher. His refusal to take the mound and throw to an anthropomorphic snack cake is enough reason for baseball writers to keep him out of the Hall.

Both displays measure about a foot and a half tall and wide. While I can't think of many objects that would look better on a fireplace mantle, both stadiums are expensive and very hard to find collectibles, usually selling for a couple hundred dollars on eBay.

Christopher is a Waco, Texas, resident, Editor in Chief of MyBriefs.com, author of the book "Sports Briefs" and the adult writer for the Gab Four. Read more of his solo columns here.

https://twitter.com/mybriefschris

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