General Mills' 1998 Major League Grand Slams Cereal

(By Richard A. Rampello)

I had a "blast from the past" moment, and thankfully not the 1999 Brendan Fraser flick.

I do recall having seen, if not sampling, the Major League Grand Slams breakfast munchies. On the box is Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, finishing a likely wallop, along with Mike Piazza, fresh to the Hall, and the hard-to-call for the Hall Mark McGwire, at his apex with the St. Louis Cardinals. These are Lucky Charms like, but hey, we can have fun, and the players can now clench to hope. Or to 1998, when they were relevant and appeared clean.

The back of the box advertised a batting helmet cereal bowl for $1.99, while caricatures of Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Tino Martinez, Andres Galarraga and Larry Walker encouraged eaters to watch the 69th annual All-Star Game on NBC.

What I was not aware of was there was a CD-ROM, which feels so archaic to type, also included in the box; and you could play ball with the Trix Rabbit and other General Mills box characters (the Honey Nut Cheerios bee and Count Chocula are peoples of potential selection). Hey, the voice of the leprechaun for those aforementioned charms of luck did recently pass, so this feels like a tip of the hat to the bearded one (and yes, he is a CD character).

As I stated before, and as confirmed by Alan Salomon and contributors, it was the allure of the long ball that was not only dug by chicks but believed to be adored by children, thereby, launching this marketing campaign. There were diamonds and bats and gloves, so shiny to the eye, all before the promise seemed to pass us by.

The homerun has returned to the game of baseball with great prevalence, albeit at the expense of the bat. Absent from my mention of cereal pieces was the baseball, which makes sense, because the ball and bat do not meet with continuity in today’s game (the baseball is a shape in the cereal, though). And eventually this cereal struck out too. While the game struggles publically with suspensions right now, it will recover.

RBI is a program to get the youth playing baseball. And it was a great Nintendo game. But that encapsulates the game in moments and does not do it justice any more than a glib breakfast food. But the game will continue to be a sweet treat . . . when we allow it.

Richard A. Rampello / Archive

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