ESPN's Bean Bag Players

(By Christopher Wilson)

Mickey, Donald and Goofy may be the figurative tent poles for Disney, but I could not take my eyes off ESPN's line of bean bag players, sold exclusively at the Disney Store and ESPN - The Store in the late '90s.

The set consisted of generic athletes dressed in a generic ESPN uniform for each respective sport. The best description for the athletes would be a taller, leaner version of Ziggy with no eyes and bountifully fuzzy hair that responds well to static electricity. Apparently, having no eyesight and a large nose was all it took to succeed in ESPN's plush universe.

There were black and white male football players wearing green jerseys and yellow pants and helmets; black and white male basketball players wearing red uniforms; black and white male baseball players wearing white uniforms with pinstripes and blue hats; and a white male hockey player wearing a red uniform.

While ESPN did not use any specific team logos or uniforms, is it just a coincidence that the Packers, Bulls, Yankees and Red Wings just won championships prior to these beanies being made? Those teams certainly had a case to be made, along with Crayola, who owns the rights to every color in the spectrum. Fortunately, the case was resolved when Disney decided to buy Crayola and every professional sports league in America.

There were also black and white male soccer players wearing white shirts and red shorts; two tennis players, a male wearing white with a light blue visor and a female wearing white with a pink visor; and two golfers, a black male wearing blue and white who may as well have been named Tiger, and a white female wearing purple and white.

There was even a white male referee and a duckbill platypus wearing a black hat and making an "X" with his fingers, representing the X Games.

I first saw these toys at the Disney Store in 1998 (retail price $7) and bought a baseball player, soccer player and the X Games aquatic mammal, even though the amount of time I have spent in my life watching the X Games is less than the amount of time it takes to type "duckbill platypus."

Knowing those three beanies would need company, I found a basketball, football and tennis player on eBay, creating a team that will work hard together, even if they are unsure of what sport they are playing, since none of them have eyes. Though the thought of watching athletes play the same sport using different equipment would be absorbing. In fact, a baseball game played with tennis rackets would automatically go down in history as the most entertaining baseball game played since 1839.

All the ESPN beanies have a nose for the ball, however, which may be all it takes to beat the opponent, if their only competition is Mickey, Donald and Goofy.

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

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