Barroom Baseball

Barroom Baseball
Company: Atari
Model #:
Gary Stempler (Atari Coin-Op Division)

Original game by James Andreassen and Keithen Hayenga
Year: 1983
An official hack of RealSports Baseball


Barroom Baseball is an interesting prototype in that it was never intended for home use.  As the name suggests Barroom Baseball was a special version of RealSports Baseball modified for use in a special modified 5200 that would have been placed into bars.  Atari already had great success with their line of coin-ops in bars so a low cost modified home unit was a natural next step. Exidy would do something similar with their 'Max-A'Flex' units (using a modified Atari 600XL).


The Barroom project was an attempt by Atari to break into the 'bar top' game market.  The idea was that Atari could take some of its sports themed games for the then current Atari 5200 and modify them for use in a special 'bar top' 5200 unit (a small unit that as the name suggests would sit on top of a bar).  This effort was lead not by the consumer division but rather Atari's coin-op division since in the end device would be more of a coin-op than a home console.  The project was to be separated into two phases.  In Phase I the team would modify an existing Atari 5200 with a coin mech and an external alphanumeric display (for displaying messages) in order to field test it and see if the project was feasible.  This phase would also use a slightly modified version of an existing 5200 sports game and actual 5200 controllers (concerns about controller durability were noted).  In Phase II a new more durable piece of hardware would be developed along with with either a heavily modified version of an existing game or a completely new game.

For Phase I the team chose RealSports Baseball as their test game.  The only major changes made were on the title screen where the name was changed to 'Barroom Baseball', the text  '3 Minutes Per Coin' was added, and the options to change difficulty, select a computer controlled player, and turn the voice on or off were removed (the game defaults to two players at intermediate difficulty).  Interestingly there is text at the bottom of the screen for selecting '1 or 2 players' but this doesn't seem to be possible as the 1 or 2 buttons do nothing nor do the # and * buttons that were used in the original game.  Despite what the title screen says, the prototype plays all nine innings without interruption (please don't try cramming quarters into your 5200!).


As it stands Barroom Baseball is just plain old RealSports Baseball with a different title screen and less options.  Still, this prototype proves that once again Atari was ahead of its time with the idea of putting home units in arcade machines.  It wasn't until almost four years later that Nintendo would revive the idea with its Play Choice units.  To date no other Barroom sports titles have been found, but internal documents suggest that Barroom versions of RS Soccer, RS Tennis, and RS Basketball were also planned.  It is believed that the project was canceled before field testing with the Phase I unit could begin in March of 1984.

Version Cart Text Description
Different formatting on the title screen

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