Coming in at No. 19 on The Unforgettable Buzz Electric Football Top 20 countdown is one of the rarest games of all — the 1966 Montgomery Ward “Accordion” No. 600.
In 1966 Tudor didn’t have the NFL, and were actually in the process of trying to convince NFL Properties that they were worthy of the NFL. It was a tall order. Current NFL licensee Gotham was heading into its 5th year of making official NFL Electric Football games, and was in the second year of selling the most elaborate game ever created – the NFL Big Bowl. The monster impact the Big Bowl had on Electric Football went beyond the size of its grandstand. It was the Big Bowl that convinced Tudor President Norman Sas to go after the NFL (download Chapter 1 of The Unforgettable Buzz for more of the story).
When Norman Sas approached NFL Properties about getting the license, the NFL pointed to the Big Bowl and said “We have this — what do you have?” At the same time, Montgomery Ward was not wanting to fall behind in the Electric Football grandstand “arms race” in 1966. So they were looking for a game to compete with the Big Bowl, which made its first appearance in the 1965 Sears Christmas catalog.
Tudor’s answer for both Ward and the NFL was the Accordion No. 600. In many was it was just a basic Tudor No. 600 Sports Classic game…with one exception. An enormous Lee Payne-designed grandstand that went almost 3/4 of the way around the playing field. And mounted on top of the grandstand was a scoreboard that included the interchangeable names of dozens of college teams, as well as the city names of all the teams in the NFL and AFL.
The grandstand got the “Accordion” nickname from its unique design. Three different pieces were fastened together to create the full wrap-around stadium. And each piece contained a large number of folds that allowed the grandstand to be expanded or shortened like an accordion. It was another amazing Lee Payne innovation.
Unfortunately this “fold” technology proved to be fragile and challenging to set up. Tudor used it only one more time — on the 1967 Ward NFL 620 — then abandoned it for good. But the game is a testament to the realism that Lee Payne and Norman Sas wanted for Electric Football. It also highlights just how heated the competition was between Tudor and Gotham for Electric Football superiority in the 1960’s.
A truly worthy No. 19 on our countdown. See you next week for No. 18!
Earl, Roddy & Michael