Hardball (1988)

Anyone up for an intense baseball analogy today? No? Well, too bad, because here’s Hardball, the Joe team’s grenadier.

The baseball references are so thick here, its hard to see much else in the midst of them. He’s wearing a jersey and cap. Fine, no big deal. His name sounds suspiciously similar to that of the supposed inventor of baseball. Uh oh, I don’t like where this is heading. His hometown is Cooperstown–okay, that’s it. I have to invoke the file card infield fly rule.

All kidding aside, the not-so-subtle details about the character are the kind of little touches in the Joe line that have always made me smile. It’s like the first time I read Cutter’s file card and saw that his real name was Skip A. Stone. Yeah, it’s dumb, but I don’t care. The same thing applies here. A baseball jersey and cap make absolutely no sense on a real battlefield, but are completely acceptable in the GI Joe universe. That’s why I don’t want my Joe universe to get too grim and gritty. I want the sense of fun that allows for ninjas, shape shifters, genetically engineered villains and the like to inhabit the line, along with baseball themed grenade troopers.


  • You get an “F” for using the wrong colored grenade launcher. 🙂

    In early 1988, I was really too old to be buying Joes. But, I got Hardball exactly because he was a baseball player and I was a baseball fan. (Watching to see if Matt Cain can complete his perfect game right now. Probably jinxed it, though.)

    I do like the figure. He’s military adjacent. His uniform works for a Joe and makes a fun figure. I would have loved to see a repaint in the modern line (especially after we realized that the mold was available) in some different colors. But, I’ll content with just the original at this point.

  • Hardball’s not just a grenadier–the packaging/file card lists him as a multi-shot grenadier.

    I actually want this to be one of my next figures, I’ve always liked it for some reason.

  • See, I’m the exact opposite of you, Rob. What still draws me to G.I. Joe is the loosely militaristic aspects of the franchise. Stuff like the original thirteen’s uniforms and their early vehicles. Mostly anything from 1982 through 1984 with some of 1986, 1987 and 1988 added as well.

    My only problem with the figure is his awfully tiny head. It just looks way out of proportion with his body. Otherwise, I’m okay with the character. Hardball is by far a favorite, (mostly due to the overused sports motif) but I liked his interactions with Muskrat in the comics. By contrast, Muskrat is my favorite figure and character from 1988.

  • I think 1988 was a great year for figures and Hardball was a good one although not the best. I do love his multi-shot grenade launcher although as a Brit, a lot of the baseball references passed me by.

  • This figure is so goofy it’s cool. I was thinking of customizing one of those 4 inch baseball players you see at Target and making a Hardball. In my display, he’s carrying two of those gernade launchers,

  • Steven B. Williams

    Wow, I’ve never seen Hardball this up-close. The jersey looks great on him. His grenade launcher looks awesome, too. Hopefully we’ll see a modern version of Hardball in the near future (I wonder if the top part of a ki uniform could double as a jersey?).

  • The counterpart of Big Lob…

  • This is what I love about GI Joe as well. Hardball was one of my favorites!

  • I always liked Hardball all right, and that launcher was great back in the day. He’s much less obnoxious than Bazooka, but now he looks kinda plain. He needs a bandoleer or flak vest or something. But that hyper-detailed backpack is awesome!

  • Are those hot dogs strapped to his lower legs? Well, it would complement the baseball theme…

  • Pingback: We interrupt this blog for baseball »

  • Always liked that Grenade Launcher. Reminds me of something Arnold used in Terminator 2.

  • I’ve always liked Hardball. Somehow, his concept makes more sense than some of the other sports-themed Joes. Like, I’m willing to buy “being good at baseball gives you an inherent sense of distance and ballistics” more easily than I’m willing to buy “being good at basketball makes you good at tossing grenades” (hi, Big Lob) or “being good at football makes you able to use really improbable-looking hand-held missile launchers and really good at chucking football-shaped grenades” (you know who I’m thinking of there). And “the big-ass grenade launcher from Terminator 2” works as a complementary main weapon for a baseball-themed Joe a lot better than “football on a rope” works for a football-themed Joe. Hardball always makes it into my top-thirty Joe team roster. He’s silly, but a type of silly that really works well for G.I. Joe–an assault team needs a good grenadier.

    One thing that’s always bugged me, though–why doesn’t he come with a baseball bat? Doesn’t it seem really obvious that a bat would be Hardball’s secondary hand-to-hand weapon of choice? I want to see Hardball cracking Viper face-plates with a Louisville slugger, damnit.

    Oh, well–I’ll just have to make him one, myself. I think I’ll paint red, white, and blue stars on it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.