New in the collection: Fli-Back paddleball

Paddle-shaped board with an image of a cowboy or gaucho on horseback swinging a rope with a ball on the end. The word "Fli-Back" is printed above the image.

“In 1931, James Emory Gibson began manufacturing paddle ball games after being inspired by a promotional toy his daughter brought home. As demand for the games grew, Gibson began producing paddle balls, yo-yos and spinning tops under the name Fli-Back.

“Although Fli-Back was sold to the Ohio Art Company (makers of the popular Etch-A-Sketch) in 1972, the company continued to manufacture Fli-Back paddleball games in High Point until 1983.”

— From “Fli-Back items continue to live on at museum” by Jennifer Burns of the High Point Museum, Oct. 2, 2004, in  the Greensboro News and Record

I visited the Fli-Back plant in 1976, when annual sales still topped 5 million but were speeding downhill. As an early paddleball promoter lamented to me, “There isn’t a kid on earth who can hit the damn thing a second time, because nobody’s taught them how to do it.”

One thought on “New in the collection: Fli-Back paddleball”

  1. How do I love thee? A million ways. Whenever I was sick my Mom bought me a fli-back. I think they cost 29 cents. I spent hours playing, we didn’t have much . I used to spent all day throwing a tennis ball off the side of the house. Drove my Mom crazy, but it’s where i learned to pitch. Eventually, I could hit the fli-back front side then the back side and even on the edge of the paddle for quite awhile. Being poor you had to be creative. At 12 I saved for over a year and bought a baseball glove. I thought I was in heaven.

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