The day-to-day life of a 90s kid consisted of a lot of things: Gameboys, trading Pokémon cards and neighborhood bike gangs – as long as you were in before the streetlights came on. But on the rainy days, we could still play soccer, baseball, basketball or whatever sport we chose. Not by going outside for a pick-up game, but through a video game many of those who grew up with Windows 95 have come to reminisce about: the “Backyard Sports” series.
Once you picked your team name and colors (if you weren’t the purple and green Humongous Melonheads, you weren’t really playing it right), you had to pick your team members. Now, this can be a tough decision. Luckily, I’m going to walk you through the best players in the games.
Starting at the low-end of our All-Star team is Achmed Khan. Doing the most good on the baseball diamond, Achmed Khan is all about hitting dingers. Granted, you might have to throw him in right field to hide his defensive play, but if the “Backyard Sports” series participated in the American League, Achmed might be the best DH in all the land. If he were a real kid instead of virtual, animated computer code, you’d have to tell him to take off his headphones so he could hear the “atta boy!” over his rock music as he rounds the bases after sending one over the left-field fence.
Our next step up brings us to Ricky Johnson. A taller outline of “Football Head” Arnold from the show “Hey Arnold,” Ricky is a soft-spoken kid that means business on the pitch. A great midfielder on the soccer field due to decent speed and a huge boot, as well as a superior inside player offensively and defensively in basketball, Johnson is a great kid to build your team around.
Hard-rock brother Amir Khan stayed in the family business of athletics. Amir, despite being younger and smaller, is a better all-around player than his older sibling. With top marks in ball-handling, quickness and defense, Amir is a go-to point guard, but also don’t count him out for being a wide receiver, a decent baseball player and a shredder of the electric guitar.
Continuing our ever-improving All-Star roster and countdown to number one, we have Stephanie Morgan. A great all-around player in every sport, baseball is Stephanie’s home. While most stick her at shortstop and let her do her thing, which is not a bad strategy, I’ve come to know Stephanie as the girl who can stop things. Put your trust in her as your catcher or goalie, and she won’t let you down.
If you’ve heard someone yell “bet you can’t score a touchdown!” while on the baseball field, they might be imitating our next player, Pete Wheeler. Pete may not be the quickest to an answer in science class, but he is the quickest in sports. He’s the fastest player in the entire series, and if you’re fast, you can compete in “Backyard Sports.” Pair his speed with his home-run-hitting style, his excellent fielding ability and his height, he makes for the best first baseman in the whole league.
Falling in the number four spot, we begin another sibling duo. Vickie Kawaguchi comes to her games in a pink tutu in memoriam of all her years of ballet. But this fairy princess doesn’t tip-toe around sports. It’s hard to say what her best sport is, because, simply put, she’s great at everything. She’s fast, quick, nimble and graceful, all of which translates to being a great forward in soccer, centerfielder in baseball, wide receiver in football, point guard or shooting guard in basketball, etc. Tutu? More like tough-tough (that one might be a stretch, I know).
The third best player in the league is fan-favorite Keisha Phillips. She’s like the female kid version of Jerome Bettis or Brian Urlacher, combining sheer strength, size and speed. Keisha can plow people over in a blocking scheme, send the soccer ball to the net from before midfield, posterize her fellow children in the paint and rip the cover off baseballs, all while earning the nickname “Flash.” While she’s a surefire pick in every sport, you need Keisha Phillips hitting clean-up for the Humongous Melonheads.
The silver medal for “Backyard Sports” goes to Kenny Kawaguchi. The second part of the Kawaguchi one-two-punch, Kenny is the second-best athlete while in a wheelchair. Kenny is calm, cool and collected, but that doesn’t take away from his fierce competitiveness. Kenny has outstanding kicking, outside shooting, pitching and speed stats. His calm demeanor and superior skills make Kenny the perfect choice for a center midfielder, point guard and pitcher to be your team’s leader.
To top off the list, the GOAT of “Backyard Sports” is none other than Pablo “Secret Weapon” Sanchez. He’s the best at every single “Backyard Sports” game, but baseball is where he thrives the most. Out of the four stat lines in baseball (batting, running, pitching and fielding), he’s maxed out at 100 percent in batting and running and at 90 percent in fielding. Put him at shortstop, center field, third base or anywhere your heart desires, and he will do you wonders. While his fielding prowess is something to be seen, just wait till you witness a few at-bats. Pablo hits the longest, most explosives dingers in all the land. He’s Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols and Jose Altuve all in one. Pablo is simply the truth.
I’m not sure how Microsoft went from Windows 95 to Windows 10, but you’re going to need the former to play the “Backyard Sports” games. Just be rest assured that with this list, the Humongous Melonheads will be champions of the backyard.