3 Strikes is the pricing game with a baseball-like setup played for a car.
- The contestant is shown eight baseballs, five white ones of which have a unique digit representing one of the five numbers in the price of the car, and three red ones that each have an X, called a strike. The balls are placed into a rotating drum, designed for blind draw access, and shuffled.
- The contestant blindly draws a ball from the bag. If they pick a number, they must decide in which position (spot) that digit belongs (e.g.: "the third digit"). If they are correct, the ball is discarded into a slot in the game board and the digit is lit up in the price display. If they are incorrect, it was not a strike. The ball gets returned to the bag and the contestant draws again. If the contestant draws a strike, a strike marker is lit on the board and the ball is discarded into the slot.
- The contestant may continue to draw as many times as possible until he or she either correctly positions each digit in the price and wins the car or draws the three strikes and loses the game.
- 3 Strikes debuted on February 12, 1976 (#1084D). From the game's inception until October 15, 2018 (#8451K), the numbers were represented with wooden discs in white with the number painted on them in black, while the strikes were red discs with black X's. They were placed in a bag to be mixed up. On 10/15/18 the game got a new look, based on classic baseball scoreboards, as well as replacing the original discs with baseballs, and the bag with a rotating drum. In addition, the discard slot was made bigger to accommodate the change from using discs to using baseballs.
- Through the early 1990s, the game was played using both four- and five-digit cars. Except for the first few times it was done, when five-digit cars were offered, the game was known as "3 Strikes +". Even though four-digit cars were no longer used in the game after June 17, 1993 (#8874D), it retained the "3 Strikes +" name until February 10, 1994 (#9074D) (although the + sign was absent on January 27, 1994, #9054D).
- On November 14, 1983 (#5081D), contestant Rosemarie lost a $6,485 Mazda truck by drawing three strikes in three draws, less than a minute into gameplay, making her "the first contestant in the history of the game to play it that badly".
- On March 12, 1986 (#6033D), history was made when a contestant named Heather Nelson not only won the car, but drew every single number in the price in order (from first to fifth digit) without drawing a strike or making a single mistake. She won a Chevrolet Corvette priced at $30,789.
- There were at least three other known occurrences where a contestant lit up all the numbers without drawing a strike: on June 2, 1999 (#1153K); January 21, 2002 (#2031K); and May 24, 2005 (#3292K). On the second occurrence, contestant Melissa won the car with only six draws (making only one mistake) and not drawing the strike even once. On the third, contestant Marilyn made a mistake on her first three draws but managed to get five consecutive draws right without drawing a strike.
- This game was played for the most valuable prize in the history of the daytime version of The Price is Right on April 24, 2013 (#6323K, aired out of order on April 25) as part of the 2013 "Big Money Week": a Ferrari 458 Spider worth $285,716. For the gameplay, all six windows hid the numbers of the price and a new dollar sign light was added to the outside of the first window. Unfortunately, not only did Therese Cook, the contestant who played 3 Strikes for the Ferrari, not win, but she didn't even get a single number right, either. The playing attracted a large amount of criticism and backlash from many TPiR fans, many of whom said that it was too hard to guess the price with 6 numbers and 3 strikes in the bag. Nearly all who have criticized this decision insisted that Golden Road would have been a better game for the Ferrari, despite the fact that there was the chance that the contestant would not have made it to the end.
- The 6-digit 3 Strikes was played again on November 18, 2013 (#6501K, aired out of order on November 22) as part of "Dream Car Week"; contestant Richard Thomas got four out of six right before drawing three strikes; the car was a $146,923 Audi R8 Quattro. Unlike the last playing, this playing was more well-received by fans due to the fact that the price of the Audi R8 was easier to figure out than that of the Ferrari 458, but Richard still lost regardless.
- The 6-digit 3 Strikes was played a third time on May 15, 2017 (#7941K), on Season 45's Dream Car Week, with only two of the six digits lit up before the game was lost. That time is was played for a $159,081 BMW i8.
- Over time, the props used in this game have had additional references to baseball added to them. Three baseballs on the game prop were added on November 9, 1982 (#4662D) and the current bag from which chips are drawn was made to look like a baseball on January 16, 1990 (#7502D). The baseball "NO" graphic (used when the contestant guesses a position incorrectly) was only used from 1998 through 2002, replacing a prior graphic consisting of "NO" inside a black circle that was used from 1986 until 1998; originally, only a buzzer was used. The Davidson version used a different graphic for this situation, which showed a red outline of the selected number window melting off the board and falling to the floor. From 2002 to 2008, the "NO" graphic was simply the word "NO" in large red letters. The current graphic is simply the word "NO" on a large red circle with a slash drawn through it (similar to the "No Smoking" sign). Also, from the game's debut until October 7, 2002 (#2551K), the camera would zoom in on the selected rectangle when a contestant made a guess as to the position of the drawn digit.
- In addition to the changes mentioned above, the 3 Strikes sign went from green to gold by June 24, 1980 (#3742D). By April 11, 1994 (#9161D), the dollar sign tacked onto the side of the board was replaced by a window with a dollar sign, initially using the Pricedown dollar sign before changing it to the same font used as the numbers soon after; an exception was the April 18, 1994 (#9161D) show, which still used the gold Pricedown dollar sign, since the show was taped out of order.
- In Fall 1993, two of the game's digits were updated. The number "2" was updated to have its lower left slant turn into a skinnier curve and its "tail" on the bottom right became flat. The original "2" was still being used on October 21 (#8934D) and the new number was in place by November 9 (#8962D). While it is known that the October 28 (#8944D) episode has a 3 Strikes + playing with a 2 in the car's price, it does not circulate. The number "5" was also updated to have a flatter top, with a pointed edge on the middle left side, a plumper curve from the middle right to the bottom, and a pointed curve on the bottom left.
- The game was played four times on the primetime version of the show. Its first primetime playing was in May 17, 2002 (#001SP). It was won twice and was lost twice.
- The most expensive car ever won on this game occurred on October 13, 2016 (#7644K) - a $63,415 Cadillac CT6. The car was won with a total of 16 draws. It was also the first time a 5-digit priced car in the $60,000 range was ever offered on the game (though there were two cars over $100,000 offered on two separate occasions in 2013).
- The game is currently in a two-year losing streak, with the most recent win happening on October 13, 2016 (#7644K).
- When the game premiered in 1976, cars only had four digits in the price, and therefore a contestant was given four numbered chips and three strike chips. As the prices of cars increased past $10,000, no changes were made to the game to accommodate the extra fifth numeric chip until Season 26.
- From the game's debut until 1998 (Season 26), three strike chips were placed into the bag at the start of the game. If a contestant drew a strike, a marker was lit on the board and that strike chip was removed from the bag and deposited in the board's discard slot. However, in 1998, to increase the game's win rate (which had decreased because of the extra fifth digit from using cars priced above $10,000), the rules were changed to place only one strike chip in the bag. If the strike was drawn, it was returned to the bag; the contestant lost if he or she drew it three times.
- From 1993 through 2008, the game was almost exclusively played for cars between $30,000 - $60,000. However, due to the game generally taking longer to play than other pricing games, a rule change was implemented at the beginning of Season 37 on September 23, 2008 (#4432K). The second time the game was played that season, three strike chips were used and the first number was provided for free. The number of strike chips placed into the bag then reverted back to one after this single playing; however, the contestant was still given the first digit in the car's price at the start of the game. With this change, the game began offering cars with prices along the lines of those played for in the "standard" car games, instead of using luxury cars, then got taken out of the rotation on October 29, 2008 (#4483K, aired out of order on October 15). These drastic changes only lasted for one season; when the game was first played in Season 38 on October 23, 2009 (#4875K), the game reverted to its pre-1998 rules (five numbered chips, three strike chips, no free numbers), and once again offered cars between $30,000 - $60,000.
- 3 Strikes was one of five pricing games introduced in the fifth and final nighttime season hosted by Dennis James on episode #158N – the other four being Cliff Hangers, Danger Price, Dice Game, and Hurdles on episodes #157N for both Cliff Hangers and Danger Price, and the latter two premiered on episodes #159N, and #160N, respectively.
- On The New Price is Right, the first digit in the price was given for free and there were only four number chips in the bag. Other than the aforementioned graphics change outlined above, the game otherwise remained the same.
- 3 Strikes first appeared on a primetime Barker-era episode on May 17, 2002 (#001SP), during the Price is Right Salutes series of specials.
- On February 28, 1992 (#8325D), a contestant named Toni Quinones had two chips remaining in the bag, a strike and the last number. She partially drew a chip out of the bag, then quickly put it back in before anyone else could see what it was. A few seconds later, Toni drew the number and won. Although the show's staff has never publicly accused the contestant of cheating, 3 Strikes + was not played again for the remainder of the season. Toni won a Porsche worth $45,789, and then won $11,000 on the wheel and the showcase for a total of $79,897. To watch the full video footage, click on the video link below.
- Toni wasn't the only contestant who attempted to cheat, as another contestant Julia also attempted to cheat on October 7, 1988 (#6975D). As she began to pull the third strike out of the bag, she put it back, thinking no one noticed. Bob Barker did notice and chided her for her actions. She pulled the third strike all the way out of the bag on a later draw and subsequently lost the game.
- For these reasons, by January 16, 1990 (#7502D), a new baseball-shaped bag that was harder to peek into was made for the game to further prevent such cheating. Later in Season 20, on March 23, 1992 (#8361D), the three strike chips were repainted white with a red X to more closely resemble the numeric chips, but were reverted back to the red chips with the black X at the start of Season 21 on September 14, 1992 (#8491D). During this time as well, 3 Strikes + was pulled from the pricing game rotation until Season 21, leaving only 4-digit 3 Strikes.
- On The Price is Right Decades video game, when the game was loading a trivia fact appears and read that 3 Strikes premiered either on February 11 or 12 of 1976. According to the stats at www.tpirstats.com, it didn't premiere on February 11 (#1803D) but on February 12, 1976 (#1804D).
- 3 Strikes is one of only a very small number of pricing games that a contestant can know the price of the car and still lose. In fact, even with perfect play, the odds of winning under the five digits, three strikes in the bag rules are only 3-in-8, or 37.5%. This corresponds to the odds of drawing all five digits before all three strikes or, in simpler terms, the odds that one of the three strikes would be the last chip pulled out of the bag of eight if the player continued to draw until the bag was empty.
- This pricing game normally cannot have any repeating numbers of an expensive automobile for this game, but on May 15, 2017 (#7941K), the first aired day of Dream Car Week 2017, this no-repeating-digits rule was actually broken for the first time in daytime, with TWO chips that had the number 1 on them. It was also only the third time in Price Is Right history that the game was played for a 6-digit car, this time a BMW i8 Protonic Red Edition worth $159,081. Unfortunately, only one of the two 1s were placed correctly (first spot) and only two chips overall were placed correctly (the other correctly placed chip was the 9 in the third spot).
- Starting with season 29 and onward, the game was played less than 10 times.
- 3 Strikes is the first pricing game to reference baseball; the other two are Squeeze Play and Triple Play.
- If 3 Strikes is a Million Dollar Game on The Price is Right $1,000,000 Spectacular, all you have to do is light up all the numbers without drawing a strike to win the $1 million bonus.