There are a lot of different ways to play baseball.
There is, of course, the actual game itself, on the grassy field, with the ball and the bat and pitching, hitting, etc. The actual game itself. Of course.
Then there are the derivations. Games that simulate the real thing.
When I was but a lad we “invented” a baseball game that used dice to signify plays. Roll a four, that was a single, roll a six, an infield out, a twelve, a home run. We looked at the percentages for the possible rolls, and matched them with similar percentages of plays on the field. We had dead-ball era rolls, and live-ball era. It was pretty simple and pretty fun, not a very accurate baseball simulation, but accurate enough for us.
I never played Stratomatic baseball, but remember seeing ads for it in comic books and sports magazines, and it seemed like basically the same idea, though with an intimidating amount of detail, for a more accurate representation of the game. The drawing of the pitcher, all the little cards outlining the possibilities for each player. I probably should have given it a chance, but I didn’t, I saved my money, and none of my friends went the Stratomatic route either.
Instead we generally gathered our motley collection of bats, balls and gloves and played the game on the street corner. My bat was long and narrow, and was called “the Needle.” I remember there was also a bottle bat, heavy and prehistoric, and I remember the street that was right field was down hill, and so if you could hit it to right, you could usually saunter around the bases while the ball rolled down along the curb to second avenue. We played corner ball till Nelson’s house, in center field had the broken window. It wasn’t me. I don’t remember who the culprit was. I’m sure they remember and live with that guilt daily. Stereotypically, we scattered like mice, I think just because that’s what kids were supposed to do.
Anyway, after the Incident of Nelson’s Window, we took our games across the tracks, literally, to the big grassy field in front of Ziegler’s construction company. This was a big open space, no trees, bright sun, a green grass-like ground covering, mostly weeds, slightly sloping down to the tracks.
Some days we would just go down there and hit fly balls to each other, which was fun, but which left me with a picture-perfect upper-cut fly ball swing that sent the ball soaring high and gracefully towards the waiting outfielder’s glove, and shortened my baseball career.
In any case. Years pass. We enter the age of Computers. And with computers, computer games, and with computer games, computer baseball simulations. Nirvana for the baseball game player, because here, theoretically, was a way to play the game and have all the data with none of the work. With Stratomatic, I suppose, Tony Oliva would always bat .318, till you purchased next year’s cards. But with computers you might know that, this year, Tony only hit .303, but with more power, and good knees.
more to come…