An Amazing Season Finale (Replay Zone – September 2015)

By Jeff Polman
September ruminations from your trusty Strat-O-Matic replay addict. Check out, “Mystery Ball ‘58”, my new baseball novel, which was inspired by a replay of the 1958 season.
I’ve been rolling Strat baseball since 1964, have completed countless solo replays, been in over a dozen leagues, but until I recently played Game Seven of my 1961 Freaks League, I had never experienced anything this exciting or incredible…
To set the climactic stage, the Wanderers, “absentee-managed” by Mike Lynch, had won the Eastern Division with a record of 94-68, bashing their way to the pennant with 303 team homers, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris tying for the league lead with 63 of them apiece. Keith Shiraki’s West Berlin Wallbangers, however,won 102 games and cruised to their West Division title by leading the league in practically every other team category. In a fierce best-of-nine World Series, the Wanderers had prevailed in four out of the first six games, and a Wallbangers win at Forbes Field in game Seven would send the Series back to Detroit for a Game Eight.
It’s 2-0 for the home folks with 18-game winner Hal Brown on the hill when Maris cranks a solo shot in the 6th to put the Wanderers on the board. A Hal Naragon homer makes it 3-1 Bangers after seven, but a John Blanchard leadoff double in the top of the 7th and two-out Don Zimmer single cuts it to 3-2, a second Maris homer ties it in the 8th, and we go extras.
And boy, do we ever go extras. Each team has numerous chances to put the game away, eleven combined relief pitchers being used, but the game just won’t end. In the last of the 13th, the Wallbangers have second and third and two outs and Maury Wills, clutch all season, is walked intentionally to load the bases for lefty Pete Runnels against lefty Bill Henry. The Bangers go for righty pinch-hitter Charley James, who grounds out to end the inning. In true delicious Strat torture fashion, leaving Runnels in to hit would have resulted in a game-winning single!
On to the 14th, the 15th, the 16th. The Wanderers get Leo Cardenas to third with a double and wild pitch with nobody out and can’t score him. Chuck Schilling triples with one out in the 17th and can’t come home. We go to the 18th…the 19th
Finally, Roger Maris leads off the 20th inning against Craig Anderson and slams his THIRD homer of the game to put the Wanderers up 4-3! Bob Friend, who already has a scoreless 19th under his belt, sets the Bangers down 1-2-3 in the last of the 20th and the Wanderers are the 1961 Freaks League Champions!
I actually played this game live with Wallbanger skipper Shiraki rolling for his Bangers, then posted the play-by-play “dicecast” on our group Facebook page a few days later so all 125 members could enjoy it. For those of you fascinated with Egyptian hieroglyphics, I’ve included a photo of the actual game scoresheet.
My annual “Best of” Strat Baseball Tournament is planning to get underway next month, so once again I’m soliciting “absentee managers” to helm the best eight teams in each league in an NBA/NHL-formatted tournament, with Strat once again awarding a $25 gift certificate to the champion!
Similar to the system I use in my Freaks Leagues, managers only need to provide starting lineups against lefty and righty pitchers, and a four-man starting rotation, with pitchers who made at least 30 starts able to go in Games 1-4-7 of each series. All super advanced rules are used, including weather and ballpark factors, and the teams will be seeded by 2014 winning percentage. Here’s how they line up for the first round:

Braves at Nationals
Mets at Dodgers
Brewers at Cards
Giants at Pirates

Yankees at Angels
Indians at Orioles
Mariners at Tigers
Athletics at Royals
If you’re interested in the tournament, please send your top THREE team choices to by October 15th. Thanks!