Great Moments in Strat – January 2014

Have you experienced a game of Strat-O-Matic so thrilling, unique or bizarre that you just HAVE to share it with someone? That would be us. Send your Great Moments in Strat to Please include your name and hometown. Readers like to see that and you deserve the credit.
Autoplay Is Memorable, Too

            I know some guys don’t count PC autoplay no-hitters when they list the no-no’s they’ve rolled, but I’ve been playing Strat baseball since 2000, and in the thousands of games I’ve played, I’ve seen three no-hitters – all of them on the PC, and all of them on autoplay. But my first no-hitter, though on autoplay, was so memorable that I have to count it as one of the most special games I’ve ever “played.”
            I was setting up a new replay of the 1985 season on the PC.  The plan was to do the National League Cy Young race, manually playing all starts by Dwight Gooden, Fernando Valenzuela, and John Tudor.  I wanted to autoplay all the games that Gooden, Valenzuela, and Tudor didn’t start. 
            While trying to set up the teams and schedule, I accidentally autoplayed Gooden’s first start. Since it was only the first game of the season, it was easiest just to start the season over. I didn’t open up that autoplayed game and look at it, and so I didn’t notice that in the accidental autoplay he had thrown a no-hitter! I only noticed later when I was looking at some of the saved boxscores (I had the game set to save no-hitters in “events”) and I realized that there was a saved prt file that was not a game that I had manually played. 
            What’s really amazing:  at the time this accidental no-hitter happened (about 10 years into my Strat career!), it was my first no-hitter I ever had in any type of game, be it autoplay, manually on computer, c&d, whatever – the first one ever.
            Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to have two more no-hitters:  Larry Jansen had one in my 1953 Dodgers replay, and Larry French had one in the 1938 replay I did for Jeff Polman’s Dear Hank blog.  Both of those were auto-played, too.  I’m still waiting for that first C&D no-no, but until then I’ve got these three autoplayed no-no’s going for me, which is nice.  And nobody can tell me they don’t count.
Paul Dylan, Poulsbo, WA
3-Way Tie in Pennant Race
            Never have I experienced as thrilling a season as my recently completed 63-game 1938 schedule consisting of 8 teams: Yankees, Giants, Red Sox, Reds, Tigers, Cubs, Indians, and Pirates. Playing a “modified”-basic, cards-and-dice season, much to my surprise a three-way tie occurred with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Cincinnati Reds each finishing with identical 35-28 win/loss record!
After determining that the Reds had the best head-to-head record against both the Red Sox and Yankees, a 5 game playoff commenced between Boston and New York with the Yankees winning in a dramatic 5th game behind stellar pitching from Red Ruffing at the big ballpark in the Bronx 3-2.
On to Ohio and a 7 game World Series pitting New York against Cincy. After the Yankees blasted the Reds in Game #1 by a score of 12-2, I wondered if it would be a short series. The Yankees hit 8 home runs in this game, 3 by Joe DiMaggio who also had 5 RBI’s and Tommy (old reliable) Henrich also hit 2 home runs and drove in 3 runs in this lopsided victory. Starter Paul Derringer was pulled in the 3rd inning. In game 2, Bucky Walters lost a 5-4 decision to Spud Chandler. Back to NYC for games 3 and 4 with NY holding a 2-0 edge.
Rookie sensation Johnny Vander Meer took the mound for game 3 and twirled a 3 hit shut-out as Cincy won it 1-0. Game 4 was another Reds victory as home runs by Wally Berger, Ival Goodman, and Frank McCormick led to a 6-5 win against Red Ruffing. Series now tied 2-2 and back to Ohio we go.
Game 5 was a rout, 7-2 Yankees, led by a solid effort from Lefty Gomez. Back to the Bronx with the Yanks having a chance to close the ‘38 series with one more victory. Not so fast, Yankee fans. Bucky Walters bounced back from his game #2 loss with an outstanding performance allowing only 1 run and 1 hit (a double by Joe DiMaggio) in a thrilling 4-1 Reds win….. the 1938 World Series now stood at 3-3 with an epic game 7 awaiting in Ohio.
Who to start on the mound? The Yankees went with Monte Pearson and the Reds turned once again to Johnny Vander Meer, who pitched that gem back in game #3. Yankee power versus great pitching… who would prevail? New York took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first and one had to wonder if the Reds would respond. Did they ever. In the bottom of the 1st inning, Cincy exploded, blasting Pearson for 6 runs and sending him to the showers. With Vander Meer on the hill, things looked good, but still there were 8 innings to go. How did the Dutchman respond? By hurling 8 scoreless innings and holding the mighty Yankees to 3 hits. The Cincinnati Reds defeated the New York Yankees 6-1 to capture the 1938 World Series!!
MVP was obviously Johnny Vander Meer, who won 2 games and held the Yanks to 1 run in 18 innings pitched! For the losing Bronx bombers, Joe DiMaggio had an amazing Playoff/World Series, batting .375 with 4 HR’s and 8 RBI’s in 12 games.
                                                                                                                                                            Scott Acton, Hackettstown, NJ
Last Night I Time Traveled Back to 1961
            I recently began to play games with the original 1961 set of cards. These are the ones with the green font. I thought it might be fun to manage the new expansion Los Angeles Angels.
            Why? First, they led the American league in walks and homeruns but finished in 8th place. (They also led the league in Ks as batters). Second, I have always enjoyed managing the “underdog.” Frankly I don’t see the fun in managing the ‘61 Yankees. It doesn’t seem like much of a challenge. However, I thought if I could manage the ‘61 Angels and improve on their 71-90 record, even with the hindsight of knowing the players stats ahead of time, that would be fun.
            They had some decent bats that year. Take a look at the slash stats of a few of their players: Albie Pearson 288/420/400; Leon Wagner 280/348/517; Ken Hunt 255/325/484; Steve Bilko 279/395/544; Earl Averill 266/384/489; Lee Thomas 284/353/491. The cast of characters includes Eddie Yost, Ken Aspromonte, George Thomas, Rocky Bridges and an aging Ted Kluzewski.
            The starting pitching was pretty weak, but the bullpen had some decent guys who were “fun” to coach: Ryne Duren, Art Fowler and Tom Morgan. So my current record is 13-13, so I consider it a success so far.
            I thought it might be fun to play a game or two of the 1961 Yankees schedule just to see how good they really are. So I played their opening game against the Twins. I used the actual starting pitchers of that day; Pedro Ramos of the Twins vs. Whitey Ford, but mixed up the batting lineups a little.
            Ramos didn’t have a chance: In the top of the first inning with one out, Kubek drew a walk and Mantle promptly rolled a clean home run on his own card. Then Maris steps up and rolls another homerun. So the M&M boys go back-to-back and I’m thinking: “okay, that happened a lot that year, but chances are that they probably won’t do too much more damage in this game.” Boy, was I wrong.
            The Twins battle back and score a run in the bottom of the second after Earl Battey doubles and Jim Lemon singles him in. Then in the top of the third, Mantle hits his second bomb of the game in his second at bat. Maris then reaches on an error by former Yankee Billy Martin at second base for the Twins. This is followed by singles from Elston Howard and Yogi Berra (he’s playing LF), Maris scores and the Yankees are winning 5-1.
            The Yankees keep hitting. Top of the fourth inning, Mantle steps up for the third time with Ford on first base. He can’t possibly hit another home run, can he? He does indeed and it’s 7-1. Ramos is pulled from the mound for Al Schroll. In the top of the 6th Mantle steps up for the 4th time and he strikes out this time. But then Maris steps up and he hits his second home run of the game. I can’t believe it. That’s 5 home runs for the M&M boys. In the 8th inning, Ellie Howards hits a meaningless home run. The Twins scrape another 2 runs, but lose 9-3.
            Is this a great game? 9-3? Perhaps not if you consider that this game was pretty much over in the 3rd inning after Mantle’s second homerun. However, if you are into the history of baseball, this game does indeed qualify as a great game just for enjoying the pure power of that 1961 Yankee team.
            After all, the 1961 Twins team had some nice bats in that lineup too: Killebrew hit 46 home runs. His slash stats were 288/405/606. Bobby Allison hit 29 homers. Battey had 17 and batted .302 with an OBP of .377. Lenny Green had an OBP of .374. Their starting pitching of Ramos, Kralick, Pasqual and Kaat was pretty respectable.
            Even so, the Yankees handled them in this one game with ease. I felt like I was transported back in time to 1961 and watched in awe as Mantle, Maris and company went wild.
            Great game.