STRAT-O-MATIC NEGRO LEAGUE BASEBALL PUTS
THE NEGRO LEAGUE STARS BACK ON THE FIELD
Strat-O-Matic’s Exclusive Lefty-Righty Splits, Defensive Rating, Ballpark Tendencies and More Help Create the Most Accurate Negro League Simulation Game Ever
GLEN HEAD, NY, OCT. 15, 2009 – For baseball fans who never had the chance to see Josh Gibson take his cuts against Satchel Paige or wondered if Bill Dickey could throw out the speedy Cool Papa Bell, Strat-O-Matic (Strato) is giving them the chance. The company that invented the baseball simulation game has created Strat-O-Matic Negro League All-Stars — the first true baseball simulation game ever dedicated to the greats of the Negro Leagues.
“This game is 10 years in the making,” admitted Hal Richman, who invented Strat-O-Matic in his Long Island, NY bedroom as an 11 year-old in 1948 and then shared his invention with the world in 1961. “I knew this was an important game to produce, but because the data we needed was not available, I could not put out a product under the Strato name. When I met Scott Simkus and found out he had access to more than 3,000 Negro League boxscores, I knew we could unlock the mysteries of translating Negro League performance into a Major League context and create a game that was realistic enough to carry the Strat-O-Matic name.”
Strat-O-Matic Negro League All-Stars will be available on Nov. 1, 2009 on both CD and as a traditional Strato dice game. It includes 103 of the greatest players in Negro League baseball history including Gibson, Paige, Bell, Chino Smith, Ray Dandridge, Martin Dihigo, Rube Foster, John Beckwith, Buck O’Neil and many more. The set brings to life every Negro League player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, well known players who were candidates for the Hall during the special election of 2006, plus a few special players recognized by the Cuban and Mexican Halls of Fame.
Strat-O-Matic Card Construction
Unlike traditional SOM player cards, which represent a single MLB season, the Negro League player cards are modeled after the popular Strato Hall of Fame set whereby each player card is actually a compilation of the prime 5-7 years of their career. The statistics used to create the player cards are a combination of original Strato research (information gleaned from more than 3,000 Negro League boxscores) and the most recently published Negro League statistics. All of the lefty/right splits and defensive numbers are original and exclusive to Strato.
“Creating the player cards as an average season during each player’s prime of their career allows fans to experience every Negro League player at their best,” explained Richman. “In addition, by compiling statistics from numerous seasons we were able to build a large enough statistical database to create credible lefty/right splits and defensive numbers – two areas that were not previously available but vital details players expect from Strato.”
The proprietary Strato formula for translating statistics into player cards has always gone beyond the numbers and interpreted data in a different way. The Negro League cards just required a bit more research and interpretation. For example, because Negro League batter strikeouts were not recorded, Strato created estimates based upon league context, reputation as well as actual player strikeout tendencies in Latin America and the Mexican League where some of this data is available. In addition, for a player like Cool Papa Bell – “who was so fast he could turn the lights out in his hotel and be in bed before it got dark” – Strato surmised that he may not have stolen as many bases as expected for many reasons, including the fact he spent most of his career hitting in front of sluggers such as Buck Leonard, Josh Gibson and Willie Wells.
Major League Context
In order to unlock the mysteries of translating Negro League performance into MLB context, Strato researchers took into account many of the differences between the Negro League game and the MLB game. The following key elements were also examined and adjustments were made for every player to better reflect every player’s actual abilities and grade them in MLB context.
League Format – the competition in the Negro League East was considered far superior to that of the West.
Schedule Length – Negro League teams played just 70-80 games per season and then supplemented their income with barnstorming tours and exhibitions. Strato player cards only reflect performance in official Negro League games.
Ballparks – Ballparks play a huge role in player performance. Strato did extensive research into ballpark tendencies and cards were adjusted accordingly.
Playing Style – With the arrival of Babe Ruth, the MLB game transformed itself into a power game. Although a few players like Beckwith and Gibson wielded powerful bats, Negro League games had more emphasis on the stolen base, hit-and-run and bunting.
Strat-O-Matic (www.Strat-o-matic.com) was invented by 11-year-old Hal Richman in his bedroom in Great Neck, NY in 1948 because he became frustrated by the statistical randomness of other baseball board games like All-Star Baseball. He discovered the statistical predictability of dice would give his game the realism he craved. Over the next decade he perfected the game at summer camp and then as a student at Bucknell University. After producing unsuccessful All-Star sets in 1961 and ‘62, he parlayed a $5,000 loan from his father and a deal that if it didn’t work out he would work for his father’s insurance company into the original 1962 Strat-O-Matic baseball season game. Needless to say Hal never had to take a job with his father.
The company has a loyal celebrity following including a bevy of sportscaster and sports journalists like Bob Costas, Buzz Bissinger, Jon Miller, former MLB’ers Keith Hernandez, Doug Glanville, Cal Ripken; and sports superfans like Bryant Gumbel, Tim Robbins, Drew Carey and Spike Lee (who featured Strato in his film Crooklyn).