GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
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 SOMTalkShow@aol.com. Please include your name and hometown. Readers like to see that and you deserve the credit.
After Reading This, Imagine 1924
What a wild ride my 1927, 56-game season turned into! After seeing my first-ever cycle (St. Louis’ Fred Schulte), I had my first three-homer game: The Rajah, Rogers Hornsby, homered in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings, then added a two-run single in the eighth, as he drove in a record (for me) nine runs in a 12-2 Giants’ rout of the Braves at the Polo Grounds, in the next-to-last game of the season for both clubs.
What made it even more awesome was the season finale that followed. After walking in the first, Hornsby homered again, a three-run blast in the bottom of the third. He doubled in the eighth. With the Giants and Braves tied 10-10 in the bottom of the ninth, Hornsby came up with two out and Travis Jackson on first.
CRACK!! There it went, a fifth home run in the season’s final two games. Two more RBI. Sadly, though, rules are rules. And back in those days, the batter only got credit for the number of bases it took to score the winner. Travis Jackson was on first, so Hornsby was credited with a triple, and one RBI. Not bad, though, ending the season with three-fourths of a cycle.
And two days of mass destruction. Hornsby was 7-10, four homers, a triple, double, single, walk, six runs scored, and 13 runs batted in. In my league-leader totals, Hornsby leap-frogged George Grantham (48), then Hack Wilson (52), going from 42 to a league-best 55 RBI in those last two days. With his final total of 17 homers, he also took the HR title (Wilson had 12). He finished second in batting, at .372, behind Lloyd Waner’s .381.
Jeff Woodhouse, Seattle, WA
Reggie, Reggie, Reggie!
Everyone talks about no-hitters, but how about a moment that hasn’t happened in the MLB, yet? Using teams randomly drawn from 1982 cards, Reggie Smith hit a grand slam in the second inning while batting left-handed. His teammates kept hitting, and with a left-handed reliever on the mound, still in the second inning, “The Other Reggie” hit another grand slam, this time batting right-handed (his much weaker side, only a 1-8 chance on the split roll). This was before Fernando Tatis became the only MLB player to hit two grand slams in one inning. No MLB player has ever hit two grand slams in one inning, while batting from opposite sides of the plate, as the 1982 Reggie Smith did in Strat.
In that game, Reggie added a three-run HR, and two two-run doubles (one of which came with the bases loaded, an opportunity for a third grand slam), for 15 RBIs in the game, which would also exceed the MLB record of 12. Alas, Reggie compiled “only” 16 total bases, not enough to break another record. That card was relatively strong for a player in his final year in MLB, but it wasn’t a ringer. This game was particularly memorable to me because, while Strat has excellent long-term accuracy but also makes statistical flukes possible, this was a feat that actually could happen someday, but it just hasn’t happened, yet. In any case, if I’m ever given a vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame, I would be willing to vote for Reggie Smith, based on his remarkable game in Strat!
Strat-O-Matic has been a terrific diversion over the years. The Hall of Fame cards have been particularly enjoyable. Keep up the good work!
John Gadd, Los Angeles
Learning the Hard Way
I have been playing SOM Baseball for many years and have just recently tried my hand at SOM computer football. I have been “teaching” myself SOM football for awhile now. I know of no one in my area who plays SOM at all.
Since we moved I can’t find the instruction book, so I read over the “help” section and then try a game. I lost 12 games in a row, and in one of the worst games my QB was sacked 14 times by the 1-15 2001 Carolina Panthers. Now that is painful, even on the computer. My defense has “guessed wrong” too many times to count.
My win today was great. Finally, my 1977 Bears got revenge and beat those Panthers 27-14. Walter Payton rushed for 230 yards and the Bears defense sacked the Carolina QB 12 times. On defense I am now “guessing right” for a change. I am getting the idea of how to “head coach” SOM football. At least in SOM football, I won’t get fired for a 12-game loosing streak.
Mike Lee, St. Charles, MO
64 Million to One
Typically when you play Strat-O-Matic, you’re occasionally faced with
rather slim odds. This periodically occurs when a nasty split chance gives a 1-in-20 chance of getting a base hit or home run. Hitting one of these splits leaves you feeling extremely lucky and your opponent with a rather nasty feeling. In my face-to-face league, we call this “grease.” If the lucky shot actually tilts the game one way or another, we consider it “key grease.” Imagine my surprise when I encountered a situation our Richmond Strat-O-Matic baseball league this year that required 64 million-to-1 odds and actually prevailed.
Bottom of the 6th inning, bases loaded with Mike Jacobs facing Roy Oswalt
using the super-advanced rules, I happened to roll a “2” on the WP/BK/PB
chance and a 1-3 on the six sider to force a balk chance. Oswalt balk rating was 1-2 and a roll of the twenty landed on a “2” giving me the balk & a greasy run. Steven, my RSBL opponent, immediately mentioned that that was a rare shot and it was Oswalt’s first balk of the year. Now, with runners on second and third, I again roll a “2” followed by a 1-3 six sider, followed again by a “1” for another balk and another run. Now Steven begins laughing and shaking his head but I’m still not finished. With a man on third, another roll of “2” on the twenty followed by a 1-3 on the six sider produces another balk chance. This can’t be happening, I thought, as I roll another “1” for the third straight balk chance. We’re all amazed as I clear the bases with three straight balks.
We both agreed it was incredibly rare but how rare was a shock. To
produce three straight balks on Oswalt takes three “2” on the twenty (1/20 * 1/20 * 1/20 = 1/8000), it also takes three 1-3 rolls on the six sider (1/2 * 1/2 * 1/2 = 1/8), plus three rolls of a “1” or “2” on the twenty (1/10 * 1/10 * 1/10 = 1/1000). So, the final odds of that occurring are 1/8000 * 1/8 * 1/1000 = 1/64,000,000. As luck would have had it, although I was extremely lucky in the inning, Steven had the last laugh and won the game. Now if I can only have those odds with my lottery ticket.
Mike Parker, Richmond, VA
You Can Never Have Enough Good Pitching
I have had a lot of two-hitters and one-hitters recently. I will post my two one-hitters. I play three master leagues, each with 6-team divisions. Always basic cards and dice. 1900-1959 (Oldtimers), 5 divisions: 1900-19, 1920-30 (original 6), 1920-30B (all but 1921 NYY and 1922 STL), 1940-49 and 1950-60 (just the six 1950 teams). 1960-69: 36 teams in six, six-team divisions. 1970-79 36 teams in six, six-team divisions. All series 3 games.
Both one-hitters were played within days of each other and both were from my 1960-69 E league which includes the 1960 Pirates, 1969 Orioles, 1964 Yankees, 1968 Cardinals, 1966 Giants and 1965 Indians.
In the opening game of the opening series for both teams, the 1968 Cardinals visit the 1964 Yankees. Bob Gibson takes the mound vs. Whitey Ford. Lou Brock singles to lead off the game, steals second and scores on Curt Flood’s single. The Cards add three in the 7th on 4 hits and a big error by normally reliable Clete Boyer. After seven, the Cards have a 4-0 lead. Gibson has pitched (to that point) a no-hit, no-walk game. Two Yankee baserunners have reached on errors. The Yankees have not had anything close to a hit. In the Yankee 8th, Elston Howard grounds out to third, Tony Kubek strikes out and Clete Boyer flies out to left.
We go to the 9th and I can assure you I was very nervous and anxious. Pinch hitter John Blanchard flies out to right for out No. 1. Bobby Richardson pops out for out No. 2. I am one batter away from my fifth career no-hitter. Tom Tresh steps up and rolls the dreaded 3-8 (HR 1-12, 2B 13-20) and gets the 11 roll for the Home Run. Roger Maris grounds out to end the game and Gibson is disappointed to lose the no-hitter and the shutout but settles for a nice 4-1 victory.
Just a day or two later, the 1966 Giants have taken the first two games from the 1969 Orioles in a minor surprise. The Orioles send out Jim Palmer in Game three to try and salvage one game of the series. The Giants counter with Bobby Bolin. Palmer is magnificent as he pitches a 9-inning 2-hit shutout. The hits were by Tom Haller in the second and Jim Davenport in the 5th. But Bolin does Palmer one better. After allowing a first-inning double to Mark Belanger, Bolin goes the next 8 innings allowing no more hits. The 0-0 game goes to extra innings. In the top of the 10th, with two out, Jim Davenport rolls a 2-8 for a HR 1-14 (flyout 15-20) and gets the roll for the home run. Bolin comes out in the 10th and gets the Orioles easily, with only a Fuentes error accounting for a baserunner. Bolin finishes with a 10 inning 1 hitter and retired the last 29 outs with no hits and just 2 walks allowed.
Two-hit games were pitched by 1967 Jim Kaat against the 1965 Dodgers, the aforementioned 1969 Palmer vs. the 1966 Giants (Orioles lost in the 10th), 1977 Fred Norman vs. the 1970 Orioles, 1971 Vida Blue vs. the 1974 Dodgers, 1971 Chuck Dobson vs. the 1974 Dodgers, 1975 Don Gullett vs. the 1977 Red Sox, 1941 Red Ruffing vs. the 1946 Red Sox, 1948 Gene Bearden vs. the 1946 Red Sox.
All of the low-hit games were played in the last 1-2 months.
Cary A. Cardinale, Dublin, CA
An Unforgettable Comeback
In a first-round series of our 1987-88 NHL replay, the Toronto Maple Leafs led the St. Louis Blues 3 games to 1 and the Blues trailed 5-1 after one period in Game #5 in St Louis. The only St. Louis goal was scored on the last card of the period by Paul Cavallini on a seemingly harmless outside shot. After two periods, it looked even bleaker for the Blues as both teams failed to score.
However, the Blues chipped away in the third period with tallies by Tony McKegney and Tim Bothwell, making it 5-3. The Blues took a penalty mid-way thru the final frame and “CAPITALIZED” with a shorthanded goal by McKegney! That narrowed the margin to 5-4. With two cards left in regulation, St. Louis RW Herb Raglan picked up a loose rebound and stuffed it home past TOR G Alan Bester to tie the game at 5! Now to OVERTIME! After just four cards into sudden death, McKegney completed the hat trick to give the Blues an incredible comeback victory, 6-5.
Despite the comeback, the Blues bowed out of the playoffs by losing game #6 to Toronto, 4-3, despite McKegney’s two more tallies. Tony scored 7 times in the 6-game series.
John PUNCH Gedwill, Channahon, ILL
Look Again at This Score
— It was a deluge of unspeakable proportions, the offensive display put on at Navin Field this afternoon, as the Mackmen of Philadelphia ran roughshod over the Tigers, 31-2. This was the biggest rout I have ever witnessed in a Strat game.
On an otherwise sunny afternoon, hits rained down from all quarters – 37 in all – as every batsman Connie Mack sent to the plate had at least one safety, with the exception of relief hurlers Joe Pate and Lefty Willis. Not that Philadelphia starter Lefty Grove needed any relief. The sullen southpaw made good with five innings of scoreless pitching to earn his fifth win of the season. By then, the A’s led 23-0. The A’s went through their batting order in each of the first four frames. They tallied four times in each of the first two frames, adding nine more in the third, six in the fourth, three more in the sixth, and the final five in the top of the ninth.
Bill Lamar led the charge by reaching base seven times. Lamar belted three hits, collected two passes, and also reached base twice on errors. He scored six times.
Eddie Collins started the game at second base for the Athletics, but left for a pinch runner in the fourth inning, after having already posted four hits and a walk. The aging keystoner drove in three runs and tallied three times. His replacement, Max Bishop, added a single and two walks.
Ty Cobb dragged himself through all nine innings, a good thing since Mack is playing shorthanded, with Al Simmons still sidelined. Cobb snarled his way to a triple, three singles and a pass, knocking in four runs against his former mates. Young slugger Jimmie Foxx did more damage, collecting a triple, single, three walks and a sacrifice fly.
The top hitters were Jimmy Dykes and Walt French, who each rapped five hits. Dykes’ haul included a home run, double and three singles. He scored three times and drove in five runs. French tallied four singles, a double and a walk. He scored twice and drove in four more.
The catching tandem was Mickey Cochrane, who was 5-for-5 in his five-inning stint, and Cy Perkins, who doubled home a run. Joe Boley added a triple, double and single for a career-best four runs batted in, while even Grove smashed a three-bagger and a single, good for three runs batted in and two more scored. Replacing Grove as part of a double-switch in the top of the sixth, Chick Galloway singled, doubled and walked.
“I was gravely concerned for George Moriarty’s club this afternoon,” Mack admitted to a gathering of scribes. “The ever-present danger of injury to his hurlers from the frightening beatings they took, and the factor of fatigue that would naturally set in during a late summer afternoon were foremost in my mind.
“I took whatever steps I could to try to rein my club in, short of making a complete mockery of the game, such as it was. But there is little one can do, beyond telling runners not to tag up on fly balls, or to not make any attempts at stretching out a base hit. If a ball goes to the wall, do I tell my man to stop at first base? I might as well tell them to not even swing the bat.
“I have already offered my sincerest apologies to Mr. Moriarty for the circumstances that befell this afternoon. No one wishes such embarrassment on his fellow competitors.”
Jeff Woodhouse, Seattle
2007 Sox Unravel in 23-2 Rout
As if a surprising fifth-place position in the A.L. Central Division wasn’t bad enough this year, White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen is also worrying about a total pitching meltdown after a shocking 23-2 setback at the hands of the Cleveland Indians.
After the 25-hit autoplayed laugher at U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago fans were left wondering which of their teams has worse hurlers: the Sox or the Bears.
Ryan Garko led the Tribe by going 4-5 with three home runs, driving in 10 runs as the teams seem to have flipped positions with their real-life 2008 counterparts. Travis Hafner added two more longballs to the Sox’ demise.
Such a setback does bring into play when – or if – HAL is programmed to send in a position player to "take one for the team." The Sox went through seven hurlers, emptying the pen. Not that it made any difference.
As it was, Ozzie was not around to see the end of the miserable day. He was tossed (or got himself excused) in the fourth inning after arguing a call at the plate with crew chief Ed Montague. It was, at best, a futile gesture, as the Indians were in the midst of a 10-hit, eight-run explosion highlighted by Garko’s grand slam. The visitors built their lead to 21-0, before the Sox finally answered, scoring once in the eighth and again in the ninth.
Anybody know the whereabouts of Steve Trout? Or Bobby Douglass?
Gary Feierer in Minneapolis,
replaying the 2007 Major League Baseball season on the computer
Learning from Strat
Shortly after the All-Star Game’s pitching shortage near-fiasco, I had a reminder of how much the game has changed over the years: a 4-3, 17-inning marathon between the 1927 Dodgers and Giants at the Polo Grounds.
Trying as much as possible to emulate the era, I realized that – after 12 innings – it was getting a bit long for a mid-week, late afternoon affair, with darkness approaching. So I suspended the game – knotted at 2-2 – to be completed the next afternoon prior to the regularly-scheduled contest.
In my mind, the completion of the suspended game would probably take place an hour before the regular game. I picked up with the 13th inning, and followed with the 14th. Finally, the Dodgers posted a run in the top of the 15th. With two outs against Giants’ reliever John Clarkson, Gus Felix singled and Max Carey drew a pass. Harvey Hendrick then singled to center field, and Felix beat Edd Roush’s throw to the plate for the lead.
However, the Giants battled back. With one out, Bill Terry singled past second. Rogers Hornsby, who had already scored both New York runs the previous day, lined out to third. Roush walked. Herb Thomas, pinch-hitting for Les Mann, singled, loading the bases. A passed ball by Dodger backstop Butch Henline knotted the score again. Fred Lindstrom, with first base now open and the much-weaker Zack Taylor on deck, was passed. Taylor then grounded out. The game continued.
Finally, that day’s scheduled starter, Jesse Petty, took the hill in the bottom of the 17th for the Brooks. All I had left (on my 20-man active roster) was Dazzy Vance, who started and pitched a complete game the day before this one began, Jumbo Elliott, and Jesse Barnes (who was scheduled to start "tomorrow").
I figured that, if we could get the game finished quick enough, Petty’s already warm for his own start, a trick frequently used in those days. If it ran too much longer, I’d have swingman Elliott (who was not scheduled to pitch in this series) for an emergency start in the regular game. If Petty finished this one, though, then ran into trouble (or out of gas) in his own start, I’d still have Elliott to fall back on, in relief. But I didn’t want to burn Elliott now, leaving Petty "naked" for his own game, so I gambled.
The game did end quickly …at long last. After Clarkson pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the 17th, Hornsby lashed a one-out single to center off Petty. Roush popped out, and Thomas – who batted just 91 times that season (hitting a mere .220) – was a hero again, with a double belted deep to center field. Hornsby circled the bases, sliding home just ahead of Felix’s throw.
In all my years of Strat (going back to 1972), this was the longest game I had ever played. The teams combined for 34 innings pitched and used a mere seven pitchers to do it. So soon after the 2008 All-Star game with its one-inning specialists, I couldn’t help reflect on the difference between eras.
Jeff Woodhouse, Seattle, WA
I often read letters from Strat managers bemoaning that they have been playing for 13 or 16 or 22 years without ever being part of a Strat-O-Matic no-hitter. This story isn’t going to make those guys feel any better, but it’s true.
I played a fair amount of Strat in my 20s, but I am now 54 and haven’t played more than a dozen games over the past 15 years – not because I lost interest in the game, but because I moved and left my fellow Strat buddies behind. I only wanted to play face-to-face and I just never seemed to meet anyone who had the requisite baseball knowledge and enthusiasm who was interested in tabletop baseball. That changed recently when I became friends with Stan from work. Stan is a life-long baseball fan who has been rooting for the Giants since about the time they moved to San Francisco. I introduced him to the agony and the ecstasy of being a Strat manager.
For our first competition, we drafted teams from the 1965 National League season to play a best 4 of 7 series. Since he was the novice I game him first pick and much to my surprise he chose shortstop Maury Wills (AAA stealer). I gladly selected Sandy Koufax (26 wins) for my first pick and expected him to take MVP Willie Mays (52 HRs) next, but again he surprised me by taking catcher Joe Torre. So I grabbed Mays. Stan did very well for the rest of the draft, considering it was his first, but I was very glad to have Koufax and Mays on my squad.
I won the first two games when Koufax threw a six-hit shutout and Juan Marichal out-dueled Bob Veale, 3-2. Stan could not believe a lineup including Billy Williams, Joe Torre, Frank Robinson, Bobby Tolan, Willie McCovey and Pete Rose could get shut out. He grumbled a bit about the fact that no homers were hit in either game. Not to mention the fact that his No. 1 pick, Wills, had not even reached first base!
In Game 3 it was Jim Maloney for me against Claude Osteen for Stan. Maloney was wild early but got out of several jams with his blazing fast ball. Osteen was not at his best and by the 6th inning my guys led, 5-0. It occurred to me that Maloney had settled down after his rocky start and looking at the score sheet I realized that he had not given up a hit yet. With 2 out in the 7th however, Stan rolled a 4-8 and read the result which was Single 1-19. Glumly I watched him pull the split card, a ‘1’. Clean single, no hitter gone down the tubes … but wait, I thought I remembered Maloney getting several batters out on 4-8 rolls so I took another look and discovered that Stan had read the result from HIS pitcher’s card and not Maloney’s! On Maloney’s card, 4-8 is a strikeout! The no-hitter was still intact!
You can guess the rest of the story. Maloney cruised thru the 8th and 9th innings without giving up a hit, though I did get pretty nervous when all-time hit leader Pete Rose batted with two outs in the 9th inning. But Rose popped out and Maloney had completed a 5-walk, 14-strikeout no-hitter against some of the best hitters of 1965. And of course, many of you probably know that in 1965 the real Jim Maloney actually pitched two of his three career no-hitters (both went extra innings). So this was a clear case of Strat-O-Matic’s true-to-life realism.
This was the third Strat no-hitter I’ve been part of, but the really remarkable thing was that Stan got to be part of a Strat no-hitter in just the third Strat game of his life! I don’t think he really appreciates it yet, though. Maybe after a few hundred Strat games he’ll come to see how remarkable an event it was!
Bill Bell, North Bend, OR
Anything Can Happen
1950 Brooklyn Dodgers vs. 1950 New York Yankees: Tommy Brown and Gene Woodling bat lead off for their perspective teams and each cracks 3 home runs! Over the years, such luminaries such as Don Hoak, Jim Pagliaroni, Jim Ftegosi, Mack Jones, Joe Pepitone, Cliff Mapes, Wes Covington and Tony Gonzalez have had 3-homerun games. In 1975, Ceasar Cedeno hit 5 – y es, I said 5 in a 10-inning game! Play enough Strat over the past 40+ years and anything can happen!
Weirdness in Strat: Play enough games over the years and you are bound to have some interesting things happen. How else can you explain Tom Veryzer slugging 27 homeruns, Rudy Meoli slashing 198 hits while batting .312 or Don Larsen (of the 76 ‘Stros) going 23-8?
In 1978, the Padres John D’Aquisto was given a Koufax-looking card as a set up man. I threw him into the rotation and watched him compile 321 strikeouts and a 20-7 record! It seemed that every Johhny Dee game went like this: 9 innings 5 hits 2 runs 4 walks 12 strikeouts
Perhaps the strangest stat was Jerry Grote slugging 15 homeruns for the ‘69 Mets. Or maybe it was Harmon Killebrew’s 8 triples in 1965 – I can see him motoring around those bags! How could one predict that vintage Pete Rose would hit .243 or that Joe Torre would take a .199 average into August before rallying to hit .240?
Scott G – Westchester County, NY
Willie Davis’ Greatest Day
More wild games from my 50-game 1962 season replay using stock teams – the mini-Dodgers (16-12, one of the 36 past season teams) versus the "worst team in baseball history" NY Mets (6-22) in the 29th game for both teams.
The Mets started the scoring in the top of the first with a homerun by Felix Mantilla against Sandy Koufax. The Dodgers stormed back with 6 runs against Roger Craig in the bottom half, capped by a grand slam by light-hitting Daryl Spencer, and built a 7-1 lead in the third inning on Ron Fairly’s home run.
Then came one of the most unusual innings of my replay, partly because it involved the ‘62 Mets against Koufax. The Mets came up with 6 runs (only one earned) in the top of the fourth to tie it at 7-7. Gene Woodling and Frank Thomas singled. First and third, no outs. Koufax then struck out Marv Throneberry but Charley Neal reached on an error by Maury Wills, scoring Woodling. Choo Choo Coleman struck out. But Elio Chacon singled to load the bases followed by a walk to pinch-hitter Hobie Landrith (home-made card), scoring run No. 2. Richie Ashburn followed with a single for the third run. Then Mantilla, the ninth batter of the inning, delivered the tying runs with a bases-clearing triple.
The Dodgers pulled away with four runs in the bottom of the fifth, featuring Jim Gilliam’s home run. They added a run in the sixth on Willie Davis’ homer. Then the Dodgers batted around in the seventh, scoring three with the first two coming on a two-out homer by Davis (his second of the game). Score: 15-7, Dodgers. Finally in the bottom of the eighth against Bob Miller, the Dodgers loaded the bases with no outs and up came Davis who crushed another homer to cap the scoring at 19-7.
Davis finished 4-for-6 with a double and 3 homeruns. Sandy Koufax got a complete game win allowing only one earned run.
Why Some Teams Win and Others Don’t
I’ve had a lot of highlight moments over the years when I play S-O-M computer games – which is how I play football, basketball and, for the first time this past year, hockey. Our GKSML face-to-face baseball league is still going and we’re currently wrapping up our 69th, 154-game replay.
The special moment I’m writing to you about occurred last fall when I was replaying the Detroit Lions season (I also replay the playoffs), which means I’ve become a good loser. The Lions were 3-13 in real-life and I “coached” them to a 4-12 record.
In the second game between the Lions and Green Bay, a couple of plays at the end made it the best game of SOM computer football I’ve ever played. Here’s what happened: The Lions led 30-24, only 15 seconds were left, and Brett Favre was intercepted by Dre’ Bly, seemingly snuffing out the last Green Bay chance. But Bly fumbled on the return and Green Bay center Scott Wells recovered. One play left and the ball was on the Packer 32. Favre then connected with Greg Jennings (who went to Kalamazoo Central High School and later set pass-catching records at Western Michigan University) for 68 yards and the winning touchdown. Favre was 22-of-41 for 360 yards and threw for four TDs with two interceptions. As usual, Favre spread his passes around, throwing to nine different receivers.
Del Newell, Kalamazoo, MI
Fantasy + Replay = All in One
When I got the cards and dice baseball game based on the 2006 season last year, I immediately had a 30-team fantasy draft. I opted for up-and-coming stars like Hanley Ramirez, Nick Markakis, Felix Hernandez and Matt Cain much of the time, building for the future. After the draft, I started a 162-game season. I didn’t finish it then, but when baseball started up again this year I picked up where I had left off and finished all 162 games. Strat-O-Matic certainly delivers all the feel of baseball, with many players going through slumps and hot streaks over the course of the year. My team, the Toronto Blue Jays, started slowly with a record of 19-31 through the first 50 games, a slump I attributed to how young the team was. It wasn’t until after the All-Star break that the team broke .500 with a four-game sweep of Boston at Fenway Park (one of the highlights of the year). With a record of 77-68 and the playoffs out of reach, my team went on a 15-2 tear to finish the season 92-70. While we didn’t make the playoffs, I’m looking forward to seeing Matt Cain, Hanley Ramirez, Yadier Molina, Matt Stairs, and Rafael Betancourt play for me with their ‘07 cards this year.
While most players posted stats very similar to their ‘06 line, my team had many great stories, like Wilson Betemit hitting .279 with 25 homers and 107 RBIs, Matt Stairs hitting .298 with 21 homers in only 349 at-bats, Dontrelle Willis going 19-6 with a 3.24 ERA over 247 IP, and even Yadier Molina hitting .244 (when he only hit .216 for the ‘06 Cardinals). My Jays also had a few disappointments, too, like Jonathan Broxton posting a 4-13 record with a 4.02 ERA and Hanley Ramirez hitting .253, albeit with 61 stolen bases. Thanks again, Strat-O-Matic, for all the good times playing the most realistic baseball game on the planet.
Nathan Groot-Nibbelink, ONT, Canada
Here’s How to Make the Old Cubbies Great
One of my favorite season replays was the mid ‘60s Cubs. Combining cards from the 63-67 seasons, I created a monster team that won 102 games and defeated Detroit in the World Series. Ernie Banks (.336 50-149), Billy Williams (.314 29-111), Ron Santo (.297 29-114), Adolpho Phillips (.263 23-70 53 SBs), Randy Hundley (.241 18-64), Fergie Jenkins (20-13 3.12 an a Memorial Day no-hit game), Larry Jackson (17-7 2.95), Dick Ellswoth (14-7 3.67), Bob Buhl (12-9 3.56), Ted Abernathy (29 saves 72 games 2.34) and Lindy McDaniel (16 saves 72 games 2.12) were the notables. George Altman (19 homeruns), Don Landrum, Billy Cowan and Lee Thomas were also solid bench players. This team had power, pitching and speed.
Scott G, Katonah NY
A Cluster of No-Hitters
I have Version 13 of the SOM Baseball game and I love it because I can play it in a solitaire fashion. I play all of the Oriole (home team) games (2007) manually and a few other select games in a 16-team stock replay season. (Cleveland,13-6, is the class team so far with about eight .300 hitters and a 3.24 era). My first wife introduced me to SOM baseball in 1975 with the board game and six teams. We played until about 1986: the 1979, 1981, 1983 and 1984 seasons. On an average, it was about 600 games per season using 16 teams and finishing with the playoffs. Then I played on the Commodore 64, the 1986 season with about 16 teams but only about 400 games, and then later on a season (1991, I think) with an IBM computer, with maybe 300 games. I actually preferred the board game to the computer, but no one was interested in learning the game, so I stuck to the computer in the later years.
After the 1994 season in real MLB, I became disenchanted with baseball. All of the season records, games, cards, and floppy disks slowly became either lost or thrown away after 1994, as I have moved several times. My most prized possession was the box scores and lists of no-hitters that I was involved in numbering either 6 or 7 in about 3,500 games.(All my records were either hand-written or typed before I acquired the computers). All I can now remember of these no-hitters is:’79 Jack Morris, Detroit; ‘83 Dave Steib, Toronto (and someone else); ‘84 Dan Petrie, Detroit (playoffs vs. Minnesota); ‘86 Mike Scott, Houston (computer); and ‘86 someone else. I think someone else pitched a no-hitter on the IBM computer (1991?), but gave up 6 or 7 walks.
The most famous no-hit type of game I remember was when I was pitching Nolan Ryan for the 1979 California Angeles. He had pitched 8-2/3 innings of no-hit ball, and the ball was hit to Jim Anderson the short-stop. The result was on Ryan’s card and it read ssX. The result was a split card reading of 1 or 2 on the X-Fielding chart, resulting in a single for the batter. I can’t remember the opposition batter or team, but I still remember the player Jim Anderson (ss-3, lol, really a good ballplayer). So to people who struggled for years, even 45 years, to get a no-hitter, it appears I have been involved in an average of 6-7 no-hitters in 1 fully played season. I am retired now, and my interest in baseball has been rekindled, as I have spare time to play computer baseball. I truly love the Version 13 game and have played about 190 games auto/and manual. But zero no-hitters so far!
Cliff Burris, Essex, MD
Just One More Game – Until Dawn
Background, Part 1: I’m playing a 64-team tournament, cards and dice, best-of-5 series, using eight teams each from the “super-advanced” seasons 1963 through 1967, 1971, 1975 and 1978. I’m at the “Elite Eight” level – the fourth round, with 8 teams left in the tournament.
Background, Part 2: In earlier times, when I would often write my games up for Strat bulletin boards, I regularly used the title “Last Game of the Night”. Whenever I tried to squeeze in “one last game” before going to bed, it always seemed like that last game was remarkable in some way – marathon extra innings, major hitting or pitching feats, heroics or late-inning comebacks. This concept also applied to when I was trying to squeeze in one last game before work, while my wife was waiting for me to join her on a shopping trip or outing, whatever. This doesn’t happen as much anymore, since I have many fewer obligations now, and much more time for Strat.
And so it was one day this week, I had a minor medical procedure scheduled for the morning. Although I am in full possession of all my faculties, this procedure did require that a responsible adult drive me home after the procedure. My wife and I planned to leave at 9:45. I woke up fairly early that day, so I decided to play a few games before leaving. The series on the table was ‘66 Phillies vs. ‘78 Dodgers. I considered the Dodgers to be one of the tournament favorites, a .586 win pct, World Series team, great pitching, good offense, decent defense. They’d knocked out ‘64 SF, ‘67 Cubs and ‘67 White Sox to get here. The Phils at .537 were the 58th seed, one of the major underdogs, but had already taken out the ‘78 Yankees (613) , ‘64 White Sox (.605) and ‘71 A’s (.627).
The first game was an 8-0 shutout by Jim Bunning, took hardly any time at all. It was still only 8 p.m., I had plenty of time for another game before leaving. Game Two was a slugfest, 10-8, with the upset-minded Phillies, looking to knock out their fourth consecutive favorite, coming up with four runs in the 9th off Welch and Forster. Dick Groat’s bases-loaded double was the big hit. A great game with lots of rallies and comebacks on both sides. On another time, this could easily have been a Last Game of the Night. But today, I still had over an hour before we had to leave.
So, I decided to play “just one more game” to see if the Phils got their sweep into the next round. Battle of two fine lefties, Chris Short (20-10, 3.54) and Tommy John (17-10, 3.30). The first four innings flew by, with both pitchers having no-hitters until Harvey Kuenn singled for Philly in the 4th. Short kept his no-hitter going into the 7th, when North singled, but still a 0-0 game after 7. A quiet eighth. The Phils got a man on with one out in the 9th, bring up lefty-killer Dick Allen. Allen had demolished the great ‘71 Vida Blue card in the previous round, leading the Phils’ upset. His ‘66 card vs lefties has full homers on 1:4, 1:5, 1:6, 1:7 (I’m not using ballpark factors), and partial HR’s on 1:8 and 3:7, plus other hits nearly filling the one and three columns. It is one of the best, if not the best cards against lefties that I’ve ever seen for a full-time player. I felt I had no choice. I couldn’t make the same mistake that Oakland had. Although first base was occupied, I walked him. It worked. Tommy John got the next two outs.
The game remained scoreless into the 11th. With one out, Dick Allen comes up against TJ again. One out, nobody one. The exact same situation in which Allen nailed Vida Blue for a game and series-winning homer in their series. I couldn’t walk him again. Luckily, TJ escapes with “just a single”. Allen immediately steals second, but following two walks, he’s thrown out at the plate on an infield grounder. John reaches point-of-weakness on the second walk, but Forster gets out of the jam. Still scoreless after 11.
The 11-inning outing also puts Short at POW, although the hits/walks he’d given up were nowhere near it. Had Tommy John survived the 11th, I’d have been very tempted to let them both go in a Marichal-Spahn type of duel, but propriety reigns. I enforce the 11 inning POW rule. Darold Knowles relieves Short. Still scoreless into the 13th. In the Philly 13th, the leadoff man reaches on an error, and once AGAIN, here’s Dick Allen against a lefty, with 1st base occupied. This time, I walk him. Forster gets the next three outs, still scoreless after 13.
Somewhere in the middle of all that, needless to say, my wife calls out “almost time to leave!” from downstairs, with all due annoyance.
I wasn’t going anywhere, of course, until I finished this game. Luckily for me, the Dodgers finally break through in the 14th, a big double by Ron Cey. Forster holds it, 3-0 Dodgers in 14 innings. It was, of course, The Last Game of the Night.
Jim Beauchemin, Altamont, NY
It Happens Every 45 years
I have been playing Strat since 1964. Never had a no-hitter come my way! It is 2 p.m. on May 6, 2008. I just started my 1951 replay on computer for the American League. I had finished the National League managing all the Brooklyn Dodgers games, but could not get them to do any better than fourth place. So here I am playing my beloved Yankees with Vic Raschi on the mound against the Washington Senators. Low and behold I notice in the 5th inning that both pitchers are throwing no-hitters! In the top of the 6th, Gene Woodling of the Yankees up and I roll the dice on the screen – Whoa! It’s out of here! Homerun! So I wait through the seventh inning and decide I better get some defense in there. I put Joe Collins in at first, Hank Bauer for the Mick in right, and take out Brown at third. Now I have all 2s, plus a 1 in my infield. In the top of the eighth I get one more run, so I am up 2-0. Bottom of the eighth: Hal pinch hits for Porterfield – one out, then two more. One more inning to go! Bottom of the ninth: Dice roll Homerun 1-13 ballpark # — He is out! Great play by Hank Bauer. Next batter: Another Homerun try! He is out to Joe D in center! One out to go … a ground ball to the Scooter … Out! I can not believe it! The curse is over! I have done it! I love this game! Thank you, Hal Richman! Good Health!
Alan L. Dehn Schenectady, NY
More No-Hitter Drama
Playing the 1971 Orioles at home, hosting the 1971 Tigers. It was an amazing pitchers’ duel, featuring Jim Palmer against Mickey Lolich. (1971 was his career year.) After 8 innings, it’s still a scoreless game, but Lolich is pitching a perfect game. Palmer had allowed only 3 hits, but he walked several guys, and he’d hit a batter, too. My big fear at this point – counting my chickens before they hatched – is that Detroit won’t score, and Lolich won’t be able to achieve his no-hitter on account of poor run support! But, in the top of the ninth, Detroit scored two runs. How’d it happen? With one out, and runners on first and second, Lolich came to bat. I had him bunt. [I wonder, how many gamers have the pitcher bunt when there is already one out?] It was successful: runners on second and third, but now with two outs. Lead-off hitter Tony Taylor then lined a SINGLE** to CF, and the Tigers had their two runs. In the bottom of the ninth, Lolich struck out Andy Etchebarren, and Mark Belanger popped up to third. One out to go for a perfect game! I couldn’t roll the dice, and even put the game away, and came back to it after about an hour of anticipation and hope – and fear. Paul Blair pinch-hit for Palmer. Well, you can guess the rest – a clean double for Blair, and there went the perfect game. Lead-off hitter Don Buford immediately grounded out to short, and that was that – a one-hitter. Frustrating, but exhilarating!
Jimmy Jr., Lewisburg, PA
Editor’s Notes: This near-miss can be explained by your hour-long break. When watching a no-hitter in progress at the ballpark, you don’t change seats. You don’t take off your cap. You don’t talk about it. By taking your break, you broke the spell. OK, that’s all superstition and, truly, the dice odds did not change. Still!
As for the bunt strategy, if the pitcher is allowed to bat in that situation, always bunt, unless the pitcher is a good hitter – a 5, 7 or 8 hitter. Why? Because pitchers hit into so many double plays.
And the Winner Is …
After 127 series, 500+ games, and over a calendar year of play – I have a champion!
There were 128 teams involved, eight each from the years 1969 through 1984. Advanced rules, no super-advanced teams allowed. I used the original versions of 1971, 1975 and 1978, with advanced features like error ratings, pitcher’s hold, catcher arms, etc, added where necessary. All games were cards and dice. I also used the new pitcher-as-hitters feature, printed out from the computer game in most cases.
Teams were seeded (and re-seeded every round) by real-life winning percentage. So, ’69 Baltimore (.673), ’70 Baltimore (.667), ’75 Cinci (.667), ’84 Detroit (.642) for example, were the top four seeds. I took the top eight teams from each year, for the most part, but I did make a few exceptions to get some personal favorites in there (i.e, any team that Oscar Gamble played on, the ’74 Phillies, ’73 Expos, like that). Each series was best of five. I thought about best of seven, but I wanted to use four man pitching rotations, and I wanted the two aces to match-up in any final game, so I went with five.
The ’69 O’s held their top seed throughout, taking out ’77 Cleveland, ’74 Cleveland, ’71 Cubs, ’70 San Francisco, ’69 Oakland and ’71 LA to reach the finals with an 18-5 record.
Determining their opponent was a free-for all, after the ’70 O’s were upset in Round One by ’74 Cleveland. ’75 Cinci made it to Round Three before losing to ’70 San Fran in a series of slugfests. ’84 Detroit lost in Round Four to ’69 Oakland. ’76 Cinci was the last powerhouse to fall, in a rousing five-game series with ’71 LA. Finally making it to the championship game with a record of 18-3, while never once having the home-field advantage in a series……the ’71 SF Giants, upsetting ’81 LA, ’84 San Diego, ’74 Cinci, ’73 LA, ’77 Baltimore and finally ’78 Philly.
Both teams were rested coming in, so it would be Marichal vs. Cuellar in the opener at Baltimore. Powell’s 1st inning homer gave the O’s an early lead. Marichal doubled in a run to tie it in the 2nd. RBI singles by Powell and Frank Robinson brought in two unearned runs for the O’s in the 5th, but Tito Fuentes banged a two-run triple to tie it in the sixth, then Speier singled him in for the lead. Dietz singled in an insurance run in the eighth to make it 5-3. Hamilton (now THERE was a lefty specialist!), Carrithers and Stone closed it out for Marichal.
Perry vs. McNally in game 2. It was a slugfest early, Powell and McNally homering off Perry, Baltimore leading 5-3 after five, but Mays and Dietz nailed McNally for back-to-back homers after a Belanger error in the sixth to make it 6-5 Giants after 6. Another unearned run made it 7-5. Perry left after six with the lead, Hamilton and Carrithers closed it out.
With the Giants looking to end the series back home in Candlestick for Game 3, the O’s rallied, Powell and Blair hitting early homers off Reberger, Palmer cruising to a 6-2 win. Still home at Candlestick, the Giants again looked to end it in game 4. Phoebus went five good innings for the O’s, leaving with a 2-1 lead, and singling in one of the runs off Ron Bryant in the 2nd. Richert, Watt and Hall were near perfect in relief, Baltimore tacking on three against Stone in the eighth. We’ll go back to Baltimore for the finale, tied at two apiece.
And so, it would be Marichal vs Cuellar one more time, for all the marbles after 500+ games! Mays walked to lead off the game, Dietz doubled him to 3rd, Kingman singled them both in, and so it stayed, 2-0 Giants into the 3rd. A Marichal error and an RBI-single by Buford brought the O’s an unearned run in the 3rd, it was 2-1 Giants going to the 4th.
The Giants knocked out Cuellar in the 4th: Gallagher, Speier, Marichal with big hits, McCovey a sac fly. Gallagher tripled in another run in the 6th off Hall, things looking good for the Giants, 6-1 going to the 7th, Marichal cruising.
A homer by Dave Johnson in the 7th, a triple by Blair in the 8th brought in runs, making it 6-3 after eight. A McCovey homer in the Giants 9th tacked on an insurance run, Marichal closed it out. The ’71 Giants, at 21-5 are my tournament champions. Or, should I say … The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!
The Human Element Makes Strat Great
I think one of the things that sets Strat apart from other games is the balance between true-to-life player performance and the effect of human managerial decisions. This is most evident in the baseball game. When I have moments that my managing pays off, I fall in love with Strat all over again. I had one tonight in my 2006 Marlins Replay, although in favor of my opponent.
The Toronto Blue Jays visited the Florida Marlins on a typically muggy day that is a Sunday afternoon affair in mid-June ("bad" weather on the chart). The weather played a huge role in the game, as all triangle single chances for righties are automatic outs and homeruns are 5/3 for lefties and righties, respectively. That, combined with a Roy Halladay-Josh Johnson pitching match-up, made for a low-scoring contest.
Top of the 7th, 2-1 Marlins, 1 out, men on 1st and 2nd, pitcher’s spot at bat. Even though Halladay is pitching very well at this point, the obvious play is to pinch hit. I bring in Reed Johnson to hit against Logan Kensing (the previous batter’s single fatigued Johnson). He strikes out, but then Alex Rios hits a 2-RBI double to give the Blue Jays a 3-2 after 6.5 innings. Since the game is close and now in the Jays’ favor, I opted to keep Reed Johnson in at LF (he is a 2(-2)e1) and replace the defensively inferior (who am I kidding? The defensively awful) Frank Catalanotto (a 5(+1)e2 in LF). Entering the bottom of the 9th, the score is now 4-3 Toronto. B.J. Ryan trots out for the save and promptly surrenders a leadoff double to Cody Ross. Reggie Abercrombie (a meager .212 hitter) bunts Ross to 3rd with 1 out. Chris Aguila, pinch-hitting in the pitcher’s spot, misses a Single/lineout split chance, bringing Hanley Ramirez to the plate with two outs. He rolls on Ryan’s card, a fly(LF)X. The split roll on the X-chance is an 11. Had Catalanotto still been in, that’s a SI2. But with Reed Johnson in LF, it was an F2, out #3, Blue Jays win.
I know I lost the game, but it was great to see that my managerial decision basically allowed the Blue Jays to win a game they might not have won otherwise. That is an aspect of Strat that you just don’t really get with other baseball simulations, particularly video games, and part of what makes Strat so amazing.
Scott Dicken, Fort Lauderdale, FL
300 Wins in One Strat-O-Matic League
It was the privilege of the Gentlemen’s Base Ball League managers to be on hand a few nights ago to witness a historic event, as Roger “The Rocket” Clemens posted his 300th career win. This is his 21st season in the league and his 16th as a member of the Zurich Zephyrs. He spent his first five campaigns toiling for the charter member Brooklyn Excelsiors, and fate would have it that the old master beat the same Excelsiors, 3-2, for his landmark victory. He fanned 10 batters in 7-2/3 innings, before he turned the game over to an effectively wild Mariano Rivera, who struck out no one and walked four in his 1-1/3 innings of relief. Clemens brought his season record to a respectable 13-10, which has been a nice turnaround after his 9-13 slate last year, the only year he didn’t win at least 11 games.
It was his 707th career start, and he is just 8-2/3 innings short of 5,000 innings pitched. He has whiffed 4,811 batters in his storied career. He never won more than 19 games in any season. To put his achievement in some sort of perspective, the second most wins on the career list belong to Kevin Brown who has won 204 games. The “retired” Curt Schilling (203) and also “retired” Greg Maddux (202) are right behind Brown.
It is especially poignant that Clemens was released by the Zephyrs after his eighteenth season, and he endured two long years of intense conditioning under the watchful eye of an obscure trainer named Brian McNamee, before he was drafted by the Zephyrs to extend his career. In an era marred by accusations of steroid use and other performance enhancing drugs, it is refreshing to see a standup guy like Clemens persevere and ultimately succeed by doing things the right way. He will humbly explain the value of hard work to anyone who will listen, but he does not beat anyone over the head with his beliefs. He is a ballplayer’s ballplayer and a man’s man.
Whereas the Excelsiors’ Barry Bonds saw his home park renamed BALCO Ballpark after he surpassed Henry Aaron’s all-time home run record, the Zephyrs renamed their stadium Honorable Great Hero Park, or as some call it, HGH. No one would disagree that Clemens is deserving of this accolade.
Lastly, some observers still marvel at the trade that brought Clemens to Zurich just prior to the league’s sixth season. Wily Brooklyn general manager, Randy Boring, hoodwinked the Zurich GM, Rick Zaborsky, by talking him into parting with reliever Mark Davis in exchange for Clemens. As we all know Davis went on to become one of the greatest peanut vendors of all time, and yes, his voice could be heard throughout Clemens’ big win as he hawked his goods. You play Strat; you know the voice.
Such are the fortunes of baseball.
Rick Zaborsky, Dublin, OH
My cousin introduced me to Strat-O-Matic in 1965. I was immediately hooked and still can recall Don Pavletich’s three two-run homeruns in that debut game to beat me.
My first set was based on the 1965 season and my inaugural game was in Milwaukee, Dodgers vs. Braves, Claude Osteen vs. Denver Lemaster. As if it were yesterday, I recall Osteen taking a perfect game into the bottom of the ninth, a scoreless battle between two crafty lefties. I decided to pull Lemaster for a pinch-hitter with two outs in the bottom of the ninth despite his three-hit, shutout performance.
Rico (The Beeg Boy) Carty, number 43, stepped into the box as a pinch-hitter. Osteen gets the sign from Roseboro, into the windup, deals, it’s a 5-5 Homerun 1-10 Fly LF 11-20. Oh, my, what’s it gonna be, it’s going, going, it’s a 10, I don’t believe it, Carty has gone yard and the Braves win 1-0.
Over the years, I can remember a few no-hit gems, I’ve seen a bunch, some of them coming from unusual names: Bob Priddy, Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax, Tony Cloninger (twice), Ed Figueroa, Nolan Ryan ( one combined with Tug McGraw, one completed), Catfish Hunter, Fergie Jenkins, Al Downing, Billy McCool just to name a few.
In ‘83, Fernado fanned 17 Phillies and threw 8 innings of no-hit ball only to surrender a dinger to Mike Schmidt in a 2-1 loss!
Scott G., Katonah, NY
Vander Meer Knows Something About No-Hitters
I played my first Strat-O-Matic game in 1965. Until Friday March 14, 2008, I never had a no-hitter. Finally I had one. I am replaying the 1941 season with exact starting lineups. For the May 19, 1941 Boston at Cincinnati game I had my no-hitter. Johnny Vander Meer threw the gem. He had 13 strikeouts, issued 3 walks and had 2 errors committed behind him, on consecutive batters by shortstop Eddie Joost. Cincinnati won the game 1-0 on a solo home run by Frank McCormick in the 6th inning.
About the only memorable events in games I have not had while play SOM are a perfect game and a four-homer game by one batter.
Mike Sanders, Prairie Village, Kansas
After 3,000 Games, it Comes Down to One Roll
The Greatest Night In My Strat History- I have played beyond 3,000 games and have never had the satisfaction of throwing a no-hitter or hitting for the cycle. Come close I have, but never could close the door. I had just gotten home from finishing another semester of nursing school, my arch rival was set to meet me at my house at 9 p.m.
I felt an extra energy in the air. The 1st game was a thunderous rainout as I pounded the skies with shot after shot on my way to a 17-2 victory. With Ichiro Suzuki a chance in the 8th to hit for the cycle, he needed a double but did not get it. I then said, “Next game a no-hitter, it’s my night.” I was up against a “Bronx Bombers”-type lineup: Pujols, Ortiz, C. Jones, Mauer, A-Rod. Oh, yeah, his park is HR 1-18 both ways. The pitcher was Roy Oswalt, whose card is not that great, a big hit on 5-7 which usually is a bad hit to have on a pitcher’s card.
Pitch after pitch and there were no hits as we reached the 7th, single on a 1-8, doesn’t get it. I am having a hard time breathing as my pulse and respirations are increased. Sweat was pouring from Oswalt’s head and the same for me, my opponent Al Maier glaring at me speechless as with each roll our eyes became completely fixed on those three small dice. Owalt breezes through the 8th, striking out the side. One inning away from something I’ve never felt. The next inning will go down in the archives.
I am now standing and pacing. Al is in disbelief that his powerful Copperhead lineup was being no-hit by Oswalt. The first two hitters were retired easily and then he looked to his bench to find a stud pinch hitter Edgar Renteria, who hit .332 last year. Here it was, one pitch away, I rolled the dice only to see them come up 2-7 — my heart rate now at 130 as he spits out Single 1-14. The 20-sided dice is already in the air and as it settles in I see that he rolled a 17 and my first no-no was complete. I jumped for joy and celebrated like any crazy Strat player would. It was a classic moment. The true Strat man that Al is, he asked me if it would be all right if we cancelled the rest of the Strat night and he go home. I shook his hand and said have a good one. Thank you, Strat for allowing me to feel such JOY, never mind that I called it.
James Grigaitis, Enfield Strat League
THE WHITE SOX’ GREATEST SEASON
I played a computer season of the 1964 White Sox, using the As Played lineups, and had some great pitching seasons that fell short of history in September. The White Sox finished the season 109-53, seven games ahead of the Orioles (with Boog Powell finishing one RBI short of the Triple Crown).
The Sox had six pitchers with double-figure wins, led by Gary Peters, who went from 9-8 on July 9th to finish the season at 21-10 with a 2.06 ERA. Juan Pizarro was 9-0 with a 2.46 ERA on June 21, and finished at 18-5 and 3.03. Hoyt Wilhelm on Aug. 1 was 7-3 with 22 saves and a 1.08 ERA – he finished at 12-6, 33 saves, and a 1.94.
But the pitching story of the season was Joel Horlen. On June 12, he was 6-0 with a minuscule 0.15 ERA (1 earned run in 58 2/3 innings). As late as Aug. 26, he was 13-3 with an ERA of 0.94 through 172 2/3 innings. Unfortunately, my visions of Bob Gibson went by the wayside, as Horlen finished 17-5 with a still-stellar 1.65 ERA.
Curt Blood, Fort Worth TX
AN EX-YANKEE SPOILS A YANKEE FAN’S DREAM
Playing a computer 1967 replay, I thought I was going to have my first no-hitter in my 43 years of playing Start. But alas, it was not to be. My weak-hitting Yanks against the Cleveland Indians. I managed to get Horace Clarke to steal second and move to third on Tom Tresh’s sac bunt. Mickey Mantle, gimp knees and all, then sent one to the fence for a sac-fly RBI. This is in the top of the ninth inning and I just noticed that Mel Stottlemyre has a no-hitter going. He gets the first two batters to ground out. The Tribe manager decides to bring in Moose Skowron as a pinch hitter. Lo and behold, he hits a shot to Rueben Amaro, my 3 shortstop. No! It goes through for a single! Agg! So close, no cigar! I think I am the only one playing Strat (for so long) not to have a no-hitter.
Alan L. Dehn, Schenectady, NY
TALES OF THE HAMMER (No, Not That One)
Several years ago, I decided to replay the 1997 Tigers season on the computer.
I can’t recall the opponent, but in one game, Bob Hamelin hit a game-tying home run in the 9th inning, followed by a walk-off homerun in the 10th. In the very next game, I brought in Bob Hamelin as a pinch-hitter and he hit a game-tying home run again. The game remained tied until the 15th inning, when Hamelin hit yet another walk-off homer. So, in back-to-back games, Bob Hamelin hit both game-tying and game-winning homeruns. And in the second game, he didn’t even appear until the 10th inning.
MY PERFECT SON
Today, my son was something I have never been and may never be. He was perfect.
While I was out doing the grocery shopping, he finished his school assignments, then got back to a 2001 short season four-team, 24-game, tournament/season he recently started. My son has always loved going to Mariners game with me over the years. He’s not an athletic type. And he’s never really been focused on the strategy side. He does, however, have a fair grasp (as much as many players, anyway) of the Infield Fly Rule, as well as a sharp mind for mathematics. I have been playing one game each night with him as his guest opponent and have been finding it astonishing that the Yankees could have ever been AL champs. He’s beaten me with the Mariners (yay!!!), and with the Rangers (huh???). I’m at a loss as to how the Yankees were so successful.
Today, when I got home, he was waiting for me.
“Wait’ll you see what Mike Mussina did today,” he said, teasingly.
“Okay, he probably beat the Mariners," I was thinking. When I skipper the Yanks, Mariano Rivera gives up three-run ninth-inning homers to John Olerud and loses.
I glanced at the line score.
“Moose threw a no-hitter, huh?” I responded.
“He threw a perfect game!” my son exclaimed. “Look.”
I looked down again, scanning the neat columns, every one of them in groups of three. Twenty-seven in a row. Nine games into his first-ever real attempt to tackle Strat-O-Matic, my son had found perfection.
“Aww-w-w-w-w, man! I’ve never had a perfect game!” I moaned, plaintively.
I’ve had two no-hitters, my celebrated Smokey Joe Wood one-hitter, but I’ve never been perfect.
Jeff Woodhouse, Seattle
EARLY DRAMA IN TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
I have been playing Strat baseball and football for nearly 20 years. Each year I conduct some kind of football tournament. Sometimes I draft teams and use the USFL franchises. This year I decided to do a tournament of champions. Here are the brackets:
1. ’72 Miami Dolphins (17-0 season)
2. ’75 Pittsburgh Steelers (Super Bowl Champs)
3. ’76 Oakland Raiders (Super Bowl Champs)
4. ’00 Baltimore Ravens (Super Bowl Champs)
5. ’97 Denver Broncos (Super Bowl Champs)
6. ’06 Indianapolis Colts (Super Bowl Champs)
7. ’99 Tennessee Titans(AFC Champs)
8. ’85 New England Patriots (AFC Champs)
9. ’02 New England Patriots (AFC East Champs)
10. ’06 San Diego Chargers (AFC West Champs)
11. ’85 Miami Dolphins (AFC East Champs)
12. ’77 Denver Broncos (AFC Champs)
1. ’85 Chicago Bears (Super Bowl Champs)
2. ’99 St. Louis Rams (Super Bowl Champs)
3. ’02 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Super Bowl Champs)
4. ’06 Chicago Bears (NFC Champs)
5. ’97 Green Bay Packers (NFC Champs)
6. ’98 Atlanta Falcons (NFC Champs)
7. ’98 Minnesota Vikings (NFC Central Champs, 15-1 reg season)
8. ’85 San Francisco 49ers (NFC Wild Card)
9. ’97 San Francisco 49ers (NFC West Champs)
10. ’06 New Orleans Saints (NFC South Champs)
11. ’85 New York Giants (NFC Wild Card)
12. ’97 Detroit Lions (NFC Wild Card, Barry Sanders 2053 yds, 6.1 avg)
So far, the games have been interesting. The most entertaining was the match-up between the ’97 Broncos and the ‘77 Broncos. I was expecting a low-scoring affair and predicted the ’97 Super Bowl champs would beat the Orange Crush defense. But as the game went on, big plays developed. Darrien Gordon returned an interception 70 yards for a TD. Rick Upchurch returned a punt 58 yards for TD. Rob Lytle and Terrell Davis matched each other in the running game. Down 28-24, the ‘77 team tackled John Elway in the end zone to get to 28-26. Then, after the free kick, the ’77 team marched down the field and scored with about 2 minutes left on an Otis Armstrong TD. After the 2-point conversion it was 34-28. But Elway produced a vintage comeback, leading a 77-yard drive capped by a Terrell Davis run to give the Broncos a 35-34 win.
Rollin’ for Rolen
Mr. Scott Rolen (2004 version) recently had the game of his life in a regular-season Gentlemen’s Base Ball League game. We play a four-team, face-to-face, computer baseball league that combines the best cards of drafted players over the past four seasons. We are currently playing 2003-2006 players.
In average weather at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, July 31, 2007, Great Scott went yard four times, connecting twice off Gentle Ben Sheets and twice against Cla (“The Claw”) Meredith. He was able to “Keep the Ball Rolen” big time to bring a smile to the face of his manager, Tom Hale, of Pickerington, Ohio. We are in our 23rd season, and “Rolen Stone” joined Kent (“I wanta buy a vowel”) Hrbek, Andres (The Giant) Gallaraga, and Barry "US" Bonds as a member of the elite four-homers-in-one-game club.
Rick Zaborsky, Dublin, OH
Maybe This is Where the Yankees-Indians Rivalry Began
In the midst of a 1927, 56-game season, a four-game series between the Indians and Yankees at the Stadium was absolutely wild.
Using my extension of the Weather Charts, I determined that the first game was rained out, setting the stage for a twin bill the next day. The Yankees were cruising until that point, checking in with a 17-3 record. The Tribe was stuck in the mud, at 10-10.
In the first game, though, Willis Hudlin outdueled Waite Hoyt, 6-1, sending the Yankee ace to his first defeat after five straight wins to open the season. The Indians out-bombed Murderer’s Row, pounding Hoyt and reliever Myles Thomas for 16 hits, including a home run and five doubles.
The nightcap was a 16-inning, back-and-forth, 8-7 thriller. Cleveland took a 4-3 lead into the last of the seventh, but Tony Lazzeri doubled and John Grabowski singled him home to tie the game. New York went ahead, 6-4, in the eighth, when Bob Meusel doubled with one out and the bases loaded, scoring Mike Gazella and Babe Ruth. Taking a two-run lead into the ninth, Herb Pennock was stunned when Homer Summa led with a single and George Burns homered. Extra innings to follow.
The Indians left the bases loaded in the 11th, as reliever Wilcy Moore worked out of a mess. Meanwhile, Cleveland’s Benn Karr (who gave up the go-ahead runs in the eighth) pitched shutout ball from the ninth through the 12th.
Both teams scored in the 13th. The Indians got a run-scoring single from Lew Fonseca, who had come on to pinch-hit in the eighth, then stayed on in a double-switch. The Yanks answered with Mark Koenig’s RBI single. Koenig, too, had come on as a pinch-hitter, in the ninth, and stayed in the game. Finally, in the 16th, Joe Sewell singled with two outs, and scored when Bernie Neis followed with a double.
The next day resulted in a standard nine-inning contest, a 5-4 win for the Yankees. There was nothing standard about the way they won, however.
New York scored three runs in the last of the first inning, after the Tribe had jumped to a 1-0 lead. Ruth walked with two down, Gehrig singled, and then Meusel singled, delivering the Babe. Lazzeri belted a two-run triple, plating Gehrig and Meusel.
Cleveland got one back in the fourth, on Neis’ sacrifice fly. The Yankees answered with Koenig’s first home run of the season, in the sixth. In the eighth, the Yankees added one more run on Meusel’s RBI single, but stranded the bases full.
In the ninth, the Indians fought back against Urban Shocker, putting two on with two out. Then Burns, pinch-hitting, singled to score Neis. And Charlie Jamieson reached when Babe Ruth dropped his fly ball to short right. It scored Luke Sewell, but Burns held second (a one-base error, with the one-base advancement, makes no sense with two outs in an inning as the runners are taking off on contact anyway). Moore relieved Shocker and Fonseca hit a hard smash to third that Dugan got his glove on, but couldn’t recover in time to make the play. Bases loaded. Summa popped out to end the game.
The skies finally cleared for series finale. Sunny skies for another beauty – the second 16-inning game of the series (with Ruth scheduled for his first day off of the season).
George Uhle and George Pipgras matched zeros for six innings, before the Tribe finally broke through in the top of the seventh. Summa was hit by a pitch. Burns’ single nudged the Indians’ right fielder to second. On the hit-and-run, Joe Sewell hit a roller to the right side. The only play was to first as both runners moved up. Neis delivered a sacrifice fly to right.
Uhle continued putting up donuts – until the bottom of the ninth. Ruth, pinch-hitting for Koenig, singled to start the rally. Meusel skied to left, but Columbia Lou singled Ruth to third. A fly ball to right by Lazzeri tallied the Babe and, here we go again.
Pipgras left for a pinch-hitter after 10 innings. Uhle followed after the Yankee 10th. Bob Shawkey blanked the Indians for two innings, then buckled in the 13th, when Neis led off with a home run.
The Yankees could have won before that, but Grabowski’s clutch (out) reading in the 11th prevented a bases-loaded game winner by the Yankee receiver. In the 13th, the Yankees got the run they needed when Grabowski hit a hard shot at Sewell that went for a run-scoring single and error.
Cleveland tallied twice in the 14th on walks and singles, but stranded the bases loaded, failing to put the game away. New York stormed back with two runs to tie the game again despite key outs by Ruth and Gehrig in the middle of the rally. Combs singled, Meusel drew a one-out pass, and Lazzeri stroked a two-out double, scoring both runners.
Finally, New York ended the game two innings later. Lazzeri singled off Dutch Levson with one out and took third on a single off Burns at first (groundball X). Burns chased the ball into foul territory, toward the stands. His hurried throw back to the infield was off-line, as Koenig dashed home on the error (SI** plus error, and a little embellishment).
What an incredible series! A total of 54 innings over three days. I had pitchers pinch-running. Pinch-hitters in double-switches ended up staying in games and getting five at-bats! On his “day off,” Ruth pinch-hit in the ninth and ended up finishing the game with a single and a walk in five trips to the plate. Talk about the luck of the draw, or roll: In extra innings, the slumping Ruth and Gehrig combined to go 2-for-12, with three walks. I’m sure the Indians’ hurlers were walking on eggshells the whole time.
Jeff Woodhouse, Seattle
The Twins’ Greatest Hits (and Pitches)
I have 3 Great Moments and one not-so-great moment I’d like to share.
1- The 1965 World Series — played against my guru/S-O-M mentor back in college in the late 1970s. The series went seven games, only it was Sandy Koufax vs. Mudcat Grant in that final game — and of all things, Grant pitched a perfect game to close out the fall classic in a 2-0 win for the Twins … 27 up and 27 down – very memorable.
2- My first league was a jumble of players from different franchises across the years 1961 to about 1972 – 8 AL teams broken in two divisions – using the elementary cards. The division winners played in the World Series – my Twins (mainly the 1969 Twins with a good Carew, Oliva, Battey, etc. thrown in) representing the West, facing mainly the 1961 Yankees of the East. The 3rd place team in the East had a better record than my Twins did, but it wound up a lopsided four-game sweep for the Twins. I shocked them the first two games with great hitting and pitching, then managed my heart out in winning Game 3 in extra innings. Game 4 appeared lost as I trailed 8-5 until a ninth-inning rally sent 1969 Harmon Killebrew to the plate with the bases loaded. Killebrew already had a great series to that point with 4 HR and 10 RBIs – and would you believe he rolled a 2-10 (HR 1-19 Do 20) and pulled a 19. The ball hit the top of the fence and went over! That was sooo cool. I heard that after I left, my opponent (who was so stunned) threw my team all over the basement.
3- I was in a face-to-face league that had a manager nobody liked. A year later he would be tossed out for cheating (in two different ways). During a one-game playoff to see who the final playoff team would be, his 1981 Dave Righetti had like a 2 hitter going into the 9th inning, with no sign of tiring. With one out I had a runner on and was losing 1-0. Lou Whitaker, who hit only .263 that season, rolled a HR 1-4, out 5-20 – and I will never forget the look of fear in my opponent’s face as I shook the 20-sided die. I just knew Whitaker was going to pull it – sure enough, I pulled a ‘2’ and the game was over. LOL. I lost in the first round of the playoffs that followed.
The one not-so-great moment was in the same league. For three years, no one had thrown a no-hitter in that league, but late in the season 1979 John Fulgham had a no-hitter (perfect game no less) going for me down to the last batter and my opponent PH was weak-hitting Mick Kelleher (like a .222 hitter). He hit a 3B-X and Ray Knight (a 3B-2) was my fielder – I will never forget the disappointment as the 1-20 card split came up with the ‘2’ and a single. Fulgham settled for the 1 hitter. In 27 years, that league (an all-star league with 12-16 teams drafted from 26) had only two no-hitters – one by the aforementioned 1981 Dave Righetti and one of the Nolan Ryan cards. Oh, well. I had only three championships in those 27 years. Firefighter and 9-11 victim Ken Marino was also in that league and I think he had four or five championships, and he did not join until about the 6th season. He was a good manager.
Jim Colquhoun, Long Island, NY
I just finished playing the 2007 World Series in one of my FTF leagues. My
opponent took Games 1, 3 and 5, and I took games 2 and 4, leaving me down 3 games to 2. In Game 6 I had to pitch tired relievers the whole game as I had nobody available to start. Luckily my offense was hot, putting together three 4-run innings in a 13-5 win. Amazing – my opponent never rolled a dotted out the whole game.
Game 7 was the most memorable game I’ve ever played in my 26 years of Strat-O-Matic. I had a 3-2 lead into the 7th inning, but David Ortiz hit a two-run HR, and Carlos Beltran followed that with a solo shot to put me down, 5-3. The score remained until the bottom of the 9th. With one out, and Takashi Saito on the mound, I rolled 4-5 for J.D. Drew – TR 1-4, DO 5-20. He doubled. I then brought in Jim Thome to pinch hit, and promptly rolled another 4-5. This time I rolled the triple, leaving me down 5-4 with the tying run on 3rd and one out. The next hitter, Ray Durham, grounded out with the runner holding. I was down to my last out, and Carlos Guiilen at the plate. Guillen rolled 3-9, which is a BPHR. The weather was bad in Comiskey on this day, so it was a HR 1-16. I said, “Going deep, for the Championship!” I rolled the 20-sider, and it came up 5! Walk-off, 2-run, World Series-winning HR! UNBELIEVABLE!
Steve Dufresne, Montreal