GREAT MOMENTS IN STRAT
10,000 and Counting
This weekend my friend Brett is having a little get-together celebrating the playing of his 10,000th Strat-O-Matic baseball game, none of them being the computer version. He does all of his stats by hand, and has nearly all 10,000 of his games saved in boxes and Rubbermaid tubs. I know this is a forum to tell stories about great games played, but during Brett’s Strat-O “career” there have been a lot of memorable games. This is not to boast about great games played, but rather great times we’ve had. Brett starting playing in ‘90 and there are six of us who still get together for Strat-O-fests of games and seasons. That’s 19 years of friendship, over half of our lives spent sharing stories of amazing games or ridiculous stats. 4 of us will be there to celebrate “G10K” (we are having a cake pictured with the basic side of Ted Williams’ 1941 card). One unfortunately cannot attend because of surgery, and the other lives in France. We are video skype-ing the game to France, however. I imagine most people play Strat-O for the nostalgia, reminiscing about a favorite season, or team, or player. But as my friends and I celebrate 10,000 games, it’s the hours together playing Strat-O that has itself become nostalgic.
Perry Halberg, Oak Creek, WI
2,100 and Shrinking
The Ultimate Tournament, which started with all 2,196 teams from 1901 to 2008 is now about 85 percent through Round 1. We did lop off the poorest teams from 1901-1919, to get down to 2,048 teams and avoid any byes in subsequent rounds. 1920 through 1982 is done, the remaining series are from 1901-1919 and 1983 to date. Then, of course, we go to Round 2. There are 50 of us having a great time with this, although not everyone is active … come on over and grab a series.
A Royal Moment for Prince Hal
I started playing Strat-O-Matic in 1972 when the lefty-righty cards were introduced and have had a few no-hitters. But this one topped all. With the Hall of Fame computer set, Hal Newhouser pitched a gem for the “modern” AL Stars against the “modern” NL Stars. Newhouser mowed down a dazzling lineup – Joe Morgan, 2b; Roberto Clemente, rf; Frank Robinson, dh; Willie Mays, cf; Hank Aaron, lf; Ernie Banks, ss; Stan Musial, 1b; Mike Schmidt, 3b, and Roy Campanella, c. Prince Hal walked two and fanned eight. No close calls in the 4-0 win.
I got Newhouser’s autograph on a program in 1955. He was sitting behind the visiting third base dugout (Cleveland Indians) at Briggs Stadium. Years later, he was speaking in Port Huron, MI, where I worked. I was sitting with him at the luncheon and mentioned I had gotten his autograph more than 10 years before. He stunned me by saying, “I remember.” I replied, “No way.” He then told me he didn’t remember that autograph, but he remembered the game because it was the day the Hall of Famer got his release from baseball.
Joe W., Saginaw, MI
Extra-Innings Heartbreak in New York … Times Two
I am replaying the 2006 MLB playoffs, using the exact seeding as in real-life, although I made up my own playoff schedule. Day Two of the playoffs featured Game Two of the Tigers and Yankees at 1 p.m. (NYY lead series 1-0), followed by Game One of the Dodgers and Mets at 7 p.m.
The Yankees led 2-0 entering the 8th inning. The Tigers had now gone 12 straight innings without scoring a run off Yankee pitching. However, a two-out error by Alex Rodriguez allowed the Tigers to scrape through a run in the 8th and forced Mariano Rivera into the game to earn a four-out save. However, Craig Monroe launched a HR in the 9th, tying the game, and sending it to extra innings. The Tigers broke through for a run in the 15th to lead 3-2 and bring on Todd Jones to earn a save. Bobby Abreu had other plans though, and his solo shot forced a 16th inning. Magglio Ordonez promptly homered, again restoring the Tigers’ one-run lead at 4-3. The Yankees, however, scored on a sac fly to tie the game at 4. In the 17th, though, Corey Lidle surrendered a solo HR, and Zach Miner shut down the Yankees, as the Tigers evened the series with a 5-4 win in 17 innings.
With the 1pm, 17-inning affair ending just in time for the Dodgers-Mets, attention shifted to Shea Stadium. The Mets led 8-2 lead after the 7th. However, the Dodgers proved to be too much for the Mets’ shaky bullpen, scoring five runs in the 8th to cut the lead to 8-7 entering the 9th. The day of blown saves continued, as James Loney, in pinch-hit duties, jacked a Billy Wagner offering into the right field seats to tie the game at 8-8. Aaron Heilman surrendered a solo HR in the 12th, and Takashi Saito closed the door on the Mets, completing an amazing comeback, as the Dodgers stole Game One, 9-8 in 12 innings.
Overall, it was not a good day to be from New York.
Scott D, Baltimore
These Things Go in Cycles
I’ve been playing Strat-O-Matic baseball for nearly 40 years. I had never had a player hit for the cycle until last year, when Johnny Schulte did it in my 56-game 1927 season. I have started to play 1924. Within the space of two “weeks” (a dozen games played for each team), I have witnessed my third cycle of the year! Three in less than one-fourth of my season. It’s all taking place in the midst of what can best be described as total chaos for pitchers.
Rogers Hornsby, beginning his surreal 10-10 start, cycled on Opening Day, against the Cubs (Pete Alexander started for Chicago). Three “days” later, Zack Wheat hit for the second cycle against the Phils. Meanwhile, Wally Pipp banged out four doubles (and a single) in the fourth game of the season-opening series at Fenway.
The topper, though, just took place. The Phillies’ Heinie Sand had a home run, single and double going into the bottom of the eighth against the Pirates at the Baker Bowl. The Pirates had made a pitching change, sending Johnny Morrison to the hill.
I looked to see if Sand still had a chance to get the triple on the pitcher’s card (his own card has just a slim 2-5, split 1-3 chance). He did, on 6-4, split 1-12. I did not choose Morrison to improve the chance; he was the last best option I had for the Pirates, who trailed 8-6. Del Lundgren, the last reliever available, was horrendous in 1924.
I rolled … 6-4. Split die: 7. UNBELIEVABLE!!!
Morrison let Sand score on an error, giving Philly a 9-6 lead. Pittsburgh, however, managed three runs in the top of the ninth to tie the score. In getting the runs, I had to pinch hit for Morrison. Now, Lundgren had to pitch. Hod Ford singled, but the next two batters were retired on fly balls. Johnny Mokan, at the top of the order, drew it out with another single, sending the winning run to third.
… and here comes Heinie.
Crack! Base hit. Game over. Sand was 5-for-6, with two singles, a double, triple and home run, good for four runs batted in and four runs scored.
I’m seeing so many cycles, it’s like the Tour de France! Call it, the Tour de ‘24.
Jeff Woodhouse, Seattle
When Rich Coggins was a Star
Not the A’s vs. Reds, but the Florida Flamingos hosting the Round Rock Ruffians in the seventh game of the 1973 World Series of the 16-team CCBL Retro League. All games were Netplayed.
The Flamingos won the first three games, but were unable to deliver the coup de gras as their bats suddently went cold. So the Series comes down to Andy Messersmith vs. Jim Colborn in Game 7 and both teams are a little hamstrung for bench and bullpen depth because of strict usage limits.
The Flamingos, 98-64 for the best overall record during the regular season, fell behind 1-0 in the first inning to Round Rock (86-76) when Hal Breeden’s single scored Mark Belanger. But the Flamingos put up a crooked number in the second inning when Chris Speier’s bases-loaded grounder to Sal Bando is mishandled. Three runs score on the single and Bando’s wild throw. Colborn then hit a grounder and Speier beat the throw home to make it 4-1. With two on and two out in the Ruffians’ fourth, Bernie Carbo pinch-hit for Messersmith and doubled to make it 4-3, but Rich Coggins singled home Davey Lopes in the bottom half to give the Flamingos a two-run lead. But Coggins dropped Davey May’s fly leading of the fifth for a two-base error and May scored on Breeden’s sac fly off reliever Ramon Hernandez, pulling the Ruffians within a run again.
Pinch-hitter Al Kaline homered off Don McMahon with two out in the top of the ninth to tie the game. With one out in the Flamingos 10th, Doug Griffin singled. Speier walked and Rollie Fingers also walked pinch-hitter Bob Watson to load the bases. Coggins singled to right to give the Flamingos their second league title in their fourth World Series appearance in the past five seasons.
All Franchise Football Tourney
We (Two Guys from Baltimore) have completed eight of the 12 first-round games in a single-elimination tournament with the All Franchise teams. It’s been lots of fun and excitement.
Joe Montana and Steve Young combined to complete 17 of 24 passes. Joe Perry and Hugh McElhenny each ran for two TDs.
The Redskins built a 37-14 lead in a game with nine injuries.
San Diego 20
New England 17
In sudden-death overtime, Rolf Benirschke settles a game with 13 turnovers. Paul Lowe ran for 143 yards for the Chargers.
Miami finished with 585 yards of total offense. Dan Marino was 30 for 40 for 369 yards. Mercury Morris had 195 yards rushing on 27 carries, but also fumbled 5 times, losing 4.
The Vikings’ defense shut out the Falcons in the second half. Minnesota’s Fran Tarkenton completed 19 for 35 passes for 215 yards and 1 TD. Robert Smith ran for 123 yards and 1 TD.
Green Bay 65
St. Louis 22
The Packers led 38-7 at halftime and 48-7 after three quarters. Willie Wood returned two punts for TDs. Bart Starr completed 22 for 35 for 270 yards and 3 TDs. Paul Hornung ran for 132 yards, caught six passes for 83 yards and kicked three field goals.
Manning Rescues New England (!)
In my draft league I have Peyton Manning as my QB. After we fell behind 21-0 and unable to run (25 total yards rushing), Manning kicked it into overdrive in the second half, finishing with an amazing 516 yards and 3 TDs. My Manning-led Patriots put up 27 second-half points, including 17 in the 4th quarter and a game-tying strike with 22 seconds left to Braylon Edwards. That led to a 27-24 overtime victory. On the receiving end of Manning’s passes were Edwards (18-217, 1 TD), Clinton Portis (15-145, 2 TD) and Terrell Owens (6-123).
Nick Milford, Richmond, VA