Great Moments in Strat – January, 2010


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Strat-O-Matic’s Ageless Appeal

            My 81-year-old mom was here for an extended Thanksgiving stay. She is a lifelong baseball fan (heck she married a ballplayer) and she knows about my 40-year love affair with SOM baseball, so two days ago I showed her some cards and we did a basic batter 1-2-3 column pitcher 4-5-6 column walk-through with a few rolls so she could get the hang of it. Today I talked her into a game and asked her what team she wanted and she said Giants. I said well pick a team AND a year and she said 1938 Cubs. I said I don’t have that team, pick another team. She said Red Sox 1941 because Ted Williams hit .406. I talked her into taking the 1935 Cubs. I took the 1924 Senators and pitched Zachary (not Walter Johnson). She pitched Bill Lee. I let her roll all the split chances and let her find all the results for all rolls in the game. She did great with no mistakes. She managed well.

            The game was scoreless for two innings, and then she broke through with a leadoff triple by Stan Hack in the third and a groundball B fielder’s choice RBI a few batters later for a 1-0 lead. Meanwhile I could not get a runner on, having the first 12 go in order.

            In the 5th, Ossie Bluege got a Flyball RF (X) chance and Chuck Klein played it into a triple. Roger Peckinpaugh then drove home Bluege with a clutch, two-out single.  In the 6th, Zachary lined a single off his pitcher’s hitting card to start the 6th and McNeely singled him to second. I had Bucky Harris bunt the runners to second and third, but Sam Rice grouned out — Mom had the infield in.  She then walked Goose Goslin intentionally and got Joe Judge to ground out leaving the bases filled.  Zachary had a 1-2-3 6th. In the 7th, Bluege led off with a double and Phil Cavaretta botched a ground ball chance giving the Nats runners on first and third with one out.  Muddy Ruel lined out, but Zachary coaxed a walk off Lee loading the bases.  McNeely then drilled a sac fly to give the Nats a 2-1 lead.

            With one out in the 8th, Judge tripled with one out in the 8th but a strikeout of Bluege by Charlie Root and a groundout by Peckinpaugh ended the threat. Mom got to the point (in her first game) of saying, “This is exciting,” and “I can’t look at the rolls” as the tension mounted.

            In the Cubs 8th, with one out Phil Cavaretta rolled a 2-10 for a HR 1-9, 2B 10-20 chance. Opportunity #1 for mom (I was hoping she would get the roll). The roll was a 13 for a double. With two outs Bill Jurges got his third hit of the game and mom faced a big decision to send Cavaretta in not.  Cavaretta was a 1-13 and with 2 outs his chances of scoring and tieing the game were 1-15 (75%) … opportunity #2 … finally mom decided to send him and rolled a 17 (darn!) to nail Cavaretta at the plate.

            After a 1-2-3 top of the 9th, the Cubs come up for their last chance. 2 quick popouts and the Cubs are down to their last out.  Stan Hack walks, and the winning run comes to the plate.  DeMaree rolls a 6-6 Single 1-19 and lineout 20. Opportunity #3.  A single would have the winning runs on base, two outs and the Cubs best hitter up. Can you believe she rolls a 20!!??  Game over.  Ouch!

            Game over. Mom had three big opportunities in the last 2 innings, a 45% chance for a game-tying HR, a 75% chance for a safe attempt to score on a single, and a 95% chance to have the winning runs on base with the Cubs best hitter in the 9th. The 20 sided die rolls went against her. But she really enjoyed and said the game is super realistic!

1924 Senators  000 010 100 – 2  8 0
1935 Cubs       001 000 000 – 1 10 1
WP Zachary
LP Lee
(Mom’s first game 11/27/2009)

Cary A. Cardinale, Dublin, CA


Satchel vs. the Gas House Gang

       When I received my Negro League All-Stars computer season I just had to get in a game that night.  Using the Guide Book, I put together the Kansas City Monarchs.  I then played the Monarchs against the 1934 St. Louis Cardinals.  A classic match up: Dizzy Dean against Satchel Paige. 

        The Monarchs won 7 to 2.  Paige struck out 9, and gave up only 1 earned run.  The top of the 8th was a nail biter.  A walk, an error, a hit, and another error, scored an unearned run and loaded the bases with no outs.  Joe Medwick comes to the plate.  The Hall of Fame clean-up hitter for the Gas House Gang.  I’m thinking “this is really ugly.”  I decide to keep Paige in the game.  Paige delivers the pitch, and Medwick lines out into a triple play! Side retired! Disaster averted! Score it lineout to 4-6-3. I printed the box score with the Web Gem: Kansas City turns a triple play!   In all the years I’ve played Strat-O-matic, this is the first triple play I have seen.

Mike Lee, St. Charles, MO



Negro Leaguers Barnstorm Vs. Great MLB Teams

            I started playing a season of 60 games with the Negro leagues. Many of those stars played in my country’s Winter League (Puerto Rico), hence the 60-game season.

            The Washington Homestead Grays vs. Detroit Stars was a festival of hits. There were 30 hits. The star was Charlie Maxwell of Detroit, who connected for four home runs! It was a first for me after 41 years of playing SOM board and computer games. He went 5-for-5 with 4 homers, a single and 4 RBI. Detroit won, 10-6. I also played an exhibition game between Kansas City of the Negro Leagues and the 1927 New York Yankees. Guess who won? Kansas City shut out the powerful Yankees! I love this game!

            Next I paired the 1975 Big Red Machine (Reds) against The Kansas City Monarchs. Cincinnati got two in the first against Satchel Paige. Don Gullet held the Monarchs hitless until the 4th. As Paige settled down, Kansas City broke the ice with one in the sixth. Then they exploded for two in the seventh. and that is the way it ended, 3-2. Paige pitched the 9 innings and got 12 strikeouts. The teams from the Negro Leagues were so talented – they down the 1927 Yankees, the 1975 Red Sox and the 1961 Yankees. I wonder what would have happened if they let them play in the Major Leagues?

Orlando Leon, Live Oak, FL   

Remember that Nationals-Orioles World Series?

            June 2005 marked one of the happiest times of my life as a sports fan. After 33 years in exile, baseball returned to the nation’s capital and my team, the Washington Nationals, stood atop the National League East Division, shocking the baseball world. At near-capacity RFK Stadium, we rejoiced. The Nationals were on pace for 100 wins!

            Up the road in Baltimore, things looked rosey, too. The Orioles led the A.L East and the team and town toasted Rafael Palmeiro’s 3,000th hit. In the murky steroids era, Raffy was, it seemed, one of the good, clean guys. If current trends prevailed, we’d enjoy a Beltway World Series!

            Of course, baseball never follows trends. The Nationals collapsed to a .500 record and the NL East basement. The bottom fell out in Baltimore, too, with revelations that Palmeiro allegedly used steroids, rubbing salt in the wound. Washington and Baltimore knew only heartbreak and neither team has since scaled anywhere near their heights of June 2005.

            In my despair over the Nationals, I wondered, what if both teams sustained their lofty paces? As a 38-year veteran of Strat-O-Matic I decided to purchase the 2005 baseball season set and find out. If I couldn’t have a World Series in RFK and Camden Yards, then I’d have one on my tabletop, with Hal Richman’s greatest creation, Strat-O-Matic baseball.

            Time-pressed, I played the basic version. Here’s how my Beltway Series turned out:

Game 1: Nick Johnson (2-3, 2 HR, 8 RBI) leads the Nationals to a 10-4 rout in Baltimore. In the 8th, Johnson put a 6-3 game out of reach with a grand slam off of Steve Kline. Livan Hernandez beat Baltimore’s top starter, Rodrigo Lopez. Jay Gibbons and Sammy Sosa homered for the Orioles.

Game 2: Daniel Cabrera (7 1/3 IP, 7 Ks) and Luis Matos (2-2, 2 R, 3 SB) led Baltimore to a 6-2 win to even the series. Miguel Tejada, Palmeiro, and B.J. Surhoff hit home runs off of Nationals’ starter and losing pitcher, John Patterson.

Game 3: In the first World Series game ever at RFK, Nationals’ pitcher Esteban Loaiza dominated the Orioles with a complete game, 5-hitter. Washington took a 2-1 lead in the series with a 6-1 win over Baltimore and Eric Bedard. Johnson hit his 3rd home run and Marlon Byrd went deep for the Nationals, sending 45,000 fans home happy.

Game 4: The Orioles broke open a 2-2 game with a 7-run sixth inning against Tony Armas and the Nationals’ normally stellar bullpen. Bruce Chen pitched eight strong innings as Baltimore cruised, 10-4, evened the series, and assured at least one more game at Camden Yards. Sal Fasano hit a grand slam in the Orioles’ 6th-inning rally and Melvin Mora also homered. The only bright spot for Washington was Nick Johnson’s 4th homer.

Game 5: In the series’ pivotal game, Livan Hernandez led the Nationals with and 8-inning, 4-hit, one-run effort as well as hitting a solo home run. With a 14-hit attack, the Nationals chased Lopez again and won, 5-1. Mora came to the plate in the 8th, with two men on and the Orioles down 3-1, but Hernandez coaxed a lazy fly ball to centerfield. Jose Vidro’s two-out double drove in two Nationals and sealed the win. The Nationals left RFK one win shy of the first baseball championship in Washington in 81 years.

Game 6: In the only close game of the series, the Nationals rode two home runs by Vinny Castilla and another from Brad Wilkerson to win the game, 7-5 and the series 4-2. Javy Lopez hit two round trippers for the Orioles. Their key at-bat was in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded, two out, and Baltimore trailing, 5-4, Sosa hit a ball to deep centerfield. But not deep enough! Wilkerson made the catch on the warning track. Super-closer Chad Cordero pitched a perfect ninth, capping 4 1/3 innings of great relief from Washington’s bullpen. Fittingly, the last out came on a line out to series MVP Nick Johnson as the Nationals and all Washington rejoiced.


Washington hit .283 as a team (.864 OPS). Pitchers turned in a 4.58 ERA. The hitting star was Johnson, .286 average, 4 HR, 11 RBI. Worst hitter was Preston Wilson, .167, 0 RBI. Best pitcher was Hernandez, two wins, 3.00 ERA. Worst was Hector Carrasco, 45.00 ERA in two games.

Baltimore hit .261 (.782 OPS). Pitchers turned in a 5.71 ERA. Hitting star: Brian Roberts (.400 average, 4 SB, 4 runs). Worst hitter was Tejada, .269, but only 1 RBI. Best pitcher was B.J. Ryan. He faced 9 batters, struck out 6 and gave up no hits or walks. Worst hurler was Lopez, 0-2, with an 8.68 ERA.

Stephen J. Walker