Strat-O-Matic in the Hall of Fame – Again
By Glenn Guzzo
More than a quarter-century after its debut in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Strat-O-Matic makes a return visit in the recently unveiled exhibit, “Home Games.”
The exhibit is a tribute to baseball board games, predominantly mechanical and other non-statistical games. However, Strat-O-Matic is mentioned in a brief timeline that begins with National Pastime, the 1930 game that was the first to depict real players using their actual statistics.
In a small section covering the 50-year evolution from National Pastime to Rotisserie Baseball, only the game parts of National Pastime are displayed, according to Hall of Fame Senior Curator Tom Shieber. Strat-O-Matic is featured in this brief text explanation:
1961 – Game designer Hal Richman introduces Strat-O-Matic Baseball. The game goes on to become one of the most popular of all baseball sims, with legions of “Strat-heads” still playing today.
Strat-O-Matic’s first trip to Cooperstown, NY, happened 20 years later, immediately after the game was used by a variety of celebrities to simulate the 1981 Major League All-Star game in Cleveland, which had been postponed because of a players strike.
Then, Strat-O-Matic was used on a card table at home plate of Cleveland Stadium. Opera singer Rocco Scotti sang the national anthem. Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller threw out the first dice. Cleveland media celebrities managed the teams.
The artifacts then were hauled to Cooperstown and Strat-O-Matic’s cards, dice and game boards had a proud place in the Hall of Fame for about two years.
Curator Shieber said “Home Games” would be displayed in the Museum throughout 2008 and probably into 2009.
He acknowledged that a display heavy on mechanical games and light on simulations is “A history, not THE history of baseball board games.”
The more than 50 artifacts displayed in “Home Games” leaves “A great exhibit on the cutting room floor,” Shieber lamented. “But there are only so many display cases and only so many exhibits.”
A Hall-of-Fame story on “Home Games” (that does not mention Strat-O-Matic) can be found here: