Saturday, March 28, 2009

All-Star Baseball

As baseball season approaches, I’d like to take a look at some of the many table-top games I used to play (and still occasionally do).

All-Star Baseball was an entry-level game that was widely popular. Unlike Strat-O-Matic and APBA, All-Star was relatively cheap (about the same price as Monopoly) and pretty much available at any toy store.

Uniquely, the game used spinners instead of dice, and rounded player cards instead of square ones. The cards contained numbers which roughly approximated how a player would perform in real life. The set I owned (1975 or so) contained an assortment of big named “All-Stars” from the majors (Joe Morgan, Reggie Jackson, etc...), but not a complete set of teams (as the other games did), and no Phillies - which was important to me back then.

I played the game pretty much every day for years. All-Star was so simple, you could bang out a game in 10-15 minutes. And I knew the numbers by heart and still do - 1 is a homerun, 11 is a double, 13 is a strikeout, 7 is a single. I became so enamored of the game and it’s oddball assortment of players, that when I wore out the game box and spinners after a year or two of play - I insisted on buying a replacement that contained the exact same players.

The best player in All-Star (for me, anyway) was Lee May. In real life, May was a decent firstbasemen for the Astros, but in All-Star he was a cross between Babe Ruth and Roy Hobbs. If I had played him for a full season, May likely would have been good for 150 or so homeruns. (This probably has more to do with my liberal interpretation of the spinner than the accuracy of the game).

There is a great article about All-Star Baseball and it's creator, Ethan Allen, here. It’s a shame that the game company (Cadaco - the same company that still makes Bas-ket) doesn’t sell it anymore, because I think kids would still love it.