Monday, March 30, 2009

Strat-O-Matic Baseball

I received Strat-O-Matic Baseball as a gift in 1975, and played it obsessively for many years following – taking time out only for meals and the ocasional shower. The day each Spring when the new player cards would arrive in the mail - was second only to Christmas and last day of school as the happiest of the year.

Strat-O-Matic has great Basic and Advanced rules that are easy to play and easier to learn. Most of what you need to know about the game can be inferred from the individual player cards which have most of the play results printed right on them. Each year, they print new cards for just about every player based on the previous season.

The game has a great Lefty/Righty system – with results for batters broken out against left-handed and right-handed pitching. (And vice-versa for pitchers). For many years, Strat was the only game that had this distinction.

Being a Phillies fan, I played that team more than any other - probably wearing out the Steve Carlton and Tug McGraw cards. My second favorite was probably the Royals (George Brett, Dennis Leonard). Most of what I knew about the Royals when they played in the 1980 World Series was from playing the team in Strat-O-Matic through most of the late ‘70s.

I was also a fan of the 1975 Milwaukee Brewers (for some reason - maybe because they had boyhood hero Hank Aaron at DH), the 1977 “Bronx is Burning” Yankees, Billy Martin’s 1980 Oakland A’s (five solid starters and Rickey Henderson), the 1980 Expos (great pitching - Steve Rogers and Charlie Lea, and unbelievable baserunning - Tim Raines, Rodney Scott, and Andre Dawson.)

It used to be easy to find Strat-O-Matic in stores - it was readily available at KB Toys at the mall, for example. At some point (mid ‘90s) it became less available. These days, you need to either order it online, or go to a “gaming” store like The Complete Strategist.

Last season I purchased a new version of the Strat-O-Matic Advanced game (with the 2007 players) for old time’s sake. Although it’s still is a great game – new “Super Advanced” rules make things a bit more complicated. (I refer primarily to complex new base-stealing and cutoff rules).

Strat-O-Matic also sells Football, College Football, Basketball, and Ice Hockey games. (Besides Baseball, their Ice Hockey game is probably the best of the lot). And if I’m not mistaken, they still support computer versions (Windows only – of course) of each game.

I don’t really have an interesting link to accompany this post (you could always visit the official site) – so I leave you with this fascinating Google Street View of the company’s headquarters in Glen Head, Long Island.