My love affair with Strat-O-Matic has been pretty well documented over the years.
In fact, it was the third simulation game I tried. A game called BLM (Big League Manager) was first, although we played a 1968 version in the early 70's. when my friends Sean, Bill, Dennis, and I started our first attempt at any kind of league. Since we could not find out how to get updated BLM cards, we moved from that format to APBA, which was pretty good, and we enjoyed it well enough.
But, it was in 1977, when my friend Bill gave me Strat as an Xmas gift, that the universe changed.
As much as we liked APBA, Strat-O-Matic was in a different time zone, not just accounting for fielding and range and speed on the bases, but right-handed/left-handed performance by both pitchers and hitters.
We played it faithfully, anticipating the new cards each year with Pavlovian slobbering. Because there was just four of us in the league, we each selected a team, and then we had an open snake draft, consisting of a massive two rounds. For each team was allowed to select one hitter and one pitcher from the remaining teams.
Draft day was always as exciting as Christmas it seemed, and for years, Thursday night was Strat night during the season. On a rotating basis we would descend on a league member's abode in rotating order, though since Bill and I were housemates in those days, every other week the congregation came to us.
So it went for ten more years, when in 1988 Rotoball came home to roost. Like aging men in mid-life crisis, we all quickly abandoned Strat for the real time tension of Dan Okrent's concoction.
And, so it went for a number of years--though Dennis did not follow us into Rotoland, and he eventually moved--so that for many years, the only association I had with Strat-O-Matic was in 1996. In that year, after writing profiles for the Giants and Athletics for the then STATS, Inc. Scouting Notebook, STATS asked me if I would be willing to do the baserunning and defensive range and arm numbers for the two Bay Area teams.
Which totally cracked me up, for as a player, I always wondered who the poor schmuck who figured these things out was, only to find myself in that position a little over a decade later.
And that was that till a handful of years ago when two funny things coincided. First, I was invited to join SOMBOE (Strat-O-Matic Online Experts league), and a couple of years later, my friend Dean Peterson invited me to join a new Strat dynasty league (the MidWest Strat league), which started as NL only. Two years later we added an AL, in fact some of us had two teams (including me) for a few years.
Now, we have 30 teams, 30 owners, and 30 ballparks, and a league that allows 29 perennial keepers, a yearly draft, and now probably the most fun I have playing any fantasy or simulation games.
In other words, my jilted game came took me back and won my heart.
Though I did not start playing Strat until 34 years ago, the company actually preceded my first experience by 13 years, and that means that this year Strat-O-Matic turned 50 years old.
So, as my MWest league is currently crazy trading and jockeying for position in our upcoming February rookie draft (and a great crop of first timers it will be), my immediate attention is focused on the Strat-O-Matic 50th Anniversary League, curated by Mike Lynch of Seamheads.
The 50th Anniversary League is a 30-team setup, with 30 owners, and varying franchises represented. Each of us has a team, and the league boasts a fairly high-powered list of participants.
The catch is we were allowed to select the franchise, within a time span, that we wanted to play. For example, Eric Karabell has the 1977 Phillies, Jim Callis the 1994 Expos, Roy Firestone the 1970 Orioles, Peter Golenbock the 1986 Mets, Dick Drago the 1961 Tigers, and Keith Olberman the 1992 Jays. I have the 1962 Giants.
So far we are two weeks into the season--the games are simmed via computer--and the results just began being posted.
It is pretty fun playing in the league, irrespective of the outcome. It is kind of funny how the game has filtered back and forth in my life (though I doubt it will disappear again).
But, well, it is a great game. And a lot of fun.
Congratulations Hal Richman and Strat-O-Matic. May you have 150 more.
Oh yeah, first check out the league. And, more to come.