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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Statis Pro Baseball: An Instruction Manual

Eleven is the age at which athletics begin to evolve from a communal gathering into a selective pursuit. At 11, Little League is nearing its end and giving way to real baseball, with 90 feet between the bases and 60 feet, six inches to home plate, and those of us who possess the desire but lack the physicality and coordination are shunted aside. And so we seek substitutes, a way to replicate the experience that is still somehow tethered to reality. In the modern age, of course, this is the purpose of fantasy baseball and video games; but during my childhood, Rotisserie sports were the domain of New York editors, and Atari baseball featured pixelated stick figures with monikers invented by Japanese software engineers. What was the point of spending time with a re-creation that possessed no authenticity?

Hence, The Game: STATIS PRO BASEBALL, published by the Avalon Hill company, 4517 Harford Road, Baltimore, Md., and endorsed on the box by Sports Illustrated magazine. The cost, I believe, was 30 dollars, and this was either the best or the worst money my parents ever spent, because the game consumed my life for five years. I don’t remember the first time I played, and I don’t remember the second, and I don’t remember the third. What I remember is this: Before I knew it, most of the summer of ‘84 was gone, and I had hardly seen the sun. I slept until 11, played the game until 2, prepared/consumed a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, played the game until 6, ate dinner in silence while totaling box scores and perusing the four-page sports section of the Centre Daily Times, played the game until midnight, watched the David Letterman show, dozed off to a B-movie on the USA Network, went to bed, woke up, and did it all over again. My objective: To play a complete 162-game slate, to replicate the entire 1983 baseball season, to keep meticulous track of statistics and box scores, to quantify everything on yellow legal pads that my father brought home from the university at which he worked. There was nothing sentimental about it. This was the first job I ever had, to serve as manager and commissioner of an alternate universe, laboring each day to fulfill a quota that existed only in my own head.

The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: July 26, 2011 at 09:56 PM | 50 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseball geeks, fantasy baseball

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   1. puck Posted: July 26, 2011 at 11:13 PM (#3885948)
I had this one rather than Strat-o-matic and had a lot of fun with it. It also came with a chart so you could create your own cards.

The pitcher had a rating that you drew against to see if the next result would be taken against the batter's card (bad for the pitcher) or the pitcher's card (good), and that rating was pretty much based on ERA. So...BABIP/strand-rate luck was the old inefficiency, I guess.

I also met a woman who wrote for Girl's Life magazine when it shared an office with Avalon Hill (both were under that Monarch printing company). I was disappointed to learn that the office didn't have a floor of hexagonal tiles.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: July 26, 2011 at 11:17 PM (#3885950)
I had this and wanted Strat-o-matic, but you could get the Statis Pro on clearance the year after for nearly nothing at Kay-B toy store so that is the one I ended up with.
   3. AndrewJ Posted: July 26, 2011 at 11:19 PM (#3885953)
Strat-o-Matic/APBA completely passed me by. My personal history:

Ages 10-12: Ethan Allen All-Star Baseball
Ages 12-18: Avalon Hill Statis Pro Baseball (though I *hated* the Fast Action Cards)
Ages 18-mid 20s: Pursue the Pennant
   4. puck Posted: July 26, 2011 at 11:21 PM (#3885958)
and the majestic footnotes that appeared only on the cards of Tim Raines and Rickey Henderson: Steals 2nd after any single on his own card.


I had earlier versions than the author; cards for big base stealers like Rickey, Ron LeFlore did not have this note. Stealing didn't scale that well in the game; a frequent base stealer like Rickey often had a hard time getting a jump, making it difficult to steal at his real-life rate.
   5. AROM Posted: July 27, 2011 at 12:37 AM (#3886018)
My game started when I created my own rules. I used the dice available to dungeons and dragons, so I wasn't limited to 6 siders. Using a D4 to determine how many bases a hit goes for was not a good idea. Percentile dice to compare to a hitter's batting average, with the pitcher being used as a +\- to modify the result, was a good decision.

Later on I was given a stratomatic board game, I kept most of my game but worked some features in. I had thousands of scoresheets for these games, wish I kept them. The league moved to the computer and Microleague in 1987, and then to APBA 10 years later, where it remains.

Some of the original players from the earliest dice games are still in the league as managers.
   6. villageidiom Posted: July 27, 2011 at 12:44 AM (#3886028)
I had this one rather than Strat-o-matic and had a lot of fun with it.
I had both StatisPro and Strat-o-Matic, though I had the latter first (age 10) and the former when I was in my mid-teens. I'm not sure if it was gameplay or the order in which I was introduced to them, but I always preferred Strat-o-matic.

As I've mentioned a few times here, I got my son Strat-o-Matic this year for his birthday. He knows the MLB players frighteningly well by now. He's already done his own all-star game, and has moved on to a 7-game series between a team of great hitters and bad pitchers versus a team of great pitchers and bad hitters. (The former leads the series, 1-0, FWIW.)
   7. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: July 27, 2011 at 12:49 AM (#3886034)
We had a Statis Pro league at work back in the early 80s and had a ball with it... one of our guys would run up to Baltimore each year the day they published the new cards for a given season.

Eventually we morphed the league into Earl Weaver Baseball on rudimentary PCs... you could make up your own ballparks in that game with whatever dimensions your li'l heart desired.
   8. OsunaSakata Posted: July 27, 2011 at 01:52 AM (#3886093)
I have Statis-Pro baseball, football and basketball. The biggest trophy in my house is a 3-foot tall one from winning a Statis-Pro football league. I agree with TFA that playing Statis-Pro basketball is more fun than watching the NBA.
   9. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: July 27, 2011 at 02:01 AM (#3886101)
I agree with TFA that playing Statis-Pro basketball is more fun than watching the NBA.


so is watching mold grow on one's shower curtain liner...
   10. Kiko Sakata Posted: July 27, 2011 at 02:09 AM (#3886119)
This was my table baseball game as a kid. Loved it!! It had a few quirks that you could take advantage of (the hit-and-run play tended to work surprisingly well with certain players, as I recall), but it was great. It had instructions for making your own cards. Great times! God, I was such a nerd.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: July 27, 2011 at 02:36 AM (#3886162)
(The former leads the series, 1-0, FWIW.)

Details man! You've got to at least post the box score. Isn't your kid blogging yet?

Earl Weaver Baseball

I haven't played many of the other baseball games but I feel confident in saying that Earl Weaver baseball was the greatest game in the history of the universe. I loved having to go out to the mound to waste time because my reliever wasn't ready yet.
   12. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 27, 2011 at 02:51 AM (#3886178)
My brother and I are still about a third of the way through replaying the 1976 season on Statis-Pro, and have been since around 1982.
   13. guelphdad Posted: July 27, 2011 at 02:52 AM (#3886179)
My best friend and I both had Baseball and I had Football. We would play Football head-to-head but there was no way we'd let each other possibly ruin one of our baseball games. I mean what if he beat me and then my team finishes 1 game back when I've played all 162? No way we were risking that. We would however lay our games out across the table from one another and play "together" that way. Good times.
   14. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: July 27, 2011 at 03:04 AM (#3886188)
I haven't played many of the other baseball games but I feel confident in saying that Earl Weaver baseball was the greatest game in the history of the universe.


yup, that and SimCity 4
   15. Roger Freed Is Ready Posted: July 27, 2011 at 03:06 AM (#3886190)
The cost, I believe, was 30 dollars, and this was either the best or the worst money my parents ever spent, because the game consumed my life for five years.


The game for me was called Kellogg's Major League Baseball Game, and the cost was a box of Pop Tarts.

No, that's not a joke. Here it is:

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/22834/kelloggs-major-league-baseball-game

I was about 10 years old, and I played a full 162-game season of an imaginary team (with 25 man roster) vs. all existing major league teams. My team won about 115 games if I remember correctly. You played the game with a deck of ordinary playing cards. For example (and this is true), a King was a home run; a 2 was a ground ball out to shortstop. There were even some unusual results built in, like an 8 of hearts or some such thing was a wild pitch. (The rarities were suit-based.) I kept stats for all of my imaginary players. One of my pitchers won 30 games; one of my hitters belted 50 home runs (equally unheard of in those days). Yeah, I cheated a bit to make the stats resemble the real world (only better). When a flipped over a HR card for my slap-hitting shortstop I was inclined to take a mulligan and flip over a second card. The opposite was true for my sluggers. I was a big Reds fan, and many of them were (in retrospect) pretty heavily based on Reds players. They not only had names; they had profiles -- veteran African American slugger who resembled Willie Stargell in my imagination; young stud pitcher who was a super version of Tom Seaver; Latin shortstop who sure seemed like Davey Concepcion.

Over the next couple summers I played the game quite a bit, but I don't think I ever got in a full 162-game season. I kept hold of the game, held together on the folds with scotch tape, for about another 5 years. Finally, after I went off to college, I realized I'd lost it for good. That was a sad day ...

EDIT: Here's a better look at the game "board." Now that I see it again, I realize it was more sophisticated than I remembered. A "2" was a ground ball to shortstop; you then flipped another card to get the "ball hit on the ground" result, which could be an out, a doubleplay (if a man was on first), a hit, an error on a wild throw with the runner advancing, etc. And you could strategize by playing hit and run (a hit would send the runner from 1st to 3rd) or by trying to steal. The best box of Pop Tarts my mom ever bought.
   16. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: July 27, 2011 at 03:28 AM (#3886203)
in the 1950s, this was the only board game I played. I think it was the only one available. One oddity was that they had current players, but also Hall of Famers; so you could start a lineup with Jim Lemon, Joe Cronin, Minnie Minoso, and Lou Gehrig
   17. Christopher Linden Posted: July 27, 2011 at 03:30 AM (#3886205)
Pre age 12: A booklet-based games called, IIR, "Extra Innings"
Age 12-18: APBA Basic board game, with a boatload of homebrew rules (including using a Babe Ruth 1927 card that was included with the brochure)
Age 19-22: Statis Pro (remember it fondly)
Age 24-24: Strat
Age 25-: DMB (rather miss the dice and charts and haven't played in a while)

Happy Base Ball
   18. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: July 27, 2011 at 03:35 AM (#3886207)
Ages 18-mid 20s: Pursue the Pennant
I was a big PTP fan. Still use the scoresheets when I score games.
   19. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:05 AM (#3886217)
I probably played this game hundreds of times. I think my first tour with it with my older brother was with the '81 and then '84 version. Ultimately I think we modified rules a little, and laughed like giddy school kids when we'd flip a card that revealed "Z" (unusual play, normally an outfielder crashing in the wall, inside the park HR, rain delay, batter ejection, etc.).
Like some of the early nintendo baseball games, this one had a hard-on for Tony Armas.

the old college football version was great too, still have all of these and probably play them once every couple years. I remember my wife seeing these and saying 'what are these index cards and what do they mean."

edit: just RTFA, good to see we weren't the only ones peeing our pants over the revelation of a 'Z' card. That's what we ended up calling the game 'Z'. and we called the college football game 'B' for the 'breakaway' play that was on various team's play sheets
   20. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:12 AM (#3886219)
Dice: Superstar Baseball / Sports Illustrated Baseball (with the funky "10-39" dice)

Computer: Micro League Baseball (mid-80's, Apple)

Sim: Bill James Classic Baseball and variants

Used to play the latter by phone & mail, then via their DOS interface, then when they finally got a web setup. That was a lot of fun.
   21. puck Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:30 AM (#3886230)
in the 1950s, this was the only board game I played. I think it was the only one available. One oddity was that they had current players, but also Hall of Famers; so you could start a lineup with Jim Lemon, Joe Cronin, Minnie Minoso, and Lou Gehrig


Yeah, that one was a classic, I had that as well. The one I had had Babe Ruth alongside ordinary guys like Gene Clines and Eric Soderholm.
   22. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:17 AM (#3886257)
I had All-Star baseball and then I had Statis-Pro, but I really didn't get obsessed with games like this until Micro League Baseball (for the Commodore 64 in my case). What was amazing about Micro League baseball was how good the graphics were all things considered. It actually looked like there was a baseball game going on out there. Playing the AL and NL All-Time teams against the various teams on the disk (the 1955 Senators were fun to beat up on), god knows how much time I wasted with those.

It was a surprisingly solid baseball sim for its time.
   23. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 27, 2011 at 05:55 AM (#3886282)
Just curious: Is there anyone else here who never played any of these types of games?
   24. True Blue Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:01 AM (#3886287)
I never had this one. Had the Cadaco/Ethan Allen with the spinner (Eppa Rixey! Wally Berger!), then got Strat O Matic. Got Sports Illustrated when they had a discount "sell everything" in the early 1970s (certain old timers they could not get the rights to use names) and a few years later the Extra Innings because you could make you own teams with the formula provided (although there was no normalizing to eras like SOM..a .300 average was .300, whether it was 1930or 1968. I am too inept for console games where you try to time a pitch..stick with SOM.

I love the fact that SOM came out with Negro League players but these guys are just too good to mix in with white players of the era. But then like Hockey HOF and NFL all time great teams, they are meant to play against each other.
   25. caprules Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:18 AM (#3886292)
Just curious: Is there anyone else here who never played any of these types of games?


I think I played one of these briefly with my dad one summer, but that was it.

But I do enjoy OOTP these days.
   26. stevegamer Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:33 AM (#3886298)
I have pretty much the entire AH sports line on my shelves, including some issues of their Sports-themed fanzine. Of course, when you have over 1000 boardgame titles, that isn't too hard to pull off.

Statis-Pro was the big game for my buddies & me, as we also played wargames & such, also from AH. AH got the games from SI, including Paydirt, which still has fans producing charts to this day for NFL seasons.
   27. Dan Evensen Posted: July 27, 2011 at 09:36 AM (#3886307)
I love these threads.
Ages 8-12: Board APBA (Basic and Master). My dad taught me how to play at 8.
Ages 12-17: Combination of Board APBA, APBA DOS 1.5 and (later) BBW.
Ages 17-24: Diamond Mind Baseball.
Ages 24-27: Combination of APBA, Pursue the Pennant and Strat, with occasional DMB computer games for good measure.

I've become really inactive in the DMB community after Version 10 was released. I'm not alone.

I'm currently in the middle of a 1924 Skeetersoft replay. My Strat, PtP and APBA cards are all in storage, but hopefully I'll be able to get them out again soon.

I prefer the cards and dice to computer games. DMB's computer manager particularly irritates me. I'm using complete original transactions and lineups for my 1924 replay, and it's been absolutely a blast.

#17: How old are you? You are the only other person under 30 I've met who plays DMB.
   28. villageidiom Posted: July 27, 2011 at 11:16 AM (#3886314)
(The former leads the series, 1-0, FWIW.)

Details man! You've got to at least post the box score. Isn't your kid blogging yet?
The good-pitching team won the second game, 8-6, in 12 innings. The good-hitting team scored 2 in the top of the 12th, but Coco Crisp got a walkoff 3-run HR in the bottom of the 12th. Series tied 1-1.
   29. AROM Posted: July 27, 2011 at 12:04 PM (#3886325)
Voros, yes, I miss the microleague graphics. I wish Diamond Mind had done something like that. You don't have to have video game quality graphics, but something showing the action is nice to have. Did you ever have a bug in the game which seemed to show up every few hundred games or so, where the scoreboard said something like "xyzxyz doesn't work", and the players all ran into and disappeared in the left field stands? A reboot would solve the problem. I just assumed it was a mini-labor issue.
   30. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: July 27, 2011 at 12:47 PM (#3886350)
Roughly six months ago, I played the first two games of the 1955 World Series with the Statis Pro cards you can get from the late, great All-Star Replay magazine (available on Yahoo! Groups). You can get every game part you need for free. Teams split. I intend to finish.

I've dabbled in APBA, but am still loyal to SOM, the game of my youth. Before I got my first copy, I played a homebrew that the college-age brothers of my friends down the street made. They had about ten teams written out on regular paper; an at-bat started with rolling two dice against the guy's average, which was straightforward: 11 through 66, if you hit .300 you had 11 through whatever gets you 3/10ths up from 11 as a hit and it went from there. Those guys also had the 3M games Win, Place and Show; and Pebble Beach Golf, which were both teh awesome.

My first game was SI college football with the funky dice and red, green, yellow charts and the orange/brown box and 36 teams from 1966-70 with the description of their season and players in small type at the bottom of the front side. About five years ago, I got a mint condition version off ebay which still sits proudly, if inconspicuously, on one of our bookshelves. Love the bag the dice are stored in, love the yellow scoreboard, love the hard plastic green field where the ball and first down markers move, love the inclusion of a couple Ivy teams.(**) I also played SI Decathlon way back in the day.

(**) With the small-type disclaimer that they should only play other Ivies. Yeah, like that's gonna happen.
   31. Rusty Priske Posted: July 27, 2011 at 12:49 PM (#3886353)
I played Statis Pro as a teenager and play Strat-o-matic as an adult.

That seems right to me.

The ONLY thing I miss from Statis Pro is the Z chart.
   32. toratoratora Posted: July 27, 2011 at 01:20 PM (#3886363)
Just curious: Is there anyone else here who never played any of these types of games?


I played, and play, strat, but I've never played any of the others. Hell, 1/2 I've never even heard of, to the point that when I read this
Age 25-: DMB (rather miss the dice and charts and haven't played in a while)

my first reaction was, "25's a touch old to be getting into Dave Matthews, that's usually a college thing."
   33. SJC in A2 Posted: July 27, 2011 at 01:25 PM (#3886369)
I pulled out the Statis Pro game from the closet (with cards from the "83 season) years ago but couldn't get my two oldest too interested. Too slow, I think. I'll try with 9 year old soon. And the best purchase I ever made was getting the entire card set for the "84 season. My retirement plans are to play that season over and over until I replicate the 35-5 start. Oh, and I guess travel with the wife sometimes.....
   34. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: July 27, 2011 at 01:58 PM (#3886379)
I also met a woman who wrote for Girl's Life magazine when it shared an office with Avalon Hill (both were under that Monarch printing company). I was disappointed to learn that the office didn't have a floor of hexagonal tiles.

I still get a little sad when I think about what happened to Avalon Hill. That was such a great company. TSR just destroyed it.
   35. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 27, 2011 at 02:15 PM (#3886394)

I've become really inactive in the DMB community after Version 10 was released. I'm not alone.


I've never upgraded past Version 9. What was wrong with Version 10?
   36. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 27, 2011 at 02:36 PM (#3886413)
Just curious: Is there anyone else here who never played any of these types of games?

Right here. I don't think I've ever seen any evidence that these games exist except in internet discussions and the occasional memoir.
   37. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: July 27, 2011 at 03:38 PM (#3886487)
Just curious: Is there anyone else here who never played any of these types of games?


37 years old. Never seen one of them games in my life.
   38. Guapo Posted: July 27, 2011 at 03:49 PM (#3886504)
I had Statis Pro- the 1981 cards. I'm guessing from memory I got it in... 1983? I played a lot (not as much as this guy) until I got Micro League Baseball, which I think was in 1985. Loved it, of course.

The original box was destroyed, but I think I still have all the cards and game pieces in a shoebox in my closet. My wife found it once and we had a fairly lengthy discussion during which she attempted to convince me to throw it out. She failed, of course, but she now mocks me about it.

I also have Statis Pro Football, the 1981 cards. I've thought about pulling it out from time to time but it takes a long time to play one game.
   39. Jose Canusee Posted: July 27, 2011 at 04:29 PM (#3886547)
My brother created his own dice game when we were kids but there weren't player cards, just a couple of tables maybe for general player categories, I think. Talk about PAP, I had the early '70's A's and never took out a starting pitcher (made it harder to calculate ERA). If I wasn't interested in playing he would cover for me and tell my parents I took a bath when we were actually playing dice baseball.

Probably had heard of Strat then but not Statis Pro.
   40. Bob Evans Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:11 PM (#3886726)
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/22834/kelloggs-major-league-baseball-game

Oh, yeah, remember that one well. They also had football, soccer, cross-country road racing, basketball, hockey...maybe a few other sports I don't recall. I liked the cross-country road racing the best.

I ate a lot of Pop-Tarts.

Sometimes Topps sets were designed so you could play baseball games with them. Those were fun, too.
   41. Bob Evans Posted: July 27, 2011 at 06:24 PM (#3886744)
Hmm. I just noticed that the BoardGameGeek doesn't seem to have one I played a lot called "Gil Hodges' Pennant Fever". That one was pretty fun when I was a tween.
   42. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 27, 2011 at 07:32 PM (#3886839)

Oh, yeah, remember that one well. They also had football, soccer, cross-country road racing, basketball, hockey...maybe a few other sports I don't recall.


There was a golf one, too. I didn't even play golf, but I played that Pop-Tarts golf.
   43. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: July 28, 2011 at 12:01 PM (#3887410)
Speaking of Micro League Baseball: you can play it in in your web browser! At Virtual Apple ][, a site that has sucked up more hours of my life than I am willing to admit, most of it spent engaging in the Kremlinology of Geopolitique 1990.
   44. villageidiom Posted: July 28, 2011 at 12:48 PM (#3887420)
Details man! You've got to at least post the box score. Isn't your kid blogging yet?

The good-pitching team won the second game, 8-6, in 12 innings. The good-hitting team scored 2 in the top of the 12th, but Coco Crisp got a walkoff 3-run HR in the bottom of the 12th. Series tied 1-1.

The series is now tied 3-3. The hitting team went up 3-1, then lost the next two to the pitching team.

My son, satisfied that it's an evenly matched series, has decided to stop there and continue instead with a rerun of the 2010 playoffs.
   45. Dolf Lucky Posted: July 28, 2011 at 01:56 PM (#3887454)
Co-sign on the Earl Weaver Baseball accolades. My dad, brother, and I would put all the players in a pool and draft our own teams, plus a 4th team for the computer to manage "the Dukes of Earl" for a 4 team league. Had baseball-reference been around at the time, I never would have left my room entering in new teams/players.

Prior to that, I never had statis pro or SOM, but I did have Championship Baseball, made by Milton Bradley (not the player). This was a simplified dice-based board game with all-star players from the early 80s. Good for 6-8 year olds, I suppose. I found an old copy in a second-hand store the other day, and it's been a treat watching my son mispronounce Robin Yount's and Reggie Jackson's names...
   46. AndrewJ Posted: July 28, 2011 at 02:04 PM (#3887458)
Speaking of Micro League Baseball: you can play it in in your web browser! At Virtual Apple ][

Thanks for the link.
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 28, 2011 at 02:20 PM (#3887470)
What was the game with the round disks and the spinner? I played that a lot as a kid.
   48. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: July 28, 2011 at 02:31 PM (#3887483)
   49. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: July 28, 2011 at 02:35 PM (#3887485)
I've never upgraded past Version 9. What was wrong with Version 10?

It's buggy, and they've been promising a patch for a year. The new owners don't seem all that interested in supporting it.
   50. puck Posted: July 28, 2011 at 02:40 PM (#3887487)
What was the game with the round disks and the spinner? I played that a lot as a kid.

this, maybe?


yeah, that's it. jmac66 mentioned it in #16, too. The game got a mention along with abpa, strat-o-matic, and statis-pro in the opening chapter of Curve Ball: Baseball, Statistics, and the Role of Chance in the Game.

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