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Strat-O-Matic and APBA Keep On Ticking

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the wait-let-me-look-that-up dept.

Classic Games (Games) 29

An anonymous reader writes "USA Today has a great story about the classic baseball games Strat-O-Matic and APBA, enduring in the modern age amid all of the Xbox glitz. Quoting: 'While there are numerous other statistics-based games (such as Diamond Mind, whose creator now works for the Boston Red Sox,) APBA and Strat-O-Matic are by far the oldest and most recognized. And there is something amazing about how these two games have survived for so long. APBA estimates it has sold over 600,000 units of its board game; Strat-O-Matic, over 1 million. Both companies describe their customers as getting older — age 35 and up, a sign of how the electronic era is pushing kids away from board games. In the 1960s and '70s, teenagers were a big part of the customer base. "We have a niche group," says Hal Richman, the 72-year-old founder of Strat-O-Matic, based in Glen Head, NY. "We cannot compete with the Xboxes and the John Maddens and EA Sports and all their graphics. We do it another way. We want the ballplayer to be realistic."'"

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Prosty Fist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28289881)


I just got off the toilet! (-1, Offtopic)

Reasoned Mind (1554009) | more than 5 years ago | (#28291353)

I just shit out an obama!


Re:I just got off the toilet! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28292575)

You should be IP banned for that disgusting comment.

That is an insult to fecal matter.

INTERESTING NEWS (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28289941)

Oh yes, this is completely interesting. so interesting it belongs on the slashdot main page.

Oh wait, I meant

I think my dad played those games... (1)

Owyn (934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28290015)

I think my dad has played those games... I'm a lifelong gamer thanks to dad, but this article might qualify for smallest number of comments in 2009, if that a category.

Anonymous reader, you are a winner!

My Dad played as a kid (2, Interesting)

AntiRush (1175479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28290025)

And I played a lot with him when I was younger. Strat-O-Matic is a blast. It's really evolved with the advent of the internet - they do have a computer version of the game but even more importantly leagues have formed using messageboards and the like. These leagues weren't possible in 1961 and they have some genuinely interesting outcomes for a baseball stat addict.

Miscategorized Article (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28290061)

Shouldn't this be on Idle?

OK, I am a geek. (2, Interesting)

Bohnanza (523456) | more than 5 years ago | (#28291305)

As a complete geek, I must admit that I played Strat-0-Matic baseball just the other day. And I liked it, damn it! Really prefer Replay Baseball, though.

Baseball Boss (2, Interesting)

TheRealFoxFire (523782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28291867)

You'd like Baseball Boss [] as well then. It combines card trading (real players, MLB licensed) and then playing those cards on teams. Great stats and tons of fun.

Thanks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28291331)

I have no idea what you're talking about. Must mean I'm not old...

Yay! I made the headlines! (2, Funny)

Scratch-O-Matic (245992) | more than 5 years ago | (#28291349)

Oh wait...

Board games still have teens interest.. (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28291443)

It's just that most board games are pretty dumbed down. You also cant get the real good board games/ Card games at most stores you have to go to specialty geky places to get them.

Car Wars, is an awesome board game. settlers of Catan, Carcassone, Munchkin (Yes it's a board game now) etc....

I have personally corrupted many a youth with The above games. The thing is, you NEED 4 or more players that will be very vocal for them to be fun. With Settlers I try to encourage collusion and to try to bend the rules trading, Munchkin the same..

I had my hands on the Xbox360 game FUEL for 2 weeks before it was to be released, My daughters friends were more interested in getting a game going over playing a unreleased game. Also a Game of Apples to Apples always gets them roaring.

Sorry, Monopoly, Checkers, etc... just dont interest them.

Re:Board games still have teens interest.. (2, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 5 years ago | (#28294627)

It's just that most board games are pretty dumbed down. You also cant get the real good board games/ Card games at most stores you have to go to specialty geky places to get them.

Car Wars, is an awesome board game. settlers of Catan, Carcassone, Munchkin (Yes it's a board game now) etc....

I have personally corrupted many a youth with The above games. The thing is, you NEED 4 or more players that will be very vocal for them to be fun. With Settlers I try to encourage collusion and to try to bend the rules trading, Munchkin the same..

That's about the real problem - non-mass-market board games tend to be only available at either game stores, or online. These days, online is your best bet - the game store I frequent is quite popular as it's one of the few online for Canada (Craving for a Game [] ) - especially since it's one of the few on the West Coast.

In the US, tends to have the games, and if not, eBay and the like. BoardGameGeek tends to have links to eBay searches that have those games. However, nothing online can really replace (I found) the B&M store. Craving for a Game is near me, so I visit it often enough that the proprietor knows me and what I like, so I have a personal recommendation engine (and he has game rentals plus in-store trials, so you can see if a game is to your liking, or wait for game night and play against others - he supplies the games (or you can too), and everyone comes and plays.

Also, if you're in the high-tech field, it's a good way to spend a lunch hour "offline" and away from the screen - depending on the size of your company, you can easily get the requisite 4+ people (at one point we often had to have two games going). The only downside is this eliminates every game that claimes to take 45 minutes or longer (we find that if a game claims 60 minutes per game, it's probably closer to 75-90).

The good news is that the bigger games (Catan, Carcassonne, etc) tend to be available at larger stores (especially large comic book/toy stores). But there are a lot of real gems that you'll only find at dedicated stores.

Our group has settled on two games consistently (but we do try others to mix it up) - The Seven Seals [] (aka Zing! in English, but its German/French name is Seven Seals), and Frank's Zoo [] (a delightfully simple game that has a good element of strategy, and is close to Big 2).

Re:Board games still have teens interest.. (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 5 years ago | (#28303855)

With Settlers I try to encourage collusion and to try to bend the rules trading

i'll trade you a sheep and a rock for a sheep.

Micro League Baseball (1)

IlluminatedOne (621945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28291965)

Anyone familiar with Micro League Baseball? We played this incessantly in the mid to late 80's as kids. It was a visual DOS baseball game, but you play as the manager. We kept notebooks full of stats, outcomes and whatever else we thought to log. Come to think of it, we kept notebooks on our Tecmo Bowl leagues and our backyard wiffle ball games as well. Did anyone else do this? I would live to find which one of us kept them (you know the old school black/white marble 'composition' books). It would be neat to see what we felt was relevant to record at the time...

Re:Micro League Baseball (1)

mwbeatty (1401881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28293969)

I played Micro League Baseball, loads of fun. I don't think I kept a notebook though. I never really played Strat or APBA as a kid. I had a game by Avalon Hill called Statis Pro Baseball. It was unique in that it didn't use dice but rather there was a stack of cards that you flipped over one at a time to find results. One aspect that I liked about it was that there was a page of unusual plays. If you happened to flip over a ZZ result you consulted this special chart that had things like outfielder crashes into the wall - inside the park home run, etc. I did keep a notebook of stats for that one. Pre-ubiquity of personal computers, it was a pain to have to erase stats and re-tally them but it definitely helped my math skills.

Re:Micro League Baseball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28293995)

There was a Mac version of Micro League Baseball too.

We also kept stats on our wiffle ball games, too. We also had a Strat-O-Matic league. We kept score of all of the games and kept the score sheets. Of course we compiled the stats for that league as well.

In the '70s, there was another baseball simulation game called Extra Innings. They couldn't/wouldn't pay off the baseball players union, so the cards only had the players stats, but not their names. The cool thing about that game was that they showed you how to make your own cards, so that you wouldn't have to keep buying cards every year. In actual practice it would be too tedious and time consuming to actually do it. The first program I ever wrote was a program to make the cards for that game on my high school's VAX.

Tag this (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28292023)


Beware the DRM (3, Insightful)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#28292339)

My dad has spent thousands of dollars on both the Strat-O-Matic cards and in the last few years, the electronic versions of the cards. We sold some of his classic stat cards to fund him buying the electronic versions. However, he's had tons of problems with them. Whenever you buy cards, you have to authorize them with your Strat-O-Matic software. Each card can only be authorized to one machine at a time. If your computer unexpectedly crashes (which his seems to do often), you have to call Strat-O-Matic up and ask them to de-authorize so you can authorize them again to the exact same machine.

It's pretty evil DRM that has made it more difficult for my dad to enjoy his hobbies.

Re:Beware the DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28296467)

"It's pretty evil DRM that has made it more difficult for my dad to enjoy his hobbies."

That's what kept me from buying the PC version of the game. If I have the urge to play computer baseball now I use the Strategic Baseball Simulator. The results seem realistic enough and I find you can modify and create players in a simple text editor.

Ditto with PC football. I still play the old DOS game from Xor called NFL Challenge (1984-1993). However, we have a league of created teams and players and I find the game way more satisfying than any of the new, graphics intensive games. And you can carry it around on a travel drive and play it on any O/S using DOS Box.

Dancing Queen (1)

Tragedy4u (690579) | more than 5 years ago | (#28292751)

I hope I'm not the only one who, at first glance, misread the article title as being "Strat-O-Matic and ABBA Keep On Ticking"

APBA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28292759)

I used to play APBA with my dad, uncle, and cousin a lot as a kid. What a great game. It's sad that most kids will never know what it is. I plan on introducing my (future) son to it someday.

If you like baseball, I highly suggest it!

Used to play APBA (3, Interesting)

Mango Fett (1457557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28293469)

I played APBA back in the 80's, as a kid (now 35). It was a very fun game, and I've spent the past couple of years searching for an electronic version or replacement. I even stooped so low as to buy MLB Front Office Manager, which did nothing to fill that void.

OOTP has promise, as does Baseball Mogul, but neither really hit the sweet spot. Back in the late 90's there was Ernie Harwell's Baseball Blast, which was an APBA game, and was pretty good. Sadly, nothing new since.

The opportunity is there, and there chance for microtransactions and DLC is great. I'm surprised there has been nothing. Perhaps the 2k Sports exclusivity is getting in the way? Perhaps the powers that be don't see a market.

Why don't I just go tabletop? Well, I don't have anyone to play against. While my comic book store has a great big tabletop section where cats can sit and play all day long, there are sadly no APBA leagues, nor interest (an exploratory flyer didn't get a single response).

Re:Used to play APBA (1)

mwbeatty (1401881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28294087)

Baseball for Windows still exists. [] The most recent version is 5.5 and they keep promising an upgrade but it hasn't happened yet.

Re:Used to play APBA (1)

Mango Fett (1457557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28294985)

Thanks for the link. I can see why it isn't an XBLA/PSN/Steam download, they really know how to tack on the fees. $25 for a season, $10 for a ballpark, $10 for a schedule - that would never fly on those distribution channels.

Still, an all in cost of $150 for a few historically great seasons, a couple ballparks and the game itself isn't a bad deal if you're into this kind of thing.

Re:Used to play APBA (1)

mwbeatty (1401881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28297593)

There's a huge fanbase that creates their own seasons and stadiums and then makes them available for free download. In the Ernie Harwell version of the game, you were able to import season information from the Bill James Encyclopedia cd-rom to make your own ad-hoc seasons. I picked up the encyclopedia disc for about $5 on eBay and probably replayed a good 10 seasons from it.

Another great baseball board game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28293835)

If you haven't seen it before, and you're into baseball, check out Baseball Tycoon ( It's a great game for baseball enthusiasts who wish they were baseball GM's.

Strat is a fun game. (3, Interesting)

PhotoJim (813785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28294383)

I was in a keeper league for ten years ('92-'01). It was a lot of fun. We played a 128-game season - 40 man rosters (25 active until "Declaration Day" which was around Game 100, equivalent to September 1 in the MLB schedule) after which you could use any of the 40 players. Of course, since we didn't have minor leagues a lot of the extra 15 players were prospects or players who had had bad seasons that we were keeping for the future.

I was the worst team in our league in the first season. I got into the playoffs for the first time in the fifth season and was in them every season afterwards. I won one league championship and lost in game seven of two other championships. We had ten teams at first, twelve for some of the years so I think I did respectably.

I still talk to some of the league members so the friendships built are real.

Lots of memories... probably the best was in game four of the World Series that I won. I was up two games to one but was losing by three in the ninth. With two out and two on, my centre fielder Ken Griffey Jr. hammered one over the wall to tie the game. I gave up a run in the twelfth and Griffey bailed me out again with a one-out solo shot. In the fourteenth with the score still tied, Griffey hit his third of the game, a walk-off solo shot for the win. Yes, this game is cards and dice, but that game was incredibly intense.

In 1,280 regular season games I had only one no-hitter. Ironically it was pitched by Roger Clemens, who never pitched one in real life. Our league never saw a perfect game and only saw about half a dozen no-hitters.

I had Mark McGwire the year he hit 70 home runs in real life and he hit 60 in 128 games and another ten in two playoff rounds for me to finish at 70 in 141 games.

Great fun. The social element can not be understated. I think Strat is more fun than playing any graphical alternative short of actual real physical baseball.

OOTP is the Strat-O-Matic for the digital age (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28298303)

As a long time player of Strat-O-Matic and other baseball simulation games, the best one out there for the digital age is Out Of The Park Baseball ( It's amazing the hours you can lose in one of these games. I thought my Strat-O-Matic obsession was bad...this is a whole new level.

I don't think the xbox and other console baseball games are going to take away from the simulation crowd. They are 2 different breeds of people. There's the one side that likes to try and swing the bat and there's the other side that enjoys the management aspects of baseball. And for the management simulation side of baseball the computer software that's out there, like OOTP, really enhances the experiences that we all use to enjoy from games like Strat-O-Matic.

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