The Simplicity of a Baseball Sim Game Joy

As a young kid, his was/is the pin-ball game that started me on the trail to APBA Baseball.

As a young kid, his was/is the pin-ball game that started me on the trail to APBA Baseball.

Many of us lifelong baseball fans started out as gamers. And we have remained so. I never played Stratomatic Baseball, but I latched on to the cards and dice version of APBA Baseball at a pretty tender age and was simply swallowed up by the idea of playing a baseball game based upon my growing understanding of the mathematical probabilities. To think that I now could actually manage simulated big leaguers on the hard wood of my bedroom floor on rainy summer days or anytime during the school year – players who would actually come through in the competition very close to their actual performances on the real life diamond over a full season – just swept me up to a new level of Ecstasy.

APBA was/is wonderful. When I first discovered it, it lifted me up from “pin ball” baseball – which was totally about the laws of motion and energy from physics and a player’s developing skill to pull the game knob at just the right time and release speed to achieve the best results. I didn’t want the game to be about me – or chance – or special effects.

As a kid, I once briefly owned the baseball version of that old vibrating field football game – the one where the players moved on little metal fins across a vibrating metal surface to only appear as players in action, but it was physics at its worst. Football carriers in this “electric” game would often turn around and run the other way. Baseball runners – who traveled the bases in a little grooved track, would sometimes do the improbable. For example, on a base hit to right field, a runner on first might stop a few steps from 2nd base because of some litter or defect-scratch on the base paths that halted him – and then – here would come the batter/runner – racing to 2nd base behind him – only to be halted by the obstructively stuck first base runner so both could be tagged out on a double play possibility that most probably has never occurred in reality. “Electric Baseball” was the only game I ever threw away personally – and it didn’t take long for me to make the discard.

When the computer version of APBA Baseball came out some twenty-five years ago, some lifetime players remained bonded to the cumbersome nostalgia of the cards and dice original version of “the game”. Not me. I took to the computer version immediately. I didn’t need all the additional audio/visuals that came with the new version, but, I must admit, listening to the game in the play-by-play voice of the great Ernie Harwell, plus appropriate crowd noises in the background was a nice supportive touch. However, when I started playing my early dawn games as the rest of the family slept, I found that I could turn off the sound and just follow the printed play-by play script on the screen as each play occurred ad enjoy the action as I have always enjoyed baseball on radio. – Just tell what is happening in real time – as APBA computer baseball does – and I can create the pictures of this action in my own mind with no additional help.

The APBA computer baseball game also allows the player to organize season schedules for practically any year in baseball history, to create teams and players of your own design and then play out a full season schedule manually for months – or within five minutes by a 162 game season replay, if results are your thing. If you create your own teams and players, you are even free to place yourself in the starting lineup of the 1927 Yankees, if private self-aggrandizement is your major bag. Meanwhile, APBA will compile copious statistics on the results of you organizations play.

APBA technology is great. When I am in a multitasking mood, which happens fairly often, I can enjoy playing APBA baseball at the same time I’m researching something else – or writing a column. Over time, I’ve come to respect those APBA players who prefer the old dice and cards version of the game with the same regard I hold for those of my generation who still prefer land-line telephones, the typewriter, and snail mail to the 21st century options available to them through the computer and its ever-expanding wunderkind child  – the Internet.

To each, his or her own.

To me, APBA Computer Baseball is simply pure joy.

Here are the standings of a league season I’m now playing with created teams and a combination of real and created players:

The Houston Area Vintage Ball Fantasy Sandlot League

TEAMS W L PCT. GB M#
Pecan Park Eagles 87 36 .707 21
Katy Combine 77 47 .621 10.5
Houston Babies 75 49 .605 12.5
Boerne White Sox 69 55 .556 18.5
Conroe Saw Dogs 59 64 .480 28.0
George Ranch Longhorns 44 80 .355 43.5
Tusculum Freethinkers 43 81 .347 44.5
Richmond Giants 41 83 .331 46.5

There will be a two-round, best of 7 Shaughnessy Playoff Series schedule following the completion of the 154 game schedule, pitting the #4 team versus the # 1 team and the # 3 team versus the # 2 team in Round One – and the winners of these two series then meeting in a best of 7 series for the league championship. As per usual, the higher seed always gets the home field advantage in each series.

Have a nice, simple, uncomplicated, peaceful and delicious Thursday, Everybody!

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4 Responses to “The Simplicity of a Baseball Sim Game Joy”

  1. Kyle Says:

    Do you have easy access to the stats from your league? Can you play online with other players?

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Kyle – I’m not into it, but APBA has a new on-line baseball game program for players so interested. Here’s the linl to their website. Just go down the page and you will find information about the on-line plan.

      The link is http://apbagames.com/

      As for my league stats, I have them on my computer through the APBA Statmaster program. It compiles everything I need automatically.

  2. Bob Hulsey Says:

    The APBA board game always seemed too cumbersome. I used to play a game when a boy that might have been called “Hall of Fame Baseball” where your results came from a spinner instead of dice. You just slapped in your (for example) Willie Mays overlay then put the (for example) Whitey Ford overlay in the pitching spinner and then flicked both spinners to get your result.

    For today’s world, I prefer Baseball Mogul on computer which allows you to be the GM moreso than the manager or player. You build a franchise over decades through drafts and trades (and free agents) but you have to watch your budget and invest in infrastructure. Through it, I seem to be able to replay the “golden era” of the 50s-80s repeatedly with variable results.

  3. Brian Says:

    Hi, enjoyed reading your story. My friends and I played this game on the IBM Portable PC 5155 starting around 1985 when I was around 12 years old. I had usually 4 to 5 friends who would play and we would have a draft and then have like a 20 game season where we would play each other 5 times and then have a playoff. Drafting was so much fun. We had such a blast. We would all sit in my bedroom and put up the draft board on a piece of paper on my wall And it so much fun deciding who you wanted and picking a player before someone else could. And we would also have trades during the season. There were so many great players then. George Brett, Don Mattingly, Ricky Henderson, Dwight Golden, Roger Clemens, I could go on and on.

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