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How Strat-O-Matic fueled my love for the game

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My childhood would’ve been quite different without this unique game.

Sports Contributor Archive 2019 Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Back in 1961, Hal Richman, a Bucknell University math major, started selling a new baseball board game called Strat-O-Matic from his basement. That same year, my dad was born. My dad is both a math geek and a huge baseball fan, and Strat-O-Matic combines the two to allow players to simulate managing a team in real game situations.

Each Major League athlete is represented by a player card, which is created using statistical probabilities based on the athlete’s real-life performance. To simplify the game, multiple dice are rolled for each at-bat, and a random result is generated based on the batter/pitcher player card. Playing full seasons provides shockingly realistic statistics and gives the players a strong sense of realism.

Needless to say, my dad was hooked. His brothers have told me countless stories of him begging them to play, or them watching him play by himself, managing both teams. Fast forward 30+ years to when my brother, RJ, and I were born, and Strat-O-Matic was still just as prevalent as it was when my dad was a kid. He bought us the game as a Christmas gift, and we couldn’t get enough of it.

At just 5 years old, I had never watched baseball with any consistency nor did I fully understand the game. However, the more I watched my dad and RJ play, the more interested I became. Eventually, just like my dad, I was hooked. I would wake up at 6 AM on weekends and grind out games before anyone else in my family was awake. My all-time favorite matchup to set up was the 2003 World Champion Marlins vs the 2004 World Champion Red Sox. ’03 Josh Beckett against ’04 Pedro Martinez is a duel that never gets old.

Strat-O-Matic (combined with hours wasted on MVP Baseball 2005) was the true catalyst in sparking my love for baseball as a kid, and has greatly affected my career aspirations. While being stuck in quarantine with no baseball has been miserable, it’s given my dad and I an opportunity to rekindle our Strat-O-Matic showdowns from the 2000’s. Unlike my dad back in the day, I’ll always have a buddy to run a quick game with.