Sunday, February 6, 2011

Official Baseball Player's List

The other pamphlet that came with the game was the original Official Baseball Player's List which was effectively a roster list of all 24 Major League teams in 1969, along with the 296 player names, and what teams they would have been assigned to by default.

Quickly doing the math, if you divide 296 player cards by 24 teams, you'll discover that the game offered an average of 12 players per team.  Given that some teams, such as the Cubs (17), Tigers (16), Twins (15) and many others had well over 12 players, I bet you'll have no problem deducing our first Official Baseball Game Weakness, which left even 8-year-olds scratching their heads.

We'll discuss each weakness of the game one-by-one, and how they might each be mitigated (where possible) in the online simulation.

Official Baseball Directions And Rules

I've set up a page for the original Official Baseball Directions that came with the game.  It's a 16-page pamphlet which goes over the procedures for a regular two-player game, discusses situations such as stealing and putting in a relief pitcher, decodes the abbreviations for advancing runners on the back of the Player Card, while also promoting a variation of the game called the Manager's All-Star Game (I never tried it; didn't seem that interesting).

If you skim the directions, you'll get a feel for how the game would have been played by two people back in 1969.  The goal here would be to follow the directions and rules as closely as possible in the online version, while also taking advantage of the computer's ability to make things happen quickly, more efficiently, or to move forward in the game in an automatic fashion.

For example, kids that would play this game in the '70s would often tire of using the dials to control balls and strikes, and would immediately roll the dice to get right to the action on the back of the player card.  Of course, the disadvantage of this would be 9-inning games with football-like scores such as 35-28.  Without the possibility of a strikeout, batting averages (already skewed high with only 11 possible outcomes on the player card) went way up.

With the online version, it could be possible to allow the computer to simulate the balls/strikes aspect of the game whenever the player wants, leading directly to the throw of the dice if a walk or strikeout is not recorded.  For that matter, the player should be able to move forward batter-by-batter, half-inning by half-inning, or inning-by-inning, if they want, letting the computer do the work.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Features Platform: Mission

Assuming there exists a potential way to simulate an Official Baseball Game online, the mission of the Features Platform is to organize my thoughts as to what the online game might look like, how the online version can be improved over the board game (addressing, and perhaps mitigating, weaknesses in the original game itself), and to offer bits of working game features to be tested and discussed.

My original idea to do an online simulation of an Official Baseball Game came about in the Spring of 2007.  I had some improvements in mind at the time, but, because they were not documented, whenever I thought to work on the project I found my recollection murky at best.  The Features Platform should help prevent that from happening, as it will contain a running dialog of ideas and thoughts.  Anyone should feel free to chime in if they have any additional comments to keep the project moving forward.

Introduction To Milton Bradley's (MB) Official Baseball Game

It was 1969.  Specifically, the Summer of '69.  That was the summer in which I became an Official Baseball Game fanatic.

I didn't actually own the game at that time - yet.  My friend Pat owned the game (which had just come out that year), and I looked over his shoulder a couple of times as he played against his brother.  The appeal was immediate, due in part I think to the fact that the game featured individual player cards, with a photo and the player's rating.  I had just begun collecting baseball cards, and I made a positive mental connection between my still modest pile of baseball cards and the mountain of cards provided with Milton Bradley's Official Baseball.  I had to have this game!

I spent the rest of the year hounding my parents to get me the game as a Christmas present.  I think the game retailed for about $10 in 1969, and I knew it was available at our local toy store.  I went and looked at it every time my mom went grocery shopping at the National, and my brother and I could walk over to Foster's Toys and check to make sure they still had the game.

It arrived, as hoped for, on Christmas day, and for the next four or five years I played hundreds of games on it.  I devised a way to play solo, and kept box scores and simple stats on line-ruled notebook paper.

Apparently, the game was not a hit with kids at the time, because the only update to it was rumored to be  in 1972, with different cards (although I have never seen this version of it being sold online).  Spooky's Hobby Shop had this to say about it, "This was Milton Bradley's attempt at a replay game.  Since it is geared towards kids It is very simple compared to Strat-O-Matic or APBA but adults can still have fun with it.   It features cards with photos of 296 major league players."  The 1969 game in good condition can fetch as much as $200 on some sites.

The game cards themselves are sometimes auctioned off individually on eBay like baseball cards, even with rookie card (RC) designations!  I've seen the Roberto Clemete on sale for $45 and a Pete Rose for $30.  That alone makes it difficult to find a complete game with all the cards intact.

My copy of the game, with its well-worn cards, was eventually lost in a series of moves in the 1970s and 80s, and recently I decided to see if there was a way to create and play an online simulation of the game.