Dice baseball? Okay that's pretty cool.

Pictured above is New York Yankees slugger Roger Maris' 1961 Strat-O-Matic baseball card. Pictured above is New York Yankees slugger Roger Maris' 1961 Strat-O-Matic baseball card.

By Joshua Price/Sports Editor

It seems like some guys just can’t get enough of baseball.

Last weekend I stopped by a friend’s house for a game of cards. There was a large group expected to be there, so I anticipated some pretty good games. When I arrived two tables were full and the stakes were high. My friend told me I would play the next game, and to go to the other room and wait with the other guys while the current games ended.

I walked into the other room and saw some friends lounging around the couches watching a baseball game on the bi screen. I heard some guys talking loudly at each other. When I looked over toward the back of the room, I saw a group crowded around a table. I walked over to see what they were doing, expecting another card game.

But they weren’t playing cards.

Spread out on the table was cardboard picture of old Yankee Stadium, surrounded by an array of charts with numbers all over them. The two players seated faced each other held rectangular cards in their hands, which were also covered with numbers.

It was obvious the guys were playing baseball, but how? I took a closer look at one of the guy’s cards and saw some very recognizable names – Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Roger Maris, to name a few. The other player’s cards featured players such as Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones and Fred McGriff. It was a match between the 1961 New York Yankees and the 1995 Atlanta Braves.

One of the guys watching the match told me the game they were playing was called “Strat-o-Matic,” and that it had been around for a number of years. I thought it was rather corny at first, but I soon changed my mind.

“Mickey Mantle versus Greg Maddux,” one of the players announced.

One player rolled three dice onto the table and the two players checked the results on their cards and on the scattered charts to determine the result of the roll and the at bat. The two players compared the superstars’ cards and agreed that Mantle doubled to right field.

Maddux faced Maris on the next at bat and forced a strikeout, ending the inning.

I watched the rest of the game, which resulted in a 6-3 Yankee win. I asked my friend what must have been a million questions about the general operation of the game. He explained the basics of how the game is played and many of the features.

The game is based on the statistics of each player from that particular season. There are three dice, two white ones and a red one. The “batter” rolls the three dice, and if the red dice shows a 1, 2 or 3, the card of the hitter is used. If the red dice yields a 4, 5 or 6, the card of the pitcher is used. The players then add the results of the white dice and check the number for the resulting play, which could be anything from a strikeout to a home run to an infield pop out.

Basically, the game is designed to allow players to manage Major League Baseball players, teams and games.

I visited the Strat-O-Matic website and learned that the company offers complete seasons from the past, such as the 1911 and 1977 baseball seasons complete with all the teams and players from those years. Each player’s card operates as if that player were playing today. The company also offers recent seasons for younger fans interested in playing with current players they are more familiar with. Strat-O-Matic recently released a set which features the greatest players from the “Negro League,” which is a unique set.

Strat-O-Matic is not limited to recreating baseball seasons. The company also offers professional basketball, football and hockey products. SOM also offers computer products and many websites are available which host online game play.

I am not a player of the game, but admit that it was very interesting to watch. My friend advised me that many people in the Etowah County area play the game and the number of players involved in his “league” has doubled over the past two years.

If you ever have the urge to find out which famous sports team is the greatest of all time, replay famous World Series, or find out how Babe Ruth or Josh Gibson would fare if they batted against Nolan Ryan or Tim Hudson, Strat-O-Matic is the only way to do it.

For more information, visit www.stratomatic.com.

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