Category Archives: SP78 Flashback

The First SP78 Photograph

As surprising as this may sound, I played nearly 12 years of my SP78 Replay baseball season before finally deciding to take a photograph of the game itself. The very first in-game photo was taken on June 23rd, 1992, during a trip my friend Steve P and I took to San Luis Obispo, a small college town located on the central coast of California; the self-portrait below took place that night in the room of the Motel 6 where we were staying.


It was the only SP78 game played during our trip, and this was the only photo taken of the game. What’s strange is, Steve didn’t take part in the festivities, either as an opposing manager or as a spectator; you can’t tell from the photo, but he’s fast asleep in the other bed, to the right of the camera frame, where he’s missing out on a May 26, 1978 match-up between the Reds and Padres, won by the Reds 5-3 in 11 innings.

And if you’re wondering what that large, white something is that’s blocking a good portion of the photo, it’s the top edge of the television where my camera was perched, high up on the adjacent wall. In the days before digital cameras and their small viewscreens, I had to trust what I saw through the viewfinder; thus, I ended up with a photo that wasn’t quite as unobstructed as I’d hoped. And since I was shooting with film, I didn’t have the option to take thousands of photos on a media card, so I only took this one shot, and hoped the image would come out okay.

Now, I have a digital camera and a cell phone for my SP78 picture-taking needs, and within the coming months I’ll be adding the dozens upon dozens of game-related photos I’ve taken over the years to the site, which you’ll be able to find by clicking the Photo Gallery dropdown at the top of the main page. Until then, enjoy this shot of me in my 29-year-old prime, leading my favorite team to victory while wearing a Cubs cap and enjoying an ice-cold can of vending machine Pepsi.

Trammell’s Last Hurrah

DET - Alan TrammellI received an e-mail newsletter from the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum today, and glancing through it I saw that there was a section spotlighting the fifteen new names on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot, a group which included Ken Griffey Jr, Trevor Hoffman, and Jim Edmonds…three players on the outer fringe of my baseball-loving past. Further down the page I found a list of the seventeen returning nominees; players who’d remained eligible after receiving at least five percent of votes the previous year. Included on that second list was former Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell, who’d retired after the 1996 season, and who’s currently playing for Detroit in my SP78 Replay season.

Added to the list of nominees was a short notation, stating that Trammell was appearing on the HOF ballot for the 15th and final time. After double-checking the names of the remaining players on the list, I realized that Trammell was indeed going to be the last player from my SP78 season to ever appear on the ballot. And that to me was a sad thing: I remembered back in 1998, when Dennis Martinez of the Orioles was the last of my ‘real game card’ players to retire, while Mike Morgan—a minor leaguer with the A’s in 1978—was the last of my ‘created card’ players to call it quits, finally, in 2002. And now, I was losing another Statis Pro player, albeit in a different way, but melancholy for me nonetheless.

I may be a bit biased, having stopped following baseball after the 1994 strike, but if I could induct just one player from that list of 32 candidates, it would definitely be Trammell. His career stats aren’t bad at all: 20 seasons as a Tiger, with seven seasons hitting above .300, four AL Gold Gloves, six times an All-Star, and a World Series MVP award in 1984. As for his current SP78 stats, well, those aren’t so hot: a .238 average in 103 games, with 97 hits, 14 doubles, and 38 RBI. With numbers like that, a Rookie of the Year award does not appear to be on his SP78 horizon, but with his solid play at short helping to keep the Tigers in the AL East race, a post-season appearance just might be.

Two days from now, on January 6th, the Class of 2016 Hall of Fame inductees will be announced. Of course I’d like to see Trammell make it, but according to all I’ve read, the chances of that happening are slim. And with that, another ‘last hurrah’ will take place, and Trammell will quietly disappear from the ballot, one of the last of a dying breed of SP78 players who still have ties to today’s game.

To Box or Not To Box

I spent most of this past Sunday working on a boxscore template to use on the SP78 site, taken from a boxscore generator I’d found on-line the day before. The design of the boxscore had a nice look to it, but thankfully it also had HTML code that I could tamper with, which I took full advantage of to create an overall better-looking product. The adjustments I made were minor (center-justifying some words and titles, adding a date and stadium to the linescore, etc), but in the end they helped give the boxscore a more polished, baseball-savvy appearance.

The game I chose was one I’d already typed up a boxscore for years ago, and therefore was easier to plop into the generator: the SP78 All-Star Game, which in hindsight was probably a bad choice, since it was one of the more stat-deficient games I’ve ever played. Click here to see how it looks on a site page.

Right now this is just a test run, and I still have some modifications to experiment with, so don’t look for hundreds—or even a handful—of these babies to suddenly appear on the site (I calculated that if I created one boxscore a day for every game I’ve played so far, I’d be finished in four years). Trust me, this is strictly in the planning stage; I’m also working on my own template, which won’t be as colorful as the generated one but may be more true to a boxscore you’d find in a 1978 issue of The Sporting News. Continue reading

My Card, Sir

On this date in 1992, on my last day of taking a semester-long film course at UCLA, I stopped by the student union and had a few dozen of these business cards printed up at a do-it-yourself vending machine. Someday, I hope, I’ll be able to don my favorite tuxedo and attend the Governors Ball, and while enjoying a glass of Romanée-Conti Grand Cru and a plate of imported Cheez-Its, have the opportunity to say to someone, “My card, sir.”

SP78 - business card crop

Pete’s 3,000th: The Historic Microcassette Call

Back in the summer of 1988, I moved from the apartment I shared with my brother Scott in San Bernardino to the heat-soaked state of Arizona, where I spent two months living with my Mom in Chandler before getting my own place in Tempe. Scott helped me drive the moving van out, and he stayed an additional week so we could hang out and enjoy a few days together before he headed back to his new place in San Diego; during his visit, we saw five movies in five days, played catch and shot baskets at a local park with my friend Brent, and on a sunny Thursday afternoon sat down to play a game of Statis Pro on the living room floor of my Mom’s apartment, a Reds-Phillies match-up that saw Cincinnati third baseman Pete Rose collect his 3,000th career hit.

Throughout the week, Scott and I had been recording on-the-spot monologues, jovial banter, and flat-out nonsense for my friend Steve P, using a microcassette recorder whose completed tape would be sent to Steve as a kind of audio journal of our seven-day Arizona adventure. I recently unearthed a copy of this tape while I was cleaning out a closet in my apartment; below is a transcribed account of our ‘broadcast’ from that SP78 game, spotlighting Rose’s five plate appearances and a few other highlights that were worthy of documentation at the time. I managed the Reds, while Scott—who every now and then offered up his twisted color commentary, adding some spice to the recording—took part in his 25th career SP78 game, and piloted the Phillies. Continue reading