What is Statis Pro Baseball?
Statis Pro Baseball is a strategic baseball board game, similar to APBA and Strat-O-Matic, that is played with cards representing each player from a particular baseball season, and which feature numbers that—through formulas using that player’s actual statistics from that season—represent how well a player will likely perform in any given game. Instead of dice, a deck of ‘Fast Action Cards’ is used to determine game results, such as at-bats, putouts, baserunning, scoring, and even such fringe situations as injuries, rainouts, and freak plays (ejections, triple plays, inside-the-park home runs, etc). A person managing a team is also given free reign to make decisions not covered by a card draw: substituting players and changing pitchers, issuing intentional walks, playing the infield in or back, and when and where to have a baserunner make a steal attempt. Unlike fantasy baseball, Statis Pro is a simulation of an actual game, and not a gathering of points based on real-time player stats.
Who created Statis Pro Baseball?
The Avalon Hill Game Company, based in Baltimore, Maryland, who began production of simulation war games in 1954. The company released Statis Pro Baseball in 1978, and continued to release new editions each year, featuring the previous season’s player cards, through 1992, when a licensing dispute with the greedy bastards at Major League Baseball forced AH to cease operations of their excellent baseball game.
What prompted you to buy the game, and to replay an entire season?
In 1979, I was living in Bellevue, Washington, after having moved there from San Diego, and my friend Bob had told me about this fantastic new board game he’d found called Statis Pro Baseball. I’d just started my first-ever job, at a Shakey’s Pizza in nearby Redmond, and after receiving my first paycheck, I went to a local hobby shop called World of Toys and purchased the game for $15.00. Since Bob’s version of the game also included 1978 player cards, we’d decided to replay the season between us, with Bob controlling the American League (his favorite team was the Red Sox), and with me in charge of the National League, since I was a fan of the Reds. At the time, Bob had been stricken with leukemia, and before we could start our 1978 replay, he passed away, in February of 1980. I decided then to honor our commitment and replay the season on my own; it took a few months, but I finally got the season underway on August 22, 1980.
What is SP78 Replay?
It’s the name I’ve given to the baseball season I’m replaying, shortened from the original ‘Statis Pro 1978 Replay Baseball Season’ I’d created when the season opened, and is usually referred to simply as SP78.
How long does it take to play a game?
For me, it’s about ten minutes of prep—setting up the game board and thoroughly shuffling the Fast Action Card deck, choosing lineups, and filling out the scoresheet—and on average about thirty minutes to play a 9-inning game. My longest game time-wise was a 23-inning contest between the Expos and Phillies that took nearly 3½ hours to play, while my shortest was a 2-1 Red Sox win over the Angels that took only 16 minutes to complete.
Do you play games alone, or against someone?
Mostly solo, but on occasion I have a friend or family member as an opponent. Early on in the season, my brother Scott and my friend Steve P played quite a few games (over thirty each), but nowadays it’s mostly just me…although in the past year I’ve had three friends and my father manage in games, so maybe interest is picking up again. Overall, ten people have managed over one hundred games against me since 1980.
Have more than two people ever participated in the playing of a game?
Twice, actually: in 1989 and again in 2000, when my brother Scott and my friend Steve P paired up as co-managers and squared off against me in games played at Steve’s condo in Escondido, California. The first was a 17-inning affair won by the Steve- and Scott-led Astros 12-5 over the Mets, while I took the second contest 11 years later, a 3-2 Angels win over the Rangers in the SP78 20th Anniversary game.
Have you ever not taken part in a game from your SP78 Replay season?
Yes, back in 1981, when my brother Scott played four games on his own over the July 4th weekend. He did this with my permission, but I’ll never again be absent from managing in an SP78 game.
Have you ever thought about giving up on playing the entire season?
Never! Wait, yes I have…in 1982 I decided to switch to a Reds-only season, but that lasted just three games before I returned to the original plan of playing every game from 1978.
What’s the most memorable game you’ve played so far?
I’d say my favorite would have to be the ‘Steve Ontiveros Day’ game between the Dodgers and Cubs at Wrigley Field, which was played on May 7, 1988 at the apartment my brother Scott and I shared in San Bernardino, California. Scott was there to watch the game, as was my friend Steve P, who had driven up from San Diego for the festivities. Ontiveros had been on the disabled list for eight years, and was playing his first game after coming off the DL; he went 2-for-4 with three RBI and played a flawless game at third base. I’d created admission tickets and game programs for the first time, and after the game we celebrated the Cubs win with dinner at a nearby Round Table Pizza.
In some of the game board photos, I see a small photograph of someone wearing a red shirt. Who is that?
That’s my friend Bob, in a photo from the summer of 1979, shortly before he’d introduced me Statis Pro Baseball, and about seven months before he died of leukemia. Every now and then—especially when I play games featuring his favorite team, the Red Sox—I prop his photo up near the board so he can attend the game I’m playing.
You’ve been replaying this season for over thirty years now…shouldn’t you get a life?
Trust me, I have one. If I didn’t, I would’ve finished this freaking season decades ago.