Doug on "Strat-O-Matic"
March 15, 2007
By Doug Glanville
Strat Stories from One Who Really Knows the Game
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Doug Glanville, an avid Strat-O-Matic player for many years, shares his experiences then and now for other Strat fans. Glanville has offered to interact with gamers through the Strat-O-Matic web site. If you have questions or comments for Doug, please e-mail them to SOMTalkShow@aol.com and they will be forwarded to him.
Thanks to my big brother Ken, I became a Strat-O-Matic groupie at the ripe old age of 5. Apparently, Strat-O-Matic was part of his ultimate progression to become a Major League baseball player. He had written down five steps to baseball glory and one of the key steps, right after Wiffle Ball, was becoming proficient in Strat-O-Matic baseball.
So at 5 years old and with hands hardly big enough to hold the dice, I was placed in a league full of young teens. This league consisted of my brother’s companions, many with which I had close to an 8-year age disadvantage.
The first team I chose was the 1975 Philadelphia Phillies, as a fan of Dave Cash, and a true enemy of my brother’s favorite Big Red Machine. I made the finals that year only to lose to that same Red Machine, but redemption came as I rolled on to the 1976 Strat-O-Matic title. Glory at 6 years old.
From there it snowballed into a near cult experience. Religiously from 1975 to the 1987 season, I participated in the union of the local Strat gurus. Sometimes we had full drafts to create our leagues. Other years we each could choose four teams and make one from their best players. I was commissioner one year, statistician the other, sometimes entering data into my Apple 2e computer when the technology was available.
In those years, stories formed, from my 31-0 defeat of Diego Segui, or the legendary Roger Freed card with triples all over the place, or the year Carlton Fisk had a bad arm and received an unprecedented PLUS 5 arm. It all mattered, it was all part of the mystique of the game we came to love.
But it wasn’t really a game, it was an experience. Having purple grape juice stains on Rod Guidry’s card was a crime of the worst order. When I loaned my set of cards to a friend and a few cards came back with teeth marks in them, I knew he could not be trusted with those things sacred. Who would let a dog near a Strat-O-Matic set?
I learned just about every single player who touched the field from the mid ‘70s to the late ‘80s. In my travels as a professional ballplayer, I have come across many coaches who had been players during that era. I did not see many of them play, but at some point I rolled the dice with their card in my hand and the game on the line. I could tell them that they were weak against lefties, or they weren’t very good bunters. They enjoyed those stories. In a way it gave me a tremendous respect for the players that paved the way for my era to enjoy the fruits of their sacrifices. I knew Mike Squires was a great first baseman without ever seeing him play, I knew Cesar Geronimo had a great throwing arm without ESPN showing it to me. Strat-O-Matic introduced me to many players who were only known in the cities where they played. It greatly improved their exposure.
I also learned about critical thinking at an early age. How to make a line-up or how to decide which pitcher to bring in at a crucial moment. It didn’t stop at baseball. I played Strat-O-Matic football, basketball, and a few years of hockey too.
Now that I have played professionally for about 13 years, I still have my Strat-O-Matic thinking cap on from time to time. I took pride in getting a 1-rating for my outfield play in 1997 and I was bitter when I never saw that same 1 rating for my centerfield play in 2001. It was a true sign of my arrival to the big leagues that I had a Strat-O-Matic card. That was almost as important as my first major league hit or homerun. It was an honor.
Cal Ripken Jr. is a man who probably could have anything materially he could think of, but he was generous enough to give me a pair of his spikes the week before he announced his retirement. I thought for a long time about what to get him as a thank you. I decided on a display of all his Strat-O-Matic cards over his career (keep it a secret, I still am working on the layout for the cards). That is truly a one-of-a-kind gift, and one day once I finish playing this game, I plan to have the same on my wall. The back and front of every Strat-O-Matic card I have ever earned. I know that will mean as much to me as any jersey I can hang up.
So I thank Strat-O-Matic for many gifts and many memories in my life. It has been a great ride and I look forward to having a Strat-O-Matic library of my own when the time comes to pass.