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The Negro Leagues Strat-O-Matic game is fantastic

Dec 21, 2009, 6:53 PM EDT

Though not an avid player, I really like Strat-O-Matic. Though I’ve never met him in person, I’ve known Scott Simkus, the man behind the Negro Leagues version of Strat-O-Matic for a year or two.  At the Winter Meetings a couple of weeks ago I sat next to the Los Angeles Times’ Kevin Baxter in the media room for four days, and he was a really nice damn guy.  So of course I’m going to link a story by Kevin Baxter about Scott Simkus’ Negro Leagues Strat-O-Matic set when it gets published:

His name is Scott Simkus, and about a dozen years ago he commandeered a
microfilm reader at the offices of a suburban Chicago newspaper
searching for the results of a long-ago game his late grandfather, a
semipro outfielder, played against the Negro Leagues’ Cuban Stars.

Simkus, 39, never found exactly what he was looking for, but in the
archives of the Chicago Tribune and newspapers such as the Baltimore
Afro-American and the Pittsburgh Courier, he found more than 3,000
other box scores, which he parsed and cataloged into what may be the
most detailed collection of Negro League statistics ever compiled.

Those numbers allowed Simkus and Hal Richman, founder of Strat-O-Matic,
to put together a Negro League version of the game — no small, or
unimportant, feat.

The cool part of the article is that Baxter and Simkus traveled to Cedar Rapids Iowa to visit Negro Leaguer Art Pennington, the last surviving player for whom Simkus was able to compile a Strat-O-Matic card.  Pennington, Baxter and Simkus played some Strat and traded war stories.  Baxter told me in Indianapolis that it was a great trip, if for no other reason than Cool Papa Bell led off with a homer off Satchel Paige in one of their games.  Pennington sounds like an awesome dude, if for no other reason than he used the phrase “dipsy doodle,” which I haven’t heard deployed non-ironically since my uncle Harry died 25 years ago.

It’s a slow day. This is a great story.  Feed your minds a bit today ladies and gentlemen.

  1. APBA Guy - Dec 21, 2009 at 8:17 PM

    As an avid sim player, I think the Negro League strat game is a way cool idea. We have a couple of teams in my APBA league named for Negro league teams (homestead Grays, Kansas City Monarchs)so there is definitely an interest among sim players for the classical teams. It’s a great way to bring new players into the genre, something that both the major sim game types struggle with.

  2. Silver slugger - Dec 21, 2009 at 11:30 PM

    Anyone into the Strat Negro League set should also check out Jeff Polman’s excellent blog called “1924 and You Are There!”, which has been using the Negro League cards to great effect.

  3. Old Gator - Dec 22, 2009 at 11:00 PM

    Imagine if Langston Hughes had written The Universal Baseball Association, J. Henry Waugh, Proprietor. Just a thought.

  4. Dan Whitney - Dec 23, 2009 at 2:58 PM

    If anyone has yet to read Joe Posnanski’s newest 5000-word post about this topic, it’s phenomenal.

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