Opening Day, 1971, at Boldo’s Armory

Opening Day, 1971, at Boldo’s Armory
confessions criopped

Written for Roger Henkle’s journalism class, 1983, Brown University. See more at end


Cleon Jones and Tom Seaver from the 1969 Mets

I am the 1982 Brown University Strat-o-matic League champion, having won the World Series four games to three. Strat-o-matic is a baseball tabletop simulation game in which players are represented by cards, on which are printed various ratings and result tables for dice rolls.

In high school, I assassinated countless evening and weekend hours playing the game, mostly with friend Phil Ghyzel.   The game was a useful sublimation activity for nerdy guys who had not yet mastered the dynamics of female companionship.  Alas, my beloved dog eared cards were victims of that timeless crime: dear mom cleaning out the attic.

Sophomore year at Brown I discovered its Strat League. Using my accumulated guile, I vaulted to the World Series and the decisive game seven.  In Strat, pitchers are limited to a certain number of innings.  I husbanded the innings of my star reliever Goose Gossage whose 1981 card remains one of the all time greatest.  In that game seven, I started Rudy May but then brought in Gossage in the 4th inning with the intention of letting him pitch the next six innings.

My opponent blanched and complained to the League Commissioner. In real life, Gossage would never enter the game in the 4th inning.  The Commissioner did not fully approve, but ruled I was within my rights.  As Goose mowed down batter after batter, my opponents’ rueful disdain smoldered.  But I was the Champion.  To this day, my feelings are mixed.  Was it brilliant strategy or had I gone against the spirit of Strat by bringing in Goose for an unreal six inning win?

So it was a thrill to be invited to Alex White’s Boldo’s Fall Classic League held on the second floor of Alex’s store on Monroe Avenue.  Fall Classic Baseball is a dice simulation game very similar to Strat. This year the League has drafted players from the 1971 season for a 36 game season culminating in a World Series.  1971 is special year for us.  As seen in 45 years ago when the Pittsburgh Pirates fielded a team of “All brothers out there”, 1971 featured the first ever game in which an entire major league lineup were black or Latino players.  Also, see Baseball was better 45 years ago.

Thursday was Opening Night.  At Boldo’s six players gathered with cards, charts, rulebooks and dice ready to roll. I even brought my 1971 cards so we could put a face on the paper cards.


Jordan Wallance 11/16/17

The six men, in their 20’s and above, know their baseball and their dice baseball.  Most had cut their teeth on Strat back in the day.  They knew of the immortal 1981 Goose Gossage card that was virtually unhittable.  The Cincinnati fan could rattle off the entire post season record of the Big Red Machine; while the Oriole fan could give you Jim Palmer’s playoff stats from 1966 – 1983.


(l-r) Chris Hawes, Alex White, Robert Wallance

Immediately, I was brought back to the highs and lows of the game.  The players rolled the dice and rattled off the player’s names:  Carew, Olivia, Clemente, Mays and Hunter.  They experienced that moment when the charts and rules had to be consulted, waiting to see if the hit and run had sent the man to third or led to a strike em out throw em out double play.  Alex was bemoaning that his opponent’s pitchers were getting hits, only then to endure a Tommy John infield rbi single.

In the game I followed, Nick Hawes beat Ben Grimes 1 – 0 in an instant classic in which Vida Blue threw 11 plus scoreless innings.  In the 13th inning, Ben’s pitcher fell victim to a play found on the Unusual Chart:  a three base throwing error.  Then he threw a wild pitch to let in the go ahead run.


Nick Hawes (left) and Ben Grimes with 1971 cards

The magic of Strat is that we can envision and imagine that fateful inning.  We can feel the pitcher’s unease after his throwing error.  Was it a psychic meltdown that he followed the error so abruptly with a pitch in the dirt?  A fatal mental flaw. Had he choked?   Of course, there is not really a human element in Fall Baseball Classic or Strat.  It’s just a random throw of the dice.  It’s just a card not a person.

Still I think the Goose Gossage card gleamed with pleasure when I sent him (it?) out for a six inning win in game seven of the 1982 Brown University Strat-o-matic championship series.

Stay tuned as the season progresses.

POSTSCRIPT: of our writers, Bill Pruitt, adds this comment:

I discovered Strat O Matic before girls. When girls came along, goodbye Strat. But betweem 11 & 15, I loved it. I would always try to play a whole season, and of course, never could. btw, if you let Ron Davis pitch an inning, Goose would not have objected. Davis was his signal.

confessions 1

Written for Roger Henkle’s journalism class, 1983, Brown University. Alas, the rest of the essay is lost.

confessions 2


1982, Fisherman’s Wharf, SF. Still basking in the glory of the peak of a lifetime: the Brown University Strat-o-matic League champion.


70 years ago today when Jackie Robinson broke the color line at Red Wings Stadium

45 years ago when the Pittsburgh Pirates fielded a team of “All brothers out there”

Baseball was better 45 years ago

On Yogi Berra and Dale Berra and the 1973 World Series and Willie Mays and my father

When the P.A. announcer told us Nixon had resigned. On the passing of Anna Silver and a most memorable Silver Stadium game

30 years ago when George Brett won the World Series (and Morganna the Kissing Bandit)

30 years ago when Billy Buck broke Rhode Island’s heart

Royals 4 – Mets 3. An opening day World Series rematch with Eugene Kramer

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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