APBA, Strat-O-Matic give baseball fans opportunity to continue enjoying the game as delay continues

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The Major League Baseball season was supposed to start on Thursday, March 26. Since it won't, fantasy baseball players from coast-to-coast and border-to-border could be out of luck.

Those players can rest a little bit easier, because they could get their baseball thrills back with the toss of some dice.

Sports fans are finding their way to board games like APBA and Strat-O-Matic to get their baseball fixes.

"We have a platform of products. We have the board games with cards and dice, that's up. We have a Windows PC version and sales of that are up. Then we have an internet version 'APBA Go,'" said John Herson, owner of the APBA Games Co., "and that's up dramatically. Our active daily users have doubled daily since the 12th."

The same can be said for Strat-O-Matic.

"Absolutely," said Strat's Adam Richman, "both on the board game and on the digital side. It happened very quickly and it's a substantial uptick for both our brick and mortar products and also on the digital side."

APBA was founded in 1951, in Lancaster, Pa., by J. Richard Seitz. Strat-O-Matic came to be on Long Island, founded by Hal Richman.

"Anything you might be having withdrawals from, come and check us out," Herson said.

Both card/dice games are similar, in that players throw dice to determine what the players in their lineups do at bat, on the mound and in the field. The two games are much different when it comes to exactly how the games are played.

"We had our biggest year ever last year," Richman said, "so our business is growing. What's going on right now, people are nesting at home, and it's a great time for Strat-O-Matic, whether it's the board game, the Windows game or on line."

The message from APBA's Herson is much the same as the one heard from Strat-O-Matic.

"Our active daily users [on the internet APBA Go] have doubled since the 12th," Herson said on Monday. "I haven't seen them for the last two days. I just saw them through the weekend. The new users coming to that, what we used to get in a month, we're getting daily now. That's been running for the past six days now."

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Both games are the same, but are also very, very different.

"For the board game, every player gets his own card. You create lineups and starting pitcher, and roll out a baseball game," Strat-O-Matic's John Garcia said.

The game is played based on results of a particular season, and the numbers on players' cards relate to their success, or lack of same, on the baseball field in that particular year.

The base APBA game has the Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros and New York Yankees of 2019. So if you were an Astros fan, you could play a World Series and see if the Astros could beat the Nats. The basic Strat-O-Matic game features all the teams from 2019, with 27 players per team.

"A game will take 15-20 minutes, playing our basic game. You are the manager. You make all of the decisions the manager would make," the APBA owner said of his game. "The lineup, the starting pitcher, the order. If you want to pull the infield in. It's not pitch-by-pitch. You're not calling pitches. You throw the dice and you get the result of the at-bat.

"It's baseball."

For a reporter who played Strat-O-Matic in his teenage years, the game has adjusted to the changes in baseball and the use of more analytics in determining player skills.

"It can be as complex as you want. The basic game is as simple as it was when you played it in the '60s," Garcia said. "The advanced game just adds more lefty-right splits to it. You can get as basic or as complex as you want to playing the game."

Strat-O-Matic, using its Baseball Daily product, will begin on March 26 to play simulation baseball games. Each regular-season game will be played. Fans can follow on www.strat-o-matic.com, or on Facebook and Twitter.

"Like all baseball fans, we are disappointed that the season won't be starting on time, but we hope this day-by-day simulation will provide a fun, viable substitute for the time being," Hal Richman said in a press release. "And since fans have always enjoyed the control that playing Strat-O-Matic gives them, we are enlisting their help in picking the lineups and pitchers we use in the simulation."

And if baseball fans are looking for their baseball fixes, both APBA and Strat-O-Matic go a long way toward fulfilling them.

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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