In early 2011, in honor of their 50th anniversary, Strat-O-Matic Games announced a search for the “Ultimate Strat-O-Matic Fanatic.”
Brett Carow of Farmington, Minnesota earned the crown with an impressive gaming resume. From Strat-O-Matic’s official Press Release:
Brett’s Strat-O resume is quite impressive: over 10,700 baseball games played in 20+ years. In addition to sleeping through prom to participate in an overnight Strat-O Fest, Brett played Strat-O throughout the course of his honeymoon and regularly skipped college classes to come to Opening Day. The ‘icing on the cake’: his wife scanned a 1941 Ted Williams Strat-O card onto a cake to honor his 10,000th game played.
Carow further enhanced his “Strat-O-Resume” in July of 2012, when he and fellow Strat-O-Matic Fanatic Sam Henneman played 61 hours and 2 minutes of consecutive Strat-O-Matic Baseball. The stunt was recorded by Guinness as the World Record for longest board gaming marathon.
Here is Brett holding the 2015 Guinness Book of World Records, where his entry is on page 115:
Hope you have a great birthday, Brett! May all your d20 rolls come up 1 when you want it, 20 when you don’t.
The Inventor of the game is listed as “John W. Heisman of Atlanta, Georgia.”
In 1904, John William Heisman was head coach of Georgia Tech. Today, of course, Heisman is known mostly for the trophy that bears his name. The Downtown Athletic Club of Manhattan awards the Heisman Trophy annually to the best college football player in the nation.
As a football coach, Heisman was an innovator. According to Heisman.com:
What he considered his greatest contribution, the forward pass, became legalized in 1906, after three years of writing and pestering Walter Camp and the rules committee. Much of the official rule book in the day adopted Heisman’s suggestions word for word.”
That spirit of innovation and invention didn’t stop on the field, apparently. By today’s standards his board game would be considered rudimentary, but it does bear some of the hallmarks of a modern football board game.
Heisman’s game works like this:
There are 7 bottle-shaped receptacles, each of a different color, and each containing 20 consecutively-numbered balls. Each bottle represents a different type of play, and each ball represents a specific play of the corresponding type.For instance, the patent gives an example of one bottle that may be called “Center Plays.” Should the offensive coach call for a “Center Play” he would then randomly select a ball from the bottle, the number on that ball then determining the specific play to be run. The gamer then refers to the “schedule” that lists outcomes of the 20 specific plays, presumably yardage gained or lost, turnovers, etc.
While the bingo-ball mechanic may be novel, the game doesn’t appear to have much to offer in this day and age. There are no concessions for squads with different strengths and weaknesses, and a coach doesn’t have any in-game defense against his opponent’s play calling. Also, if you ask me, it seems like pouring balls out of bottles to get results would grow tiresome quickly.
That said, in the US Patent Database sections CCL/273/247 (which are patents for board games related to American Football & soccer), there are 234 patents. The earliest was granted on March 20, 1894. Of the 234 patents granted in the past 120 years, Heisman’s was only the 8th filed.
While researching the history of football games for the upcoming issue of OneForFive.com Print Edition, I came across the following article in the January, 1966 edition of The General, Avalon Hill’s monthly publication.
CLICK HERE to download the complete issue of The General (Jan, 1966)
The General was devoted to Avalon Hill’s deep selection of wargames. However, it wasn’t until 1973 that Avalon Hill would first publish All-Star Replay, a magazine devoted entirely to AH’s burgeoning line of tabletop-sports games, so in 1966 the only place to find information, charts, PBM and/or FTF opponents was in The General.
FOOTBALL STRATEGY TO GET FACELIFTING
There would be many revisions to Football Strategy’s charts over the years, and you can find new homemade charts still being created today.
As a postscript, I found the following little blurb on the front page of The General that month to be an interesting artifact of the time. I can’t imagine a game company that produces its own magazine to promote its products endorsing a competitor’s games this way in 2014. My, how things have changed.
Transcript [from The Sporting News - March 12, 1942]:
‘Droopy Drawers’ Players
A desire for an explanation of those “droopy drawers” – pants down to the ankles – affected by some modern players, is expressed by Variety, breezy and authoritative theatrical weekly.
“Joe DiMaggio and Carl Hubbell are the silliest looking pair we’ve seen,” comments Variety. “‘Way back in the days when the speed boys were stealing from 40 to 50 bases a season, you’ll remember they used to roll their pants just below the knee. Now they’ve got ‘em almost to their shoes. The theory here is that the constriction inherent in this new style can slow up a player a full stride getting to first.
“It would be nice to get an authoritative opinion in the matter because it bother the hell out of us every time we see a picture of DiMaggio or Hubbell. You can say, of course, that if all the players could play ball like those two, they could run out there without any pant at all as far as you’re concerned. But you also know they’d have a tough time getting to the plate, leave alone first that way.”
If you’d like full access to The Sporting News archives as well as to join the conversation with the best baseball researchers in the world, sign up for The Society for American Baseball Research, that is SABR.org. I bought the digital-only “family” plan for $15/year and it just may be the best $15 I’ve ever spent.
— Joey Sasser (@JoeySasser) September 8, 2014
If you can’t read that kid-writing, it says:
Translation: I like to play baseball and basketball. Mom likes to clean. Dad likes to play Strat-O-Matic.
For some reason, I think Mom might not agree with the kid’s interpretation of her “hobby.”