Tuesday, July 15, 2014

All Star Game...'68 Topps Insert Style

Once I finished the '68 Topps Game set I knew I had to at least try to play it once. I haven't played any dice/table top/computer baseball in a few years but once upon a time I was a Strat-O-Matic fiend. But that's a post for another day.

So here we have the 33 card Game set from 1968. I have been curious as to how the game would play if you actually put the cards to their intended use. I kicked around a few ideas and decided to try to play a nine inning 'game'. I first just sort of shuffled and turned over the cards one by one, keeping track of the results in my head. A trial run I suppose. I wasn't sure if 'playing' the cards would result in anything even remotely resembling a baseball game.

Turns out that game-play was not bad. In my trial run I was getting a run or so every half inning so I figured I could get more detailed. I thought it might be fun to use the players on the cards as 'line-ups' and play out a nine inning game. Fortunately the set contains enough players from each league to built legit All Star line-ups. I sorted the cards by league and assigned positions and made out a batting order. Since pitchers in an imaginary line-up would be just as likely as a slugger to hit a homer I decided to use a DH.

I decided my '68 All Stars would face off in my favorite ballpark, Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and so the AL would be the home team. Here is how it went:

The Line-ups:

First the NL....



And the AL...

F. Robinson-RF
B. Robinson-3B


I could have made a case for using Frank Howard at first base for the AL and having Killer play third but, hey, my league, my choice and no way was Brooks sitting on the bench! I wrote the lineups down, drew a simple diamond and used some coins to track runners. And then I got to playing. I took the whole deck and shuffled it about ten times. I had decided that I would shuffle the cards numerous times between each half inning. Truthfully they should be shuffled between every batter if you wanted to replicate the odds of the outcomes Topps built into the set. After all, if they are only shuffled after each team's turn at bat then once a home run is hit that result can't come up again in that half inning. But I wasn't about to do that so I went with the 'every half inning' shuffle.

The game took me about 25 or thirty minutes. That was comprised of maybe ten minutes total 'action' while making a few notes and about twenty minutes total of just shuffling the cards. When I was done I filled in the results on the linescore, printed it out, and put the runs and hits on it by hand because I couldn't figure out how to split the cells with Excel.

I had expected lots of scoring, more than the 14 that occurred. There were plenty of hits though. I only had one 1-2-3 inning. I had one inning that all three outs were K's. Willie May's 'Home Run' card showed up five times including the first time he came up in the order which I thought was cool. I had to make one executive decision as far as card results went. I ignored the 'double play' if there was no force play. The card (Claude Osteen) says that the batter and lead runner are out. I decided that the play would be a 'no-advance' ground out if there was no runner on first.

All in all it was a fun little experiment. I wonder if kids actually 'played' the game back in 1968. I remember the cards but I am sure I never thought about playing. In '68 I was deep into Strat-O-Matic baseball and I would never of bothered with something as elementary as this.

But I do love the set though.

I hope everyone enjoys tonight's All Star Game. I got invited to the Roger Clemens Charity softball game at Minute Maid Park so I'll only get to watch what I can see on the Jumbotron at the ballpark.


  1. I used to improvise a game like this with football stickers. I would collect all dups from the clubs emblems and use them to perform a kind of playoffs round. I use to pair them randomly and then use dices to decide the match result. It was sooooooooooooooo fun!
    Kids nowadays (I'm old enough to talk like that ;) ) don't know the joy of playing this kind of simple games.
    Love your post. Hope you will play more often ;)

  2. Awesome! Thanks for doing this. It'd be cool if someone would do a live recording and post it on YT.