Cool Baseball Games: Different Strokes for Different Folks

Boys Playing BaseballThere have been many cool baseball games, in various styles, created over the years. In this article I present an overview of several different styles of baseball games that exist today.

When you think about it, baseball concepts are really quite simple. Essentially, if you can swing something and propel another object, you can turn it into a game of baseball.

The simplicity of these concepts has caused a great deal of creativity to be focused on developing games that emulate baseball in some way. In fact, in some games you don’t even swing or hit anything, you just pretend that you did.

When I began to write this article I heard my grandson say, “Runners on second and third, Miguel Cabrera up to bat.” So, I went out to investigate and found him swinging a green jumping toy (picture above). In his imagination he was playing baseball with his brother.

Start with the Imagination

Baseball Cards

As I noted previously, the essence of baseball is quite simple. For example, when I was a kid, I used my baseball trading cards to play baseball on the floor.

First I created two teams, each having the essential nine defensive positions. Then I set up one of the teams in a baseball field alignment with books set on their sides to form the outfield wall. I placed the “batter” at “home plate” and flicked (swung) my index finger to shoot the batter’s card out onto the field. If the card hit a “fielder,” the batter was out. Other simple rules determined the outcome of the play.

As I got a bit older, I created an unsophisticated dice baseball game. This was one of the first tabletop games I had invented. Adhering to player stats was not important, neither was swinging a bat. I just wanted to pretend to play baseball.

Then Add More Sophistication

As I learned to write computer programs I began to dabble with game development using BASIC (yes, this was a while ago) computer language. Talk about cryptic visuals!

My first baseball game displayed stick figures for the men on base. The result for each batter was determined through random number generation. At the next family Christmas gathering, I held a tournament with seven siblings and cousins. My younger sister won!

Then, in the early 1970s, I was introduced to a board game called Strat-O-Matic Baseball. This game used dice but had detailed, complex charts to determine the outcome. It was right up my alley because the game was developed around individual player statistics. I joined a small group as we created a league and then held a three-day tournament.

You can see that I have always been interested in baseball games. So, let me review the various styles of games that are available to you today.

Internet and Console GamesImage of Pinch Hitter Online Game

Try entering the term “online baseball games” or “kids baseball games” in your favorite search engine. You will find a lot of websites featuring baseball games, from sites focused on one game to sites hosting numerous ones.

Most of these online games are arcade style, aimed at younger children through pre-teens. Some are pretty cool for older players too. Within this style you will find a number of animated games featuring characters from your children’s favorite cartoon shows.

A similar style of game can be found on mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and PDAs.

Console platforms, such as Nintendo, Playstation, Xbox, and Wii, represent another style of game. These games require active physical participation, often enough to make you sweat! You may be either the pitcher or the hitter in these games, playing against another person or against the console game.

Tabletop and Board Games

Tabletop games that are focused on baseball commonly follow a style similar to a pinball game. These often use a spring-loaded bat to swing at a small metal ball. A good number of these games are played in a small structure that looks like a baseball stadium.Basic Fielding Chart for Strat-O-Matic

Another common style is the board game. Some of these date back at least as far as the early 1960s.

Typically, multiple dice are used to help determine the outcome of a play. Some are based on relatively simplistic play option cards. Others, like the Strat-O-Matic game, get quite complex, utilizing player cards based on previous yearly statistics and sophisticated play charts.

Online Simulation Games

I’ve found two key styles that I label as online simulation games.

Fantasy and rotisserie leagues have become very popular. These leagues represent a style that is appealing to a broad audience of fans. In this style of game, each person acts as General Manager, typically drafting players from currently active team rosters. Using actual daily or weekly statistics for each player on the team, points are given for leading in specific hitting, pitching, or fielding categories. The team that accumulates the most points in a specified time period is the winner.

A second style of online simulation is typically based on the concept of converting a board game into an online version of that game. These are complex and sophisticated games, appealing to fans that enjoy the intricacies of baseball. They can be played individually against the computer or one-on-one against another player. Teams can be a single historical team of players or a mix of players drafted from various teams, with the intent that over a period of time each player will have statistics similar to those from their actual performance.

Handheld Electronic and Miscellaneous Games

Many versions of handheld games have been produced around the baseball theme. These range from simplistic play (perhaps about as exciting as my first computer game that required one to press the enter key) with no visual display to those that are a bit more elaborate, with multiple options for type of pitch thrown or choice of when to swing the bat.

Baseball Dartboard
Baseball Darts (Taiwan)

The final style I want to mention includes miscellaneous games such as dartboards and Velcro walls. Rules vary greatly depending on the type of game but most appear to involve throwing something. Where that something lands or sticks determines the result of the play.

Coming Next

This gave you a quick overview of games that might be of interest. I will be digging into a few of these game styles in future posts, providing product reviews for several of the really cool baseball games that are on the market.

Please feel free to submit any comments or questions you might have. Your opinions on good games or games to avoid are appreciated.

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4 thoughts on “Cool Baseball Games: Different Strokes for Different Folks”

  1. These baseball games sound very cool indeed. I am very competitive (with any games, puzzles or tests of ability). Is there something that you recommend for someone like me that would like to have a lot of “fun”with their friends (if you know what I mean)?

  2. That’s an excellent question, Denise. The answer depends a bit on what type of game you might enjoy most, but there are a number of choices that would be fun and competitive with friends.

    From a cost standpoint, the free internet games are winners. You would want to find one that is a bit more sophisticated but still easy and fairly quick to play. My next post will cover these in more detail, so come back in a few days for that.

    Some of the tabletop games are a lot of fun also, though you would have to purchase the one you want. Type in “tabletop baseball game reviews” in Google for some helpful information plus images.

    The board games are very competitive but they typically take time to learn and to play, so they aren’t necessarily the best “for fun”. Obviously, some will be less detailed than others.

    Then there are dartboard games, of course, so if you are into that type of game it can be a lot of competitive fun (and not too expensive). You could also play this type of game with more than two people.

    I hope this helps a bit,

  3. I love your site. 🙂 And, the section on internet and console games above is so true on the console games can make you sweat. I have 9 year old twins and the games on the kinect and wii really do just that!

  4. That’s right, Jennifer. I’ve tried my grandson’s WII baseball games, including home run derby, and I’m sweaty and worn out by the time we finish a couple innings. Thanks for checking out my site.

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