When Hal Richman was 11 years old, he had an idea while in his bedroom in Great Neck, New York on Long Island.
It was 1948 and he was frustrated with other baseball board games because of the statistical randomness. He would discover that the statistical predictability of dice would give a game the realism that he was looking for. Over the next ten years, he perfected the game while at summer camp and then as a student at Bucknell University.
Hal produced All-Star sets of “Strat-O-Matic” baseball in 1961 and 1962, but he would need a little assistance from his father in order to make his dream invention become a real success. He borrowed $5,000 from his dad with the understanding that if his invention did not work out, then he would come to work for his father’s insurance company.
The rest, as they say, is history because Hal never had to take that job with his father’s company.
Strat-O-Matic, a company based in Glen Head, New York on Long Island, is the manufacturer of the top selling sports board games and realism/stats sports digital games. The company offers baseball, football, basketball and hockey games over multiple different platforms and has the world’s greatest sports game stat libraries dating back to the early 1900’s.
(Adam and Hal Richman)
“He’s really an artist,” said Adam Richman of his father. “He’s an artist whose canvas is numbers and those sort of have realized themselves in sports. At its core, Strat-O-Matic is a research institution and what we’re known for and what our brand stands for is accuracy and statistical reliability.”
The younger Richman is now Owner and President of Strat-O-Matic, a company that has built of a loyal base of fans over the years including a plethora of sports broadcasters including Bob Costas, Jon Miller and Dan Shulman, former baseball players Keith Hernandez, Doug Glanville and Cal Ripken Jr., as well as celebrities like Drew Carey, Bryant Gumbel, Spike Lee and Tim Robbins.
Each year, the company releases a new set of updated player cards for the board game and it’s been tradition of fans all over the area to descend on the company’s Long Island headquarters to buy the cards when they’re released on what you could term as the Strat-O-Matic “Opening Day”.
Huge @StratOMatic fan as a kid. One year, I took LIRR to buy the latest cards on “opening day” upon their release in Glen Head, LI. Huge snowstorm. Figured I’d be alone. Instead, dozens of nuts like me on line. Two discussing Dwight Evans’ arm rating. https://t.co/zZtYTq5rPW
— Joey Wahler (@JoeyWahler) April 1, 2020
“Our company has often been sort of the founding father of fantasy sports,” said Richman. “The Strat-O-Matic Baseball board game is the Monopoly of sports board games. It’s what any sports board game is compared to that is based on realism and stats. It is still a best seller for the company and growing every year consistently.”
While the board games remain extremely popular and continue to sell very well, the company has been able to adapt to the changing times. Before the start of the 2016 Major League Baseball season, Strat-O-Matic introduced “Baseball Daily”, the company’s first product that featured digital player cards that would be updated everyday to reflect real life current player performances as the season was going on.
Strat-O-Matic results had always been based on past performances, but now there would be a game to play that featured current statistics.
“For years and years and decades, the company was always retrospective in the way that it viewed sports,” said Richman. “About five or six years ago, we said we love history but we also wanted to do something where we could be current.”
Strat-O-Matic has had tremendous success with simulations over the various sports including the World Series the last few seasons. They did simulations during the NBA lockout in 2011 and that has set the scene for what is going on right now with the Coronavirus Pandemic. All sports, including baseball, are either on hold or have been cancelled but Strat-O-Matic has found a way to keep the fans engaged.
Each day, Strat-O-Matic has been simulating the 2020 MLB season playing out each of the scheduled games through their website, social channels and multimedia presentations. The results of all the games, along with standings, statistics and key game highlights, are announced each day at 2pm Eastern Time (11am Pacific).
How realistic can this be?
On opening day of the Strat-O-Matic simulation, the Mets lost to the Nationals 4-3 at CitiField when Howie Kendrick hit a tie-breaking 9th inning home run off Mets closer Edwin Diaz. Meanwhile in Baltimore, the Orioles scored two runs in the 7th inning off Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino as the Birds beat the Bombers 3-2 spoiling the Yankee debut of Gerrit Cole.
Yep. That’s pretty realistic! Seems like Strat-O-Matic was analytics before there were analytics.
“It’s amazing how accurate Baseball Daily actually is,” said John Garcia, Research Director for Strat-O-Matic. “Sabermetrics didn’t exist when Strat-O-Matic started but people who played knew the value of on-base percentage to play the game. People are just craving baseball during this time and we’re bringing it to people.”
These are difficult times that we’re going through in our country right now. National and local leaders are urging people to stay at home and only leave for essentials like food shopping or going through the drive-through to pick up something for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Children are being home-schooled and many people are working from home.
There’s no live sporting events to go to or to watch on television and all little leagues and other youth sports are suspended so that limits the athletic participation to just a catch or something like that in front of your house or in the backyard. Some people are also getting some fresh air by taking a walk around their community.
But people are spending a great deal of time in their homes and they need activities to get them through the day. Strat-O-Matic is a way of doing that giving fans of all ages a fun way to enjoy baseball in your own home. The company had already been doing well and now they’re seeing a big growth spurt.
“What’s happening is so unfortunate and so awful in this country and all over the world,” said Richman. “What we’ve always had and what we’re seeing more and more of, regardless of what’s going on right now, is a lot of intergenerational play. That’s never been more true than right now when everyone is hunkering down at home and looking for things to not only entertain but to keep the mind going.”
All baseball fans are eager for when the day comes that they can hear the umpire yell “Play Ball”. Hockey and basketball fans are hoping that their seasons will be able to be completed and that the Stanley Cup and Lawrence O’Brien Trophy can be handed out. The football off-season is underway with free agency and the upcoming NFL Draft but will the season start on time?
There’s a lot of uncertainty in the sports world, but Strat-O-Matic is doing its part to keep fans of all sports, especially baseball, in the game.
All of Strat-O-Matic products, including their college football game for Windows, is available on their website www.strat-o-matic.com or at Amazon Prime.