It's been 62 years since Jackie Robinson integrated baseball. Now, finally, a little card with his attributes will integrate tabletop baseball simulations.
Wouldn't it have been wonderful if all the great Negro Leaguers had been able to play in the majors? We can't change the past, but a close second would be black and Cuban players in our Strat-O-Matic baseball, right? No? Too bad, that's what you get.
Yes, Strat-O-Matic, that card-and-dice game that only about 12 people understand, is introducing its Negro League Roster Set, featuring stars like Satchel Paige, Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson. After some grunt work tracking down elusive statistics, and some computer calculations, we now know just what Cool Papa Bell would do if you roll an eight.
By typing the numbers onto Excel spreadsheets, [historian Scott] Simkus was able to determine fielding averages, platoon splits, strikeouts. Baseball Almanac readers take those stats for granted, but they'd been unknown for Negro Leaguers. Strat-O-Matic statisticians then came up with a "major league equivalency" formula to adjust the numbers to major league levels by studying how Negro Leaguers had performed against minor-league teams, Cuban winter league teams, and barnstorming big leaguers. They determined that the quality of play in the Negro Leagues was somewhere between AAA and the majors.
Now if only the Negro League cards were able to stay in the same box as the white player cards in Southern households.