Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Full Count Baseball
This is the ninth entry in a series focusing on computer baseball simulations to supplement the chapter “Play Retro Baseball Video Games In Your Browser” from my Hardball Retroactive book along with the corresponding post at Baseball Analytics. The series focuses on baseball simulations – games in which the primary emphasis is on managerial strategy and the ability to replay entire seasons with a degree of realism. Baseball video games that are strictly arcade representations of baseball (based solely on reflex and hand-eye coordination) are excluded.
Publisher – Lance Haffner Games
Release Year – 1987
Platforms –Apple ][, Commodore 64, IBM PC
|Game Design & Programming:||Lance Haffner|
Full Count Baseball is a text-only computer baseball simulation featuring few of the bells and whistles that microcomputer hardball fanatics expected in their software by the mid-1980’s. It was ported to the major platforms of the period but I only owned the Commodore 64 version. I am utilizing the Commodore 64 edition and the VICE emulator to play a series using the 1986 Team Disk. Upon loading the game, I chose option 1 (“Play a Game”) from the main menu. I was prompted to place the Team Disk in the drive, then entered the display speed (1-100), number of players (1 or 2 humans, or computer vs. computer) and whether to use the designated hitter. To select the visitor and home teams, you need to know the corresponding number of each team. I had to check the disk directory to determine that Cleveland was team # 12 and Texas was team # 19. When choosing your starting lineup or today’s pitcher, you are allowed to bench anyone that may be unavailable due to fatigue. The contest begins after placing the Game Disk back in the drive (does anyone miss swapping floppies?!)
I scheduled a Series between 2 upstart teams from the 1986 campaign – Cleveland and Texas. Knuckleballers Tom Candiotti (16-12, 3.57) and Charlie Hough (17-10, 3.79) squared off in the initial tilt. Pete Incaviglia drove in the first run of the contest with a deep drive to center field over Brett Butler’s head as Oddibe McDowell scored with ease from second base. Steve Buechele deposited a three-run shot into the left field bleachers in the bottom of the second, increasing the Rangers’ advantage to 4-0. Candiotti issued a walk to Darrell Porter, loading the bases for Buechele. I signaled to the bullpen for Rich Yett, who escaped the jam with a groundout to second-sacker Tony Bernazard. In the top of the fourth, Pat Tabler sent an opposite-field tracer to the warning track in right but “Inky” flagged it down. Yett yielded a solo shot to Incaviglia in the home half of the fifth. Successive safeties by Larry Parrish and Darrell Porter sent Yett to the showers in favor of fellow right-hander Dickie Noles. Buechele popped up to Brook Jacoby at third base to end the fifth. Joe Carter legged out a three-base hit with two away in the visitor’s sixth, only the third hit allowed by Hough. The wily veteran stranded Carter when he dazzled Andre Thornton with a flutterball. Incaviglia just missed a 3-run blast in the bottom of the sixth as Butler made a spectacular leaping grab at the wall! John Butcher entered the contest and limited Texas to a base hit by Porter. The Tribe finally got on the board with 2 outs in the eighth. Butler’s patience was rewarded with a base on balls. Julio Franco drilled a two-base knock to left-center, scoring Butler all the way from first base. Joe Carter tapped a slow roller towards first and Pete O’Brien stepped on the bag to retire the side. Curtis Wilkerson led off the bottom of the eighth with a single, stole second and scored on a double down the right field line by McDowell. Bryan Oelkers relieved Butcher, but Scott Fletcher blistered a two-bagger to left as Texas assumed a 7-1 lead. O’Brien put the game out of reach, mashing a two-run tater into the right field seats. The Rangers prolonged their offensive barrage as Gary Ward ripped a single to left, swiped second and came home on a two-run dinger by Parrish. When the dust settled, Hough returned to the mound with the top of the ninth with a 10-run cushion. Mel Hall lined a single to right and Tabler roped a double to left-center, but Hough induced a shallow fly ball to center off Bernazard’s bat. McDowell corralled it for the final out as the hometown Rangers claimed bragging rights with an 11-1 blowout.
Veteran right-hander Phil Niekro (11-11, 4.32) took the hill in the second contest against 20-year-old rookie Ed Correa (12-14, 4.23). Joe Carter reached base with two outs when Steve Buechele booted his grounder to third. Cleveland capitalized immediately as Andre Thornton tagged a long double off the left field wall, scoring Carter all the way from first. Oddibe McDowell sparked the Texas offense with a ringing two-base hit in the bottom of the inning. Scott Fletcher laced a single up the middle to plate McDowell. Pete Incaviglia clubbed a tape-measure shot off “Knucksie” to provide the Rangers with the 2-1 lead in the home half of the fourth. Texas extended their advantage to 4-1 when Niekro yielded a two-run dinger to Don Slaught. Cleveland threatened in the sixth when Julio Franco ripped a base hit to left, then advanced to third on a single by Carter. Thornton lofted a soft single to left-center, knocking in Franco. Mel Hall bounced into a 6-4-3 double play as Correa escaped further damage. The Tribe rallied again in the seventh as Pat Tabler and Brook Jacoby delivered back-to-back singles. Tabler raced home and Jacoby jogged down to second on a wild pitch by Correa. Brett Butler popped up to third and Franco whiffed, preserving a 1-run cushion for the Rangers. Scott Bailes relieved Niekro after Fletcher walked leading off the bottom of the eighth. Facing the heart of the Texas’ order, the southpaw retired the side. Tabler rapped a base hit to start the top of the ninth, sending Correa to the showers in favor of Greg A. Harris. Jacoby grounded into a fielder’s choice, erasing the lead runner (Tabler). Tony Bernazard belted the next offering off the top of the right field fence for a two-base knock as Jacoby chugged around the bases to tally the tying run! Carmelo Castillo, batting for Chris Bando, swatted a deep fly ball to center but McDowell hauled it in at the warning track for the second out. Butler hit a two-hopper to Curtis Wilkerson to complete the inning. Ernie Camacho entered the contest for the Indians. Larry Parrish lofted a soft single to left. Slaught slugged a long fly to center that was flagged down by Butler. A base hit off the bat of Buechele placed the winning run on second base with one away. McDowell tripled into the right-center field gap and the Rangers celebrated another victory.
The series transferred to Cleveland as the Tribe endeavored to recover from a 2-0 deficit. Jose Guzman (9-15, 4.54) finished his pre-game tosses in the bullpen while Ken Schrom (14-7, 4.54) jogged to the Municipal Stadium mound. The Indians jumped out to a quick lead when Tony Bernazard blasted a 2-run bomb into the right field stands after Brett Butler reached on an error by third baseman Tom Paciorek. Joe Carter laced a single to center but he was erased with a strong throw by Don Slaught on a stolen base attempt. On the next pitch Cory Snyder jacked a solo shot to left. Guzman whiffed Brook Jacoby but Texas trailed 3-0. The Rangers returned fire in the top of the second as Gary Ward and Larry Parrish rocketed back-to-back doubles into left-center field. In the third inning, Toby Harrah singled to right and Scott Fletcher roped a two-bagger to place runners in scoring position with one out. Schrom struck out Pete O’Brien, then skipped a curveball under Andy Allanson’s glove for a wild pitch to bring Harrah home. Carter delivered a majestic home run to straightaway center field, extending the Indians’ advantage to 4-2. In the home half of the fifth, Carter repeated the feat with a 2-run moon-shot down the left field line. Rich Yett entered the contest after Schrom loaded the bases with one out in the sixth. Slaught grounded into a fielder’s choice to cut the Cleveland lead to 6-3, but Yett managed to strike out Paciorek to retire the side. Jacoby started the bottom of the sixth with a base hit up the middle, knocking Guzman from the game. Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, making his first appearance in the Series, yielded a single to Carmelo Castillo, a double to Pat Tabler and an RBI-single to Butler. Bobby Valentine blew a gasket as he chewed out Williams before ultimately signaled for the right-hander, Jeff Russell. Bernazard beat the relay throw on a fielder’s choice grounder as the Indians notched another tally. Julio Franco flailed at a hard slider from Russell to mercifully bring the frame to a close. Yett supplied 3.2 scoreless innings to complete the 9-3 victory for the Indians.
The opposing managers trotted out a pair of portsiders for Game 4 as Mike Mason (7-3, 4.33) prepared to do battle against Neal Heaton (3-6, 4.24). A pitcher’s duel ensued as both hurlers put up goose eggs through the first 4 frames. Heaton walked the bases loaded in the fifth but extracted himself with a ground out to second base. In the home half of the inning, Brett Butler hit a tracer into the left field corner for a 2-run triple. Joe Carter led off the bottom of the sixth with a double to left-center and later scored on a base hit off the bat of Pat Tabler, knocking Mason from the contest. Brook Jacoby greeted reliever Jeff Russell with a single back through the box and Cory Snyder came around to give the Tribe at 4-0 lead. Mitch Williams entered the match with 2 outs in the seventh after Russell yielded a single to Julio Franco and a base on balls to Andre Thornton. Snyder promptly delivered a single to right. Ruben Sierra fired a rocket towards home plate but Franco slid under Don Slaught’s tag as the Indians padded their lead. Tabler followed with another safety to drive in “Thunder” Thornton. Jacoby narrowly missed a four-bagger as Oddibe McDowell drifted back and made the catch on the warning track. The Rangers threatened in the top of the eighth. Larry Parrish blasted a deep fly ball with 2 outs and runners on second and third, but Cory Snyder sprinted towards the fence and made a leaping grab to preserve the shutout. Heaton retired Texas quietly in the ninth to notch the victory and even the series at two games apiece.
Charlie Hough and Tom “Cotton” Candiotti would keep their catchers busy in the rematch of the dueling knucklers. Texas drew first blood in the third inning when Curtis Wilkerson walked, swiped second and came around on a single to center by Oddibe McDowell. Candiotti proceeded to get into a bases loaded jam but extricated himself with a strikeout of Pete Incaviglia. Gary Ward launched a moon-shot leading off the top of the fourth, putting the Rangers ahead 2-0. Larry Parrish followed with a long double to left-center and he later scored on a pair of wild pitches during Steve Buechele’s at-bat. Candiotti dug a deeper hole when Buechele ripped a base hit, stole second and registered the Rangers’ fourth tally on a triple by Wilkerson. Scott Bailes entered the contest to face the top of the order with one out in the fourth and Cleveland behind by 4 runs. McDowell lifted a medium fly to center, deep enough to score Wilkerson. The Tribe scratched across their first run on an RBI single by Tony Bernazard. Rich Yett relieved Bailes with 2 outs in the fifth and the sacks full of Strangers. The right-hander issued a walk to Buechele to force in “Inky”. Wilkerson followed with a 2-run single to right. McDowell belted a long fly to center which Butler tracked down at the wall as Texas comfortably led the contest, 8-1. In the home half of the fifth, a sacrifice fly to left by Andre Thornton inched the Indians a bit closer. Hough cruised into the eighth inning when Jeff Russell replaced him on the mound. Russell got the final four outs as the Rangers returned home up three games to two in the Series.
Back at Arlington Stadium, Texas elected to pitch Ed Correa while Cleveland countered with the wily veteran Phil Niekro. In the top of the first, Julio Franco roped a two-out two-bagger to center and took third on a poor relay throw by Oodibe McDowell. Correa showed his composure in the big moment by inducing Joe Carter to tap a weak grounder to Pete O’Brien. Andy Allanson led off the third with a ringing single to left which Pete Incaviglia misplayed, allowing the Indians’ backstop to advance safely to second. Again, Correa weaved through the top of the Tribe order to escape the inning unscathed. Ruben Sierra put the Rangers on the board with a two-out triple in the home half of the fourth, scoring third baseman Larry Parrish. Don Slaught followed with a base knock to left and Texas took a 2-0 lead. In the fifth, O’Brien lofted a sacrifice fly to right and McDowell barely evaded the tag at home plate following a strong throw by Cory Snyder. Slaught belted a solo shot into the left field bleachers, extending the Rangers advantage to 4-0 in the sixth. Bryan Oelkers relieved Niekro and yielded a round-tripper off the bat of Toby Harrah. Correa continued to confound the Cleveland offense, putting up zeroes through seven frames. Ernie Camacho entered the contest after Oeklers issued a walk to O’Brien leading off the bottom of the seventh. The right-hander whiffed “Inky” and Sierra but got burned on an inside fastball that Slaught mashed for a two-base hit. Correa remained on the mound with a 6-run lead into the ninth inning. Brett Butler coaxed a leadoff walk but he was promptly erased when Franco rapped into a 6-4-3 double play. Carter popped up to shortstop Scott Fletcher and the Rangers greeted Correa at the mound to celebrate their victory! The young right-hander merited Series MVP honors as he held the Tribe to 2 earned runs in 17 innings while striking out 16 batsmen.
Graphics –  The screen is divided into 3 sections. The top portion of the display contains a typical scoreboard. The mid-section provides basic information regarding the current batter and pitcher along with the on-deck hitter. Batting data consists of the player’s last name, handedness, batting average and home runs while the pitcher’s stats are limited to last name, throwing hand, won-loss record and earned run average. The inning, number of outs and infield status (infield in, in at corners, or blank for normal infield depth) are listed below the pitcher. Baserunners (if any) are enumerated below the batting and pitching record. The lower third of the screen conveys the strategy menu or the play-by-play text.
Sound –  Full Count Baseball does not feature any music or sound effects.
Strategy –  Managerial options are a bit limited compared to contemporary offerings. On defense, there is no way to hold a runner on base or call for a pitchout. The program does not allow you to warm up a relief pitcher or visit the mound for a conference. Your only option is to substitute the current pitcher with a reliever.
Artificial Intelligence –  The computer manager will generally pinch-hit and replace the pitcher at appropriate intervals in the game. Full Count Baseball does not utilize left/right split stats, so the manager does not take the platoon advantage into account. One problem that I encountered during the game… After pinch-hitting for my catcher in the second game, I was not prompted to adjust my defense (player out of position) so I inadvertently retained Carmelo Castillo as my catcher in the ninth inning.
Box Score –  The post-game box score contains 5 screens: the line score, the visitor and home batting results, along with the pitching results for both teams. Wild pitches, passed balls and balks are omitted. The user may print the box score and/or compile statistics. If you choose the Compile option, you are prompted to insert a user-provided disk. You can select the Look At Compiled Stats option from the main menu. This provides an account of the team’s record along with the accumulated batting and pitching statistics (4 total screens) for the currently selected team. The game does not keep track of league standings. However it maintains each team’s won-loss record which appears when reviewing compiled statistics.
Rosters –  – Each team consists of a 29-man roster (17 batters and 12 pitchers). You have the option to save lineups and load previously saved lineups.
Statistics –  – From the main menu, you can choose to create a new team, draft a team or edit an existing team. The program tracks the standard statistics – no more, no less.
Usage/Injuries/Ejections –  – I did not encounter any injuries or ejections during the 6 games that I played. You are prompted to select any players that are unavailable prior to entering lineups and choosing the starting pitchers for the current match. I also noticed a ‘-T-‘ next to several of my relievers during the fifth game. I don’t have a copy of the manual but assume that indicated that they were (T)ired.
Ballparks / Park Factors –  – The simulation does not appear to account for any park factors and you do not have the ability to select different ballparks.
Commentary –  – The commentary appears on the bottom third of the screen, replacing the strategy menus when the ball is in play. There is a brief delay between sentences. The descriptions and variety are minimal. “Franco hits a deep fly ball to CF… Double… Throwing error by O. McDowell”
Scale: Ratings from 1 (worst) to 5 (best)
Total Score: 17 out of 50
Full Count Baseball evokes memories of SSI Computer Baseball and Computer Statis Pro Baseball. The unsophisticated presentation, minimal commentary and dearth of new features preclude me from recommending this title over its counterparts in the text-only simulation market. A number of revisions were offered into the 1990’s, of which I only own the Full Count Baseball 6.0 software (and have a faulty disk 1 preventing me from reviewing that version at the present time).
Please add a comment below if you spent a significant amount of time and/or have any recollections of Full Count Baseball.
Articles in the Series
Fisher, Lew and Eric Faust. “Full Count Baseball.” Computer Gaming World. Volume 37, May 1987, p26. http://www.cgwmuseum.org/galleries/issues/cgw_37.pdf
Trunzo, James V. “Lance Haffner Games.” Compute! Issue 83, April 1987, p66. https://archive.org/details/1987-04-compute-magazine
About the Author
I am a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games who enjoys spending quality time with his family.
“Hardball Retrospective” is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. Supplemental Statistics, Charts and Graphs along with a discussion forum are offered at TuataraSoftware.com.
Don Daglow (Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball, Earl Weaver Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball) contributed the foreword for Hardball Retrospective. The foreword and preview of my book are accessible here.
“Hardball Retrospective – Addendum 2014 to 2016” supplements my research for Hardball Retrospective, providing retroactive standings based on Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Win Shares (WS) for each “original” team over the past three seasons (2014-2016). Team totals from 2010 – 2013 are included for reference purposes. “Addendum” is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com.