Baseball Analytics

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Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Front Page Sports: Baseball ’94 – ’96 – ‘98

This is the fifteenth 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.

IBM PC version

Front Page Sports Baseball ‘96 (IBM PC – DOS) main display

Front Page Sports Baseball ‘94

Publisher – Sierra On-Line

Release Year – 1994

Platforms – IBM PC

Credits

Executive Producer / Original Concept:             Patrick Cook
Lead Simulation Programmer:   David McClurg
Lead Shell Programmer:Glen Wolfram
Simulation Programming:David Merrill
Associate Producer:Scott Youngblood
Additional Design:Scott Youngblood, Doug Johnson
Lead Designer:L. Allen McPheeters
Additional Programming:Stephen Cordon, Timothy Strelchun, Peter Heinrich, Rhett Anderson
Art Director:Ian Gilliland
Simulation Animations:David Aughenbaugh
3D Stadium Artist:Vance Naegle, Ron Clayborn
Additional Art:Thomas Van Velkinburgh, Gerald Harrison, Mark Brenneman, Joel Mariano
Quality Assurance Engineer:Doug Johnson
Additional Testing:Scott Talley
Audio Director:Jan Paul Moorhead
Sound Effects:Christopher Stevens
Music / Additional Sound Effects:Timothy Steven Clarke
Photography:Dale Tendick
Programming Support:Dan Duncalf
Joystick Driver:Louie McCrady, Rick Overman
Virtual Machine:Piotr Lukaszuk
Quality Assurance Manager:David Steele
Quality Assurance Technician:John Wolfe
Lead Tester:Zachary Marcus
Testers:Gerald Azenaro, Corey Reese, Christopher K. Singleton, Daewha Kang
Publications Manager:Kevin Lamb
Manual Writer:Randy Chase
Manual Editor: Manual Design:Kurt Weber Sue Roberts
Manual Layout:Cameron Mitchell
Director of Marketing:Kate Kloos
Marketing:David Rice
Public Relations Director:Kathy Gilmore
Public Relations Assistant:Maureen Smith
Research:Josie Haley Reese, Todd Hannon
Sound Operating System:Human Machine Interfaces
Baseball Statistics:STATS Inc.

Front Page Sports Baseball ‘96

Publisher – Sierra On-Line

Release Year – 1996

Platforms – IBM PC

Credits

Director:              Bill Money
Lead Designer:Doug Johnson
Additional Design:Scott Youngblood, Bill Money
Lead Programmer:Glenn Wallace
Stadium/Action Programmer:Dave Merrill
Front Office Programmer:Glen Wolfram
Sound Programmer:James Poelke
Setup and Help Programmer:David Sandgathe
Additional Programming:Brian Apgar
Technical Assistance:Dan White, Rhett Anderson, Dan Duncalf, Rick Overman, Louie McCrady
Art Direction:Ian Gilliland, Thomas Van Velkinburgh
Artists:Gerald Harrison, Vance Naegle, Andrew Holder
Online Manual:Kevin Lamb, David Sandgathe
Reference Card:Sue Roberts
Video Production:James Carey, David Aughenbaugh
Music:LOUDMOUTH
Sound Effects:LOUDMOUTH, Ken Rogers
Quality Assurance Manager:Dave Steele
QA Lead:Lloyd Madden
QA Team:Aaron Anderson, Ben Nahorney, Eric Quetschke, Joseph Rush, Ken Eaton, Trevor Lanz, Garrett Turner, Tucker Hatfield
Beta Testers:Curt Barger, Bill Holmes, Ted V. Huckaby, Kevin Kitchens, Tim Krasniewski, Nevin Longardner, Stuart Malis, Jeff Stagno
Baseball Statistics:STATS Inc.
Executive Producer:Jeff Tunnell
Producer:Kate Kloos

Front Page Sports Baseball ‘98

Publisher – Sierra On-Line

Release Year – 1998

Platforms – IBM PC

Credits

Director:              Glen Wolfram
Lead Design:     Doug Johnson
Lead Programmer:Glen Wolfram
Stadium/Action Programmer:David Merrill
Front Office Programmer:Glen Wolfram
Sound Programming:James Poelke
Additional Programming:Randy MacNeill, Michael Lytton
Technical Assistance:Rhett Anderson, Glenn Wallace
Art Direction:Thomas Van Velkinburgh
Artists:Troy McFarland, Mark Peasley, Vance Naegle
Online & Printed Manual:Michael Stearns, Doug Johnson
German Translation:Antje Hink, Heiner Stiller
Video Production:James Carey, David Aughenbaugh, Kate Alley
Music:Charles Barth
Musicians:Tim Pierce, Mike Miller, Billy Savage, Charles Barth
Voice Talent:Bill Barrett
Sound Effects:LOUDMOUTH, Ken Rogers
Photographers:Simon P. Barnett, Jim Commentucci, J. D. Cuban, Jonothan Daniel, Stephen Dunn, Otto Gruelle, Will Hart, Jed Jacobsohn, Ken Levine, Bill Paciello, Fred Roe, Rick Stewart, John Swart, Todd Warshaw
Quality Assurance Manager:David Steele
QA Lead:John Wolf
QA Team:Aaron Anderson, Trish Bayless, Geoff Hampton, Joseph Rush, Jesse Russell, Kenny Smith, Jackson T. Snellings, Matthew Vincent
Beta Testers:Ken L. Brewer, John Ehlinger, Bill Harris, Ted V. Huckaby, Kevin Kitchens, Robert B. Jones, Tim Krasniewski, Stuart Malis, Lee Roy Perkins, Dan Spezzano, Shava Sullivan, Jeff Walzer
Baseball Statistics:STATS Inc.
Producer:Kate Kloos

Programmer Interview

Glen Wolfram’s role on the FPS Baseball design and development team at Dynamix expanded from one of the main programmers for the ’94 and ’96 editions to director of the ’98 game. I contacted Glen and he responded to a series of questions about the FPS BB series.

DB: What was your computer gaming experience prior to your arrival at Dynamix?

GW: I joined Incredible Technologies in 1988 and began working on a port of some game (can’t remember what) to the Atari ST. But that project was quickly cancelled. I then was given the opportunity to design and program a computer version of Blood Bowl. We never got the license, so at the very end, like one week before release, we changed the name to Grave Yardage and updated the art. Welcome to the unstable world of game development.

I later joined the Harley-Davidson: The Road to Sturgis team to help them finish that. The last full game I worked on was co-designing and programing the arcade game HotShots Tennis. I also did the managerial menu system for Golden Tee golf and Ninja Clowns. I then worked on a CD-I project for United Airlines (while still at IT). I was looking to leave the Chicago area and found an ad in the Portland paper for a job at a games company in Eugene that wanted CD-ROM experience.

I was hired to port Red Baron to the Nintendo, but by the time I moved out to Eugene, Sierra On-Line had cancelled the project.

DB: Did you take any computer programming courses in high school or college?

GW: Hah, never in high school. There was no such thing. Also, I hated the idea of computers. They were the things that sent out $1000 utility bills by mistake.

In college I earned my BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin. I also took enough CS classes to earn the Comp-Sci option, although I didn’t really like those classes. I had to do some programming in assembler in my engineering classes to control hardware at a low level. I liked that stuff. Then, when I joined the real world, I liked that kind of programming a lot more than designing hardware. Actually, my first game was writing 10 pin league bowling for the new Brunswick pinsetter system in “C”, which was also more fun than the “data structures using Pascal” type courses in college.

DB: What influenced your decision to join the gaming industry, and were you interested in sports games or any specific genres, in particular?

GW: I just sort of landed in the gaming industry. It wasn’t a big thing back then. Nintendo was pretty much brand new. Before that, we just had the big crash of the Atari 2600. I wasn’t pulled in any particular direction early on.

When I ended up at Dynamix, I worked on the military flight sims for a while. That was a great project to work on. I was asked by Pat Cook if I was interested in joining the new sports team to work on football. Sure! I love football. We hammered out a great product with Front Page Sports Football. Then we just naturally rolled into trying baseball. Another sport I loved at the time. But when it was all over, I can’t watch baseball anymore. It’s lost all appeal. I think the last game I watched on TV was Game 7 between the Cubs and Indians, and I fell asleep. I’ll go to a local minor league game maybe once a year on “Marvel” or “Star Wars” night.

DB: You were heavily involved in the entire FPSBB series. Describe your role in the development of each product.

GW: For the original I duplicated the role I had on FPS Football. I wrote what we called the shell. That is, the league management system. That was everything associated with teams, rosters, schedules, training camp, statistics, team AI, etc. Basically, anything that wasn’t in the actual simulation (3d) portion.

For the next release (’96) I was not part of the development team initially. I was working on the next version of football. But then, the project was languishing in an attempt to make it work with windows ’95. There was talk of just killing it. I couldn’t let that happen to something I worked so hard on originally. So I asked to join the team, and worked on making sure the shell worked on ’95.

For the last version, I asked to be the project manager so I could get the team to clean up a bunch of, well, crap that had crept into the last version. Our theme was “Easier to play. Plays better baseball.” The focus was to take baseball back to a time when fans felt “anyone could play it (baseball)”. Kind of a “pull out dat bum Yogi and put me in!” approach. We tried to clean up as much ugly code, user interfaces and gameplay as possible.

DB: Which features were scaled back or omitted due to budgetary or time constraints? Were those features considered or implemented in later editions?

GW: So many. We wanted live head-to-head play right from the start (’94). But internet connectivity just wouldn’t let that happen. We wanted a client-server league setup. But again, that was going to be too complicated for most people to set up back in the day. At the end we had the email league thing. You would send out game files to the home team’s manager, who would sim the games, then send back the result file. It was clunky, but it worked. Now of course, you’d write like 3 lines of python and you’d have the server up and running.

DB: Did the development team consider incorporating the data entry (player editor) program into the main application? Was there a specific reason for keeping “DATAIN” as a separate executable that was not accessible within the game?

GW: I’m trying to remember the rigamarole around that. Part of the team wanted the game to be “pure”. That is, you get what we give you. We spend all this time trying to balance the physics and AI, and letting players modify everything would generate out of whack stats and records. Another part said, you bought it, you play it the way you like. If you want a team of 99ers (the highest rate for each skill), go ahead and make one. I started in the first camp, because I had programmed all that AI about player development, trades, etc. It seemed a shame to waste it. But then I drifted into the second. I considered the game more of an artist’s canvas at that point. Here’s some colors and brushes. . . have at it.

DB: The competition in that era included the Tony La Russa Baseball and Hardball series. What were your impressions of those products at the time and in what areas do you feel that the FPSBB series excelled?

GW: I didn’t pay much attention to the other products out there. We had our own deadlines and whatnot to keep us busy. But the one thing the development team was really proud of was the long term playability via the league system. It was amazing to hear that players were playing dozens of seasons, carefully grooming their team over the years. That’s what we were shooting for.

DB: I encountered several bugs in FPSBB ’94 and ’96 that were difficult to overlook or work around. Given the ever-increasing size of the development teams in this timeframe and the complexity of the game, what hindered the process in tracking and resolving these issues?

GW: Well, let’s just say pressure from “above”. We were aware of bugs/playability issues, but the mantra was “just get it out the door”, which didn’t seem right in terms of serving our customers. But then we were in the trenches, pouring our heart and souls into the game, and others were looking at costs, wondering when this was going to be a revenue stream.

DB: Once the product was on its third iteration (FPSBB ‘98), do you feel that the process was refined to facilitate a more finished product?

GW: Front Page Sports was a successful product line and many people wanted to jump on that bandwagon. I’m surprised someone in marketing didn’t suggest “Front Page Sports: Darts, or Cycling or Water Polo”. We added quite a few people, and correspondingly tried to add many new features. That was a disaster (see the killing the project comment). For ’98, we cut the team way down. That allowed us to focus on the “better baseball, easier to play” thing. We were back in the “we’re all on the same page (no pun intended) mentality”. This was probably going to be the last one we made, so let’s make it a good one.

DB: Since the development of the FPSBB series ended in the late 1990’s, have you been involved in any other computer baseball products?

GW: No. I’ve helped out some friends on a military simulation and a card game. I’ve been out of games for a while now. Although I’m kind of back in. I’m working at a company that supports game companies by providing NFT block chain technology.

DB: Given today’s technological capabilities, what would your vision of a re-imagined FPSBB ’21 look like?

GW: Well, for one thing we’d have the real-time simulation with multiple players. However, we still would have the problem that until it’s your turn to bat, you’ll just be sitting there on the bench with nothing to do. Maybe we could have you play darts while you’re waiting?

Review

I vividly recall my heightened expectations when I purchased this game in 1994. As a fan of the Front Page Sports: Football game, I anticipated a strong showing from the developer (Dynamix) and the publisher (Sierra On-Line) for their initial foray into simulating the National Pastime. FPSBB ’94 promised a number of intriguing wrinkles such as a career mode with player aging and retirement. I’m not a fan of using fictitious players in my simulations but it’s an interesting concept nonetheless. Regrettably I discovered that the product might have been released before it was fully debugged. In hindsight I feel that I put ample time in an attempt to justify my purchase, returning to the game after one patch was released (and then another) only to become exasperated. I eventually shelved it and moved on to other computer baseball sims.   

Several patches were issued subsequent to the initial product release. For this review, I installed the most current version – the “BBTHANX” patch (version 1.03). I stumbled upon an active website to download patches for the Front Page Sports series here -> http://sierrahelp.com/Patches-Updates/Patches-Updates-Games/FPSSeriesUpdates.html

Running the game in the DosBox emulator, I consistently encountered crashes after simulating a day’s worth of games even though my configuration indicates plenty of free conventional and expanded memory available prior to launching the executable. The program processes the statistics for the completed contests, attempts to “Process Injuries” and then the game dumps out to the command prompt. The issue occurred regardless of the association that I selected. The “injury” bug cropped up during the middle of a day’s worth of games in the Continental League. Repeating the same steps and ending up in the same scenario, I reviewed the team notes for the next game on the calendar and discovered that Tony Perez suffered an injury and would be out for 2-3 months. Once I sent him to the disabled list, recalled Woody Woodward as a substitute and made the appropriate lineup adjustments, I was able to overcome the hurdle and advance to the next day on the schedule. Yet the game crashed again after simulating the following day. I made a last-ditch attempt to bypass the bug by creating a new association and turning off the injury function. No dice – the application crashed after completing the first day on the schedule. As I don’t have an old IBM PC from that era, I considered the possibility that the crashes are due to my DosBox configuration. However it definitely brought back memories of the problems I endured with this game nearly a quarter-century ago.

I also triggered a major bug when I attempting to assign a free agent to the 1995 Mariners. The player was successfully claimed by the M’s and I went to move him onto the active roster. The program crashed and when I restarted, my association was no longer listed! The files were present in the proper directory on my hard drive but FPSBB94 failed to recognize them. I restored a backup copy of the association along with the BB.CFG file but no luck! Unfortunately I had spent several hours tweaking my lineups and rotations, and all of my work was lost. 

Each simulated game takes approximately one minute to complete, so a full 162-game schedule would take at least 36 hours! The stadium view and line score is displayed while your system computes the results. The player editor (Datain) is a separate executable, so you need to exit the main program and launch Datain to create or modify player data and ratings. Datain is chock full of options with regards to statistical splits and ratings, allowing the most granular numerical breakdowns to date. In addition to the standard total and vs. left stats, the user can proceed deep into the weeds with home vs. away, runners in scoring position and monthly stats. If you have the data, go ahead and enter the number of hits to each outfield location, ground balls vs. fly balls, etc. You can specify ratings for each pitch type and the tendency to pull the ball vs. hitting straightaway or to the opposite field.

In a last-ditch attempt to complete a full season with the FPSBB ’94 edition, I created a new association using the “Continental League” which encompasses 16 teams from the Expansion Era (1961-1976). Having to restart the game upon the completion of every day on the schedule was a bit tedious but I worked my way up to the All-Star Break. The scheduling function would not allow me to play or simulate the All-Star contest or proceed to the games that were scheduled after the break. I posted in several forums about this issue which failed to yield any solutions. However several responders advised me that they were running FPSBB ’98 without issue so I bailed on FPSBB ’94. I installed both FPSBB ’96 and ’98 editions in VirtualBox on a Windows 98 virtual machine and crossed my fingers. I immediately noticed two positives – I was able to simulate multiple days without crashing (with injuries enabled!) and the time to simulate one day’s worth of games was approximately 30 seconds. Although the user interface retained a similar look-and-feel to the original version, I must give kudos to the development team for their perseverance with the product. Despite the various bugs that I’ve encountered along the way with this game, I wanted to give the later versions a fresh look and evaluate them on their own merits.   

FPS Baseball ’96 –1995 MLB Season Replay

I elected to manage the ’95 Angels in the playoffs against the Mariners. Two issues quickly arose that I was unable to resolve. First and foremost, the computer AI insisted on placing Ken Griffey Jr. at the bottom of the Mariners lineup versus LHP. I made multiple attempts to adjust the lineup. I saved the changes and sure enough, when I went to check the lineups in the playoff games, “Junior” was batting ninth. (I had 3 left-handers in the Angels rotation – Mark Langston, Chuck Finley and Jim Abbott). As I had so many issues with FPSBB ’94 I didn’t bother adjusting rosters, lineups and pitching roles when I simulated the 1995 MLB schedule. I found that the Angels GM, for example, allowed Troy Percival and Brian Anderson, both key members of the real-life squad in ’95, to languish in the low minors. Three Angels were missing from my lineup so I checked the team news page and found that Tim Salmon, Gary DiSarcina and J.T. Snow were all injured and unavailable for the playoffs. Snow’s injury was particularly disturbing (broken skull, out 6 months or more?!)

In Game 3 of the Angels – Mariners series in the Divisional round, Ken Griffey Jr. crashed into the center field fence in an unsuccessful attempt to chase down Tony Phillips’ home run. The game indicated that Griffey was “100% injured” yet he remained in the game and was in the starting lineup for the subsequent matchup!

The Expos and the Yankees advanced to the World Series and I chose to play the role of Felipe Alou. The issues with lineup selection persisted. Due to an injury to Bernie Williams, the computer version of Buck Showalter tried to play Derek Jeter in center field while healthy outfield alternatives such as Dion James and Darryl Strawberry rode the pine. I implemented a workaround to combat this problem, starting the pre-game as the manager for both squads and selecting appropriate lineups. Once the National Anthem concluded, I went into the Game Options menu and selected the computer manager for the Yankees.

Carlos Perez and “Black” Jack McDowell were locked in a pitcher’s duel in Game 1. Tony Tarasco singled home Darrin Fletcher to give Montreal a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. Both squads put up goose eggs until the home half of the ninth. I brought Expos’ closer Mel Rojas into the contest to start the frame and Mike Stanley greeted him with an opposite field into the right-center field bleachers. Paul O’Neill ripped a double to right field and I elected to walk Ruben Sierra intentionally to set up the double play. Jim Leyritz, playing first base for an injured Don Mattingly, popped up to the catcher for the first out. Gerald Williams, slotting in as the center field for Bernie Williams, coaxed a walk to load the bases against Rojas. I visited the mount and signaled for Greg A. Harris to face the switch-hitting shortstop, Tony Fernandez. The veteran infielder lined a clean single to center field to end the game. Although the final score was technically 2-1, FPSBB ’96 credited Fernandez with 2 RBI and the Yankees with a 3-1 victory.

Andy Pettitte struck out 14 Expos but yielded 3 runs in the seventh inning and received a no-decision for his effort. Wade Boggs ripped a two-run single off Pedro J. Martinez to knot the score at 3-3 in the home half of the seventh. The bullpens held both clubs scoreless until the top of the tenth when Montreal scratched across the winning run against Josias Manzanillo when Sean Berry delivered a base knock to plate Yamil Benitez. Tim Scott retired the Bronx Bombers to notch the save while Gil Heredia (2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R) picked up the victory.

David Cone and two relievers shut out the ‘Spos 7-0 in Game 3. The Yankees knocked Jeff Fassero out of the contest with a 5-run fifth inning. Gerald Williams sparked the New York offense with 4 RBI on a pair of singles. Montreal only managed three hits on the evening and fell behind 2-1 in the Series.

A couple of left-handers squared off in Game 4 as Butch Henry took the hill against Sterling Hitchcock. The Expos tallied a run in the home half of the third on a Sean Berry single but the Yankees countered with 3 in the visitor’s fourth after Wil Cordero dropped a pop fly off the bat of Ruben Sierra to open the frame. Here’s another substitution bug: Yankees ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh. Computer replaces several New Yorkers on defense, including Derek Jeter to center field and for some unknown reason, backup infielder Robert Eenhorn takes the mound. My assumption is that the computer failed to warm up a reliever when Dion James pinch-hit for Hitchcock in the top of the frame, but I’m fairly certain an unprepared pitcher would have been called upon in the Majors. Well, perhaps the AI skipper knows something I don’t because Eenhorn proceeded to get Rondell White to pop out in foul ground behind first base and whiffed Moises Alou! Sean Berry stroked a single and headed to third on a hit by David Segui, but the Yanks gunned down the trailing runner at second base to end the inning. Dion James tacked on a couple of insurance runs with an opposite-field blast off Tim Scott in the top of the ninth.  Bob Wickman retired the Expos in order to notch the save as New York prepared to clinch the title in Canada.

The third contest at Le Stade Olympique featured a rematch of Game 1 starters, Jack McDowell versus Carlos Perez. Sean Berry singled home Mike Lansing in the bottom of the first to give Montreal the 1-0 advantage. Wil Cordero launched a long fly ball to left-center field that barely cleared the top of the fence for a solo shot in the fifth. The Expos struck again in the sixth when Moises Alou and Sean Berry reached base on successive singles, and then “Black Jack” plunked Rondell White and David Segui to force in a run. Darrin Fletcher grounded into a double play but Berry tallied another run to increase the Expos lead to 4-0. Josias Manzanillo relieved McDowell in the bottom of the seventh. Tony Tarasco lashed an opposite-field triple into the left field corner and just beat a bang-bang play at the plate when Wade Boggs elected to throw home on a slow tapper to third off the bat of Lansing. Carlos Perez was cruising with a three-hitter into the eighth. He issued consecutive walks with one out in the frame, and then Randy Velarde crushed an outside pitch into the right field seats for a 3-run blast. Tim Scott entered the frame and retired pinch-hitter Dion James along with third-sacker Boggs. Mel Rojas hurled a spotless ninth to notch the save and send the Series back to the Big Apple.  

Pedro J. Martinez and Andy Pettitte locked horns again in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium. Another pitcher’s duel ensued until the Bronx Bombers broke through in the bottom of the fourth. A two-out single to center field by Gerald Williams plated Paul O’Neill with the first tally. Pettitte continued to put up goose eggs until he was relieved in the seventh inning. New York retained the 1-0 advantage until the visitor’s eighth when a steady rain began to fall. Montreal evened the score against reliever Scott Kamieniecki when F.P. Santangelo coaxed a walk, took second on Moises Alou’s single to center field and came around on a base hit to right by Sean Berry. Rondell White walked to load the bases, prompting a mound visit from Buck Showalter. Bob Wickman was summoned to the hill with one out and David Segui at the dish. With the infield playing in, Segui bounced a two-hopper to second-sacker Randy Velarde, who fired to backstop Mike Stanley to force Alou at home plate. Wil Cordero popped up to the first baseman to extinguish the threat. Ruben Sierra ripped a long single to right off Expos’ reliever Gil Heredia to lead off the home eighth. Pinch-runner Pat F. Kelly swiped second base as the rain intensified. Darryl Strawberry smashed a hot grounder that skipped under Mike Lansing’s glove and into right field, scoring Kelly with the go-ahead run on Montreal’s fourth error of the game. Wickman returned to the mound to begin the top of the ninth and Tony Tarasco greeted him with a pinch-single to right field. Mark Grudzielanek batted for the catcher, Tim Laker. Tarasco immediately broke for second base on Wickman’s next pitch and arrived safely under the tag. Grudzielanek worked a full count and drew a base on balls. Lansing whiffed but Santangelo flared the ball beyond the outstretched glove of defensive replacement Todd Benzinger at first base. Tarasco sprinted home with the tying run and the ‘Spos had runners on first and third with one away. Alou laced a sharp grounder through the drawn-in infield to put the visitors on top, 3-2. Berry topped a slow roller towards second. Velarde tried to turn the double play but the relay to first was not in time and Grudzielanek recorded an insurance run. Wickman walked Berry but got Segui on a ground ball to second to conclude the frame. New York wasn’t about to roll over. Benzinger led off the bottom of the ninth with a base knock. Heredia struck out Velarde while closer Mel Rojas was warming up in the bullpen. Rojas got the call to face Wade Boggs, who lashed a single to center. The potential tying run (Boggs) took a tentative lead off of first base as Rojas buckled down and induced Tony Fernandez to pop out to the catcher. Kelly rapped a hard-hit ball up the middle but Lansing fielded this one cleanly and stepped on the bag at second to force Boggs. Montreal lived to play another day and the stadium crew prepared for Game 7.

Jeff Fassero and David Cone battled to a scoreless duel through five innings with each hurler yielding a lone hit. The Expos unraveled in the sixth following an error by XXX to allow Randy Velarde to reach base leading off the frame. Wade Boggs’ base hit to right field advanced Velarde to third. Fassero plunked Paul O’Neill to load the bases, and Ruben Sierra blasted a changeup into the center field bleachers for a grand salami! The portsider recovered to whiff Gerald Williams but the damage was done and the crowd was on their feet as the Yankees were 9 outs from another World Series title. Montreal mounted a minor threat in the eighth when F.P. Santangelo beat out an infield hit and Tony Tarasco lashed a liner to right that dropped in front of Ruben Sierra, but Tarasco inexplicably got caught in a rundown between first and second. With eight innings of 4-hit, no-run ball in the books, Buck Showalter thanked “Coney” for his efforts and turned the game over to Josias Manzanillo. Mike Lansing commenced the top of the ninth with a sharp liner to left field for a base knock. Moises Alou topped a high bouncer to first which Jim Leyritz gloved and fired down to second to nip Lansing for the first out. Sean Berry hammered a two-bagger up the gap in left-center and Alou wisely held up at third base as Williams delivered a strong relay throw to shortstop Tony Fernandez. Rondell White drew a base on balls and the Expos brought the tying run to the plate. The baserunners had to hold up to determine whether O’Neill would catch David Segui’s soft liner to left. O’Neill fielded the ball on one bounce and threw immediately to Velarde covering second base to force out White for the second out as Alou scampered home with Montreal’s first run of the contest. Jimmy Key relieved Manzanillo and Yamil Benitez batted for Darrin Fletcher. Benitez walked and the sacks were full of Expos as shortstop Wil Cordero strolled to the dish. The stadium was rocking as the home crowd rooted for Key to close out the game. On a 2-2 pitch, Cordero lofted a soft liner towards second base which Velarde handled easily for the final out. The pinstripe crew mobbed the field as the Yankees claimed victory. 

FPS Baseball ’96 –1995 MLB Regular Season

Final Standings and League Leaders

FPS Baseball ’96 –1995 MLB Playoffs

Playoffs and World Series Results

FPS Baseball ’98 –1997 MLB Season Replay

Upon completion of the 1995 MLB season replay using FPSBB ’96, I fired up the third and final offering in the Front Page Sports Baseball series – the 1998 Edition. This one came with two associations – 1996 MLBPA End of Season and 1997 MLBPA Opening Day. I chose the latter and began reviewing the rosters, lineups, etc. I converted all teams to human-controlled and deselected the options for the computer to propose trades, sign free agents and draft new players. I opened Baseball-Reference to the final team-by-team statistics for every franchise in 1997 to verify lineup and pitching role information. Continuing a trend with the previous FPSBB versions, I discovered a number of players with fake names (likely due to licensing issues) or slotted into incorrect positions.Utilizing the DATAIN application which is now a Window-based application but still accessed separately from the main program, I combed the rosters to edit the first and last names of “Mickey Kelly” and “Eddie Grove” (for instance) to their proper names – Darin Erstad and George Arias.  Orioles third-sacker B.J. Surhoff was hiding out in the FPSBB Witness Protection Program as “Angel Sherid”.

Seattle and Colorado emerged as the pennant winners in the American and National League, respectively. I summoned my inner “Groove” as Don Baylor to manage the Rockies in the Series while the Mariners were skippered by an AI representation of “Sweet” Lou Piniella.

Randy Johnson (25-7, 2.72) took the hill for the M’s in Game 1 at Coors Field. Colorado countered with Jamey Wright (21-7, 4.20). Seattle jumped on Wright immediately. He plunked Joey Cora leading off the contest and Alex Rodriguez followed with a sharp line drive single to left field. Ken Griffey Jr. deposited Wright’s next offering in the left field stands for a 3-0 advantage. Edgar Martinez laced a single to center and Paul Sorrento’s subsequent opposite-field two-bagger increased the lead to 4-0 as Wright had yet to record an out. After a walk to Jay Buhner, Wright extracted himself from the frame with a strikeout of Dan Wilson and a double-play grounder off the bat of Rich Amaral. In the top of the second, “A-Rod” blasted a solo shot deep into the left-field bleachers. Roger Bailey pitched two scoreless frames until faltering in the fifth inning. The Mariners loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a hit batsmen. Amaral connected on an offering that floated over the outside half of the dish and the smash resulted in a grand slam, giving Seattle a 9-0 cushion! “Kid” Griffey launched a no-doubt dinger over the center field fence to start the sixth against reliever Jeff McCurry. Joey Cora joined the hit parade when he belted a big-fly over the wall in center with one away in the seventh. McCurry elected to pitch to “Junior” Griffey with “A-Rod” on first. Griffey took a mean cut at a hanging slider and circled the bases as the ball landed in the left-center field seats for his third round-tripper of the game. An exasperated Baylor trudged to the mound to retrieve the ball from McCurry and called upon Curt Leskanic to mop up in a 13-0 laugher. Sorrento greeted him with a bomb to center field as Seattle went ahead by two touchdowns. Meanwhile Randy Johnson held the Rockies hitless through the six innings before Eric Young laced a clean single to center field. Cora clubbed his second circuit clout of the game off Leskanic in the eighth, a two-run shot to run the score up to 16-0. Griffey Jr. had a chance to go yard for the fourth time in the contest, but he popped up to first-sacker Andres Galarraga. The Mariners tacked on a seven-spot in the eighth inning, capped by a grand slam off the bat of Rodriguez. Colorado went quietly in the ninth and the hometown crowd filtered out of the stadium in near silence after watching Seattle dominate their club – final score Seattle 23, Colorado 0.

Jamie Moyer (15-11, 5.29) faced off against Kevin Ritz (17-13, 5.43) in Game 2 as the Rockies tried to regroup from the pummeling sustained in the initial contest. Ritz retired the side in order which calmed the nerves of the Colorado faithful. Then in the bottom of the first, Walt Weiss rapped a base hit and Andres Galarraga followed with a single to right. With two outs and baserunners on first and third, Dante Bichette crushed a changeup for a 3-run blast to put the Rockies on the board. Vinny Castilla dialed long-distance leading off the second. Moyer finished the inning but Piniella pulled him for a pinch-hitter (Mike Blowers) in the bottom of the frame. Bob Wells was summoned from the M’s bullpen for a long relief outing. Weiss opened the home third with a base knock and he scooted to third on a solid single to center by Ellis Burks, who advanced to second when “Kid” Griffey tried to nail the lead runner. With first base open, Wells elected to pitch to Galarraga. The “Big Cat” pounced on a fastball and propelled it into the upper-deck in right-center field to increase Colorado’s advantage to 7-0. Ritz cruised until the fifth when he drilled Edgar Martinez in the shoulder to commence the inning, and then yielded back-to-back singles to Paul Sorrento and Jay Buhner as the M’s pushed across their first tally of the contest. Dan Wilson followed with a base hit to center which cut the Rockies’ lead to 7-2. Ritz induced Lee Tinsley to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and Wells whiffed to strand Buhner on third base. Alex Rodriguez hammered a chest-high heater to the opposite field for a solo shot in the sixth, sending Ritz to the showers with a 7-3 lead. Darren Holmes entered the game and set down the heart of the Mariners’ batting order. Eric Young rapped a two-out line drive single in front of Griffey to plate Jeff Reed with Colorado’s eighth run of the game. The M’s showed some life in the eighth when “Junior” knocked in Brent Gates with a two-base hit and Sorrento greeted reliever Curt Leskanic with a two-run double off the center field wall, reducing the deficit to 8-6. In the top of the ninth, Seattle loaded the bases on 3 consecutive walks issued by Leskanic and Jerry DiPoto after Wilson whiffed leading off the frame. Rodriguez laced a two-run single to center to knot the score at 8-all. Griffey followed with a grounder through the hole between shortstop and third base, plating Joey Cora with the go-ahead run! Martinez drew a base on balls to reload the bases. Bruce Ruffin jogged in from the ‘pen and immediately issued four straight balls to Sorrento, forcing in another run. Buhner capped the comeback with a grand slam into the upper deck in right field. Colorado came to bat in the home ninth trailing by six runs. Seattle reliever Tim Davis plunked pinch-hitter Quinton McCracken and Burks subsequently slammed a long fly ball over the right-center field fence for a two-run homer. “Big Cat” beat out a slow dribbler down the third base line. Bichette blistered a heat-seeking missile off the left-field wall and evaded the tag on the relay throw, giving the Rockies runners on second and third with no outs. Seattle skipper Lou Piniella summoned Josias Manzanillo to face Larry Walker. “Booger” lofted a harmless pop fly to Cora for the first out. Four successive deliveries from Manzanillo missed the plate, so Castilla trotted down to first. Jeff Reed, the potential tying run, strolled to the dish with the sacks juiced and one away. He swung and mashed a hard grounder back up the middle. Manzanillo gloved it and fired home for the force on Galarraga, and then Wilson threw a perfect strike to Sorrento to complete the double play. The teams boarded their planes headed for the Pacific Northwest with the Mariners ahead two games to none in the Series.

The Rockies were reeling from the beat-down in Game 1 and the tremendous Mariners’ comeback in Game 2 when they arrived in Seattle to resume the Series.  Back-to-back base hits by Eric Young and Walt Weiss placed runners on first and third against Jeff Fassero (13-14, 5.41). Andres Galarraga grounded into a fielder’s choice as Young sprinted home to register the first tally of the contest. Colorado countered with Bryan Rekar (12-8, 6.04). Ken Griffey Jr. reached second base on a dropped throw by Galarraga and scored on a long single by Edgar Martinez off the right-field wall. Larry Walker ripped a two-bagger down the first base line leading off the top of the second. One out later, Jeff Reed crushed a pitch on the outer half of the dish into the left-field center stands as the Rockies moved ahead by a score of 3 to 1. Successive singles to center by “A-Rod” and “Junior” plated Rich Amaral and Joey Cora to knot the match at 3-all. Martinez beat out an infield chopper behind third base, and then Rekar issued a free pass to Paul Sorrento with the sacks juiced. Quinton McCracken made a potential game-saving catch as he dove on the warning track in left field to rob Jay Buhner of an extra-base hit for the final out of the frame. Steve Reed replaced Rekar to commence the home third. He put up a goose egg but yielded a two-base knock to Cora in the fourth. Griffey Jr. pounced on an inside heater from lefty reliever Bruce Ruffin and belted it over center fielder Larry Walker’s outstretched glove for an RBI double. “Gar” followed with a ringing single up the middle as the Mariners took a 6-3 lead. Roger Bailey eventually extinguished the uprising when he induced Russ Davis to bounce out to the shortstop. A two-out walk by Weiss and a sharp single to right by Ellis Burks brought the tying run to the plate against Fassero in the visitor’s fifth. The “Big Cat” rapped a two-hopper that was deftly fielded by Sorrento and converted into an out. Singles by Rodriguez, Martinez, Sorrento and Davis extended the Mariners’ advantage to 11-3 in the fifth. Dante Bichette opened the sixth with a booming double to right-center and Larry Walker subsequently scalded a line drive into the right field corner as Colorado tried to exhibit some signs of life. Castilla reached on an infield hit and Reed was safe on a fielder’s choice, bringing in Walker with the fifth tally of the day for the Rockies. Fassero escaped further damage and returned to the M’s dugout with an 11-5 lead. Burks smashed a clean base hit to left off reliever Bob Wolcott to commence the top of the seventh inning. Rodriguez started a crisp 6-4-3 double play on Galarraga’s grounder, and then Bichette flew out to Amaral in deep left field. Griffey launched a missile that just cleared the right-center field wall, sending Burke to the showers and pushing the M’s advantage to 12-5. Wolcott exited after two scoreless innings in favor of Edwin Hurtado. Burks drew a two-out walk in the ninth against Hurtado. Running on contact, he motored around the bases on a two-bagger by Galarraga and notched Colorado’s sixth run when he was ruled safe after colliding with Dan Wilson. Bichette lashed an opposite-field base hit between first and second, knocking in the “Big Cat” and closing the margin to 12-7. Bichette advanced to second on a passed ball, and then Walker coaxed a base on balls. Castilla followed with a single back through the box and Bichette blazed homeward to continue the Rockies rally. Jeff Reed’s slow chopper to second was fielding cleanly by Cora who tossed to Rodriguez for the force out. Seattle survived a scare in the final frame to put themselves on the brink of clinching the Series.

Lou Piniella elected to start Scott Sanders rather than bring Randy Johnson back on short rest, especially given the fact that the M’s held a three-game cushion. The Rockies’ starting nod was granted to the oft-injured Bill Swift. Alex Rodriguez initiated the scoring with a two-run opposite-field blast in the bottom of the first. Edgar Martinez followed a walk to Ken Griffey Jr. with a shot of his own into the right-field stands. Swift had yet to record an out and his club trailed 4-0! The bullpen quickly stirred as Roger Bailey and Bruce Ruffin rushed to stretch out their arms. Paul Sorrento hit an excuse-me single between short and third, bringing a rapid end to Swift’s evening. Ruffin jogged in, delivered a few warm-up tosses, and then proceeded to square off against Jay Buhner. The M’s slugger lofted an eminently catchable fly ball down the line in right field, whereupon Dante Bichette lost the ball in the lights and it dropped in for a base hit. Sorrento had to hold up at first and he barely beat Bichette’s rifle throw into second base. Colorado finally recorded an out when Mike Blowers grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Dan Wilson lined to center and the Rockies breathed a collective sigh as they returned to the visitor’s dugout. Andres Galarraga led off the top of the second with a blistering liner to right which Jay Buhner initially misjudged but he recovered to make a leaping catch to prevent an extra base hit. Roger Bailey came on to work as a long reliever in the home half of the second. “Junior” poked a long fly ball that just cleared the left-center field wall for a three-run jack. Bailey got Sorrento out on a towering can of corn to right, and then he plunked Buhner in the helmet. A dejected Colorado crew looked on as any chance of salvaging the Series was evaporating before their eyes. Darren Holmes, the fourth Rockies hurler of the game, strolled to the hill with runners on first and second and a 7-0 deficit. Blowers skied out to center for the final out of the frame. Sanders yielded four hits in six scoreless frames when Piniella pulled him in favor of Bob Wolcott. Jeff Reed and Walt Weiss sandwiched a pair of singles around a strikeout by John Vander Wal, placing runners on first and second with one out in the seventh. Eric Young, not usually a power threat, connected on a blast to left field that sailed into the stands for a three-run homer! The Seattle faithful let out a collective groan as Wolcott kicked the mound in disgust while “EY” circled the bases. Larry Walker coaxed a two-out walk but the “Big Cat” popped up in foul territory. Blowers settled under the ball and squeezed his glove tightly for the third out. Seattle needed just six outs to secure the first World Series trophy in franchise history. Bichette drew a walk leading off the eighth and Vinny Castilla rapped a base hit up the middle. Reed ripped a screaming line drive over Buhner’s glove and it banked off the right field wall. Buhner quickly recovered and relayed the ball to Joey Cora, who whirled and fired to the plate. Wilson snared the ball just as Bichette barreled into him and the ump called him safe at the dish. The Mariners now held a 7-4 lead with the tying run heading to the batter’s box. Vander Wal swung valiantly but got underneath the ball, a sky-high pop to Sorrento in foul ground near first base for the first out. Edwin Hurtado relieved Wolcott and the Rockies’ shortstop Weiss tapped his cleats and prepared to do battle. On a 2-1 count, Weiss took a cut at a Hurtado heater and similar to the previous hitter, popped up to Sorrento. Young flew out to medium-deep center field to end the threat. Steve Reed pitched a scoreless eighth, the sixth consecutive goose egg posted by the Colorado relief staff. Piniella made the call to the ‘pen, with lefty Norm Charlton looking to close out the victory while facing the heart of the Rockies’ batting order. Ellis Burks promptly crushed a double over Rich Amaral’s outstretched glove in left-center. Walker grounded out to “A-Rod” for out # 1 with Burks scooting over to third. “The Sheriff” threw four wide ones to Galarraga, putting runners on the corners with one away. Colorado again had a chance to even the score with Bichette at bat and Castilla in the on-deck circle. “Sweet Lou” stomped to the mound, his face beet-red with exasperation. He barked at Charlton and signaled for the right-hander. Charlton angrily handed the ball to his manager and the new pitcher, Bobby Ayala made his way to the mound. The Seattle fans were in a frenzy, pleading with Ayala to close the deal. Bichette swung and lifted a pop-fly behind the bag at second base where Rodriguez made the catch for the second out. Bichette snapped his bat in disgust. Colorado’s last hope, Castilla, chopped a slow roller towards Cora, who scooped it up and tagged second for the final out. The M’s dog-piled Ayala near the pitcher’s mound and the team celebrated the sweep! 

FPS Baseball ’98 –1997 MLB Regular Season

Final Standings and League Leaders

FPS Baseball ’98 –1997 MLB Playoffs

Playoffs and World Series Results

Ratings

Note – ratings below for FPSBB ’98 – deduct 1 point (AI) for FPSBB ’96 and 5 additional points for FPSBB ’94 (2 points for rosters, 2 points for ballparks and 1 point for AI)

Graphics – [5]The CAMS (Camera Angles Management System) offers the ability to manage your vantage point during the game, view instant replays and save highlights. Expanding upon the system originally introduced in Earl Weaver Baseball II, the user can adjust the location, height, zoom and rotation along with the ability to position the camera, track specific targets, etc. Stadium graphics can be tweaked by modifying the level of detail which allows the program to run properly on your system, such as displaying the sky and weather textures or choosing to show or hide the crowd. In the FPS ’96 and ’98 editions, you can reposition the scoreboard and conceal some of the on-screen menus. The interaction between batter and pitcher is shown from the viewpoint of a fan seated directly behind home plate. If the ball is put into play, CAMS mode is activated and the current settings are utilized to render the resulting play. If you opt to show all menus, you will see the scoreboard, strategy menus, top view and game updates along with the current camera view. You can pause the action and modify the camera settings at your discretion. Player animation is fairly realistic although at times the motion is not very fluid and I observed numerous instances when a fielder appeared to hesitate when making a play (not sure if this was by design?)   

Sound – [3]The umpire calls each pitch with vendor calls and hecklers periodically adding some flavor. However the limited number of phrases can become a bit repetitive at times (“Get in the game, buddy!”, “Make him bring it” and the infamous “Kiss my tuckus!”). The user can adjust the action, heckler and crowd sound effects.  Realistic re-creations of the crack of the bat or catching a ball enhance the experience.

Strategy – [4] Every pitcher can be rated on up to seven different pitch types: fastball, curveball, change-up, slider, sinker, screwball and knuckleball. However, only the four highest-rated pitches may be selected during a game. Standard defensive options are available prior to delivering the pitch and the manager can store up to 3 sets of custom positioning. Depending on the number of runners on base, the offensive menu provides all of the various stolen base attempt options along with the squeeze bunt and a “take” sign. You may warm up one or two pitchers in the bullpen. Relievers may be ineffective or present a higher risk of injury if they are not adequately warmed up (generally 2 or 3 batters before the reliever’s status changes to “ready”).

Artificial Intelligence – [4] – I played several playoff rounds and a handful of exhibition contests with the three editions of FPSBB. In most instances, the computer skipper conducted offensive and defensive substitutions at the appropriate times.   

Box Score – [3] – The game provided standard newspaper-style box scores. One week’s worth of box scores will be accessible for later review during single season or career mode replays. Time of game, temperature, wind speed and direction are indicated. Substitutes are not indented in the listing or otherwise flagged, obscuring when they entered the contest and who they replaced in the game.

Rosters – [4] Flexibility is the key to roster manipulation in career mode and FPSBB afforded the user several improvements over the competition in this regard. The active roster consists of 25 players but the mix of position players and pitchers is not restricted to the standard 15/10 ratio. In addition each franchise can maintain a 15-man reserve list and up to 10 players in the “low minors”. If the computer is managing a team, you have the option to permit or deny its ability to make trades, reassign players, sign free agents or select players in the annual Amateur Draft. When creating a new Association, you can opt to utilize the players and league structure from an existing league or draft players from a free agent pool.   

Statistics – [5]Historical and simulated statistics along with team totals can be viewed throughout the season. Simulated stats are available in three flavors: weekly, season-to-date and career (if you’re playing in career mode). FPSBB offers situational split stats such as versus left- or right-handers, home or road, runners in scoring position, “close and late”, and specific months of the year. You may customize the columns to be displayed in the current report (up to 8 at a time), sort any column in ascending or descending order and view the top 10 or top 50 players in a particular category. Statistics can be filtered by league, team or retired players. Player ratings can change over the course of their career (in career mode only) and are handled on a 0 to 99 scale.

Usage/Injuries/Ejections – [3]Players can suffer injuries (assuming you enable the option) that can last several days, weeks, months or even end their careers. Pitcher’s fatigue can be toggled on/off by the user as well. Each pitcher has their own Endurance rating and the number of pitches thrown in the current game will also determine their effectiveness as the game progresses. Position players are not affected by fatigue, therefore it is possible for players with minimal “actual” playing time to be overused by computer and human managers. Ejections do not occur in the FPS Baseball series.

Ballparks / Park Factors – [4]FPSBB ’94 came with 12 ballparks and Sierra later offered a “Legends and Stadiums” add-on which provided the remaining 16 stadiums. The ’96 and ’98 releases incorporated all of the ballparks that were in use at the time of release. Park effects include temperature, wind, rain and humidity specific to the geographic location of each stadium. 

Commentary – [1]The game does not include any play-by-play commentary.

   

Scale:  Ratings from 1 (worst) to 5 (best)

FPSBB ’94 – Total Score: 30 out of 50

FPSBB ’96 – Total Score: 35 out of 50

FPSBB ’98 – Total Score: 36 out of 50

Enhancements and Features

FeatureFPSBB ‘94FPSBB ‘96FPSBB ‘98
Scheduling OptionsShort, Half or Full (# games depends on # teams in Assocation)Short, Half or Full (# games depends on # teams in Assocation)Short, Half or Full (# games depends on # teams in Assocation)
Roster Slots25 active, 15 reserve, 10 low minors25 active, 15 reserve, 10 low minors25 active, 15 reserve, 10 low minors
Long Relief, Setup, Closer designationYESYESYES
Park FactorsYESYESYES
FastSim ModeNONOYES
Remote LeagueNOYESYES
# Stadiums12 included, 16 available via Legends & Stadiums Add-On Disk28 Current Stadiums28 Current Stadiums
All-Star GameYESYESYES
Roster Expansion after September 1YESYESYES
Team News / Association NewsNO/ YESYES/ YESYES/ YES
DraftYESYESYES
Propose TradeYESYESYES
Free AgentsYESYESYES
Career ModeYESYESYES
Spring TrainingYESYESYES
End-of-Season AwardsNOYESYES
Backup / Restore LeaguesNOYESYES
Teams1994 MLB Opening Day Rosters (v1.02 includes 48 “Legends” teams); v1.03 patch includes 1995 MLB Opening Day Rosters1995 MLB Season, 1996 Opening Day Rosters (v1.02 includes 48 “Legends” teams), Season Disks available1996 MLB Season, 1997 Opening Day Rosters, Season Disks available
# Leagues / Divisions / TeamsMax. 2 Leagues, 3 Divisions, 32 TeamsMax. 2 Leagues, 3 Divisions, 32 TeamsMax. 2 Leagues, 3 Divisions, 32 Teams

Observations

The Front Page Sports Baseball series offered hardball enthusiasts another alternative with several innovative elements. The aging and retirement aspects of the career mode add to the realism of a long-term league. A fresh look beyond the bug-plagued initial release afforded me the opportunity to play the game as it was originally intended. The data entry program (DATAIN) is a bit tedious to work with, so unless you’re up to the task, I recommended sticking to the included associations or the Legends teams. Further I would concur with the suggestion to skip directly to FPSBB ’98. As stated previously, you’ll need to install this game on an old PC or an emulator running Windows 95 or 98.   

Please add a comment below if you spent a significant amount of time and/or have any recollections of the Front Page Sports: Baseball series.

Screenshots

Front Page Sports Baseball ’94

Front Page Sports Baseball ’96

Front Page Sports Baseball ’98

Articles in the Series

SSI Computer Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – SSI Computer Baseball
Computer Statis Pro Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review –Computer Statis Pro Baseball
MicroLeague Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – MicroLeague Baseball
Avalon Hill Pro Manager / Major League Manager Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Avalon Hill Pro Manager / Major League Manager
Pure-Stat Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Pure-Stat Baseball
Monday Morning Manager Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Monday Morning Manager
Radio Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Radio Baseball
Earl Weaver Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Earl Weaver Baseball
Full Count Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Full Count Baseball
MicroLeague Baseball IV Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – MicroLeague Baseball II – III – IV
Tony La Russa’s Ultimate Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Tony La Russa’s Ultimate Baseball
Earl Weaver Baseball II Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Earl Weaver Baseball II
APBA Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – APBA Baseball
  Tony La Russa Baseball II Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Tony La Russa Baseball II
  Front Page Sports Baseball '94 - '96 - '98 Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Front Page Sports Baseball ’94 – ’96 – ’98
  ESPN Baseball Tonight Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – ESPN Baseball Tonight
  Hardball 6 Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Hardball 3-4-5-6

Additional Links

Front Page Sports Baseball ’94 – Computer Gaming World. November 1994. http://www.cgwmuseum.org/galleries/issues/cgw_124.pdf

Front Page Sports Baseball ’94 – Ginden, Jim. “Baseball: Diamonds Are A Fan’s Best Friend”. Computer Gaming World. May 1995. p62. http://www.cgwmuseum.org/galleries/issues/cgw_130.pdf

Front Page Sports Baseball ’98 – McCauley, Dennis. “Sim World Series: Winners and Losers in This Year’s Baseball Sim Contest”. Computer Gaming World. December 1997. p312. http://www.cgwmuseum.org/galleries/issues/cgw_160.pdf

https://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/front-page-sports-baseball-94

https://www.mobygames.com/game/front-page-sports-baseball-pro-96-season

https://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/front-page-sports-baseball-pro-98

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9ZUy461Kh0 Front Page Sports Baseball ’94, video by SquakeNet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZZ-7iMFM_0 Front Page Sports Baseball ’98, video by Pichu London Sports and Stadiums

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 Architects – Volume 1 (American League)”, published in July 2020, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com.  Hardball Architects examines the trades, free agent acquisitions, draft picks and other transactions for the 30 Major League Baseball franchises, divided into a 2-volume set (American League and National League). All key moves are scrutinized for every team and Sabermetric principles are applied to the roster construction throughout the lifetime of the organization to encapsulate the hits and misses by front office executives.

Hardball Retroactive”, published in June 2018, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com.  Hardball Retroactive is a modest collection of selected articles that I have written for Seamheads.com along with my Baseball Analytics blog since 2010. Exclusive content includes the chapter on “Minors vs. Majors” which assesses every franchise’s minor league successes and failures in relation to their major league operations.

“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. In Hardball Retrospective, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original teams. Using a variety of advanced statistics and methods, I generated revised standings for each season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition. Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the real-time or “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.

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. 

Tuatara Software, LLC | Website | + posts

I am a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games who enjoys spending quality time with his family. Visit my Amazon author page to check out my books, promotional videos, and post a review if you're a Hardball Retro fan!

https://www.amazon.com/author/derekbain

My Books:


Hardball Architects – Volume 1 (American League Teams)”, published in July 2020, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. 


Hardball Architects – Volume 2 (National League Teams)”, published in April 2022, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. 

“Hardball Architects” examines the trades, free agent acquisitions, draft picks and other transactions for the 30 Major League Baseball franchises, divided into a 2-volume set (American League and National League). All key moves are scrutinized for every team and Sabermetric principles are applied to the roster construction throughout the lifetime of the organization to encapsulate the hits and misses by front office executives.


Hardball Retroactive”, published in June 2018, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. A cross-section of essays that I penned for Seamheads.com along with my Baseball Analytics blog spanning nearly a decade touching on subjects including "Taking the Extra Base", "General Manager Scorecard", "Worst Trades", "BABIP By Location" and "Baseball Birthplaces and the Retro World Baseball Classic". Rediscover your favorite hardball arcade and simulations in "Play Retro Baseball Video Games In Your Browser" or take a deep dive into every franchise's minor league successes and failures in relation to their major league operations in "Minors vs. Majors".


“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. In Hardball Retrospective, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original teams. Using a variety of advanced statistics and methods, I generated revised standings for each season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition. Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the real-time or “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.


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. 

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I am a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games who enjoys spending quality time with his family. Visit my Amazon author page to check out my books, promotional videos, and post a review if you're a Hardball Retro fan! https://www.amazon.com/author/derekbain My Books: Hardball Architects – Volume 1 (American League Teams)”, published in July 2020, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com.  Hardball Architects – Volume 2 (National League Teams)”, published in April 2022, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com.  “Hardball Architects” examines the trades, free agent acquisitions, draft picks and other transactions for the 30 Major League Baseball franchises, divided into a 2-volume set (American League and National League). All key moves are scrutinized for every team and Sabermetric principles are applied to the roster construction throughout the lifetime of the organization to encapsulate the hits and misses by front office executives. Hardball Retroactive”, published in June 2018, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. A cross-section of essays that I penned for Seamheads.com along with my Baseball Analytics blog spanning nearly a decade touching on subjects including "Taking the Extra Base", "General Manager Scorecard", "Worst Trades", "BABIP By Location" and "Baseball Birthplaces and the Retro World Baseball Classic". Rediscover your favorite hardball arcade and simulations in "Play Retro Baseball Video Games In Your Browser" or take a deep dive into every franchise's minor league successes and failures in relation to their major league operations in "Minors vs. Majors". “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. In Hardball Retrospective, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original teams. Using a variety of advanced statistics and methods, I generated revised standings for each season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition. Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the real-time or “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills. 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. 

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