Hardball Retro

dedicated to the enrichment of casual and serious enthusiasts in all aspects of professional baseball

Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Pro League Baseball

This is the nineteenth 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

Pro League Baseball (IBM PC – DOS) main display

Pro League Baseball (IBM PC – DOS) box

Pro League Baseball

Publisher – Interplay

Developer – Micro Sports Inc.

Release Year – 1992

Platforms – IBM PC

Credits

Design and Development:           David Holt, Jeff Holt, Alan Stephenson
Owners Manual:             Mark Johnson
Dedicated to:Richard M. Cohen
Thanks to:Spiro Segalas, Wayne Giza, Paul Gangi, Kevin Karsh, Eric Petermann, Bruce Mercer, Mike Schechter
Special Thanks to:Bob Mecca
Pro League Baseball - 1994 Edition (IBM PC – DOS) box - front cover
Pro League Baseball - 1994 Edition (IBM PC – DOS) box - back cover

Pro League Baseball (1994 Edition)

Publisher – Interplay

Developer – Micro Sports Inc.

Release Year – 1994

Platforms – IBM PC

Credits

Design and Development:           David Holt, Alan Stephenson, Brent Johnson, Paul Immekus
Graphics:Robert Lewis, Brent Sanders
Statistical Analysis and Research:Jeff Holt, Chris Schuster, Nick Phipps
Owners Manual:             Joseph R. “J.R.” McCullough
Dedicated to:Everyone who has taken the time to help teach our youth the fundamentals of the game and a love for the sport that will last a lifetime.
Thanks to:Bill Areson, Tom Sheehan, Kevin Bandy, David R. Holt, Mike Schechter, the Beta Testers, and all of our wives and families for their help, hard work, and understanding in making this product possible.

Pro League Baseball '97 (IBM PC – DOS) box - front cover

Pro League Baseball ‘97

Publisher – General Admission Gold

Developer – Micro League Multimedia Inc.

Release Year – 1997

Platforms – IBM PC

Credits

Designer:             David Holt

Review

Prior to preparing for this review, three decades elapsed since the last time I played Pro League Baseball. I encountered some issues with lock-ups and crashes when I purchased the game back in 1992 but I don’t remember the specifics. Jim Gindin in the October 1994 issue of Computer Gaming World referenced a number of debilitating bugs in the code. However for the sake of completeness and my desire to evaluate it alongside contemporary games, I was determined to give Pro League Baseball a fresh look. Originally I planned to review the game after I completed my entry for Earl Weaver Baseball II as I’m attempting to work through the list in chronological order. I ran into some difficulty when I installed the software on my Windows XP computer (which has a 3.5” floppy drive so I can access my older disk media). So I skipped the game at that time and only recently discovered that I could download the media from archive.org. This set of files worked successfully so I am finally able to revisit this title.

Apparently several sequels were released. I located a Pro League Baseball game on eBay which contains updated graphics and appears to have been released in 1994. Three years later, the appropriately titled “Pro League Baseball ‘97” was published. I do not recall seeing either title on store shelves and I’m attempting to acquire pre-owned editions of both games through eBay or other auction sites. Fast forwarding to May 2023, I could only locate two articles and no videos for the ’97 edition during the process of researching this review. I will point you to Mr. Gindin’s article in the May 1997 issue of Computer Gaming World for a discussion on Pro League Baseball ’97.

The game included head-to-head play via modem. I believe Pro League Baseball is the first computer baseball simulation to incorporate this functionality. 

Pro League Baseball comes with the 1991 Season so I selected the default schedule, set the “pregame” options to League, Computer opponent, One Pitch Mode, and Computer selects lineups and starting pitchers. I also disabled animations and digitized images. I answered “Yes” when the game asked if I wanted to enter “Replay”. The game screen appears and after several moments, it began to swiftly play through the season. Each game took about two seconds to complete. The replay screen consists of the standings in the upper right corner, current game’s line score in the scoreboard at the top right, the current ballpark graphic in the right-center, play-by-play in the lower left, and the result of today’s games in the lower right. The game executes so quickly that the play-by-play is unreadable but it gives you a sense of how quickly each at-bat is resolved. The standings are updated in real-time.

The 1991 American League replay executed flawlessly and completed in less than one hour. Unfortunately the National League replay locked up about halfway through the season. I had to close the DosBox emulator and when I returned to Replay mode, the standings were reset to the beginning of the season. I suffered through two more lock-ups and restarts before the game grudgingly resolved to play through the entire NL campaign without crashing.

In the American League final regular season standings, the Red Sox outlasted the Brew Crew by a two-game margin in the East while the Royals edged the Twins by a mere victory in the West. Five teams in the A.L. West finished within three games of the division lead! Over in the National League, the Pirates sailed to victory with a comfortable 10-game lead ahead of the Redbirds. The Dodgers triumphed in the West as the Reds came up four games short. The user only has the option to view (on screen) or print the statistics and standings to a printer. There is no option to export the stats to a text file.

The Leaders menu is very well-organized and divided into 4 sections: batting, pitching, fielding and options. There are 19 statistical categories listed in the batting and pitching sub-menus and the fielding menu includes 6 positions (C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF) and 6 statistical categories. Options allow the user to focus the resulting lists by American (AL) or National (NL) leagues, standings and specific team. You can toggle between displaying results for all players (ALL) or only those who meet the minimum (MIN) requirements, and the PRINT option is found here as well.

Here are the batting and pitching leaders for the 1991 replay:

1991 American League – Batting

BA R H 
W. Boggs.330P. Molitor123C. Ripken209
W. Randolph.328C. Ripken123Ju. Franco204
Ju. Franco  .324D. Tartabull117W. Boggs201
D. Tartabull.316M. Greenwell113R. Sierra201
C. Ripken.313M. Cuyler112R. Alomar199
Bri. Harper.312K. Puckett111S. Sax195
W. Joyner.304R. Palmeiro111P. Molitor195
F.E. Thomas.302C. Knoblauch110L. Polonia192
R. Sierra.300R. Sierra108C. Knoblauch191
K. Puckett.299C. Davis107K. Griffey Jr.188
      
HR RBI SB 
J. Canseco48D. Tartabull153R. Henderson52
Ja. Clark42J. Canseco143M. Cuyler51
S. Horn38J. Buhner141R. Alomar50
D. Winfield36G. Vaughn130L. Polonia43
J. Buhner34C. Fielder126D. White41
C. Davis34Ja. Clark126Ju. Franco41
D. Tartabull33F.E. Thomas124T. Raines40
K. Maas30D. Winfield121G. Pettis32
G. Vaughn29C. Ripken120A. Cole30
D. Henderson29S. Horn119B. McRae30
R. Deer29    
J. Olerud29    
F.E. Thomas29    

1991 American League – Pitching

W SV ERA 
R. Clemens19B. Thigpen26C. Bosio3.08
D. Wells19S. Farr26Me. Perez3.11
J. McDowell19D. Eckersley26M. Langston3.22
Ja. Morris18J. Reardon24B. Saberhagen3.30
C. Bosio17B. Harvey22R. Clemens3.31
G. Swindell17J. Montgomery22J. Hesketh3.38
D. Stewart16R. Aguilera20S. Sanderson3.42
M. Langston16G. Olson20R.D. Johnson3.43
F. Tanana16M. Henneman20S. Erickson3.47
B. Wegman16Je. Russell17T. Candiotti3.47
B. Saberhagen16    
      
SO G IP 
R. Clemens212J. Habyan82M. Langston243
J. McDowell204M. Leiter78G. Swindell239
K. Appier196J. Orosco75Ja. McDowell238
G. Swindell191Me. Perez74R. Clemens236
R.D. Johnson185D. Eckersley71K. Tapani233
T. Gordon184J. Poole71Ja. Morris230
Ma. Young183Je. Russell70J. Abbott222
Me. Perez183L. Guetterman69S. Sanderson221
M. Langston183J. Gleaton69T. Candiotti214
A. Fernandez170M. Henneman69C. Bosio213
Ja. Morris170    

1991 National League – Batting

BA R H 
H. Morris.318R. Sandberg120W. Clark198
B. Larkin.309H. Johnson118F. Jose198
T. Gwynn.309C. Sabo115Br. Butler196
W. Clark.302B. Larkin113H. Morris195
I. Calderon.300B. Bonilla108R. Sandberg194
C. Sabo.299Ba. Bonds105T. Gwynn193
F. Jose.298W. Clark104C. Sabo193
T. Pendleton.298R. Gant104B. Larkin190
R. Sandberg.296D. Justice103T. Pendleton188
J. Kruk.295R. Lankford100J. Bagwell180
    T. Zeile180
      
HR RBI SB 
H. Johnson45H. Johnson147M. Grissom90
R. Gant36R. Gant125R. Lankford48
D. Justice34M.D. Williams124S. Finley43
M.D. Williams31S. Buechele109D.L. DeShields43
C. Sabo30A. Dawson107O. Nixon43
D. Strawberry30T. Zeile105L. Dykstra31
A. Dawson29K. Caminiti105V. Coleman30
G.A. Bell26W. Clark105R. Gant30
Dar. Jackson26D. Justice102Ba. Bonds30
R. Sandberg25D. Strawberry101O. Smith29
W. Clark25  B. Larkin29
    H. Johnson29
      

1991 National League – Pitching

W SV ERA 
M. Morgan22Le. Smith28J. DeLeon2.50
An. Benes21Mit. Williams22M. Morgan2.77
T. Browning19R. Dibble21R.J. Martinez2.96
T. Belcher17Jo. Franco19De. Martinez2.97
R.J. Martinez17B. Landrum18An. Benes3.00
G. Maddux17C. Lefferts16T. Wilson3.08
F. Viola16Jay Howell15K. Hill3.12
B. Hurst16P. Assenmacher14T. Belcher3.15
T. Glavine16D.S. Smith14D. Cone3.26
5 tied with15Al Osuna14J. Smiley3.26
      
SO G IP 
D. Cone238R. McDowell74M. Morgan279
G. Maddux212B. Landrum74G. Maddux271
M. Morgan212Ke. Gross71D. Cone249
J. Burkett201M. Portugal71De. Martinez248
An. Benes190Le. Smith70J. Burkett247
M. Portugal190J. Burkett68An. Benes243
T. Belcher177S. Boskie67B. Hurst232
De. Martinez174Ba. Jones64M. Portugal230
R.J. Martinez174B. Sampen64F. Viola226
P. Harnisch172P. Assenmacher63R.J. Martinez224

Several items of note – while reviewing the leaderboards, I noticed that several starting pitchers appeared in the top 10 for games pitched despite having 20+ starts. This indicates a lack of a fatigue factor for pitchers which would explain John Burkett’s rubber-armed effort during the ’91 replay as he made 34 starts and appeared in 34 additional contests out of the ‘pen! The save totals were a bit low for this era in baseball history but overall the statistical results were fairly competent.

ALCS – KCR vs BOS  

Kevin Appier and Roger Clemens got the starting nods at Fenway Park for their respective ball clubs in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. Brian McRae led off with a walk against the “Rocket” and promptly stole second base. He notched the first tally when Danny Tartabull rattled a two-base hit off the Green Monster. The Royals held a 1-0 advantage heading to the bottom of the third. Luis Rivera commenced the frame with a line drive down into the right-field corner which Tartabull played into a triple. KC’s braintrust elected to bring the infield in with no outs. The gamble paid off as Wade Boggs grounded out to short and Rivera had to stay put. The following hitter, Jody Reed, lashed a clean single into right field which plated the tying run. Tartabull belted a heater from Clemens high and deep over the Monster for a solo shot as the Royals reclaimed the lead in the top of the fourth, 2 to 1. George Brett started the top of the sixth with a two-bagger into the right-field corner but the Red Sox ace set the next three batters down in order to keep his team within striking distance. Appier sliced through the heart of the Boston batting order in the home sixth. Kansas City tacked one a run in the seventh when Brett reached on a fielder’s choice and Tartabull followed with a two-out double to place runners on second and third with two away. Jim Eisenreich, batting for Todd Benzinger, ripped a line-drive single through the hole between first and second to send Brett home. Dennis Lamp relieved Clemens and pitched a scoreless ninth. Jeff Montgomery trotted in from the bullpen to face the middle of the order for Boston in the bottom of the ninth inning. Phil Plantier crushed a double down the right-field line. Brian McRae tweaked his hamstring backing up the play and had to leave the game, so Gary Thurman replaced him in center field. Montgomery settled in and retired Jack Clark on a pop-up and Mike Greenwell on a line-out to second. Ellis Burks, representing the potential tying run with two outs and Plantier on second base, struck out swinging as the Royals prevailed 3-1.

Gary Thurman found his name listed first on the lineup card prior to Game 2 as Brian McRae’s hamstring required one more day of rest. Mike Gardiner ventured out to take his warmup tosses while opposing starter Bret Saberhagen chatted with his pitching coach in the visitor’s dugout. Gardiner set down the Royals in order but “Sabes” yielded four consecutive two-out hits. Mike Greenwell pulled the ball just fair down the right-field line to drive in Phil Plantier as the Sox assumed the 1-0 lead. Ellis Burks followed with a solid single to left, plating Jack Clark with Boston’s second tally. Kansas City knotted the scoring at 2-2 in the second.  Danny Tartabull coaxed a base on balls and Mike Macfarlane singled. Back-to-back fielder’s choice grounders pushed the first run across. Bill Pecota walked to load the bases with two outs and Dave Howard came through with a sharp single to center to score Macfarlane. Jody Reed drew a walk to begin the home half of the third. One out later, Jack Clark absolutely crushed an inside fastball from Saberhagen that easily cleared the Green Monster. The Boston faithful erupted as Clark jogged around the bases and high-fived Reed and his fellow teammates at home plate. Saberhagen kicked the dirt behind the mound and fired the rosin bag into the turf as the manual scoreboard was updated to display the 4-2 score for the BoSox. The crowd rose in unison as Greenwell’s deep fly ball was flagged down by Jim Eisenreich about a foot shy of the left-center field wall. The fans lost some of their fervor when Kevin Seitzer drilled a Gardiner offering to the opposite field and into the visitor’s bullpen, cutting the lead to 4-3 just as the fourth inning got underway. In the top of the fifth, Eisenreich sliced a two-bagger down the line and into the left-field corner. He moved to third on a ringing single to right by Macfarlane and raced home with the tying run on a base hit by Todd Benzinger which Plantier had to corral on one hop. The Sox’ skipper paid a visit to the mound and signaled for Jeff Gray to enter the contest, replacing Gardiner on the bump. Seitzer greeted the right-hander with a heat-seeking missile towards deep center. Burks raced back but he had no chance to catch up with this one. The ball slammed off the wall and bounced directly to Burks, who wheeled and fired to second base. When the dust cleared, Seitzer was safe at second and Benzinger stood on third as Macfarlane strolled home with the go-ahead tally.  Pecota delivered a base hit back through the box to drive in Benzinger. The inning finally ended on a foul pop fly off the bat of Howard but KC now held the 6-4 advantage. Dan Petry twirled several scoreless innings in relief of Gray. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Saberhagen yielded a single to Plantier and then struck out Clark. Mike Magnante relieved “Sabes” but the portsider had trouble find the plate and issued a free pass to Greenwell, placing the potential tying run on first with one out. Tom “Flash” Gordon was summoned from the ‘pen to face Burks, who lofted a harmless fly ball to left for the second out. Mo Vaughn coaxed a base on balls to load ‘em up for the backup backstop, John Marzano. The Sox catcher took a couple of practice swings, dug in and waited on Gordon’s delivery. “Flash” hung a breaking ball up in the zone and Marzano connected, sending the ball high and deep. Thurman turned and watched the orb sail into the center field seats for a grand slam! Luis Rivera grounded out and Boston entered the ninth with an 8-6 lead. For reasons only known to the Red Sox manager, Petry returned to the mound to start the frame instead of relief ace Jeff Reardon. George Brett ripped a one-out single and Tartabull hit into a force play. Macfarlane drilled a two-base hit off the center field wall to keep KC’s hopes alive. Finally, the Red Sox skipper made the slow walk from the dugout and raised his right hand to signal for Reardon. Former Sox farmhand Benzinger slapped a single to left, bringing the Royals within one run as Tartabull dashed home. Runners on first and third, two outs and Seitzer at the plate with Reardon and the Sox clinging to an 8-7 lead. Seitzer fouled off an inside pitch but found himself behind in the count, 1 ball and 2 strikes. Reardon rocked and fired… strike three! Boston tied the series at one game apiece and both clubs headed to Kansas City to resume the series following the scheduled off-day.

Veteran right-hander Mike Boddicker received the starting assignment for the Royals in the third game while southpaw Joe Hesketh got the ball for the visiting BoSox. Wade Boggs and Jody Reed pounded back-to-back doubles down the right field line in the top of third to stake the Sox to a 2-0 lead. One inning later, Luis Rivera ripped a single up the middle to load the bases with two away but Boddicker induced Boggs to fly out to center. The home team finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth. Hesketh issued successive walks to Todd Benzinger and Bill Pecota. He got Kevin Seitzer to ground into a 6-4-3 double play, with Benzinger advancing to third. Kurt Stillwell blooped a base hit into shallow center to drive in “Mercedes” Benzinger. Brian McRae drew a base on balls and Gary Thurman followed with a sinking liner to center that dropped in front of Ellis Burks for a clean single. Stillwell survived a close call at the plate and the game was tied at 2-2. Hesketh was laboring on the mound but he managed to escape the inning without further damage when George Brett hit a two-hopper to third for the last out. Tom Brunansky smacked a two-base hit off the right field wall with one down in the top of the sixth. Boddicker struck out Tony Pena for the second out and then he got the hook in favor of fellow right-hander and former Orioles teammate Storm Davis. Luis Rivera whiffed to end the threat and the contest remained knotted at two-all. Danny Tartabull’s long fly to center nearly cleared the fence but he had to settle for a long double leading off the home sixth. Dennis Lamp emerged from the Sox bullpen to relieve an exhausted Hesketh. After Mike Macfarlane flew out to the warning track in left, Benzinger laced a single to move Tartabull to third. Pecota punched a two-bagger towards the left-field corner, plating Tartabull with the go-ahead run. Burks and Brunansky singled with two outs in the visitor’s eighth. KC’s skipper summoned Luis Aquino and the Royals escaped the inning with the 3-2 lead intact when Tony Pena grounded out to short. Rivera flared a single into the right-center field gap to start the ninth. Jeff Montgomery induced a force play groundout off the bat of Boggs, but Reed stroked a base hit up the middle and Carlos Quintana ripped a line drive that one-hopped the left field fence. Boggs came around to score and Quintana scampered to second with a stand-up double. Jack Clark fanned on a 3-2 pitch but Montgomery still had to face Mike Greenwell with the potential go-ahead runners on second and third with two away. “Gator” triumphed in this encounter, sending the ball screaming down the first-base line for a two-run triple. The Boston dugout erupted while the rest of the stadium went silent as the visiting Sox tallied three in the ninth against the Royals’ stopper to take a 5-3 lead. Jeff Reardon yielded a two-out single to Brian McRae and then struck out pinch-hitter Warren Cromartie to secure the victory as the Red Sox edged the Royals and went ahead two games to one in the ALCS.

The Kansas City crowd filled the stadium to capacity for Game 4 and the club pinned their hopes on Mark Gubicza. The Bostonians countered with crafty left-hander Tom Bolton. Phil Plantier lined a two-out single to right field for the first base knock of the contest but Gubicza blazed an inside fastball past Jack Clark to close out the top of the first. Bolton tied the Royals up in knots, fanning three successive batters in the bottom of the frame. Danny Tartabull and Mike Macfarlane smacked successive two-base hits to open the home half of the second to stake Kansas City to a 1-0 lead. Boston’s bats awakened in the third with a five-run outburst culminating in a grand slam into the right-center field bleachers off the bat of Mike Greenwell. Former Sox reliever Steve Crawford was tasked with damage control and he was able to staunch the bleeding with back-to-back strikeouts of Ellis Burks and Mo Vaughn. Crawford pitched into the fifth where he allowed back-to-back singles by Clark and Greenwell before KC’s skipper called on Luis Aquino. John Marzano rapped an RBI single to left and consecutive walks to Mike Brumley and Wade Boggs forced home another run. In the sixth, Kurt Stillwell drew a base on balls to lead off the inning but injured his hand diving back to first base on a pick-off attempt. David Howard entered the contest as a pinch-runner and promptly advanced to second on a fielder’s choice groundout by McRae. Bolton yielded a two-base knock to Gary Thurman which scored Howard with the Royals’ second run. George Brett struck out and then the Red Sox manager summoned Joe Hesketh in relief of Bolton. This one was a real head-scratcher, especially since the southpaw started Game 3 less than 24 hours prior. Nevertheless, Thurman was stranded at second base when Tartabull fanned. In the bottom of the sixth with two outs, Kansas City chipped away at the BoSox lead as David Howard slapped a clean single to center field subsequent to a base hit by Todd Benzinger and a two-bagger off the bat of Bill Pecota. Brett blasted an opposite-field solo shot off Hesketh with one away in the seventh to cut the Sox advantage to 7-4. Boston loaded the bases with two outs in the visitor’s eighth but Tom “Flash” Gordon whiffed Vaughn on a curve ball. Hesketh pulled a Houdini act in the bottom of the frame after the Royals placed ducks on the pond when he posted back-to-back strikeouts of McRae and Thurman. Jeff Reardon jogged in from the ‘pen as the Sox held a three-run advantage heading into the bottom of the ninth. Tartabull lined a one-out single to left and pinch-hitter Jim Eisenreich drilled a base hit to center with two away. Boston’s manager lifted their ace reliever Reardon in favor of Daryl Irvine, a right-hander who posted a 6.00 ERA in 9 regular-season appearances during the ’91 campaign. Kansas City countered with veteran outfielder Kirk Gibson to bat for Benzinger. “Gibby” took a mighty cut but the result was a two-hopper to Brumley for the final out of the contest. The Sox secured a 3-1 advantage and the Royals were looking at a must-win scenario in Game 5 against Roger Clemens in order to extend the series and return to Beantown.

George Brett got the hometown crowd fired up when he clubbed an opposite-field round-tripper over the fence in left-center field for a solo shot in the bottom of the first off the Red Sox ace, Roger Clemens. Ellis Burks responded with a three-run bomb to straightaway center in the visitor’s second after the Royals starter Kevin Appier yielded a walk to Jack Clark and a ringing single to right by Mike Greenwell. Phil Plantier swatted a two-run big fly to left-center, boosting the Sox advantage to 5-1 in the third. Appier survived until the Red Sox rallied again in the top of the fifth. Boston put ducks on the pond with one out on a Plantier single followed by consecutive bases on balls issued to Clark and Greenwell. Burks drilled a single to right field and everyone moved up 90 feet. KC’s skipper took a long, slow stroll to the mound, patted Appier on the back and called upon Luis Aquino. The right-hander perplexed first-sacker Carlos Quintana as he flailed helplessly at strike three and induced a foul fly off the bat of Tony Pena. Boston tacked on a pair of runs in the subsequent frame. Loading the bases against Aquino, Greenwell slashed a hard grounder that handcuffed shortstop David Howard for an E-6. Burks coaxed a walk which forced home another run. The score was 8-1 when Steve Crawford was summoned. The Royals’ faithful collectively observed the black clouds slowly moving in. Quintana drew a walk to increase the Sox lead to 9-1. A smattering of sarcastic applause echoed across the stadium when Pena swung futilely at a Crawford offering for the third out. Clemens gave up three hits in the sixth culminating with an RBI single by Kevin Seitzer. In the top of the seventh, Plantier pummeled an off-speed pitch from Mark Davis over Tartabull’s head. The ball caromed off the wall and rolled around the warning track as Jody Reed and Plantier rounded the bases. The dust settled as Plantier slid into third with a triple and Reed scored easily to register Boston’s tenth tally of the day. Seitzer clouted a long ball to center with two down in the eighth, ending Clemens’ outing. Jeff Gray retired the final four Royals in order to secure the victory for the Red Sox. The Bostonians celebrated near the pitcher’s mound after Reed snared Brian McRae’s line drive.

NLCS – LAD vs PIT

Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium was filled to capacity as the Bucs prepared to take on the Dodgers in a best-of-seven series to determine the 1991 National League champions. Doug Drabek warmed up under the watchful eye of his pitching coach while Ramon J. Martinez performed a similar ritual on the visitor’s bullpen mound. After the pre-game festivities concluded, Drabek took the mound and threw the customary eight tosses. The home plate umpire signaled “Play Ball!” and the game was underway. LA leadoff man Brett Butler grounded out to shortstop but Juan Samuel smacked a single and swiped second. Darryl Strawberry connected on a mammoth two-run homer to right-center and the Dodgers quickly assumed a 2-0 advantage. Andy Van Slyke responded with a laser shot over the center field fence with two down in the bottom of the first to notch the first tally of the day for the Buccos. Drabek plunked Lenny Harris to start the second inning and served up a gopher ball to Alfredo Griffin later in the frame. Pirates’ manager Jim Leyland bolted from the dugout and yanked Drabek from the contest in favor of right-handed reliever Roger Mason. “The Straw Man” launched a moon-shot deep into the second deck in right-center field to tack on another run in the top of the third. Bob Kipper got the nod from Leyland following a base on balls to Eddie Murray. The southpaw recorded two outs to escape the frame without any further damage. Bill Landrum became the fourth Pirates’ hurler when he trotted in from the bullpen with two outs and one runner aboard in the visitor’s fourth. He walked Butler and gave up a screaming single to left by Samuel before retiring Strawberry on a three-hopper to shortstop. The parade of Pirate pitchers persisted when Rosario Rodriguez replaced Landrum on the mound with one away in the fifth. Steve Buechele led off the home half of the fifth with a smash into the left-field corner but Kal Daniels cut him down at third base attempting to leg out a three-base hit. The Bucs’ bullpen buggy delivered Neal Heaton to the bump with two down in the sixth. Van Slyke hammered a two-base knock down the right-field line, scoring Orlando Merced and cutting the Los Angeles’ lead to 5-2. How deep is the Pittsburgh ‘pen? Vicente Palacios got the nod in the top of the eighth and he allowed three straight hits including a two-run triple by Mike Scioscia. Butler slapped an RBI single to increase LA’s advantage to 8-2 heading to the bottom of the eighth. Former Pirates’ ace John Candelaria took over for Martinez in the eighth and retired the side in order. Los Angeles put the icing on the cake with two more tallies in the ninth on a Lenny Harris sacrifice fly and a fielder’s choice by Jose Offerman. Tim Crews closed out the contest, allowing a harmless hit to Barry Bonds as the Dodgers cruised to a 10-2 victory.

Zane Smith toed the rubber for the Bucs in Game 2 while the Dodgers countered with veteran right-hander Mike Morgan. Andy Van Slyke got the scoring underway with a solo circuit clout in the home half of the first inning. Mike “Spanky” LaValliere lined an opposite-field shot over the fence in left-center to put the Pirates ahead 2-0 in the second. Los Angeles loaded the bases in the fourth on a Kal Daniels single, Juan Samuel double and a walk to Gary Carter. Mitch Webster batted for Alfredo Griffin but the ploy backfired when he slapped a hard grounder to second and Jose Lind fired home in time for the force play on Daniels. The wheels were turning and LA’s brain-trust sent Jeff Hamilton up to the dish, batting for the starting pitcher Morgan. The results were unfavorable as the young third baseman grounded out to shortstop to end the threat. Southpaw Bob Ojeda entered the contest while a dejected Morgan jawed at his manager but heading down to the clubhouse to cool down. Darryl Strawberry socked a majestic home run into the left-center field bleachers to cut Pittsburgh’s advantage in half with two outs in the fifth. Ojeda plunked Van Slyke with an errant breaking ball in the sixth and a two-bagger by Steve Buechele notched another run as the Pirates assumed a 3-1 lead. LaValliere lined a hard single to left, scoring Barry Bonds and signaling the end of Ojeda’s outing. Jose “Chico” Lind greeted reliever Kevin Gross with a sharp base hit that landed several feet in front of Daniels. Buechele jogged home and the Buccos were ahead 5-1. Gross struck out the next two batsmen but Smith was in command and the hometown fans cheered fervently. Roger Mason began warming up in the ‘pen and the Bucs’ skipper made his move after the “Straw Man” slapped a base hit between the hole at short and third with two away in the visitor’s seventh. The Pirates rallied when Jay Bell singled to center and snuck into second on a lackadaisical return throw by Butler. He tagged up and advanced to third on a deep fly to left off the bat of Van Slyke. Bobby Bonilla whiffed and Barry Bonds was intentionally walked in favor of a righty-righty matchup with Buechele, who promptly laced a base hit to right for an RBI. LaValliere went down on strikes but Pittsburgh was cruising towards a “W”, up by five runs entering the eighth frame. Mason twirled 1 1/3 scoreless frames and Stan Belinda entered in the top of the ninth with a 6-1 lead. The right-hander secured the final three outs and the teams traveled to the west coast with the series knotted at one game apiece.

Tim Belcher squared off against John Smiley in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium. Both pitchers held the opposition in check until Brett Butler led off the bottom of the third with a long liner that just evaded Andy Van Slyke’s leaping attempt at the right-center field fence for a solo big-fly. Darryl Strawberry lashed a double into the right-field corner and scored on a single by Juan Samuel. Gary Carter drove in Kal Daniels (who had reached on an error by shortstop Jay Bell) and Smiley got the quick hook from the Bucs’ skipper in favor of Bill Landrum. The right-hander prevented any further damage and the Dodgers were unable to extend their advantage. Randy Tomlin relieved Landrum to commence the bottom of the fifth inning. LA loaded the bases against the southpaw on a pair of singles sandwiched around a walk. Belcher was pitching a two-hit shutout at the time and the Dodgers elected to allow him to take his turn at-bat. The gamble paid off as Tomlin couldn’t find the plate and issued a base on balls, forcing in a run. John Candelaria entered the game with one out and two runners aboard in the eighth. Van Slyke ripped a line drive up the middle to plate the first run for the visitors but the “Candy Man” induced an infield fly from Bobby Bonilla and struck out Barry Bonds to end the inning. Jay Howell struck out two of the three batters he faced in the top of the ninth to notch the save as the Dodgers triumphed, 4-1.

Randy Tomlin was originally slated to start Game 4 for the Pirates, but he pitched four innings in relief of fellow left-hander John Smiley the previous night. Pittsburgh’s skipper turned to veteran Bob Walk in his stead while Los Angeles countered with the “Bulldog”, Orel Hershiser. Following a scoreless first frame on both sides, Barry Bonds led off the top of the second with a triple down the left-field line. Hershiser deftly worked around the next three batsmen and kept the Buccos off the board. Eddie Murray rocked a solo homer to center in the home half of the second to put Los Angeles ahead, 1-0. Andy Van Slyke laced a two-base knock leading off the fourth and he later scored on a deep fly to center by Steve Buechele to even up the scoring at 1-1. Bonds twisted his ankle while tracking a foul ball in the home half of the fourth and preliminary reports indicated that he would need to rest for three days. Gary Varsho grabbed his glove and reported to left field. Darryl Strawberry coaxed a base on balls and Murray delivered a double to right. Kal Daniels cracked a base hit between first and second, plating the “Straw Man” with the go-ahead run. Lenny Harris followed with an opposite-field two-bagger to send Murray home. Walk issued another base on balls with Mike Scioscia at the dish to load the bases. Los Angeles’ skipper sent Chris Gwynn to bat for Alfredo Griffin. Another free pass forced home Daniels and the Pirates made a call to the bullpen. Vicente Palacios relieved Walk and entered the fray with the sacks juiced and nobody out. Hershiser hit a one-hopper back to the mound and Palacios flipped the ball to Don Slaught to record the first out of the inning. With the infield in, Brett Butler slapped a hard grounder to second and “Chico” Lind fired home to nail the baserunner. Juan Samuel lofted an easy fly to center and Palacios’ teammates congratulated him in the dugout for containing the damage. The Dodgers weren’t finished, however. In the fifth, Strawberry singled and Murray walked. Daniels slashed a Palacios offering into the left field corner for a two-base hit as Strawberry crossed home plate with LA’s fifth tally. Scioscia ripped a RBI single to center but Palacios remained in the game and achieved consecutive outs to keep the game from becoming a blowout. Roger Mason answered the call to the bullpen in the bottom of the sixth and he retired the Dodgers in order. Hershiser yielded to veteran right-hander Jim Gott upon completing the seventh frame. Pittsburgh was unable to generate any offense in the final two frames as Los Angeles triumphed 6-1, pushing the Pirates to the brink of elimination.

Dodger Stadium was filled to capacity as the starters from Game 1 prepared for a rematch. Doug Drabek and Ramon J. Martinez engaged in classic pitcher’s duel with both starters holding the opposition at bay through five innings. Eddie Murray snapped the scoring drought with a solo blast into the right-field bleachers in the home half of the sixth. Drabek permitted five of the next seven Dodgers to reach base via singles including RBI knocks by Alfredo Griffin and Juan Samuel. Bob Patterson entered the contest and struck out Darryl Strawberry to end the inning with Los Angeles ahead 3-0. The base hit barrage continued in the seventh as LA strung together three consecutive safeties to load the bases. Gary Carter batted for Mike Scioscia and drew a walk to force home a run. Bill Landrum relieved Patterson and whiffed Griffin but gave up an opposite-field knock to pinch-hitter Mitch Webster. Brett Butler slapped a single to left for an RBI and Samuel capped the outburst with a grand slam over the wall in right-center as the Dodgers increased their advantage to 10-0. The stadium was rocking as the fans began to count down the number of outs remaining. Bob Kipper completed the frame, retiring Strawberry on a fly out to right and Murray on a grounder to second. Roger McDowell took over on the mound for Martinez and recorded the final six outs of the contest. The Dodgers celebrated as the squad advanced to the World Series.

All eyes were on Fenway Park as the pre-game festivities for the opening match of the ‘91 World Series concluded and the starting pitchers completed their warm-up tosses in the bullpen. Ramon J. Martinez of the Dodgers got the starting nod for the visiting squad while Roger Clemens drew the assignment for the hometown team. Los Angeles commenced the scoring when Kal Daniels deposited a fastball from the “Rocket Man” into the Fenway bullpen for a 1-0 lead with one out in the top of the second inning. Phil Plantier launched a long ball deep into the right-center field bleachers leading off the home half of the frame to knot the contest at 1-1. Wade Boggs ripped a two-out double into the right-field corner later in the inning to put the Sox ahead by one. Lenny Harris led off the fourth with a base hit, advanced to second on a wild pitch and raced home on a two-base knock down the right-field line with two outs as LA tied the game at 2-2. Clemens yielded a single to Mike Scioscia to commence the fifth frame and issued a walk to Mitch Webster. Stan Javier pinch-ran for Webster, who had fouled a ball off of his foot earlier in his plate appearance. Lenny Harris ripped a single to right with two outs but the third base coach held Scioscia at third. Darryl Strawberry strolled to the plate with the bases loaded and laced a liner to left but Mike Greenwell had a bead on it and made the catch to retire the side. Jody Reed legged out a triple in the bottom of the eighth and Greenwell followed with an opposite-field bomb over the Green Monster to stake the Sox to a 4-2 advantage. Mo Vaughn ripped a base hit to right later in the frame off reliever Roger McDowell to put another run on the board for Boston. Tim Crews induced a groundout by Luis Rivera to end the inning but LA trailed 5-2. The Red Sox skipper called upon Jeff Gray to close out the contest and he complied by retiring the side in order.

Los Angeles pounced on Sox starter Mike Gardiner, tallying four in the visitor’s second to knock him out of Game 2 in favor of Greg A. Harris. A trio of singles by Kal Daniels, Juan Samuel and Stan Javier were followed by a sacrifice fly by Alfredo Griffin and a base hit to left by Lenny Harris. Darryl Strawberry stroked a two-run double off the center field wall to put an early end to Gardiner’s day. In the top of the third, Samuel swatted a solo blast that cleared the Green Monster to extend the Dodgers’ lead to 5-0. Mike Scioscia clubbed a two-bagger to deep center field and he later scored on consecutive base knocks by Griffin and Brett Butler. Boston loaded the bases with three straight singles in the home half of the third. Jack Clark ripped a hard grounder to short but Griffin gobbled it up and fired home in plenty of time to nail Wade Boggs. Mike Morgan induced a 6-3 groundout off the bat of Phil Plantier to escape the frame without yielding a run and the hometown faithful expressed their displeasure over the missed opportunity with a cascade of boos. In the fifth, Matt J. Young entered the contest to replace Harris on the mound. Scioscia belted an RBI double to straightaway center in the sixth as LA upped the advantage to 7-0. Eddie Murray slammed a no-doubter high above the wall in left-center to tack on a run in the eighth. Morgan scattered 8 hits and held the BoSox scoreless through 7 1/3 innings. The Dodgers’ skipper summoned Tim Crews to finish the contest and LA evened the series at one game apiece.

Joe Hesketh and Tim Belcher engaged in a pitcher’s duel at Dodger Stadium. Hesketh only lasted 4 2/3 innings but the Sox relief corps held the home team at bay while Belcher spun seven shutout innings before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter. Brett Butler slapped an opposite-field double leading off the bottom of the eighth against Greg A. Harris. Darryl Strawberry delivered a sharp, one-out single to put runners on the corners as Eddie Murray strolled to the plate. Harris flummoxed “Steady Eddie” with an assorted of junk to notch the strike out and Kal Daniels endured a similar fate. Bob Ojeda was the odd man out in the playoff rotation but he made the best of the situation and found himself on the mound in the ninth inning of a scoreless Game 3. In another example of poor strategy by the computer manager, the relief pitcher was allowed to bat twice in the game for Boston with the go-ahead run on base. In the tenth frame, Mike Greenwell blasted a two-base knock off the base of the center-field wall, but Ojeda whiffed Carlos Quintana to end the threat. Mitch Webster batted for Ojeda and delivered a pinch-hit single leading off the bottom of the tenth. Butler followed with a bunt single and Mike Sharperson laced a base hit to center to place ducks on the pond with nobody out. The “Straw Man” came through with an opposite-field liner that landed in front of Greenwell for the game-winning knock. The elated crowd roared with approval as Los Angeles assumed a 2-1 lead in the Series.

Former Cy Young Award winners Roger Clemens and Orel Hershiser took the mound for their respective clubs in Game 4. The pair traded goose eggs for a few frames until the hometown team came up to bat in the bottom of the third. “Rocket” yielded a leadoff single to Alfredo Griffin and the “Bulldog” legged out a bunt hit. Brett Butler coaxed a base on balls to load ‘em up for Lenny Harris. Jody Reed fielded Harris’ tapper towards second and fired a perfect strike to John Marzano to peg Griffin at the plate for the first out. Darryl Strawberry’s two-hopper to shortstop Mike T. Brumley produced a similar result as Hershiser was forced at home. The bases remained loaded for Eddie Murray, who lofted an easy fly to center fielder Ellis Burks as Clemens wriggled out of the inning without allowing a run. The scoreless affair continued into the home half of the sixth when Murray along with Kal Daniels and Juan Samuel rapped consecutive singles to start the inning. Clemens and his Boston mates were confronted again with a bases-loaded, nobody out situation. Mike Scioscia hammered a Clemens’ heater off the wall in straightaway center field to put his ball club ahead by two. Griffin’s ground out failed to advance Samuel or Scioscia, but Clemens issued a free pass to Hershiser. Los Angeles registered another tally on a single up the middle off the bat of Butler which drove Clemens out of the game in favor of lefty Matt J. Young. Mike Sharperson, batting for Harris, drew a walk to force in another run. “Straw” capped the outburst with a grand slam into the left-center field bleachers and the crowd erupted! The BoSox skipper bolted out the dugout and promptly signaled to the bullpen to summon Tony Fossas as a dejected Young kicked the mound in disgust. Cruising along with an 8-0 lead, the Dodgers’ manager removed Hershiser for a pinch-hitter in the seventh and replaced him with Roger McDowell in the top of the eighth. Boston was unable to muster any offense as the Dodgers sealed the victory, placing the Sox in a must-win position.

Boston’s skipper selected veteran right-hander Greg A. Harris to start Game 5 with the Sox season on the line. The Dodgers threatened immediately in the bottom of the first, loading the bases on a walk and a pair of singles but Harris whiffed Juan Samuel to escape without allowing a run. Ramon J. Martinez grappled with control issues in the second frame, loading the bases and walking Luis Rivera to force home a run to gift the Sox a 1-0 advantage. Mike Scioscia rapped a two-base hit leading off the bottom of the second. Alfredo Griffin singled and Brett Butler coaxed a base on balls with one out to put ducks on the pond. Lenny Harris’ shallow fly to center wasn’t deep enough to score Scioscia but the next batter took care of that. Darryl Strawberry absolutely demolished a hanging breaking ball from the Sox hurler and deposited it in the center-field bleachers for a grand slam and the LA faithful celebrated as the “Straw Man” casually strolled around the bases. Down 4-1 and facing a win or go-home scenario, the Boston manager had no choice but to replace his starting pitcher with veteran southpaw Tony Fossas.  Martinez worked into another bases-loaded jam in the third. Phil Plantier smacked a hard grounder to Eddie Murray who threw home for a force out. Mo Vaughn lined a one-out single to center and the Sox now trailed 4-2. Tony Pena delivered a base knock to register another tally but Brett Butler made a strong throw to the plate to nail Ellis Burks for the second out. Rivera lofted an easy fly ball to center but the BoSox still had a pulse with the score 4-3 after 2 and ½ innings. Jeff Gray relieved Fossas with one away in the home third and quieted the Dodgers’ offense. Joe Hesketh came out of the ‘pen to start the fifth with LA still clinging to a one-run lead. Jody Reed shocked the hometown crowd with an opposite-field two-run blast in the top of the sixth to put the Sox on top, 5-4. Mike Greenwell greeted reliever John Candelaria with a triple into the right-field corner. After an intentional walk to Burks, “Gator” tagged up on a long drive to center off the bat of Plantier to tack on an insurance run. Crafty right-hander Dan Petry, the fifth Sox hurler of the day, was summoned with one out in the eighth and two runners aboard. Strawberry grounded into a fielder’s choice and Murray laced a single to left to cut the Boston advantage to one run. Kal Daniels hit a three-hopper to Reed and the visitors trotted back to the dugout needing three more outs to remain alive. Samuel twisted his left ankle during a defensive pickoff attempt and was expected to miss the remainder of the Series. The Dodgers went quietly in the ninth and the clubs headed back to Beantown.

Mike Gardiner took the mound for the Sox in Game 6 while the Dodgers countered with Mike Morgan. Los Angeles stormed out to a 4-0 lead in the opening frame. Brett Butler led off with a slap single to left and scored on a Kal Daniels’ two-base knock. The visitors loaded the bases and recorded consecutive RBI base hits by Mike Scioscia, Chris Gwynn and Alfredo Griffin. The Sox tallied one in the bottom of the third when Tony Pena swatted a solo big-fly.  Butler drove in another run with a base hit in the sixth to extend the Dodgers’ advantage to 5-1. Ellis Burks walloped a three-run blast into the right-center field bleachers to breathe a glimmer of hope into the Sox faithful with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Roger McDowell entered in relief of Morgan. He escaped the inning with LA ahead by one but stumbled into trouble in the seventh. John Candelaria extinguished the blaze with a strikeout of Mike Greenwell. The “Candy Man” served up a gopher ball to Jack Clark leading off the home half of the eighth inning to knot the scoring at 5-5. The Dodgers’ skipped summoned Tim Crews and the right-hander retired the next three batters in order. Tony Fossas, facing the middle of the Los Angeles order, yielded a one-out single to Eddie Murray. The southpaw grooved an off-speed pitch to Kal Daniels, who swatted an opposite-field two-run moon shot over the Green Monster to propel the visitors into the lead, 7-5, as the crowd fell silent. Jay Howell began to warm up in the visitor’s bullpen and he got the nod to enter the contest in the bottom of the ninth. Pinch-hitters Steve Lyons and Carlos Quintana grounded out to third base and the pitcher, respectively, bringing Wade Boggs to the plate with two outs and the Sox trailing by two. The “Chicken Man” fell behind in the count and uncharacteristically flailed at Howell’s final offering, a curveball in the dirt, for strike three. Scioscia tagged Boggs just to be sure, then dashed out to the mound as the LA crew dog-piled in the middle of the field to celebrate their victory over Boston!

Ratings

Graphics – [2]The in-game display is divided into seven sections. The result is a highly functional view which optimizes the delivery of information without sacrificing readability. The top of the screen is devoted to the game title and the scoreboard. There are 5 panels in an L-shape progressing from the upper left to the bottom right of the screen as follows: Strategy, Stadium Screen, Play by Play, Modem Play and Options. I will elaborate further on the available options under the Strategy ratings section below. The remainder of the screen real estate is devoted to a top-down depiction of the stadium. Each play is rendered on the field but the motion is not very fluid. The Stadium Screen depicts a digitized “replay” but after you’ve watched a few of them, I recommend disabling this enhancement in order to speed up your games. The animation in Pro League Baseball ’94 is extremely choppy, regardless of the animation speed setting that I chose.

Sound – [2]The crowd roars with an inning-ending strikeout but the white-noise sound effect quickly loses its appeal after a few repetitions. If you enable the digitized images option, you’ll hear the crowd noise even more frequently along with the crack of the bat. My suggestion is to turn digitized images off and keep the sound on, if only to help you keep track of the end of an inning. The manual mentions a Play-by-Play Announcer: “A real announcer’s voice calls the plays! Although a sound card will enhance the voice quality, you can still hear the announcer loud and clear even without a sound card!” I don’t recall an announcer when I played this game on my 486/33 PC back in the mid-1990’s and I was unable to hear any commentary now, utilizing DosBox with the proper Sound Blaster settings configured (I can hear the crowd roar and other sounds). Pro League Baseball ’94 implements a cleaner ambient crowd noise but I found that the stadium went completely quiet when a home run cleared the wall (I expected cheers or boos, at least!)

Strategy – [4] The Strategy menu offers multiple choices in six categories: Batting, Pitching, Fielding, Throw/Run, Batter and Pitcher. You may click on one or more options in the Strategy menu after clicking on the Select button. Under the batting sub-menu, you can elect to Hit Away, Steal, Hit/Run or Bunt. Pitching possibilities include Pitch Normal, Pitch Around, (Intentional) Walk, and Hold Runner. Defensive positioning can be altered on a per-play basis using Normal, Infield In, Outfield In, Both In, Guard Lines or In @ Corners. You can advise your team to be Conservative, Normal or Aggressive with regards to running the bases while on offense or throwing the ball around on defense under the Throw/Run sub-menu. The following pitch types and locations are offered: Fastball Inside (FI), Fastball Outside (FO), Change-Up Inside (CI), Change-Up Outside (CO), Breaking Inside (BI), Breaking Outside (BO). Batters can try to anticipate the pitch type and location. To replace a pitcher, select Bullpen from the Options menu. You do not have the ability to warm up relief pitchers prior to calling them into the contest. To swap out an offensive player, go to the Substitution option. I did not see any method to swap fielding positions so all of my managerial moves were limited to replacing players who could play the same position as the individual being removed from the game.

Artificial Intelligence – [2] – The game does not provide a mechanism to customize managerial profiles so all of the computer-managed contests will be handled in a similar manner. The algorithms employed to determine replacement of a pitcher and player substitution (especially pinch-hitting for the pitcher) could have been optimized further. I witnessed numerous examples where the pitcher was allowed to bat when there were 5 or 6 options available on the bench, including multiple instances in which a relief pitcher batted and then was promptly replaced on the mound upon the start of the next inning! In one exhibition game, the computer manager let the losing pitcher stay in the game despite serving up 16 runs.

Box Score – [2] – While perusing the box score from Game 2 of the 1991 AL Championship Series, I discovered that Tom Gordon was charged with 4 earned runs even though he was only responsible for two of the runs in that inning. Unfortunately this particular issue is not unique to Pro League Baseball. Another quirk that I noted while playing games against the computer occurs when a batter is hit by a pitch. The game screen displays a prompt to indicate the event and you have to click “OK” to proceed. However in the play-by-play window, it states that the result was a base on balls! The box score does not maintain HBP, so it appears that the programmers were saving a few bytes by omitting this category at the expense of accuracy. The 1994 edition of the game did not remedy the HBP issue – the announcer stated that the batter was plunked, but the incident was logged as a base on balls. Pinch-hitters are not identified as such – when Steve Lyons and Carlos Quintana batted for Tony Pena and Luis Rivera, respectively, in my 1991 Season Replay, the box lists Lyons as a catcher and Quintana as a shortstop. On a positive note, the box score is presented in a clean, easily readable manner with the batting and pitching results each occupying one-half of the screen real estate.

Rosters – [4] Based on the Pro Draft section of the manual, it appears that you can employ between 23 and 39 players per team and at least 15 must be pitchers. This is an interesting quirk as I know that several teams in the 1980’s made it through an entire campaign with less than 15 hurlers. You can use the Pro Draft to re-populate rosters from existing Season Disks, Pro Trader to swap players between two teams and Team Editor to modify existing players or create new ones from scratch. I don’t see any options to reserve or bench players.

Statistics – [3]Most of the standard counting categories are available in the Leaders module. Select the League that you wish to view and then choose whether you want to see league leaders in a particular category, team leaders or standings. Hitting streaks are tracked and batting averages versus left and right-handers are computed but other splits are not maintained or displayed. Standings consist of the usual won-loss record, games behind leader and winning percentage while additionally tracking runs and hits per game (for and against), current winning streak, and won-loss record for home, away and day games. Statistically with historically low totals are omitted such as hit by pitch, sacrifice hits, sacrifice flies, grounded into double plays and intentional walks. I noted that a hurler who threw a complete game in an exhibition match was only credited with 8.2 innings pitched in the ’94 edition.

Usage/Injuries/Ejections – [3]You can choose to play exhibition or league games with Injuries enabled or disabled. The final statistics in my 1991 season replay appeared to reflect player usage based on injuries occurring throughout the year. Pitchers get fatigued during games. I did not see any ejections during the playoff and World Series games that I managed and don’t see ejections referenced in the manual.

Ballparks / Park Factors – [2]VGA renderings of the current ballparks in use during the 1991 season add some flavor to the otherwise bland graphics. The stadiums are expanded and rendered on multiple screens in the ’94 edition. Park factors are not utilized in Pro League Baseball.

Commentary – [1]No commentary to speak of in the original release.. the manual claims that there is a play-by-play announcer but I never heard it (If someone has this feature working, please contact me and provide your configuration so I can try it – I will amend my statement if this actually works!) In the ’94 edition, the announcer is barely functional – the limited vocabulary will leave you scratching your head and wondering, why did they even bother with this? Even more infuriating is the fact that the announcer refuses to speak his short phrases until the play is completed and the ball is return to the pitcher. By that time, we’ve already seen the play unfold before our eyes, so his brief banter is rendered totally useless. The play-by-play window simply delivers the recap of each play. For example: Pitcher – Clemens, Batter – Murray, Result – ground out, Outs – 1, Vplay – 111, Hplay – 1111, On Deck – Daniels 0-0-0-0-0.

   

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

Pro League Baseball – Total Score: 25 out of 50

Pro League Baseball – 1994 Edition – Total Score: 25 out of 50

Observations

The ability to play Pro League Baseball head-to-head with remote opponents through the use of a modem was a key selling point in the early 1990’s. This game might have been a contender if not for some of the crippling bugs that I encountered. Perhaps those issues were resolved with patches or later releases of the game in 1997 (I’m still trying to acquire those versions). As I revisited this title three decades after originally purchasing and installing it on my IBM PC clone, I had a slightly better experience but I’m unable to ignore some of the blemishes that I encountered (applying statistics to the wrong individuals, limitations with substitution, crashes during League Replay). If you still have a landline and want to take Modem Play for a spin, by all means, track down a copy of Pro League Baseball and dial me up! Otherwise, I have a tough time recommending this one.

The 1994 edition of Pro League Baseball appears to have been rushed out the door just like the original game. Another half-baked effort filled with inexcusable errors, PLB ’94 was not ready for prime time. Stat-tracking bugs such as the “hit by pitch = walk” and missing outs in a 9-inning complete game along with AI issues (allowing a starting pitcher to remain on the mound for an entire contest despite yielding 23 hits and 16 runs!) relegate this one to the minor leagues.

Please add a comment below if you spent a significant amount of time and/or have any recollections of Pro League Baseball or its sequel(s).

Screenshots

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Pro League Baseball – 1994 Edition

 

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  Pro League Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Pro League Baseball
  Tony La Russa Baseball 3 & 4 and Old Time Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Tony La Russa Baseball 3 – 4 – Old Time Baseball

Additional Links

Play Pro League Baseball in your browser!

Archive.org – Pro League Baseball

Pro League Baseball – Playthrough – HardballRetro

Pro League Baseball – 1994 Edition – Playthrough – HardballRetro

Gindin, Jim. “It’s All In The Follow-Through”. Computer Gaming World. October 1994. p110, 112, 114. https://www.cgwmuseum.org/galleries/issues/cgw_123.pdf 

Gindin, Jim. “Playing the Numbers”. Computer Gaming World. May 1997. p146, 148. https://www.cgwmuseum.org/galleries/issues/cgw_154.pdf

Giovetti, Al. “Pro League Baseball ’97”.

http://www.thecomputershow.com/computershow/sports/proleaguebaseball97.htm

McCauley, Dennis. “Pro League Prophet – An Exclusive Interview with Game Designer and Online Pioneer Dave Holt”. Computer Gaming World. May 1997. p187. https://www.cgwmuseum.org/galleries/issues/cgw_154.pdf

https://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/pro-league-baseball

https://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/pro-league-baseball-97

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 and
Hardball Architects – Volume 2 (National League)”, published in April 2022, examines the trades, free agent acquisitions, draft picks and other transactions for the 30 Major League Baseball franchises, divided into a 2-volume set. Both books are available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. 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. Team performances are analyzed based on transaction type with graphs depicting the WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in every decade. Individual results for each player-transaction is charted over the duration of their stint with the franchise. Every team chapter includes All-Time Rosters and Single-Season Leaders based on transaction type. The Team Trade Record chronicles the WAR and WS (Win Shares) accumulated by players acquired in comparison to those traded to opposing teams. The opening chapter is devoted to the Evolution of the General Manager and incorporates a discussion with former Dodgers GM Fred Claire (along with former Angels and Red Sox GM Mike Port and current Reds GM Nick Krall in Volume 2) on a variety of front office topics.

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. 

Note: article revised on 9/16/2023 to incorporate additional notes on Pro League Baseball ’94 edition.

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. Co-chair of the SABR Games and Simulations Committee (https://sabrbaseballgaming.com) since August 2022.

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. 

Tagged:
I am a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games who enjoys spending quality time with his family. Co-chair of the SABR Games and Simulations Committee (https://sabrbaseballgaming.com) since August 2022. 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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