Sports Illustrated Baseball was released in 1971 by Time-Life and only four seasons were originally produced (1970-1972). In addition, a set of All-Time All Star charts was produced in 1973 that contained the top 25 players from each of the original 16 major league games. The game was later distributed by Avalon Hill, which released variations of the game called Superstar Baseball and Pennant Race. Avalon Hill discontinued the game in 1984 and any updates since then have been provided by game enthusiasts. Although the game probably never caught on to the masses like its publishers had hoped, it was influential in that Hal Richman, designer of the popular Strat-O-Matic game, felt the competitive need to add lefty/righty splits into his game as a response to the Sports Illustrated game. Mr. Richman has stated that adding this feature was one of the key milestones in the history of Strat-O-Matic games.
Basics of the game
The game is quite simple to play, a feature that attracts many but some may perceive to be too simplistic. Dombrov PC Baseball will guide you through the steps to play a game, and if you choose this can be done in a manner similar to if you were playing the board game. Basically, you choose your teams, starting pitchers, lineups, and then play the game. This page is dedicated to providing additional details on how to play based on the original game flow but is also helpful even if you are playing in more of baseball sim mode with the game engine in the background but are interested in the mechanics of the original board game.
Each player name is color coded to indicate if they bat left, right, or both. A similar color coded system is used to indicate if a pitcher throws left or right. This color coded system is defined on each of the team charts. Additionally, each position player has a defensive rating under their name for the positions that they can play - the higher the number the better. In some cases, the player will have a negative number for a position, meaning that the player does not play well at that position but is capable of doing so. The defensive rating for each player in the lineup is added together (the program does this for you), and the team total is used to determine the Automatic Outs when a team is on defense. A chart that lists the Automatic Outs for a team total defensive rating is included in the Help documentation with Dombrov PC Baseball. The Automatic Outs for your team can be viewed from various Dombrov PC Baseball screens, including the Lineups and Game Play screens.
When choosing your pitchers and lineups, it also helps to know the probability of a dice roll occurring along with what each result symbol means as this determines the caliber of the player. Each player will have a cell for every possible dice roll result and you can refer to the Legend for the meaning of each symbol within the Help documentation included with Dombrov PC Baseball. For batters, you want to look for players who have the most cells with hits under the dice results that have the highest probability of occurring. For pitchers, those who can generate outs with the most probable dice rolls are going to be your best pitchers. An explanation of the dice used by the game and a probability table of each dice roll result is provided below. Just like the real game of baseball, you will need to consider what are your teams strengths when when choosing your lineups and don't forget about defense (as described in the previous paragraph). Most users will be using Play-by-Play textual results during game play which describes the play result so this information is primarily to provide detail on how the game engine works behind the scenes.
In addition to defensive ratings and what each dice roll represents, players also have a base running rating (0 to 5) and a bunt rating (A or B). The higher the base running rating, the better the chance a base runner has to steal a base or advance an extra base when the situation applies. A player with an bunt rating of "A" is going to have a better chance of a successful sacrifice or squeeze bunt then a player with a "B" bunt rating.
Dombrov PC Baseball will automatically record all of this information as you choose each player for your lineups. If you were playing the board game, the score sheet would have a place for you to write down all of this information as you created your lineup.
Similar to real baseball, most plays start out with the pitcher. With Sports Illustrated Baseball (and Dombrov PC Baseball as well), it starts out with the pitcher rolling the dice for their result. Many times, the next step will be for the batter to roll the dice to determine the overall result of the play. In other cases, a pitcher dice roll will result in a walk, out, or occasionally even a hit, without the batter ever getting a chance to roll the dice. There is also an option to issue Intentional Walks and there are options to bunt, steal bases, make base running decisions and in some cases make defensive manager decisions as the situation applies. Dombrov PC Baseball will automatically determine which chart applies to which situation, sometimes based on your action, and will guide you through the flow of playing the baseball game. A popular 1-Click option available during Dombrov PC Baseball game play derives the overall play result with one mouse click (or in many cases pressing the Enter key).
The game uses special dice that will produce a result ranging from 10 to 39. With the original board game, there was a black die and two white dice that produced these results. To read the dice, the number on the black die is multiplied times 10, and the numbers on the white dice are then added together. These “10-39” dice are the heart of the Sports Illustrated Baseball game and are used to determine virtually every result. There is a greater probability of some dice results versus others, as shown in the table below. It is these weighted results that increases or decreases the probability of a given result and this is the essence of the game engine.