It was sometime in second grade when the glory of dice baseball was bestowed upon us by a fourth grader. His name was Eddie, and we didn’t know where he picked it up. But there were some fourth graders playing, and they taught us, and we played for years.
Although we would later flirt with Strat-O-Matic, and of course would play every NES baseball game, from the original classic to RBI Baseball to Bases Loaded, to the absolutely perfect Baseball Stars, we kept playing dice baseball routinely. We played through junior high, and it was only in the universe of high school that we stopped, when real live automobiles and part-time jobs mostly replaced riding bikes and dice baseball as pastimes for those of us without real-world sports practices anymore.
Now that I research it, of course, there are many, many iterations of games where the players roll dice to determine what happens on the imagined field. Because of course there are.
For the sake of this documentation, let’s call our version the Highland Oaks rules.
How the game works, roughly:
Pick teams. Get creative. Decide if you’re using DHs or if the pitchers are batting. (It doesn’t matter, this has no effect on the game.) But really, have fun with this part. Invent players, choose some favorites from your childhood, throw some random rock stars or politicians on your team. Go with a theme, or make them all Yankees, or whatever. The aforementioned progenitor of our understanding of the game, Eddie [last name redacted, of course, but yes, he works in personal finance and lives in Boca now], had an ace named Mother Mohoe on his team. I believe we may have held a funeral for Mohoe at some point as an excuse to later hold annual “Mother Mohoe Memorial” games. I once traded Speed Mason and Slick Desmond (they were fast, obvs) to my best friend for the slugger Zeke McGeek. (This trade went down in our personal history as a particular dumb move on my part, though no bitterness has lingered.) You will need a pitcher and, heckit, some relievers, while you’re at it.
You need some paper and writing implements, and a pair of dice. Two pairs if you don’t want to share. Put your phone away.
At this point, I should probably show you how to set up your scorecards (we never called them that, though) and how the notation works. This is important. Got it?
Figuring out things like who is home or away or settling disputes over player selection is really up to you. Highest roll wins! Hold a draft! Start a league! Play a tournament! Make stuff up. We sure did.
Here’s how the whole dice roll thing goes:
The, uh, batting, player rolls the dice. (I have never written this down before, can you tell?) Here’s what happens based on the number you roll:
2 – Home Run
3 – Triple
4 – Strike out
5 – Ground out (If a runner is on first base with less than two outs, double play.)
6 – If bases are empty or a runner is on third, pop out. If a runner is on first or second base, roll one die to steal a base instead. Even = safe. Odd = out.
7 – Strike out
8 – Fly out
9 – Single
10 – Double
11 – Strike out
12 – Home Run
Oh, man, the whole stolen base thing was a late addition to the rules, and it’s a little liquid. And can you tag up on a fly out? I dunno, maybe a single die roll if you want to try it. Evens are safe.
Did you click that link earlier that said something about many variations of this game exist throughout the written history of mankind?
Right, so your mileage may indeed vary. The most interesting thing about that link is that they did the math on hits and outs, then calculated the batting average to judge how heavily each framework was weighted toward scoring. Let’s apply that math here. Not to pass judgment on the elementary school versions of ourselves. Just to know.
The Highland Oaks rules include five hits and seven outs. Our dice are hitting .416, without thinking too hard about the stolen bases or double plays. That’s a lot of offense!
Oh, by the way, injuries? Decide if you’re playing with injuries. This made more sense when we were playing in, um, leagues, with schedules. And stuff. (We really went deep on this for a few years.) If injuries = true, then back to back dingers mean the next player who was about to bat is injured. Roll a die or two to find out how long. Or if you’re sensitive about that player, roll a pair of dice to see which spot in your lineup the injured player holds. Maybe if you roll greater than nine, you’re off the hook. Maybe.
Play nine innings. Keep score. Play extra innings if necessary.