Though not an avid player, I really like Strat-O-Matic. Though I’ve never met him in person, I’ve known Scott Simkus, the man behind the Negro Leagues version of Strat-O-Matic for a year or two. At the Winter Meetings a couple of weeks ago I sat next to the Los Angeles Times’ Kevin Baxter in the media room for four days, and he was a really nice damn guy. So of course I’m going to link a story by Kevin Baxter about Scott Simkus’ Negro Leagues Strat-O-Matic set when it gets published:
His name is Scott Simkus, and about a dozen years ago he commandeered a
microfilm reader at the offices of a suburban Chicago newspaper
searching for the results of a long-ago game his late grandfather, a
semipro outfielder, played against the Negro Leagues’ Cuban Stars.
Simkus, 39, never found exactly what he was looking for, but in the
archives of the Chicago Tribune and newspapers such as the Baltimore
Afro-American and the Pittsburgh Courier, he found more than 3,000
other box scores, which he parsed and cataloged into what may be the
most detailed collection of Negro League statistics ever compiled.
Those numbers allowed Simkus and Hal Richman, founder of Strat-O-Matic,
to put together a Negro League version of the game — no small, or
The cool part of the article is that Baxter and Simkus traveled to Cedar Rapids Iowa to visit Negro Leaguer Art Pennington, the last surviving player for whom Simkus was able to compile a Strat-O-Matic card. Pennington, Baxter and Simkus played some Strat and traded war stories. Baxter told me in Indianapolis that it was a great trip, if for no other reason than Cool Papa Bell led off with a homer off Satchel Paige in one of their games. Pennington sounds like an awesome dude, if for no other reason than he used the phrase “dipsy doodle,” which I haven’t heard deployed non-ironically since my uncle Harry died 25 years ago.
It’s a slow day. This is a great story. Feed your minds a bit today ladies and gentlemen.