Two Sweet: A Baseball Heroes II Set and the 1949 Major League Season on Their Way
By Glenn Guzzo
Maybe you’ll be dieting after Christmas, but you can gorge yourself without guilt in February, when Strat-O-Matic releases not one, but two original baseball sets in both card and computer-roster format.
Gamers will feast on SOM’s recreation of the historic 1949 Major Leagues – the Boys of Summer season with two dramatic pennant races and battling title competitions, and Jackie Robinson’s finest season. And gamers who have been licking their chops for a second Baseball Heroes set since the first one was released six years ago will be served 117 more helpings of diamond stars.
They Might Be Giants (or Braves, Yankees, Sox, or …)
117 Stars – Some Future Hall of Famers – In New Baseball Heroes II Set
After Strat-O-Matic’s first Baseball Heroes set sold out rapidly, a sequel was inevitable.
Like the first Heroes set, this one has 117 players in card form and on computer rosters, balanced by position to form four strong teams. The players, including some future Hall of Famers, are rated on their seven best seasons. Gamers told Strat-O-Matic they were thrilled to play the Heroes separately or to combine them with similarly designed specialty sets, such as the Negro League All-Stars and the Hall of Fame players.
The Heroes II stars span a century of Major League baseball, from shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh, whose first big year was in 1916, to the 2016 retirees David Ortiz, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.
There’s a cast of strong Hall of Fame candidates (Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez, Jim Thome, Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman) and controversial ones (A-Rod, Manny Ramirez).
Other recent superstars include Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Todd Helton, Scott Rolen, Gary Sheffield and Jorge Posada.
Like those above, almost half of the players in the set starred in the 1990s and later. But there are 14 who played before 1950, and 24 from the 1950s and ‘60s. For every Charlie Keller and Indian Bob Johnson there is a Johnny Callison and Rocky Colavito; for every Bucky Walters and Harry Brecheen, a Dean Chance and Camilo Pascual; for every Stan Hack, a Rico Petrocelli; for every Firpo Marberry, a Ron Perranoski.
Heroes II resurrects the memories of fire-balling pitchers such as Sam McDowell, Jim Maloney and Billy Wagner, and finesse artists such as Cliff Lee, Johnny Antonelli and Stu Miller.
They are the instant legends (Fred Lynn, Fernando Valenzuela), the later bloomers (Jim Edmonds, Rick Reuschel) and the consistently good and underrated (Jose Cruz, Dave Stieb). They are huge fan favorites (Kirk Gibson, Torri Hunter) and the sometimes-bad boys (Jason Giambi, Darryl Strawberry). They are sluggers (Jack Clark, Carlos Delgado), slick glove men (Andruw Jones, Omar Vizquel) and many who were both (Dolph Camilli, Miguel Tejada).
The full list is here. Read it and cheer.
1949: The Boys of Summer Available This Winter
Author Roger Kahn told us about the Boys-of-Summer Dodgers of 1949. Strat-O-Matic will tell you the story in its way, bringing all 16 teams to life.
You’ll experience it with a pair of pennant races decided on the final day.
In the National League, the Dodgers and Cardinals were at it again, for the fourth straight year. In the end, Jackie Robinson’s finest season (.342-16-124 with Major League-leading 37 SB with 122 runs, 66 extra-base hits and .528 slugging) proved worthy of a pennant and MVP honors over Stan Musial (.338-36-123 with 128 runs, 90 extra-base hits and .624 slugging) and his Cardinals teammate Enos Slaughter (The Sporting News’ Player of the Year who hit .336-13-96 with 60 extra-base hits). The Dodgers had Rookie of the Year pitcher Don Newcombe (17-8, 3.17) and the Cardinals had Howie Pollett (20-9, 2.77).
The Phillies, with youngsters Robin Roberts, Richie Ashburn, Del Ennis, Granny Hamner and Willie Jones, were an inspiring third. Warren Spahn, who led the league in wins (21), complete games (25) and strikeouts (161), highlighted the fourth-place Braves. The fifth-place Giants had Bobby Thomson (.309-27-109) and ERA leader Dave Koslo (2.50). On the sixth-place Pirates, Ralph Kiner bashed a career-best 54 home runs while winning his fourth (of seven) straight home run titles, while also hitting .310 and leading the NL with 127 RBIs and .658 slugging.
The American League was every bit as exciting and dramatic.
Casey Stengel’s first season as manager of the New York Yankees was the first of the Bronx Bomber’ record five straight World Series champions, but it took wins on the final two days against Boston in Yankee Stadium to overtake the Red Sox by a single game.
It wasn’t the only near miss for Boston. MVP Ted Williams (.343-43-159 with .650 slugging and 162 walks) missed a Triple Crown by losing the batting title by less than a single point to Detroit’s George Kell. The Red Sox also had the league’s top two winning pitchers, Mel Parnell (25, with the league-best 2.77 ERA) and Ellis Kinder (23).
It might have been a three-way race for the batting title if the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio (.346-14-67) had not missed the first half of the season with a foot injury.
With Bob Lemon’s 22 wins and Dale Mitchell’s 23 triples, third-place Cleveland finished only eight games behind New York. Fourth-place Detroit had Kell (.343), promising rookie Johnny Groth (.293) and four starting pitchers with at least 15 wins, led by AL strikeout leader Virgil Trucks (19-11, 2.81) and future Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser (18-11). The fifth-place A’s had 20-game winner Alex Kellner. The sixth-place White Sox’ batting leader was 42-year-old shortstop Luke “Old Aches and Pains” Appling (.301). The seventh-place Browns had the league leader in stolen bases, 3B Bob Dillinger (20), who hit .324.
The ’49 season also made household names of many impressive youngsters – none older than 22: Robin Roberts (15 wins), Duke Snider (.292-23-92), Whitey Lockman (.301), Richie Ashburn (.284), catcher Del Crandall (.263 and great defense), AL Rookie of the Year Roy Sievers (.306-16-91), Nellie Fox (.255 with strong defense) and Eddie Yost (91 walks). Twenty-three-year-old NL Rookie of the Year Don Newcombe led the Dodgers with 17 wins and 24-year-old Yogi Berra hit .277-20-91 despite missing a month with injury.
Heroes II Roster
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