Dear Mr. Fantasy recently wrote an article entitled Fantasy Baseball: An Early Form of Social Media. He recollected his first fantasy baseball league in 1992. Twenty years ago! I thought it would be neat to recollect my fantasy baseball history as well.
The title of this post was inspired by a story written by DayTV, "The Boy And His Game."
If you read my introductory post when this blog was first created in September of 2011 or read my About section, then you know I have been a huge baseball fan since I was very young. I could not play well, so I did the only things available to an nonathletic nerd: I went to games, followed the statistics, and collected baseball cards. When that wasn't enough, I decided to take it a step further and created my own fantasy baseball league. Of course I never called it fantasy baseball because I did not yet realize it existed.
This began with a simple game I received when I was only ten years old. It involved placing baseball cards into their corresponding positions on a mat shaped like a baseball field, then you would spin a wheel to determine the fate of the batter (single, double, strikeout, etc). This enhanced my craving for more baseball cards and held my interest for a while until I yearned for more.
I decided to expand upon this idea sometime after my parents purchased our family's first computer, an Apple Macintosh Performa LC 500 series. It was an "all-in-one" with the system built into the monitor. The most unique feature was the CD-ROM drive that popped out like a cassette. I eventually got the hang of how to use a computer and wanted to use it for everything.
All of the data I created and recorded before the computer has since been lost because everything at the time was done by hand. A new era began in 1996 when I was a mere twelve years old. Of course I cannot recollect everything from that time period as it was half a lifetime ago, but I can infer everything I found stored in my 15 year old binder.
"Ryan's Baseball League" was not your typical fantasy baseball league. It began simply as a transposition of one team's record into another fictional team I created. The leagues were laid out identically to the MLB at the time and teams were matched up by randomly assigning them from out of a hat (i.e. Phoenix Falcons = Houston Astros, Denver Avalance = California Angels, etc). I gathered the data from our local newspaper since we did not have the internet quite yet and calculated the standings. Keep in mind, I was only twelve years old.
I asked some of my friends to become managers in my league in 1997. Eight people agreed to join and I decided to take the league a step further by drafting the players to the teams as well. I do not recall how the players were drafted, though I am certain some favoritism was involved for teams with human managers. I determined both league's MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and wrote a story about their playoff race.
The most notable addition to this season was the addition of two new teams to bring the team total to 30 and balance the leagues at 15 teams each. Why is this special? The Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks were added to the MLB in 1998, so how on earth did I come up with the standings? I wish I could recall how I decided upon the team standings in 1997 because it may explain what happened next.
The league continued into 1998 with the addition of two more managers. I must have stumbled upon MacPaint while I was feeling exceptionally creative because I made logos for all 30 teams. Most of them are pretty lame, then I remember I was fourteen. I have to admit I am quite proud of my logos I created for the Charlotte Spurs, Atlanta Heat, Cleveland Cobras, and San Antonio Suns. My girlfriend liked the Denver Avalanche, Houston Black Hawks, Jacksonville Manta Rays, and Seattle Squids. This was also the year I discovered Comic Sans as you can see from the photos.
The league rolled along without much change from the previous season. The standings were determined and the playoff stories were written. One of the newest additions to the league included statistical leaders to support my awards. A quick glance at Baseball Reference shows I must have gathered the data from the newspaper once again.
The most exciting thing I discovered from this binder was the last photo I included in the album, Stadiums of "Ryan's League." The first thing I asked myself when I rediscovered these pages was "Did I to figure out park factors?" I was a smart kid, but I don't believe I can credit myself for that.
Unfortunately that is where the binder ends and I can only assume why because of a combination of several reasons: 1) My friends no longer cared for baseball as the Pirates were constantly losing, 2) I was in middle school and had trouble finding the time, 3) Girls became attractive once they lost their cooties, and 4) I found fantasy baseball online.
As you can see, I am a fantasy baseball veteran and intend to manage at least five teams this season. I have not placed higher than fourth since returning in 2010, but plan to change that this year. Although I experienced I hiatus from the sport during the mid-2000s, I am following the game more closely than ever. Why else would I have a blog about baseball?
If there is prevailing interest in my childhood baseball league binder, then I may properly scan all the pages from my binder to include in the album but keep in mind it's extensive. Leave a comment or contact me via Twitter/Facebook/email if you're interested!