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Vol. III, Issue #3 - November 2015

Strat-o-matic Baseball League
Commissioner' Interviews  PART II

** "1960's Decades Keeper League" - Robert Latorre  **
      (We wish to thank Robert also for answering our call to begin this new aspect of our
newsletter as we dig deeper into the lives and times of a commissioner of one of the many
ongoing & great Strat-o-matic Baseball Leagues and what takes place behind the scenes.)

(Notes from the Wolfman:  Now as we begin to interview our next commissioner, we are taking a look at another type of league which is known as both a keeper's league, i.e. - the players are kept from one season to another, and also a retro league, that it has to do with seasons from the past instead of waiting for the new cards that we will see based upon the just completed MLB season.  This league did begin with the 1950's decade and now has move into the 1960's. Also Robert talks about in his interview some innovative tools he uses to make their league a bit more interesting.  Let's listen now to what Robet Latorre has to share with us .... )



Wolfman:  Today we are speaking to Robert Latorre, the commissioner of the 1950s and 1960s Decade Keeper Leagues which is a PBEM (Play by E-mail league) that has been going on for 16 seasons.

Robert welcome to the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter

So Robert, before you became involved with Strat-o-matic, did you yourself play baseball in little league or high school?  Is so, what was your best position? 

Robert:   I played little league baseball until I was 13 and realized that a no-glove/no-stick zero tool first basemen weren't in high demand :-)

Wolfman:  What about related to MLB, is there a team you root for - who are you most favorite players of all time?

Robert:   The New York Yankees are my favorite team, my favorite player of all time is Lou Gehrig, and of the players I've watched play (in person), my favorite is Thurman Munson.

Wolfman:  So you started in 1977 (in middle school) to play Strat-o-matic Baseball, as I understand but how did you discover the game? And at this early age, did you just play solo or did you have friends nearby to the play with?  What were your early experiences with Strat Baseball?

Robert:   My middle school math teacher had a league with a few other teachers, so as I was getting help after school with class-work, I watched them play and began doing statistics for them. That summer I bought the board game with the 4 team sample pack from Hermann's Sporting Goods in the Woodbridge Center mall in NJ and it began from there. My friends and I held 2 team draft round robin tournaments, we probably had 5 or 6 tournaments that 1st summer. I remember that my father was positively sure we were shooting craps all day and not playing a baseball board game.

Then I stopped playing for many years in my 20's and 30's but got back into the game when the CDROM version came out , and then I became heavily involved in playing the Online game (the on-line version of strat offered by the game company which we have focused some articles and interviews before). I've focused more on the CDROM game recently though.

(Wolfman's note: When the computer based version of the game first came out, some people called it the CDROM version because the game and teams were on a CD ROM. Today the game company sells the computer game files and the team files as a single downloadable file, so wherever Robert refers to the CDROM version or game, he means the computer version of SOM Baseball)

Wolfman:  Now you say that your current league is PBEM, is this similar to the old days when we played by regular mail except you are using an email to send your instructions? Why does you league prefer to use this method or is this method still employing the use of the computer game and the computer managers somehow?  Please clarify for our readers how your league functions.

Robert:   The decade leagues are definitely a throwback to the old play by mail leagues. Some managers own the CDROM based seasons (the computer game) and thus will send their CMs (computer managers), but most of our members don't have the game so they submit their manager files via a spreadsheet. Thus, I must input their manager's information myself and then run all of the games (via the computer game). So, if you think back to playing strat-o-matic when we were kids, with one set of cards that was used by all of the managers, this is what we are doing in a way. We don't focus upon the ratings disks or the card images. So for the SOM fanatic that likes to crunch card counts, this wouldn't be the league for them then. We use split information from the website: baseballreference.com and then hope that the cards get close to this, which they usually do, respecting the intellectual property of the folks in Glen Head.

Wolfman:   How did your league come together exactly and in what year?  You say it's a decade's keeper league, can you define what you mean by this exactly?  Why did you decide to start with the 1950 based teams?  What was you ultimate goal to have your league organized in this way? Can you tell us how you build your teams? Why do you redraft at the start of each series?

Robert:   The 1950 draft was started back in 2012. We pulled together managers from the Strat-o-matic Baseball Online version of the game and then some other managers from the CDROM (computer game) leagues for which I was a member of.  We had an inaugural draft from the 1950 season and free agent / rookie drafts each succeeding year for the remainder of this decade. We decided mid-decade to redraft completely when we began the 1960 season or to restart this process. We are talking now about 1970 or 1940 as the next decade. We redraft to keep things fresh and give everyone a chance to build teams with modified strategies or to recover from bad strategies (that would be me) LOL.

Wolfman:  What type of relationship do you have amongst your members? Where do your members come from?

Robert:   We have a great group of managers from all over the country. It's a play for fun league, so it is quite friendly, but still very competitive. 7 of the 12 managers won championships in the 50s. We vote for Cy Young and MVP awards each season and have started playing all-star games in the 60s.

Wolfman:  Now what kind of stories can you tell us from your league? What are some of the most remarkable games, series or seasons that have been played? Is there one or two of your league managers who are dominate in your league play or has many different members won your yearly league championships?

Robert:   Probably the most remarkable individual performance was Mickey Mantle in the 1961 playoffs. Mantle batted .490 with 14 HRs, 21 RBIs, 21 RS and 5 GWRBIs in 13 games to lead his Denver Bears to our league championship. The 1950s had a lot of parity, but our 1960s league is being led by the Louisville Colonels (Randy Newman) and Vancouver Mounties (Terry Cochran) each with 4 consecutive playoff appearances and 2 World Series matchups against each other. There are a couple of teams that drafted with their sights set on the latter half of the decade so we are hoping to send the Colonels and Mounties to the bottom of the standings any year now.

Wolfman:  You wrote in your email to me that people can watch the post season games from your league? How are you able to do this? What system are you using?

Robert:   I developed a "game broadcast" page that reads the PAC and BOX files from the CDROM game and builds an interactive website to watch the game. We link to it from the results page on the league website. Here is a link to a 17 inning game that my 1964 Charleston Senators won on a 2 out walkoff base hit over the Denver Bears! ---


(Wolfman ... what an exciting game, great job Rob!!)

  Tell us more about the statistic package you are working on and where people can view this. What is this package exactly - how does it work, could other leagues use it?

Robert:   I've been working on a statistics website package for the SOM community that is an upgrade from the out of the box website offered in the CDROM game. Basically, it is a push of a button to build from the CDROM encyclopedia that creates all of the stats and loads it to the league website. Some very minimal html programming is needed to embed it in a league site. I've worked with a few commissioners to help clean up the glitches; the development is coming along pretty well so far. It can publish single season or career statistics so far. Other leagues can definitely use it, I would be happy to share it with anyone that is interested. Here's an example of a league with single season and career stats ---


  What is there that is so special or unique about your league?

Robert:   Besides being a great group of managers and individuals, not too much ;-)  We use stratdraft for our drafts, and we have a league message board for league messages and information at http://stratomaticforum.boards.net/ . We've named our franchises after minor league franchises from the era.

Wolfman:  What advice would you give to other gamers about building good teams? What type of teams have you built that you have seen success? What about any special strategies you used to help your team win - what suggestions can you offer linked to these questions?

Robert:   All types of teams can win, in our 1960s league the Toledo Mud Hens (Jeff Kloster) are consistently successful playing small ball, as are HR slugging teams like the Montreal Royals (Scott Philippe) and Cy Young loaded pitching teams like the Richmond Braves (Bill Huffman). Decide on a strategy, commit to it, and hope that it will make a big enough difference to get you to the top of the standings.

  If someone wishes to learn more - is there a website they can visit? If they wanted to contact you what is the best way to do so?

Robert:   My SOM website is at: http://latorrer0.tripod.com/sombb/home.html
and the current 1960s league, including an example of the stat package can be found at

http://latorrer0.tripod.com/sombb/1960kp/franchises.html .

I can be reached at robertllatorre@gmail.com.

Wolfman:  Robert, thank you so much for sharing with our members about what I consider quite a unique type of keepers retro league with some very nice bells and whistles.  Keep us updated with the goings on with your League(s).  All the best!!

Dear members, we plan to bring some more interviews in our next issue in December to talk about some other leagues who answered our call and were interested to talk with our members.  If you want to go back and read again about the Wisconsin SOM Baseball League, click on the link below:

Strat-o-matic Baseball League
Commissioner' Interviews  PART I


Contained inside this exciting issue of Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter:
(to view the various interviews, articles, columns and special sections click on the links {underlined} and this will take you to the appropriate webpage)


  ARTICLE with JOHN DEWAN, owner of Baseball Info Solution, chapter for a book about Bill James.

  MLB STORY with BILLY SAMPLE, Talks about "Bat Flipping" and Willie Montanez while a Ranger.

  ARTICLE with CHUCK TINKLER, another special article by Chuck, one of our members about a real Strat Master he met in his early days of playing Strat-o-matic

  SOM BASEBALL LEAGUE REPORT with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO -- the editor of "The Ultimate Strat Newsletter" and 2012 CBA Champion, the "Wolfman" puts out a call to commissioners of various Strat-o-matic Baseball Leagues that he finds on the internet and three leagues respond to be interviewed and tell their stories!  To view any individual interview, click on the links below or start with Part I and finish with an in-page link to Part II for the two interviews, more interviews given in the December issue coming:

INTERVIEW with Kurt Meunier, FVSL, P-I (F2F League in Wisconsin)

INTERVIEW with Robert Latorre, 60's Decade Keepers League, P-II, (CDROM-email)

  SOM/MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL WORLD NEWS with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO, editor of "The Ultimate Strat Newsletter" shares the Special Fielding Ratings given by John Dewan's Group with Baseball Info Solutions and an update on the SOM Baseball Projection Sheets shared by the legendary Bruce Bundy, author of the periodic column called "Strat Thoughts".

  REPORT with TOM NAHIGIAN (1961 cards), Personal friend of the Wolfman, known in Guzzo's book as "The Collector", returns and we take a peak at some of the early strat cards printed from 1961.

  STRAT WISE with MARC WASSERMAN -- commissioner of the Cyber Baseball Association (CBA) renames his column to "Strat Wise" as he expands his sharing and reporting of our Strat-o-matic Baseball Community.  In this first part of his new column he talks about the recent MLB World Series and discusses the content of some of the special videos we have on our Ultimate Strat Baseball Video Channel on Youtube.

  ARTICLE with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO -- the editor of "The Ultimate Strat Newsletter" and 2012 CBA Champion, the "Wolfman" goes back into the far past and pulls out one of his first articles to the Strat-o-matic Review from 1973, when he really was becoming known as the "Wolfman" (the Skokie Wolfman) as he challenged one of the first female strat gamers, Donna Chevrette to a play against him via play-by-mail.  This is series used the MLB All Star players from 1971, with the Wolfman taking the National All Stars and Chevrette taking the American.  The series became known in the Review as "The Battle of the Sexes".  After this series was played, and a victor uncovered, the combats switched teams and played a second series (which is an article by Donna Chevrette) that will be reported in our December issue.

  RECOMMEND ON-LINE SOM RESOURCES -- On-line Strat-o-matic and Baseball related websites
that offer amazing information, special tools and products to improve your game play that we strongly recommend. In most cases, we have had personal contact with these sources who agree with the principle to work together and help promote each other.

  BOOKS TO DIE FOR and Become a BASEBALL GURU -- This page is specifically about special books we are finding that either will expand your insights about the game of Baseball, help you in the creation of your current league teams or with your replays and learn more about the Strat-o-matic Baseball Game and Game Company's history.  We have a special arrangement with Acta Sports, who is a publisher of a number of great baseball books (including Bill James Handbooks) to offer for our members a 10% discount. We will continue to add more books to this page in the future as we uncover other gems our members should know about.


Contact Us for Questions or Submissions

Wolfman Shapiro
co-Founder/Editor, the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter

email: wolfman@ultimatestratbaseball.com
: www.facebook.com/wolfman.shapiro
twitter: @StratBaseball4U

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