Vol. IV, Issue #2 -
Strat-o-matic Baseball League
Champion Interviews PART I
"North American SOM Association" - Rick Lackey **
(In December of 2015, we met the
Commissioner of NASOMA, Glenn Wheeler, now it is
time to meet their reigning Champion, Mr. Rick Lackey and hear
the keys to his success!)
(Notes from the Wolfman:
NASOMA, (to remind our
readers) is a combination league that uses a number of
different approaches to play their league games. However, even though their
members are from all over the U.S.) they do their key league
functions in person. At the time of our first interview with NASOMA's
league commissioner, with Glenn, they were involved with their
playoffs. If you wish to refresh your memory about NASOMA, below
is the link to Glenn's interview last year, as focus on the
interview with Rick, more about his experiences with Strats and
a discussion on how he became the champ. See:
let's bring forth and listen to their new reigning league
champion, Rick Lackey, the manager of the Warpigs (Note:
in this league they don't use a city linked with their team
names), as he discusses his 12th NASOMA title. We
definitely plan going forward to hear from other league
champions in future issues. So, what does it take to be a league
champion? Well then please read below ........
our members may recall, in December of last year, we had a
chance to speak to Glenn Wheeler, who is the comissioner of
NASOMA (North American SOM Association) as part of our new
column to talk to different SOM Baseball League's and their
members. This will be our first time to speak to a current
league champion as Glenn suggested I speak to NASOMA member,
Rick Lackey. So this is how we got in touch with Rick, who I
have to say has been a delightful person to speak to, via our
email conversation we had over the past few months.
Rick, I want to thank you for accepting my invitation to speak
to us. Welcome to the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter.
My pleasure. I'm always happy to help someone support
I normally ask questions first to give our members a chance to
meet you and to get to know you a little bit better as a person.
So lets delve into your background a bit before we talk about
Strat. So first, which part of the world do you live in right
now and is this where you grew up?
I live in Grand Prairie, Texas. It's between Dallas and Ft.
Worth, about a 7-minute drive to a Ranger's game. I was born
here, but we moved around quite a bit between 4th grade and 10th
grade. We moved back here when I was in high school. Been here
ever since. I teach PreAP English to 7th graders - this is my
31st year teaching. I've been married for 33 years and we have
two grown daughters.
you were younger - did you actually play baseball and if so what
was your best position?
Oh sure. I played from little league through college. I mostly
played 3b and pitcher.
about which MLB team did you root for when you were younger and
are you still a fan of this team. Are there any ball players
you really followed or were your favorite?
I've been to Rangers games every year since they started in
1972, including working for them in 1984 in the pressbox, 1992
on the grounds crew, and from 1996 to 2002 as a supervisor in
the ticket office; but I grew up a Cardinals fan. And to be
honest, I'm a baseball fan first. I cheer players more than I
cheer teams. But... the 2011 World Series almost resulted in
divorce. lol. My wife doesn't have the same feelings about
the Cardinals that I have. My favorite players since joining
NASOMA have been Greg Maddux, Mark McGwire, Albert Pujols, Barry
Larkin, Alan Trammell, Will Clark... When I was a kid, my
favorites were Brooks Robinson, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and
Wolfman: Now turning to Strat-o-matic Baseball,
how did you hear about the game.
you first begin to play Strat-o-matic?
I first played Strat in 1968 when I was 8, but I really got
involved around 1977 with 4 high school friends. We would draft
teams using all the best cards from all the years available.
We'd play a 48-game schedule, have a World Series, and then do
it all again. Over and over and over. Loved every minute of it -
especially when I won. Rod Carew was my favorite card back then.
Wolfman: What is your personal history participating in various baseball
leagues either face-to-face or computer based? Have you
ever played in any SOM baseball tournaments?
I played in one tournament, around 1987. Glenn and I entered the
local TBA tournament (Editor's Note - TBA was
before the Star Tournaments which are now called the STPC
Tournaments, see our STPC reporting section to learn more ).
He finished 2nd, and I finished 3rd. I still remember knocking
out the tournament director with a walk-off, 2-10 clutch hit by
Jack Clark. The guy became irate. It was pretty funny (but I
guess not for him). I've considered playing in more tournaments,
but I'm not a young guy anymore, and they're just too expensive
for me. As for other leagues, I've tried a few. Most of them
fell apart within a year. The only one that was well-run was the
I-75 league, but even then, for me anyway, it's just too hard to
devote time and passion to a team other than the Warpigs.
did you become a member of NASOMA? How
many years have you played in the league
and tell us about the team you are
The Warpigs were born in 1987 when I met
Glenn and he asked me to take over a
team shortly after their draft. This
coming season will be my 30th year in
told us before that you are the current
league champion. Can you tell us about
your championship team and which players
do you have? How did you build your team
to win the league again?
This year's team had the best pitching
staff I've ever had. And since we
switched to a pitcher's park two years
ago, we put together some incredible
stats. The team ERA was 2.28 and we held
our opponents to a BA of .199, as we
threw 31 shutouts. Our rotation was
Wainwright, Richards, Lynn, Dickey,
Fernandez, and Wacha. The bullpen was
Doolittle and Loup from the left side,
Strop, O'Day, Wilhelmsen, and Joe Smith
from the right.
The offense was not great, but it was
good enough. The biggest contributors
were Tulowitzki, Cano, VMart, Beltre,
Morneau, Cain, Pollock, Werth, and Yadi.
The team was built mostly thru trades. I
like to draft the young prospects, but I
can't seem to find the patience to wait
on them. In 1995, I drafted an uncarded
Derek Jeter only to trade his rights for
the chance to draft Hideo Nomo. Nomo won
us a title in his first year as a Pig;
Jeter became a legend. Totally worth it.
Wolfman: What were the keys to your success with this particular team? Are
there any special strategies you used to
build this team or special strategies
you implement when playing your league
Well, obviously, pitching and defense
were our keys to success. It wasn't
always like that for the Warpigs (see
team logo below). We survived for
many years on 3-run homers and Greg
Maddux. Luck was also involved. Getting
the best record this year and getting to
the World Series wasn't about luck, but
winning the Series definitely was.
Sidewinders had a better team, and their
manager is one of our best. He had me
down 3 games to 1, but we got a lucky
9th inning pinch-hit homer in game 5 on
the road from the unlikeliest of guys (Spangenberg)
to win 2-1. And then game 6 back home
went 12 innings. The Sidewinders scored
a run in the top of the 12th and had
Chapman on the hill. We got a Cano
single sandwiched between 2 strikeouts
and were down to our last out but Molina
drew a walk to tire Aroldis. Tony Watson
was the only Snake reliever left, and he
came on to face Beltre. The roll was
6-2, a ballpark homer. At our park,
that's a 1-4 chance, but we rolled a 1
to send the series to a game 7. It was
amazing, but it was just pure luck.
Special strategies for building my team?
Not really. Defense up the middle,
pitching depth, guys who can get on
base... the usual stuff. When playing
games, I just try to limit the chances
of the big bats to hurt us. Utilizing
Doolittle and Loup to keep Brandon Belt
from destroying us was important in the
World Series. Belt hit a ton of homers
against us during the regular season,
but we managed to shut him down in the
This was our 12th title in NASOMA.
We're not well-liked. lol. In fact,
there is often an adjective used in
front of the word Warpigs.
What advice can you give to our members
for finding a good league like NASOMA?
All I can say in the way of advice deals
with league play: Check out the league
you're getting into. Some leagues have
too many rules, some have too few. Some
are just making it up as they go along.
And some are run by certain individuals
who don't have the good of the league in
their mind first. It's why lots of
leagues don't last very long. It's also
why NASOMA is entering our 37th year.
Have you ever tried to play the on-line baseball leagues that
I have not. I've tried on-line leagues,
but not ones offered by SOM. And again,
I find it hard to care about a team
other than the Warpigs - and if I can't
care about it, I'd rather not do it.
What do you like about NASOMA? What are the members like in this
league from your perspective?
We have had the same commissioner since
the league started, and he is the reason
this league is so strong. I mean, yes,
Glenn is probably the best game manager
we have - and he's won the league 7
times, but it's his even-handed manner
as commissioner that has kept NASOMA
Our last manager change was 2008, and
that was because Herman (Glenn's dad and
a league member since 1981) passed away.
Before that, our last change was 2000.
We are spread out all over the US, from
Los Angeles to Chicago to Nashville, but
we always manage to get together for the
draft - and we always manage to get
together for the playoffs. Everyone pays
1/16th of the total travel costs, and it
We have attended each others' weddings
and, sadly, funerals. It's an extended
family. We have a lawyer, a dentist, a
fireman, a middle school teacher, a
college teacher, two musicians, an
accountant, a retired military guy...
We're all professionals with busy lives,
but we all make time for Strat. It's an
important part of our lives.
We're the Mavman, the Nadman, the
Snakeman, the BeeBoy, the Driller Dude,
the Zapper... Derek, Jose, and I
have been friends since high school - in
fact, they were in that group of guys I
played Strat with in the 70s. I didn't
know Terry and Bryan before NASOMA, and
now they're my closest friends. I can
talk baseball for hours with Steve.
Nobody anywhere makes me laugh as hard
as the Mullen brothers, Vince and
Philip. When Garth was in middle school,
my wife was his 7th grade English
teacher; now he's 39, a veteran Strat
owner with a wife and two kids. We've
all been together a long time. A big
part of my life would be gone without
(Here is a Group Photo of the Members of
NASOMA from 2013 - you can see why this
has lasted for so many years, its just
big happy family - photo from the
Warpigs Team Page)
Wolfman: Have you had any special experiences (certain games that stand out
in your mind that you played or series
you played) being the Warpigs' manager
in NASOMA that were truly amazing?
Or perhaps you played in a very unusual
game, or something you are very proud
of. Maybe some key trade you made that
helped your team to one of your many
The Beltre homer in game 6 this year of
our league World Series was the most
amazing, but there have been others of
course. It's funny how you remember
things like Craig Shipley's ballpark
homer against the Buckeyes in the 1995
playoffs. Or some nobody named David
Williams enticing Barry Bonds to hit
into a DP in game 6 of the 2003 World
Series, thwarting a Driller rally and
enabling the Pigs to complete our FIRST
3-1 deficit comeback. One of the best
trades I ever made was convincing an
owner to trade me Alan Trammell for Dick
Schofield not long after taking over my
team in 1987; but the topper was getting
Greg Maddux when he was still a Cub. He
had some incredible years for the
Why do you personally like playing SOM? Did you ever try other
simulated baseball games?
Babe Ruth said, "Baseball is, was, and
will always be the greatest game in the
world." SOM is the next best thing. I
briefly tried APBA in 1984 when working
for the Rangers. The Ranger GM at that
time, Tom Grieve, even gave me his APBA
game. But it wasn't Strat-O-Matic. I
also love working on our league website,
the accompanying blog Big Innings. It
takes a lot of time, but it keeps me
from grading papers. lol
is there anything else you would like to
share with our members that I didn't ask
you before that you think is important
to let them know about before we end
Derek and I just purchased our plane
tickets to make our first ever trip to
SOM's Opening Day in February. It's
definitely a bucket list item for both
of us. I can't wait.
In an amazing series of synchronistic
events, after we released the trailer
for the videos taken by our "Johnny on
the Spot" took of "Opening Day" at the
Strat-o-matic Offices, February 12th,
Derek who is a member of our newsletter
contacted us expressing his joy at being
there. So, on our page, "SOM Baseball
& MLB News" for this issue, we have
a photo of Derek and Rick taken by the
game company at this event plus both of
them supplied for us their comments
about their experiences at "Opening
Day", you can read their reports by