Vol. III, Issue #1 - March 2015


** The Billy Sample Challenge **
The Series Report, Part I

      (In this part of our report, we focus upon the games actually played with Billy {photo left} acting as the manager of the 1983 Texas Rangers, featuring a star player known as Mr. "Billy Sample" in LF while
Bryan Swank {photo right}, a member of our newsletter, takes charge of
the 1983 Boston Red Sox, as they played a best of three game series ....)

(To our first time visitors to the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter -- if you have come through the game company, WELCOME!! At the end of this part of our report (linked to the "Billy Sample Challenge"), if you would like to read how this amazing opportunity all came together, read the link below about the introduction. Additionally, if you want like to read the comments made from Billy Sample and Bryan Swank after the series was concluded, feel free to read the link below labled Part II. Finally, you will discover at the bottom of each page of our newsletter various links that will take you to many other interesting interviews, articles, resources and more which we provide for our members within each edition. To become a member is always FREE - the editor, Wolfman Shapiro)


What were the Texas Rangers like in 1983?:  As you will see in my interview with Billy after the series in the second part of this report, he did do some early preparation for his team by doing statistical research on-line.  In order to get a good perspective on how this series might go, lets just summarize a bit from the final season stats about what type of team Texas had in this year with new strat manager, Bill Sample.

Hitting wise, Texas only hit .255 as a team with a .310 on-base average. They did steal 119 bases however with Billy leading the way with 44.  Texas only hit 106 HRs with Larry Parrish leading the club with 26 and their best average hitters were Stein (.310, 242 ABs) and M. Rivers (.285 with 309 ABs). Billy played in 147 games whereas their starting CF, G. Wright, played in all 162.  So definitely speed will be on the side of the Rangers in this series.

Pitching wise, Texas had some pretty good starting pitchers as Charles Hough was 15-13 with a 3.18 ERA and Rick Honeycutt was 14 - 8 with a 2.42 ERA (two of the three starters Billy used). Although Darwin was a starter, Billy would use him in relief only. The relievers were not so bad with Odell Jones at a 3.09 ERA and Dave Stewart coming in with a 2.14 ERA.  Overall Texas had a team ERA of 3.31 which would be excellent for any team of today.  So it seemed Texas would have an edge overall in pitching if they could stop the Boston hitters and their power.

To view the full stats of this team, head over to:

Bryan took his time before the series began to make sure that Billy understood how to read the Strat
Cards and what each section referred to so he could prepare his team properly for the match. 

What were the Boston Red Sox like in 1983?:
The Red Sox no doubt were a much better hitting team this year as they had Wade Boggs in one of his classic seasons hitting .361 with Rice at .305 with 39 HRs (a precursor to the great 1985 Red Sox team).  Armas didn't hit for average but had 36 HRs with over a 100 RBIs and Evans had 22 HRs.  Yazstremski was at the end of his career but contributed at .266.  The Boston bench had quite a few good hitters as well with German at .294 (223  PA); Miller .286 (293 PA) and Nichols .285 (305 PA).  Not that much speed but as a team they had a .270 AVG, .335 OB and had 142 dingers.

Pitching wise, the Red Sox were definitely not as good as Texas with a team ERA of over one run more than the Rangers at 4.34.  All of Boston's top starters had ERAs over 4.00 and really their only dependable reliever was Bob Stanley who had an ERA of 2.85 with 33 saves and pitched a whopping 145 innings in relief which is unheard of in these days of the specialists.

To view the full stats of this team, take a peek at:

Final Analysis from the Stats: Would the power and better hitting of the Red Sox pervade or would the better pitching and small ball of the Rangers control the day?


** The Individual Games **

Here we see Bryan
watching Billy intently, appearing a bit worried as Billy seems to be enjoying himself
too much with that smile. Is Billy becoming a future SOM Fanatic, is this a sign of what happened this day?

Game 1, At Fenway Park, Boston, MA
Honeycutt vs. Ojeda

Name (Rangers) AB R H RBI   Name (Redsox) AB R H RBI
Sample, LF 5 0 1 0   Boggs, 3B 3 1 0 0
Wright CF 4 1 1 0   Remy 2B 4 1 1 1
Bell 3B 3 1 1 0   Rice DH 4 1 1 1
Parrish RF 5 0 1 1   Armas CF 4 1 2 2
Hostetler DH 2 0 1 1   Evans RF 4 0 2 1
O'Brien 1B 2 0 1 0   Stapleton 1B 4 0 1 0
Sundberg C 4 0 0 0   Nichols LF 3 0 0 0
Dent SS 4 0 0 0   Hoffman SS 3 0 1 0
Tolleson 2B 4 0 1 0   Allenson C 2 0 0 0
            a-Miller PR 0 1 0 0
            b-Gedman C 0 0 0 0
Total 33 2 7 2   Total 31 5 8 5

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Texas 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   2 7 1
Boston 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 x   5 8 0

a - Miller pitched ran for Allenson in 8th inning
b - Gedman replaced Allenson at catcher in the 8th

Game Events:
Double Plays:
Nichols;  Sacrifice Hits: O'Brien (8th); Caught Stealing: Nichols;
Doubles: Bell, O'Brien; Home Run: Rice;  Walks: O'Brien, Bell 2 (1-IBB), Hostetler 2, Wright, Allenson, Boggs;  Error: Bell

Losing Pitcher:
Honeycutt -started 7-1/3 innings with loss, Darwin 2/3 innings,
Winning Pitcher: Ojeda 8-1/3 innings; Save: Stanley 2/3 innings

Game Summary:
Texas started off like a house on fire in the first, when after one out (by Sample) they had four consecutive hits by Wright (single), Bell (double), Parrish (single, rbi) and Hostetler (single, rbi).  But then Ojeda got tough and was able to shutout the Rangers until in the top of the 9th when with one out he walked Sample and Wright before coming out to Stanley. In the meantime, Honeycutt, some would say the Rangers ace, was cruising along until the 7th inning.  He did get out of a jam in the 2nd with 1st and 2nd and one out when Nichols hit into a double play.  But then the Red Sox broke his armor as Rice Homered to make it 2-1 in favor of Texas and then all hell broke out in the 8th for the Redsox as Honeycutt walked Allenson and Boggs with one out, then Remy singled home a run to tie it, and after striking out the dangerous Rice, Armas doubled in another two runs to give Boston a 4-2 lead and then Evans singled in one more for a 5-2 Boston lead which was eventually their margin of victory.

Bryan Swank's 1983 Red Sox 1 -- Billy Sample's 1983 Texas Rangers 0

Before Billy rolls the dice, he is doing what we all do with our opponents, checking to
see what defensive alignments are going on before we make our move - Bryan stop worrying!!

Game 2, At Fenway Park, Boston, MA
Hough vs. Boyd

Name (Rangers) AB R H RBI   Name (Redsox) AB R H RBI
Rivers DH 3 0 1 2   Boggs, 3B 4 0 1 0
Sample LF 5 1 2 0   Remy 2B 3 0 0 0
Bell 3B 4 0 0 0   Rice LF 2 0 0 0
Parrish RF 3 1 1 2   Armas CF 2 0 0 0
Wright CF 4 0 1 0   Yazstremski 1B 3 0 0 0
O'Brien 1B 4 0 0 0   Evans RF 3 0 0 0
Sundberg C 4 1 1 0   Hoffman SS 3 0 0 0
Tolleson 2B 4 1 2 0   Miller DH 3 0 1 0
Dent SS 4 0 2 0   Gedman C 3 0 0 0
Total 35 4 10 4   Total 26 0 2 0

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Texas 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 1   4 10 0
Boston 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 2 0

Game Events:
Double Plays:
 Yazstremski, Armas  HBP: Rivers; Armas; Doubles: Boggs, Dent, Tolleson, Sample
Home Run: Parrish;  Walks: Parrish (1-IBB), Rice; 

Losing Pitcher:
Boyd -started 8-2/3 innings with the loss, Aponte 1/3 innings,
Winning Pitcher: Hough 9 inning complete game shutout

Game Summary:
This game was all Charlie Hough who threw a 2 hit shutout.  Texas scored first in the second with singles by Sundberg, Tolleson and Dent that loaded the bases and then Sundberg came in to score on a SAC Fly by Mickey Rivers, 1-0 Texas. In the bottom of the third, Miller was on first with two outs when Boggs hit a screaming double - Miller tried to score the tying run and was thrown out at the plate. These two hits were all Boston was to see the whole game.  In the 8th, Larry Parrish belted a two run homer of Oil Can Boyd to make it a 3-0 Texas lead.  Then in the 9th, Texas scored again as Mr. Billy Sample double in Tollesson from 2nd with two outs who also had doubled but then the high flying Billy was thrown out at the plate when Bell singled to end the 9th. Hough completed his shutout in the 9th with a 1-2-3 inning.  So now the series was tied at 1 game a piece. The series would go to the last and deciding game 3 to find our champion.

Bryan Swank's 1983 Red Sox 1 -- Billy Sample's 1983 Texas Rangers 1

Play continues as we go into Game 3, the deciding game as the intensity increases.
Who will be the champion this day - will the Younger Billy Sample be the key for victory?

Game 3, At Fenway Park, Boston, MA
Matlack vs.
Name (Rangers) AB R H RBI   Name (Redsox) AB R H RBI
Sample, LF 5 1 1 0   Boggs, 3B 5 1 2 0
Tolleson 2B 5 0 2 1   Remy 2B 5 0 3 1
Bell 3B 5 0 1 1   Rice LF 5 0 1 0
Parrish RF 3 0 0 1   Armas CF 4 0 0 1
O'Brien 1B 4 0 0 0   Yazstremski 1B 3 0 1 0
Wright CF 5 0 2 0   b-Stapleton 1B 2 0 0 0
Hostetler DH 4 0 1 0   Evans RF 3 0 1 0
Johnson C 4 1 1 1   Hoffman SS 4 0 1 0
Dent SS 4 2 2 0   Jurak DH 4 0 0 0
            Allenson C 2 0 2 0
            a-Miller PR 0 1 0 0
            c-Gedman C 0 0 0 0
            d-Newman C 1 0 0 0
Total 39 4 10 4   Total 38 2 11 2

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Texas 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 1 0   4 10 1
Boston 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1   2 11 2

a - Miller pitched ran for Allenson in 7th inning
b - Stapleton pitch hit for Yazstremski in the 7th, stayed at 1B
c - Gedman replaced Allenson at catcher in the 7th
d - Newman pitched hit for Geldman in the 8th inning and stayed at C

Game Events:
Double Plays:
Jurak;  Doubles: Allenson; Home Run: Johnson;  Walks: Hostetler, Dent 2, Parrish, O'Brien, Armas, Evans, Allenson;  Error: Boggs, Remy

Losing Pitcher:
Tudor 6-2/3 innings; Johnson 1/3 innings; Apointe 0 innings; Stanley 2 innings.
Winning Pitcher: John Matlack; Save: Dave Schmidt

Game Summary:
The game was scoreless till Texas scored two runs in the 3rd as Dent walked, went to second on a Boggs error while the Great Billy Sample was batting and then Dent scored the 1st run of the game on an RBI single by Tolleson. Two batters later Parrish grounded out with the infield back and Sample scored for a 2-0 Texas lead. But Matlack got into trouble in the bottom of the 3rd as there was runners at 1st and third with two outs but he was able to retire Rice on a fly to center. Then in the bottom of the 4th Boston threatened again with two walks and a single loading the bases with no one out when Hoffman was out on a FC at the plate and then Jurak their DH hit into an inning ending double play.  This could have been the key moment of the game.

All was quite till the 6th, when little used catcher Bobby Johnson (with Sundberg on the bench) of all people lifts the ball out of Fenway with a rare homer for a 3-0 Texas lead. Things continued looking bleak for Boston as Matlack had been able to get out of several jams but in the bottom of the 7th Boston begins to rally.  With two outs, a walk by Allenson, Single by Boggs and a Single by Rice, get the bags juiced. Then Bell commits a one base error to allow Nichols to score (PR for Allenson) to make it 3-1 but Stapleton, who comes in to pinch hit for Yaz, strikes out to end the inning.  In the top of the 8th, Texas erupts again with singles by Dent, the "Great" Sample and Tolleson, which load the bases with no outs. Boston plays the infield back and a slow roller to Bell at 1B, allows Texas fourth round to score to make it 4-1.  Boston can't do anything in the bottom of the 8th, and now comes into the bottom of the 9th, its their last chance. Texas has Dave Schmidt pitching for the save.  With one out, Boggs gets his second hit and a wild pitch takes him to second. Remy then hits a base hit past Dent and Boggs score for a 4-2 game. But Schmidt is able to get Rice to pop out and Armas flies out to the left fielder Sample (who else to end the game?) as Billy's Texas Rangers take the day and the series.  The fans at Fenway were not happy but you could hear in the background that were a few fans from Texas cheering, probably some family from Mr. Sample no doubt.

Bryan Swank's 1983 Red Sox 1 -- Billy Sample's 1983 Texas Rangers 2

Congratulations Billy Sample on your first Strat-o-matic Series Victory!!
(No wonder Billy had this big smile on his face in the photo just below!!)


Final Series Analysis
So how did a Strat-o-matic newbie defeat the seasoned SOM veteran Bryan Swank, who was taught secrets of the game by his father Thomas Swank? Does being an ex-major league player knowing all these players in real life have something to do with it?  Or is it that Billy Sample is just lucky and with that boyish smile, the Strat Gods love him? 

Well, if we study the statistics of the games played, its clear this short three game series was not a hitter's series.  Texas only hit .252 as a team with two home runs but they walked more than Boston which gave them a higher on-base percentage that did lead to some of their runs. There hitting star was Parrish, who had 4 RBIs, plus a homer.  But their key to victory was their pitching.  Allowing just 2 runs in the last two games will do it every time with the shutout by Charlie Hough and Jon Matlack holding the powerful hitters of Boston to only two runs.  4 runs in game 2 and game 3 was enough to bring Billy victory.  Boston on the other hand hit only .231 for the series with 1 homer by Rice.  Their starting pitchers were unable to stop Texas from scoring in the last two games.  Anyway overall, Texas just outplayed the Red Sox.

Perhaps, since Billy didn't know the game that well (I am only guessing here) that he had a hard time in the first game, although he did score two runs in the 1st. But according to what I heard from Marc, he did utilize quite well the nuances and strategies of the game as he played more. Plus, I thought it was a bit humorous (but if you are serious to win, as I am sure Billy was) that he went looking on the internet to check stats on the players in the series but this is how they do it in the Major Leagues no doubt. Anyway, as I have seen myself in my own playoffs series that when you have a hitting team which needs to produce runs to win but you are confront with a situation like what happened to Bryan's Redsox in the last games being shutdown, there is nothing you can do but watch with total frustration.

Once again, on behalf of the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter, we want to thank both Bryan and Billy for taking time out of their busy schedules to make this into a special day along with Marc for recording the events.  Now below are a few more photos taken during the action and following that is a link to the last part of this report, where you will find the final comments from the managers, to give our readers a better feel for what actually took place during the action. Enjoy and see you on the next page,

Wolfman (the editor)


** The Billy Sample Challenge, Photogallery **

      (Please find below so other photos taken from this day's action, what a day, what a day!! )

Again, another photo before the play started as Bryan helps Billy learn how to read the cards.

In this photos we see how Billy is creating his strategy again with the computer before rolling the
dice. In the photo to your right he is writing down on the scoresheet the result of the last dice roll.

Here are Billy's scoresheets which he signed for the members of our
newsletter, a momento of the day, of his Game 2 and Game 3 victories.

Bryan getting ready to roll for his Red Sox, with the hope to come back and win Game 3.

More action from this historic day. To your left, Bryan is deciding if he needs to pinch hit for his team
and in the photo to the right, we see how the two players were facing each other and the game board as
Bryan is waiting to hear the results of Billy's last roll.  Eventually Billy was able to get the results quickly.


** The Billy Sample Challenge, The Report, Part II **

      (In this next section, you will find the link below to Part II of this report where
our participants share there feelings about the series with more photos and some
video of the day or you can return to our introduction page if you wish as well. )

Well, when you are kind of a celebrity everyone wants you to sign photos and scoresheets. So for
the ending ceremonies of the day Billy put on his old Rangers uniform (still fits??) and was signing
for the members of our newsletter his scoresheets to remember this great day, thanks Billy.

Part II:
Comments from the Participants in the Series
(hear what Billy and Bryan had to say about this historic match, plus video)

How this Series All Began
(The Sequence of Events which lead to the Series plus ....)



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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)


  INTERVIEW with JIM CALLIS, Senior Writers  MLBPipeline.com (MLB.com), as Jim discusses his feeling about key young players who will be a factor in the 2015 MLB Season.

  INTERVIEW with RAY MURPHY, General Manager of Administration at BaseballHQ

  INTERVIEW with SEAN RILEY, Strat Tournament Player's Club 2015 World's Champion

  INTERVIEW with JIM GARY, Council Member of the Strat Tournament Player's Club, West Region

  SOM BASEBALL WORLD NEWS with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO, editor of "The Ultimate Strat Newsletter" discusses the latest Baseball products offer by the Strat-o-matic Game Company, Recommendations of on-line Projection Systems for the performance of Major League Baseball Players in the upcoming season, a summary of the recent new Videos Ultimate Strat has released on their Youtube Video Challenge and what is "The Bruce Foster Challenge" that is underway.

  REVIEW OF KEY BASEBALL PUBLICATIONS with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO -- Wolfman gives to our member a review of the latest strategy guides and books published which includes "Bill James Handbook 2015" (Acta Sports with Baseball Info Solutions); "Ron Shandler's 2015 Baseball Forecaster" (Baseball HQ) and the "Rookie Review, 2015 Edition" (Stratogists.com).

  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.


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