Vol. III, Issue #1 - March 2015


** The Billy Sample Challenge **
Comments from the Boys, Part II

      (In this final part of our report we hear from Billy and Bryan
about their thoughts and feelings on how their teams
performed and their experiences on this special day)

An Introduction: As is my style as the editor of the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter, I try to ask some very good questions to help our readers have a sense of what it is like to be an ex-major leaguer playing Strat for the 1st time, or how a very successful Strat Manager deals with playing an ex-ball player.  So after Billy and Bryan finished this epic series, I sent to both them a few questions via email.  Not only so I could give a full report on how the day went, but since I wasn't present either I was curious what happened as well from their own perceptives.

Also, after Billy left for the day, I had a chance to speak on the phone to both Bryan and Marc, and boy were they both excited!! I mean Billy was being Billy and if you read our previous interviews with him (through the newsletter), he not not only is an ex-baseball player but he has been a sportscaster and now he is a movie producer as well. What a great life he leads aye?  Anyway, part of this persona by Billy was being carried over into this day but I wanted to have these two players tell us what really happened too ... so enjoy - Wolfman.

Interview with Billy Sample

Wolfman:  Well, now we have a chance to interview the manager of the 1983 Texas Rangers, Billy Sample - lets get his side of how his experience went playing strat-o-matic baseball for the first time. Thank you Billy for helping us to make this most interesting day.

Billy: Well, Wolfman, at the beginning I told Bryan that the Rangers from my era played well against the Red Sox and in one series in Arlington, we (our pitching staff and #1 league defense) shut out the Sox in a three game series. Our Strat-o-matic three game series was held at Fenway Park, and was fairly low scoring, with at least five good pitching performances. I had our real All-star pitcher start game one, Rick Honeycutt, followed by Charlie Hough and Jon Matlack, with Danny Darwin and Dave Schmidt coming out of the bullpen, with Schmidt picking up the save in the deciding Game 3.

Here we see Bryan explaining to Billy how the X-readings on the Pitcher's card are linked
to a special fielding chart.  Bryan did an absolutely amazing job to make sure Billy
was well versed in all the rules so he would have a equal chance to be successful.

Wolfman:  Billy, did you do any preliminary preparation for your series against Bryan. Were you able to study ahead of time the cards we sent you of the 1983 Texas Rangers of which you were a member? Or did you just learn the game from Bryan and begin to play?

Billy:  Marc, Bryan and Bryan's friend Ken, were very helpful with the nuances and intricacies of the game. I had a working concept of the structure, but hadn't played a board baseball game since playing with my New York City cousin Stan, when we were teenagers. The day before our contest, I worked on a number of lineups, and settled on three, and in each of my mock lineups I was leading off and Buddy Bell was batting third.

I announced to the audience that in 1983 I happened to bat in all nine spots of the American League order, hmm, I wonder how many players have done that during the course of a season? I know there are a few players who have played all nine positions, but to bat in all nine spots in the order seems fairly easy, but maybe not?

Wolfman:  I understand Billy you were kind of doing a play by play during the games? You were a sports announcer before right?  For Bryan and Marc, they said it added so much to the day's activities, what inspired you to do this?

Billy:  Ha-ha ... well, they were nice to humor me, I think I would have called a better game from the broadcast booth, had two other people played the game. I even started to signing O' Canada, but I guess I'll wait for the 1983 Blue Jays, no, that's okay, I hit the Red Sox better than the Blue Jays. I had broadcasted for a number of entities during my thirty-five year baseball journey; the Braves radio and television, Seattle Mariners television, Angels radio, CBS radio and MLB.com Internet radio, among other broadcast-journalistic sites.

This picture of Billy answers the question, how serious would an ex-Major Leaguer take playing
Strat-o-matic, even if it means using a team he was a member of.  Billy brought with him his
Macintosh notebook computer, so he could look up real-life matchups of the players from
the 1983 season.  This should have been a sign to Bryan what was in store for him this day!

:  Also I heard from the guys you were going on the internet while you were playing to look at
stats of certain players as well - what comment can you make about this strategy tactic?

Billy:  I wanted to look up a couple of match-ups, who did well against whom, that might affect my batting order or who may or may not start in one of the games.

Wolfman:  To achieve your victory in the series, were there any key strategies you used? How did your ball player Billy Sample, a younger version of yourself do in this series?

Billy: The games were very similar to many games during the course of the baseball season, they were well pitched and because of that, the balance of the games hinged on each and every pitch or in this case, each and
every roll of the dice.

Game Two was a Charlie Hough complete game shutout, it was 4-0 ... game one, Honeycutt left with the lead but the bases were loaded, Darwin struck out Rice, but Armas got the game winning extra base hit.  Dave Schmidt picked up the deciding out (in game 3), but had the drive to center had been further, we could have had a totally different outcome.

The average time of game was about thirty minutes, and that includes the extra time for my acquaintance to
the different rules and rolls of the dice. I remember how my cousin had leagues, and team vs. team schedules;
and though it seemed time consuming to me, it didn't seem quite so consuming during our contest, and when the game was on the line, it was interesting to see how Bryan and I ratcheted up the intensity.

Ha, the ballplayer Billy Sample on the card was about the same as the real one, can you please get a clutch hit?
Well, he did well enough to stay in the lineup and make a contribution, scored a run or two. Well, we won two out of three, now time to go to New York and face Guidry.

It was a nice afternoon, and the two of Bryan's children who were at home, were very sweet and mannered.

Wolfman:  While I am here Billy, can you give share with our readers an update on your movie called "Reunion 108", which you acted in and wrote the script for it? I know I have already seen it advertised on Amazon now.

Here we see the front and back cover of the DVD of Billy's new movie called "Reunion 108" where he
was one of the actors as well as the scriptwriter.  Of course the movie has to do with Baseball but also
as the cover shows it is a
SINister Comedy as well.  It is good to see that Billy has been able to
branch out in other fields of endeavors since the end of his playing days - the movie is listed on Amazon.

Billy:  My baseball clubhouse movie, Reunion 108 is indeed on Amazon as a DVD. It'll be on Instant Downloads too, but I'm not sure of the exact timing at the moment. Now, keep in mind that it's an R rated movie, from my screenplay that took top honors at the Hoboken Film Festival a few years ago. Ha, about sixty percent of the movies are R rated and yet, I feel the need to tell people, that mine is R rated ... Reunion 108 has Facebook and IMDb pages and if you like it, feel free to express that, and rate it high! :-) Best of health, Billy

(NOTE: if you might like to get your copy {not too expensive} of this movie by Billy, it is available at Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TJIUHBQ )

Wolfman:  Thank you once again Billy - so whenever you are ready to play again, after your victory, we will see if another one of our members has the courage to face the new king of "Strat-o-matic" Baseball. All the best and good luck with your film, I know I am very curious to see it.


Well as you know now, by this part of this report, Bryan didn't have an easy day against Mr. Billy
Sample. Here we see more of the action of the day. On the left Bryan is studying his scoresheet to see
if he can overcome Billy's strategy while Bryan's friend Ken is watching the games from the sidelines.

Comments from Bryan Swank

Wolfman:  Now lets talk with Bryan and get his impressions of this historic day - when an ex-Major Leaguer accepted our challenge, who had never played Strat before to go from an active player to the manager of his old teammates.

Bryan, thanks again for being our representative to accept the "Billy Sample Challenge".  So how were you feeling this morning knowing that a real life ballplayer, who no doubt you have played with his card would be arriving at your home? Bryan - were nervous at all before or during your playing of the games?  What was Billy like in person?

Bryan:  Wolfman, first let me start by thanking you and Marc for this grand oppurtunity. it was an elating experience. At first I was anxious due to a circle of uncertainty regarding the event, but it was eventually handled with ease and joy!  The minute Billy walked up the stairs to my door at 1135 AM, I knew that not only was he a man of his word that could be counted upon but the warmth that he emanated was immediately comforting for me. I almost felt ill prepared due to the fact that my SOM experience has been limited to that of the computer game. With that being said however, it was not a crutch. Billy embraced and enhanced the experience from the start. He was ready and eager to learn and compete.

Wolfman:  Bryan did Billy pick up the game quite quickly?  After he started to play did he make any managerial moves that surprised you or were unexpected? The type of moves that helped him to Victory?

Bryan:  He had a bag with goodies, his posters and a movie box but he also brought a laptop with him to research his own history against certain pitchers like Bob Ojeda and Luis Aponte whom he was 1 for 4 against. Billy said that they played Boston well in 83, usually better at Arlington (TX) except this series was held exclusively at Fenway.

Billy tended to use a conservative approach to the game as he didn't do any stealing, and more was waiting for the big hit. He did bunt once with himself, the ultimate sacrifice, which turned out that he bunted for a hit on a low dice roll. Billy won the series 2-1 with game 2 being a shutout by the knuckleballer Charlie Hough. He seldom used his bullpen but did peruse his reliever cards as if to warm them up, as he pulled these cards on the side.

His aspect as a former player was that he was quite knowledgeable and savvy. He played, in my opinion from a realistic standpoint compared to a Strat one, meaning that he questioned me when I pinch hit for Yaz with Dave Stapleton to get a better righty-lefty matchup even though in fact that this might not ever happen in real life.  We had lots of laughs over these impunity's of the game during our play. Once the game was explained to Billy he was a fast learner, looking at his own cards and relishing in rolling the dice. He did get several good rolls too (which always helps).

Billy strategized in game 3 the best I feel, when he sat Jim Sundberg at catcher for seldom used Bobby Johnson. It paid off big as Bobby hit the go ahead HR in game 3 to ice it for the visiting Rangers.  He exploited the match up against lefty John Tudor as Bobby killed lefties. Billy explained to me that he was an AL guy and even brought a Texas Ranger jersey, number five, his number to wear for photos. I underestimated Billy's competitive nature and did not realize how well he would do at this game. However I felt that I honorably lost to an honorable man.

Wolfman:  What kind of comments was Billy making during the games? When Marc called me to give a progress report while the two of you were playing, I heard a lot of conversation going on between both of you?  In my brief exchanges with Billy, he sounds like he is quiet a funny guy?

Bryan:  Throughout his stay from 11:35 AM to 4:15 PM, he told us several stories and described the personalities of the players he knew well.  He showed his admiration for his teammates George Wright, Buddy Bell and Mickey Rivers, even imitating Mickey Rivers' voice as well as George Foster for more laughs. Billy not only played the game but even did play by play for each inning doing his own home run calls for his team and mine.

Wolfman:  Bryan, how did Billy use his own card - did the Strat version of Billy's 1983 season, have success in your series? 

Bryan:  He joked as he lead off first game and went 0 for 4 and joked how he didn't hit in the clutch. He told us that he had batted everywhere in lineup that year and then batted second game 2 in respect for Mickey Rivers. Then in game 3 he was back to leadoff.  Throughout this series he spoke with great affection and affinity for his teammates, it was easy to see how he revered and respected them.

Wolfman:  Finally Bryan, what was your final impression of this day?  Will you cherish or remember it from now on as to what had happened here for you?

Bryan:  This experience was very valuable to me personally. Just the exchange to have this face to face encounter with Billy could never be replaced by a non-human one. We had great chemistry amongst via the sharing of personal stories, the laughs and real life talks. I would relish to engage in this experience any time again in the future and would willingly accept a rematch God willing. I thank Billy for this day and all those involved. The timing was impeccable to coincide with Strat-o-matic's Opening Day and the start of Spring Training -- Play Ball! Sincerely, Bryan Swank

Wolfman:  We at the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter would like to thank you Bryan for helping us to setup this Historic Day - all the best!!


** The Billy Sample Challenge, End of the day Photos **

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

I personally believe that of all the photos Marc took, this one provides the true view of who Billy is.
Now while he is about to sign the scoresheets for us, we don't know if he is smiling due to the photo
being taken or because he is delighted at his victory over Bryan or just maybe, he had a great time playing
our Strat-o-matic Baseball game.  In any case, Mr. Billy Sample is a player to be reckoned with now!

Bryan really appreciated that Billy was willing to sign
one of the photos of him, that Bryan had in his collection.
Another way for Bryan to remember this special day.

Here Billy is signing a print of the cover of his new movie from the DVD.  Some people may think
that well known people or former sports players get tired of giving their autographs, but I can tell you
as a published author who has signed his own share of books, it is a great feeling to know that
others appreciate your efforts in life. Plus, it means a lot when you get an autograph of a special
person like Billy that is done in person.  This is an experience that you never forget, thanks Billy!!

The last photo of the day, as once again Strat-o-matic Baseball is a catalyst to bring people together to
celebrate the game of baseball. We at the newsletter thank Billy, Bryan and Marc for helping to make this
day happen with each of their unique personalities and contributions.  So now the Start World knows that
the ex-Major Leaguers can become very "bad-ass" SOM gamers as well. Who knows, perhaps in the
future one of these elite athletes might win a World Strat-o-matic Baseball tournament!!  Anyway,
it is clear in this photo, a close new brotherhood of friends came together for a very enjoyable day!

The Billy Sample Challenge, The Video
(In the section below are links to differents segments of video that Marc took during the day to enhance your experience of what took place during Billy's visit to Bryan's home.  Please note that we have our own channel on Youtube for the newsletter, where this video is stored, the home page is listed below if you might wish to see other great videos that we share as well. Enjoy this look at what took place during the historic series and a chance to meet Billy in a more personable way.)

Billy Sample Challenge, February 7th, Part 1

Billy Sample Challenge, February 7th, Part 2

Billy Sample Challenge, February 7th, Part 3

Billy Sample Challenge, February 7th, Part 4

Billy Sample Challenge, February 7th, Part 5

Billy Sample Challenge, February 7th, Part 6

Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter Youtube Video Channel


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

      (Below are links to return back to the other parts of this special report offered through the
Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter. If you enjoyed this report and are not already a member of
our free newsletter dedicated to SOM & MLB Baseball, go to our website below & sign up Now!)

We can just imagine from this photo as Bryan faces Billy, what is on Bryan's mind as he tries to
figure out the next strategy Billy plans to do to win the day.  Billy was a fast learner how the game plays.

Part I:
Its Billy's 1983 Rangers vs. Bryan's 1983 Red Sox
(summary of what happened during the games, illustrated)

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


Support the Cause

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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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Founder/Editor, the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter

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