Hamilton Township Strat-O-Matic Club meets for Baseball, Gaming and Camaraderie

Baseball fans of a certain age in this region probably remember 1976 for two related things: Chris Chambliss’s pennant-winning, walk-off home run* (thought it wasn’t yet called that!) to send the Yankees to their first World Series in 12 years, and the thorough rinsing the team took from what may have been the best of the Big Red Machine squads from Cincinnati in the Fall Classic a few days later.

(*Quick Trivia for seamheads: who was on deck for Chambliss’s blast? Bonus: Who was the winning pitcher? Answer at bottom)...

For a group of die-hard Central N.J. fans whose dedication to the sport includes an obsession with its tabletop simulation Strat-O-Matic, an escape to the Bicentennial was a natural starting point as they formed the New Jersey Strat-O-Matic Club, sanctioned and fostered by the game company that is in its seventh decade of turning dice and cards into contests and gatherings that make memories as real to its participants as those on the diamond.

The N.J. club, coordinated by Mike Remsen and conducted at Family Fun Hobbies in Hamilton Township, selected teams from the 1976 roster cards, each taking a team and playing off series before coming up with the same winner as the real season: Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and the Reds, managed not by Sparky Anderson but by member Brent Conley.

“A fun time was had by all,” said Remsen of the most recent gathering this past Saturday, “and we got Stratitude!”

It’s part of a concerted effort by the venerable sports simulations company, which has both card and computer game versions of the four major sports plus college football, to unify the legions of Strat-O-Matic players across the country – and even internationally – and help them meet other fervent players in public, low-bar entry clubs that encourage camaraderie among those who share the passion.

In fact, none of the NJ Club members who attended the first organizational meeting even knew each other according to Remsen and the local Strat-O-Matic representatives who commandeered a few tables in the back of Family Fun Hobbies, which is ideally set up for such a gathering and hosts many such tabletop gaming adventures at its Quakerbridge Road location.

“On my way home, I had a few messages from people who saw the Facebook posts,” added Remsen, “so I expect a few more members at the next meeting.”

The program has been a huge early success for Strat-O-Matic, which counts nearly 40 clubs registering through the summer. Plans are forming for a Strat-O-Matic World Championship which will be held in Las Vegas and is organized by veteran Strat player Pete Nelson.

"We have seen the great fun and success that other traditional games have had in unifying and rallying regional clubs, and we realized it was time to unify the thousands of Strat-O-Matic players who have been playing for years or, as we saw during the Pandemic, are new to the game,” said Adam Richman, CEO, Strat-O-Matic Media. “It will give us a formalized way to bring together fans of all ages to play in venues ranging from hobby clubs to gaming facilities, and to meet new players not just locally but regionally as well. This is the first step in what we think will be a well received initiative to expand club play to colleges and high schools as well, all revolving around the love of game play, data, and camaraderie tied to sports like baseball.”

For now, some guys in Central Jersey are having a great time, sharing stories of games past – both “real” and simulated, and are hopeful of finding more “Strat Heads” looking to play as well. There is an Atlantic City area club forming and New York City clubs looking for members in four boroughs.

Interested fans in the Hamilton area can contact Mike at [email protected] and others can visit the Strat-O-Matic Club page to find a club near them or learn how to start of their own locally.

(*trivia answers: Sandy Alomar, who had pinch run for Carlos May in the 6th; and Dick Tidrow, who stranded two in a scoreless ninth to earn the win)