Updated on : November 24, 2022


Fantasy Baseball Continues to Hit Home Runs

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Fantasy baseball allows players to act as general managers and owners of baseball teams. Participants select their players through a draft that includes all relevant MLB players. The contests award points in weekly matchups, based on real-world performances, which is the same information used when people make MLB picks today. This game usually focuses on MLB but could also include other leagues, such as college baseball, or foreign leagues, such as Korea’s KBO League.

Fantasy baseball games date to the 19th Century. In 1866, the Sebring Parlor BaseBall game allowed players to play games by inserting coins into slots on a wooden table. Some of these games later received endorsements from professional baseball players. Since then, things have changed significantly.

The First Real MLB Fantasy Sports Game

Clifford Van Beek created the National Pastime in 1930. It featured personalized baseball cards from MLB players. Participants would roll a pair of dice and then find the corresponding number on the card of the MLB at-bat player to determine the result. This could be any play, such as a single, double or triple, etc.

Better stats from the previous season made it more likely that players would get positive results. National Pastime was able to simulate the performance of real MLB players.

APBA was an example of the next phase of fantasy MLB. It was released in the early 1950s, and also included MLB player cards that had in-game results correlated with their past season’s statistics. The cards could be used to create fantasy teams or recreate past seasons by combining the statistics from the cards.

The Strat-O-Matic was released for the first time in 1961. It also featured individual player cards and dice-roll simulations. Daniel Okrent would later be credited for the creation of fantasy baseball because of the Strat-O-Matic.

Fast-forward to the Steakhouse

A group of journalists created the Rotisserie league baseball in 1980. This was the birth of modern fantasy baseball. The league’s name was inspired by La Rotisserie Francaise in New York City, where its founders gathered and played their first game.

Daniel Okrent, a magazine editor and writer, is credited for introducing the Steakhouse League concept and creating the scoring system. The Rotisserie League was a league that selected active MLB players to form teams and then tracked their stats throughout the season in order to compile their scores. 

Instead of using stats from previous seasons to predict what the next season would bring, like the Baseball Seminar, team owners will have to make predictions about how the statistics MLB players will accumulate. The success or failure of a fantasy team will depend more on its real-life performance than any simulation.

Continuous Expansion

Grandstand Sports Services launched online Steakhouse leagues via Q-Link in 1985. The grandstand was the first to offer online continuous leagues, real-time scoring and trading, as well as automated drafting.

The Dugout Derby was the first fantasy baseball contest to be offered nationally by newspapers. It was created by three journalists and, in 1990, the weekly game was launched in several newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Tampa Bay Times and others.

Fantasy games are now digital. Sorare provides an NFT (non-fungible token) version of an MLB fantasy league. Through the partnership, which also involves MLB players, players can create teams with NFTs that represent Major League players. The created team can be used to participate in tournaments through which the real-life performance of the players is automatically reflected in the game.

While the move is the first of its kind between Sorare and MLB, the partnership will help players connect more with their real-life MLB icons and teams with many associated rewards. Sorare’s NFT-based gaming model began with soccer, and the startup has seen tremendous growth on its platform thus far.

There are also other online options, such as Protrade, which markets portfolio-style MLB fantasy games in which the values of players rise during the season. As more people become interested in daily fantasy sports, the list will continue to grow.

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