Computer Baseball Game Simulation

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Computer Baseball Game Simulation
Computer Baseball Game Simulation

A computer program using a programming language that was a blend of COBOL and FORTRAN—two “ancient” programming languages. The computer code applied a random number generator (in place of the two dice) for one hundred possible outcomes of batter hits that simulated every batter’s at-bat for the 1969 National League season.

The original hard-copy print-out on that big paper with the paper-feed holes—a true relic of the past. It was programmed on IBM punch cards that you had to walk to the data center to submit your card deck. This program’s deck of punch cards was a foot thick.

Pete Watzka (who, coincidently, led the 1971 Ivy League baseball conference in batting average), calibrated each player to his 1969 batting average. Our computer program also differentiated batting power between single and home-run hitters, and for each game we adjusted the players “down or up” based on the quality of the opposing pitcher’s 1969 record. Our computer program simulated all of the games played for each National League team. Pete and I enjoyed changing the input variables of players and pitchers and seeing how the outcomes changed each time we processed a computer run. On May 13, 1970, Pete and Gary Cokins submitted the “final” computer run for the course paper. The fun outcome of that run was that the team’s win-loss percentage records were very similar to their actual season records. The New York Mets won the league title. Rico Carty of the Atlanta Braves had a .340 batting average (compared to Carty’s actual .342 average), beating Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds for the batting title.

The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum officially recognizes the computer code for baseball gaming purposes. Pete Watzka and Gary Cokins are honored to have been early pioneers in creating computer code for baseball gaming. Little did I know as a youngster that dice baseball games would evolve into an industry of computerized sports games, or that developing a computer program replicating my childhood pastime would influence my career in the application of automated information processing.

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