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History of Fantasy Baseball

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Postby StlSluggers » Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:39 am

I was down there for a while when I was at Fort Gordon. I just don't recall if I went to Alpharetta for military or civilian reasons.
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Postby Reality Baseball » Wed Feb 28, 2007 7:28 pm

Internet fantasy baseball's origins trace to the mid-90s (e.g. Sandbox), with Yahoo's fantasy baseball starting in 1999 and really helping the hobby reach new people.

As for the prehistoric stuff...I've been playing since '92. In our league, and in other leagues we knew of, you had several choices. You had some stats services that would mail weekly updates, and lineup changes/transactions would be made over the phone to the service. But a lot of leagues did all this stuff themselves, usually with a diehard stats nerd being the commissioner and manually computing the stats each week. Some purely by hand, some with the help of an archaic spreadsheet program. I was that nerdy commissioner, and it definitely took some doing to calculate each week's stats. But it was worth it.

A lot of leagues that operated this way used USA Today's weekly team stats totals, which I believe were printed on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. In my league, we did much the same thing, only our local paper carried all the stats every Sunday. The leagues had a social element in terms of distributing information since the commissioner usually personally delivered each week's stats reports or standings in hard copy form to each league member.

The internet phenomenon has had one major lamentable effect on the game, in my opinion. First, the vast majority of leagues used to be auction-based. Yahoo and their ilk changed the culture so that drafts became more featured.

The sense of "league communities" has transformed as well. With the ease of Yahoo, many players are in 5 or more leagues. The game is more casual. Not as much commitment. Strangers play together all the time. Fewer and fewer (%-wise) homegrown leagues of classmates and coworkers can be found. So like with a lot of internet -fed systems, there's a bit more of an anti-social element built into today's game.
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Postby BravesGuy » Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:00 pm

Many Thanks Reality Baseball!! Thats exactly the type on information I was looking for.

I was searching on "LexisNexis" and found a few great articles about the history as well. There is an article from the Boston Globe by Sam Allis that talks about how before Dan Okrent there was Gamson. "Bill Gamson came up with a primitive forebear of the addictive fantasy game in 1960 with 2 roommates."

I also came across a radio broadcast "Talk of the Nation" with Neal Conan. In the discussion he talks with both Okrent and Sam Walker... pretty interesting.

Glad I decided to look into the history of this, Ill let yall know how the speech goes.
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Postby West » Sun Mar 11, 2007 9:31 pm

Thanks for some great reading on how fantasy baseball used to be.. If anyone has any other interesting anecdotes or examples of old league formats I'd love to hear. I've been playing first on sandbox in the late 90's and then on Yahoo when it started so I was never introduced to fantasy baseball (or even alive, for that matter) when it was in its early stages.
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Postby emb0lus » Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:37 am

Reality Baseball wrote:Internet fantasy baseball's origins trace to the mid-90s (e.g. Sandbox), with Yahoo's fantasy baseball starting in 1999 and really helping the hobby reach new people.

A lot of leagues that operated this way used USA Today's weekly team stats totals, which I believe were printed on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. In my league, we did much the same thing, only our local paper carried all the stats every Sunday. The leagues had a social element in terms of distributing information since the commissioner usually personally delivered each week's stats reports or standings in hard copy form to each league member.

The sense of "league communities" has transformed as well. With the ease of Yahoo, many players are in 5 or more leagues. The game is more casual. Not as much commitment. Strangers play together all the time. Fewer and fewer (%-wise) homegrown leagues of classmates and coworkers can be found. So like with a lot of internet -fed systems, there's a bit more of an anti-social element built into today's game.


What he said - sort of.
We used to do just AL or NL leagues since we had about 8 guys max in a league. We would all meet at one guys house, eat pizza and draft - one or two guys would have purchased the book with all the player's money values then we would use the newspaper for the rosters (this is before the web obviously). We would sit down and do the auction, probably took 3-4 hours most seasons. We would call in our weekly lineup to the commish then he would write them all down. Every Tuesday the AL stats came out in the USA today. I would pick it up on my way to school and during study hall fill out my stats from the week before and turn them in in person (i lived next to the commish) before that Sunday so when you turned in your roster for the next week, you got a sheet with everyone's updated rankings. We did the standard 5 categories for offense, only wins, strikeouts and era for the pitching. Batting average was a pain to calculate each week because you had to figure out what the weekly batting average was for your player that week because USA today just kept running totals so you had to subtract the hits/abs from the week before. Same with all the other stats but BA was the worst. You were never working in realtime stats - always a week behind. Then along came Sandbox and changed all that as Reality Baseball pointed out.
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