“Think of what we could do if we were ever in the same lineup together for more than just an All-Star Game”
Cleveland’s Babe Ruth speaking to Lou Gehrig of Philadelphia during batting practice at the 1927 All-Star Game
LeBron James may be the biggest name in Cleveland sports today, but only one name will ever be recognized as the city’s greatest hero.
More than 80 years after he blasted the last home run of his storied career, no name is more linked to Cleveland than that of Babe Ruth. Only a handful of fans are old enough to remember sitting shoulder-to-shouler in the cramped seats of League Park’s upper deck, watching The Bambino launch balls high over the right field wall and onto Lexington Avenue, but every Clevelander knows the stories that make up the legend of Babe Ruth. They’ve been handed down from generation to generation.
All Northeast Ohio natives can recite the story of Ruth pointing to the Crosley Field bleachers, calling his shot before belting a homer that allowed the Indians to raise another championship flag over Cleveland Municipal Stadium, fondly known as “The House that Ruth Built” along the shore of Lake Erie.
Wait a second. That’s total rubbish, right? Everyone knows most of Ruth’s Hall of Fame Career was spent wearing the uniform of the New York Yankees in a “House” that once stood in the Bronx.
While all of that may be true, there is an alternate universe where Ruth was also worshiped in Cleveland. In yet another, Ruth was inducted in Cooperstown as a pitcher for the Washington Senators. I’m not sure if those years in the nation’s capitol helped to inspire a hit Broadway musical called Damn Senators. But like Rod Serling watching over the Twilight Zone, I’ve visited those worlds and more using Out Of The Park 19 as a portal to different universes where baseball histories diverge in fascinating directions. Think baseball’s version of Sliders, Fringe, or The Man in the High Castle.
I’ve been to a world where a scandal-free Shoeless Joe Jackson retired after a long career that put him just ahead of Ty Cobb on baseball’s all-time hit list. I’ve watched Josh Gibson threaten the record for home runs in a Major League season in a world where where baseball never suffered from a color barrier. There are universes where the lives of Roberto Clemente and Thurman Munson never ended in tragedy, where the Chicago Cubs won multiple World Series in the 1970s and 80s, and where injuries forced Barry Bonds to retire unceremoniously in 1999 as a member of the Houston Astros.
For the uninitiated, OOTP is a baseball simulation offering gamers the opportunity to take a deep dive into any stage of the game’s history, taking over the reigns of any team from any major or minor league and matching wits against AI designed to emulate the different approaches of other GMs and managers.
Can you take over as GM of the Pirates at the point when Bonds bolted for free agency in 1993 and keep Pittsburgh fans from suffering through 20 consecutive losing seasons? Think knowing the future stars in the upcoming drafts will make the challenge easier? Not so fast. If you don’t have a minor league system in place with personnel capable of nurturing young talent, memorable names from our world may never reach their full potential.
What would the careers of Ted Williams or Bob Feller have looked like if they never needed to put their careers on hold to serve in World War II? What if the American League never adopted the designated hitter? Could the Cleveland Indians of the 1990s have made that one deal to find the missing piece to a puzzle that would allow them to capture that elusive World Series? What would the Padres look like today if they never traded Anthony Rizzo for Andrew Cashner and Kung-Min Na? What will the career of Shohei Ohtani look like in 10 years?
These are the questions we’ll attempt to answer in The Yakker. We have several newcomers to OOTP 19 who are eager to create their own alternate universes and hopefully, with the help of some of the game’s developers, answer some of baseball’s great what ifs. We’ll also be reaching out to the dedicated members of the OOTP community to tap into their knowledge and continue to expand the game’s multiverse.
We’ll reveal our first challenges soon, and we’ll bring in some surprise guests to comment on all of the decisions made by our GMs and managers.
Interested in joining the discussion or starting an alternate history of your own for us to follow? You’ve come to the right place. Send us your ideas, your strategies, your favorite stories, videos, box scores and more from your OOTP worlds.
I’m a lifelong Cleveland Indians fan. As I write this, it’s been 69 years, six months and 22 days since they last won a World Series crown. My hope is that OOTP 19 will take me to a world that will finally end that drought.
“It is said that science fiction and fantasy are two different things. Science fiction is the improbable made possible, and fantasy is the impossible made probable.”