[Late addition: I get asked so many times if the game is
still in print, that I feel compelled to answer it here: no, it's
not. The company is out of business. I don't know of any team
cards for sale, but you should probably post a request to
rec.games.board.marketplace if interested. The designer of
PTP has a new game, Dynasty League Baseball,
which I've never seen, so can't review - but you can read about it
There, that's all I know - good luck finding what you need! The rest
of this article is from 1992-1996.]
Pursue the Pennant (PTP) is one of the
better simulations of baseball. To be honest, I haven't seen many
baseball board games since this one came out, but I have seen most
of the ones before PTP - and it's better than those.
Something better may have come out since - I don't know.
The game consists of cards of every player in Major League Baseball in
a given season, fairly simple rules for their use, and a lot of
detailed charts to look up results on. I also have the Best of the
1980s deck, which I actually enjoy playing with more than a regular
season. It features stars of the '80s, with stats taken from their
best season. I have four teams, AL West and East, and NL West and
East, and it makes for a very fine four-team league. I also have the
Hall of Famers/All Star cards which I will use the most - more
on them below.
The game covers most aspects of baseball, albeit a bit
mechanistically. You use three ten-sided dice, reading them
red-white-blue as a three digit number from 000 to 999. This means
that every roll has 1/1000 chance of occurring. Since batting averages
are expressed in 1/1000ths, this means you can get very close to
representing a player's performance in real life.
Each manager decides his batting order, and arranges the cards in that
order. You then write down players, and their defensive ratings on the
scorecard. The home team sends its pitcher out, and it's Play
To pitch, roll the dice. If the result is less than 500, read the
result on the batter's card. If it's over 499, read the result on the
pitcher's card. (This is the major bone of contention among fans, by
the way. Some people think that certain pitchers should have their
cards read more frequently than 50%, and certain batters more
The cards tell you the result of the pitch based on the number. For
example, it might say: "500-548: 1B." This means if you roll a 526,
you look across and find the batter got a single.
The game has numerous charts which explain all sorts of situations -
including some wild events that actually happened during the season the
cards represent, such as a player being busted for drugs! At first,
it's a bit daunting working your way through the charts, but after a
few games it gets easier. The charts are very complete, and my example
above is more simplistic than the game really is. There are at least
five different results that can yield a base hit, and they each detail
what happens to the men on each base . . .
Many of the charts call for a certain fielder's defensive stats - if
he's good enough, he can turn a potential hit into an out - or even a
double play! Other stats come into play such as a fielder's throwing
arm, or a runner's running ability, or a batter's bunting rating, or a
pitcher's pick-off ability, etc. - they're all on the cards. There are
other charts for managerial decisions: do you go for the hit and run?
The suicide squeeze? Stretch a long single into a double? Steal?
Pitch-out? And so on. This is an armchair manager's dream - it's
these decisions that baseball fans love to make, and the game lets you
make them - and gives realistic results based on the abilities of the
players in question.
The beauty of the game lies in the fact that what works on the diamond
works in the game. The fault lies in so many charts to look up, which
takes a little of the excitement away.
For me, a baseball historian rather than fan, however, the real fault
lies in the game's treatment of old-timers. They did release a set of
Hall of Famers and All-Stars in 1994, but they didn't do it
right, in my opinion. They provided two cards for each of the chosen
players (a very nice selection, by the way): a single season,
representing one of the player's best seasons, and a career
While this sounds good, they didn't quite get it right, as I said.
They are very rigid in representing the chosen year exactly. What this
means is that someone like Honus Wagner, one of the best shortstops who
ever lived, is shown only for one year in which he didn't play any
third base. So he's given no third base rating. But before he became
a shortstop, Honus was one of the best thirdbasemen in the league!
Since this is a game, not an historical simulation, logically the
manager should have the option of putting Honus at third base. In
fact, the real life manager had this option. The fact that he
never needed to do that in that given season doesn't mean the player
manager won't need to though!
One would think the career cards would fix this. They should.
But instead of representing a player at his prime, he's given
a "year's" stats that are an exact average of his lifetime
performance. Thus you average in his first and last years, when he
might not have been the threat he was in his prime. For some bizarre
reason, they thus discount any playing at other positions: sure he was
good at third base, but he only played there three years of his twenty
years, so we'll average it as if he wasn't very good. Go
I also disagree with some of their assessments of the older players -
as I said, I'm a baseball historian, and feel I know something about
these men. For example, Sam Crawford was universally recognized as the
major power hitter of his day - the long-ball hitter without par. But
they give him a "Poor" Power rating because he didn't hit many home
runs compared to later players! This totally ignores the fact that the
"dead ball" became livelier in 1921, thus allowing more long balls from
even less powerful players. Had Wahoo Sam played after 1921, he might
have rivalled Ruth and Aaron in his home run stats . . . after all, how
many players have lead both leagues in home runs? Sam did. And
imagine how hard it was to hit that dead ball for a triple - but who is
the lifetime leader in triples to this day, far, far ahead of any
contemporary player? You could look it up . . .
In a way I prefer Superstar Baseball from Avalon Hill
because they got the career stats correct - they average a player's
best ten to dozen years. But the mechanics and results of decisions in
PTP are far superior, so I put up with their lack of
historical knowledge and adjust the stats to what I think they should
At any rate, don't mind my kvetching - it's still a good game, very
enjoyable, and recommended - especially if you have little interest in
the old timers or don't mind fudging stats. :-)
P.S.I'm looking to buy the Old Time
Stadium set if anyone has it for sale! Contact Steffan O'Sullivan. Also the
Camden Yard set.
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