And I'm proud to say I'm not alone.
If it weren't for a coworker at the plastics factory where I'm employed hipping me to Markus Heinsohn's Out of the Park Baseball seven years ago, I wouldn't have been able to experience what so many of the computer game's users have been raving about all these years.
I've been playing computer sports games since 1992 (the very year I bought my first PC- a used Commodore 64); all this time, I've been trying to put my own pro sports leagues to the test.
[Each circuit consists of teams whose Real Life players had brief (or solid-if-not-spectacular) pro playing careers or didn't get to make it to big leagues at all. And the clubs largely represent sizable American and Canadian cities that don't have major-league pro teams in this or that sport. Nonetheless, the leagues I've made up also have squads in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago...America's three biggest media centers.]
Out of the Park Baseball came on the market in May 1999, a year after Heinsohn wrote the text-based game up in an effort to wed a realistic baseball simulation with career play...and gain the favor of hardcore gamers and casual ones.
Markus developed his own product after four years of playing computer baseball games couldn't yield a management-based simulation he liked.
A sportswriter named Sean Lahman teamed up with Heinsohn to get OOTP into people's computers, and at first, you could buy a copy of the new game through Lahman's own Website, www.baseball1.com.
OOTP gained the attention of several online gaming sites, but didn't really break through until 2001, when OOTP 3 came out.
Over the next decade, improvements got made to Out of the Park; along the way, Computer Games Magazine bestowed the 2006 version of OOTP with that year's "Best Sports Game" award.
The first OOTP copy I received (the coworker I mentioned gave it to me on a CD) was 11 (released 4-14-2010).
I just couldn't get over the game's statistical accuracy. In fact, it beats that of the three other baseball simulation games I've tried.
I really liked how I could replay a past American League-National League baseball season in a minute or two...but I was still unable to set up my own Continental League-Federal League baseball seasons, the way I wanted to.
That finally changed with OOTP 18 (out since 3-24-2017).
I'm perfectly content with 18...and I'm glad to stick with it.
With OOTP 18 and the current version (OOTP 19 was introduced 3-22-2018), you can stock your baseball leagues with fictional players or with historical, Real Life ones...be they actual AL-NL players or ones who never made it out of the minors.
Any era in baseball's long history is, well, game. And that means you can see what Satchel Paige would've done to Babe Ruth...or see if Walter Johnson could prevent Hank Aaron or Barry Bonds from driving one out of the park. (On top of that, you can see if Jose Altuve or Giancarlo Stanton could hit Roger Clemens or Bob Gibson.)
Now that I'm actively playing OOTP, I've developed a rule of thumb for stocking CL-FL rosters: If a player isn't listed in www.baseball-reference.com, I won't put him in.
Unlike the three other computer baseball games I've tried, OOTP entices you to think about a baseball team's front office. As a result, I've been busy poring over my copy of Baseball America's 1998 Directory (subsequent directories are available online) in order to populate the CL-FL teams' front offices with people who actually were in professional baseball.
After all, if a team's going to have historical players, why shouldn't it have historical executives?
All I've got to do is go to an in-game database (it recognizes www.baseball-reference.com) to get players...and that way, I can use OOTP's artificial intelligence to control the squads.
OOTP 18 was the first version to add minor leaguers to the in-game database. (Before that, you had to choose solely from the roughly 19,000 players who put on AL-NL uniforms.)
And since an entire schedule can take as little as a minute or two to play, I'm able to play a season per day if I want to...
but since I'm trying to keep such a tight rein on personnel and trying to keep the fictional players out, I've decided to play a season per month.
I've just completed the 1998 CL-FL campaign, and this month, I'll launch the 1999 season.
At this rate, I'll be caught up by May 2020...when I'll be able to get my 2020 Continental-Federal campaign off the ground.
If you'd like to learn more about a baseball simulation game even lots of people inside the majors (like Boston Red Sox owner John Henry) rave about, just log onto www.ootpdevelopments.com.
And once you start playing OOTP, you'll start raving about it, too.
[By the way...I'm curious to see how OOTP handles the 2001 CL-FL baseball season (especially when September comes around).]