The Nation's Pastime ...
Not even total blackness during the 8:20 - 9:15 power outage
could keep some diehards away from the 2002 Superstar Baseball
tournament (though numbers were down a little as a result
of the darkness).
The year 2002 saw a change in structure. Not huge, but different.
We kept the four-team mini-leagues and single-elimination playoffs,
but we abandoned the custom-built all-star teams (the teams were
just getting too similar, with everyone owning Jackie Robinson
and Willie Mays). So, managers were allowed to pre-select their
favorite team from
1900-1999. About 16 managers took this option and others selected
on-site from a pool of 36 extras.
Due to the fact that teams were of uneven caliber, a handicapping
system was used (based on each team's scoring potential and pitching).
These handicap factors ranged from -2 (1924 Senators) to +9 (the
unclaimed 1949 Red Sox). During the preliminary round, when
two teams met, the higher-rated team forfeited outs equal to
the difference in handicap, so some teams didn't get to bat until
the second or even third inning. This did seem to make games
pretty close, but as an incentive to keep managers from intentionally
picking horrible teams (one 20th century team weighs in with
a handicap of -20) the
handicaps were not used for the playoffs.
As is always the case in these tournaments, more "key
moments" are forgotten than ever make it to the post-game
writeup. Some memorable events were the U.L. Washington steal
of home in the 14th inning (on a botched squeeze by Willie Wilson),
Brooklyn pitcher Don Newcombe acting as DH in his non-pitching
games (and hitting a homer), 42-year-old
rookie Satchel Paige pitching for the not-quite-there Indians,
and '86 Met Mookie Wilson facing the '86 Red Sox late in the
game with Buckner playing first (he struck out this time).
The league winners were determined and then wild cards were
drawn--Ken Samuel's '80 Phils, Randy Cox's '80 Royals, and Chris
Palermo's '94 Braves.
So it was on to the quarterfinals, where these finals were
+ 94 Braves 9 (Palermo), 86 Red Sox 2
+ 84 Cubs 6 (John Emery), 75 Red Sox 4
+ 80 Royals 8 (Cox), 24 Senators 3
+ 80 Phillies 4 (Samuel), 61 Yankees 3
And the semi-finals:
+ 84 Cubs 10, 94 Braves 3
+ 80 Phillies 6, 80 Royals 3
Then the rains came (actually, due to the length of the 14-inning
game, the Cubs victory was over well before the Phillies/Royals
game commenced, so John Emery was allowed to perform his duties
of assisting in the Blackbeard tournament and finishing
his final game of Origins of World War II--though the
scheduled time of an hour for that game turned out to be only
about half what was needed). So, GM Cox and Phils captain Samuel
sat in the dugout until the storms passed and John arrived, around
In this classic showdown of #3 pitchers, the Phils, behind
Larry Christenson, eked out a victory over the Cub sluggers and
Dennis Eckersley, by the narrowest of margins.
+ 80 Phillies 6, 84 Cubs 5
... and Ken finally captured a WBC Superstar Baseball first-place