I’ve been trying to keep people engaged the last couple of weeks. Don’t know if I’m having success or not, but I’m trying. Over the weekend I tweeted out (@BaseballGuys) a bunch of screenshots of my playing Atari 2600 and Nintendo sports games, and they got tons of interaction. That led me to think that I wanted to do a Best Video Baseball Game of all-time thing. Thanks to an assist from Jeff Mans, this article will be even better than just a list of the best games… we will also be putting together an All-Time Best Team from video games.
We all have different opinions about the best all-time video baseball games, and truth be told, all lists are invalid if they don’t have RBI Baseball at the top of the list. But here is my list of the best MLB video games before we move on to that all-time video game baseball squad, and I’m sure most/many of you will disagree.
The first baseball game I ever played on a computer. It’s so antiquated today, like almost frighteningly so, but it sure was something when it came out and I played it for hours each day, months on end.
I used to simulate full seasons on this one, full of personalized tams that included me and all my classmates and friends (I kept a binder of the dot matrix printouts). Yes, I was a nerd back then too. The gameplay was rather poor, but the ability to simulate the season, that was pretty sweet.
8 – Hardball
This one might seem lame to anyone under the age of 40, OK I’m sure it is really lame, but this was about the coolest thing going when it game out combining gameplay, stats and the ability to choose your pitch and it’s location on your PC (that’s a Personal Computer for those of you that didn’t put it together). Later on, it moved on to Sega Genesis.
7 – Bases Loaded
Here’s a great breakdown of the game.
6 – MLB 2K
It’s ridiculous how good the graphics are compared to when I, an old foggy, started playing video games.
One of the stars of baseball lent his name to the game, and it even had some interesting musical choices. Oh, and players talked trash to the home plate ump at times too.
There are minor leagues, real players, great gameplay, and the ability to build your squad for the long haul. EA Sports lost its MLB license the following year leading to the best college baseball game ever made called MVP ’06 NCAA Baseball.
3 – Baseball Stars
The gameplay was decent, but it was the ability to build up real stats that made this one great. You didn’t have to keep track on a pad of paper anymore, as B.S. allowed you to save your gameplay. You could also modify teams in what was, actually, the start of fantasy baseball in a video game.
2 – The Show
Excellent graphics, like absurdly good, and tremendous play-by-play. Game could be a bit slow, depending on who you are playing with.
1 – RBI Baseball
The best game ever. The original, not the updates that came after. I’m talking the game with all the fat guys, the knucklers and the bombs out of the stadium. This was also the first game to use actual player names in a console system. NES Baseball was a pretty solid forerunner as well.
The All-Time Video Game Team
CATCHER: Mike Piazza (Strike Zone Baseball) had to be a star in his own game, right? I mean, he hit one 950 feet (check 1:50 of the video). Nuff said.
FIRST BASE: Paste (Bases Loaded) wasn’t afraid to go charge the mound, or blast homers. Here’s a tribute to arguably the greatest video game hitter in baseball history.
SECOND BASE: Cheating a bit here by going with Pete (Baseball Stars). Pete Rose played 628 games at second base, and he won the Rookie of the Year while finishing in the top-10 in MVP voting twice while second was his primary position, even if he wasn’t a second baseman in the game.
THIRD BASE: Fendy (Bases Loaded) of the D.C. squad had great pop, and if you hit him with a pitch it was a near lock he was charging the mound to protect himself and his teammates.
SHORTSTOP: I never played Backyard Baseball, but I’m assured that Pablo Sanchez is the bomb, one of the greatest athletes of all-time, and possibly the greatest baseball player you have never heard of.
OUTFIELD: Tim Raines (RBI Baseball) wasn’t the fastest player on the game, but he had elite speed and plenty of pop to take a pitch deep. Loved the guy in real life too. Hit the ball on the ground, and run like the damn wind. Ken Griffey Jr. (Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball) had a game named after him. Seemed like solid contact always led to a homer. Jon Dowd (MVP Baseball 2005) was, in reality, Barry Bonds. Dowd was a righty, but he was Bonds, lacing blasts to all part of the ballpark with ferocious frequency.
UTILITY: His baseball IQ wasn’t high, he even stands on the wrong side of the plate, but he was fast, blazing fast. His name was Pete Wheeler (Backyard Baseball).
BENCH: Ruppert Jones (RBI Baseball) was a bench player for the Angels, but my goodness did he have pop. If you didn’t get him in the lineup and, and just waited until your third pitcher tired in the 8th inning to pinch-hit him, you missed out. Saul from NY (Little League Baseball) was a five skill pitcher and a four skill power hitter. He was Shohei Ohtani before there was a Shohei Ohtani.
UNVERIFIED: I have no personal experience with this one, but it appears that Mark Meenahan always hit a home run in MLB ’98.
STARTING PITCHER: Brett Saberhagen (RBI Baseball) brought the heat, with a sidearm delivery, that was deadly. Fernando Valenzuela (RBI Baseball) was a lefty who threw a screwball, and though he would tire a bit quickly if you used the pitch repeatedly, he was a dominant force. Angela Delvecchio (Backyard Baseball) proves that girls can play baseball too. She could manipulate the baseball with the best of them.
RELIEVER PITCHER: Richie Lewis (EA Sports Triple Play) apparently would hit a glitch in the game and start firing pitchers 111-120 mph making him the greatest pitcher since Sidd Finch. Richie was also a real-life baseball player who was drafted in the second round in 1987 by the Expos. You don’t need another reliever when the guy you call on throws 111 mph.