HARLEM — The visitors’ clubhouse at Cleveland’s Progressive Field features an old Nintendo, which is why before a game last season, CC Sabathia spent an afternoon taking on all comers in games of R.B.I. Baseball.
As I watched Sabathia dominate that day — it was obvious that he’d done this before — I started thinking back to my own childhood. Growing up, I too played a lot of R.B.I. But unlike most, I didn’t enjoy it much as its underrated alternative, Bases Loaded.
R.B.I. Baseball had real big league teams, real big league players and their real stats, which back then was a big deal. Even the uniforms were at least shaded the same colors as they were in real life. Bases Loaded had none of that. But it did have one important thing going in its favor.
His name was Paste.
We don’t know his first name (none of the fake players in Bases Loaded had one). But we do know that he played first base, and that he batted in the third spot for Jersey, and most importantly, that he raked.
I recently found the above tribute video (the SportsCentury music is a nice touch, no?) which correctly notes that Paste “nibbled at the heels of Roger Maris with 60 home runs.” What it neglects to mention is his equally impressive .467 average. And as you quickly learned from playing the game, Paste never missed.
For me, this was particularly valuable, because I always played with the sound down and provided my own play-by-play. And having Paste meant plenty of chances to practice my home run calls.*
A few years ago, a buddy from college scrounged up an old Nintendo, and a copy of Bases Loaded. And it reminded me of a few more quirks about the game:
- The game didn’t use the DH rule so all the pitchers had to hit. However, Car from Philly is the only pitcher I remember in the entire game that had a batting average of .000.
- Every homer featured a scoreboard shot that showed the batter jogging around second base as the dejected pitcher took a knee.
- If you went to the bullpen, the relievers were taken to the mound in a golf cart, which even at a young age found to be both unnecessary and lazy.
- There was a cleanup hitter on the Miami team named Warner. If you hit him on the head, he’d charge the mound the every time.
- The only other player who charged the mound? Paste.
* I grew up listening to the great Bill King, the late longtime radio voice of the A’s, which is why all of my home run calls as a kid ended with the phrase “Holy Toledo!”
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