Top 100 Retro Games: Micro League Baseball
Micro League Baseball
Micro League Baseball may have been the first computer game I ever played at home. We got an Apple IIC when I was in first grade. It cost a lot of money, especially for the time, but the bottom line was that my teacher that year pulled my parents aside in a parent conference and laid it out for them: I had learning disabilities and some motor issues that were going to make handwriting and normal school activities hard.
However, her suggestion was that they invest in a computer for me. It was expensive, but this was an era where my dad got quarterly bonuses at his job, and they used one of them to get an Apple IIC, which was the cheaper one to the more high-end GS, and some edutainment games like Carmen San Diego and Math Blaster, a word-processing program called Bank Street Writer, and Micro League Baseball. I had actually wanted the wrestling one, but my dad convinced me to get the baseball one because it was something we both liked. He was happy to take me to my first WWF show a little while after this, but I think he thought it was pretty ridiculous. My dad and I have never been close, but we both did like baseball when I was a kid.
I played endless hours of Micro League Baseball. The general concept of the game was that it was, essentially, turn-based baseball. Your batter came up, and you decided how to hit: You can swing away, which lets the batter decide, bunt, swing away with aggressive or safe running. You can call for a steal, a hit-and-run, or a sacrifice bunt. It all works out, and I always remember seeing a variation in results that seemed pretty fair.
Defense works more or less the same. You chose your pitch type. You can change your fielders to bring in 1st and 3rd basemen or all infielders.
There are other features: You can argue with the umpire as a manager, but if you get ejected, the computer takes over the game. Power outages or rain delays can happen as well. They can be overridden.
The game, in its most basic version, came with a series of the greatest teams of the past which included the 1927 Yankees, 1969 Mets, 1973 Athletics, 1978 Yankees, 1980 Phillies, and many more. There were also “all-time great” rosters for both the American and National League and 1984 all-star team rosters.
We also had a bonus disc for the year we got the game. I think it was for 1987, but it might have been 86. I know I played with a lot of the classic teams. Not only that, but I was fascinated by old-time baseball as a kid. I read a lot about it and bought many packs of a classic baseball series that came out in 1987 (and seemed to be a store exclusive to one store brand here in the tri-state area.
There isn’t even much info about it online, but I read about all these old players and was so curious about them, so I gravitated to them in Micro League Baseball for sure.
The all-star teams for 1984 were cool. This was often the only way you could play with these players in a video game. Or even see them at all. You have to remember that back then, every game wasn’t on television. Sportscenter, and stuff like it, existed, but it was once a day, not 24 hours a day on various channels. Even ESPN updates were only in the middle of each hour on the crawl. If you turned the channel on three minutes early to find out a score, you had to wait.
There were baseball cards, sure, but you really only saw the star players when they played your team. Maybe you would see highlights on ESPN or Sports Channel or the local news. NBC’s Saturday Game of the Week was also a great way to see big games and players. But the time to see EVERYONE was in the All-Star Game. Having them in video games was a way to keep them foregrounded in your mind. It got even cooler when you could customize the all stars in a game we will podcast about in 2020: Tecmo Super Bowl.
We discussed this during our Super Mario Brothers episode, but we were late, probably because of the Apple II, to get a Nintendo. Most people in the neighborhood already had one, and it frustrated me to have to watch others play while not having it. I knew we would get one eventually, but I was also confused as to why Nintendo did not release their games on computers! There were games that were already cross-platform, in good and bad forms, but no Nintendo games starring Mario, Link, or Samus Aran were available for my computer.
I just did not understand this. I have a vivid memory of discussing my concerns with a few relatives at a family gathering. It would be many years later before I understood Nintendo’s reasoning for not being on computers and the details of their lackluster attempts in the 90s. Eight-year-old me would not have understood this at all. I, very specifically, wanted to play Super Mario Brothers on my computer.
Micro League Baseball has never been, and likely never will be, reissued. There are plenty of playthroughs on Youtube though.