For the sports geeks it was Stratomatic Basbeall. And for poor sports geeks in high school with few friends and no hobbies, it was homemade strat-ball using two 6d and two 8d.
I actually did pretty well - it was realistic and decently balanced. I never quite got the hang of pitcher fatigue, but it had injuries and errors. It would take about a half-hour per game. In about 400 games, there was a pretty good spread of outcomes, too. I keenly remember one of my pitchers taking a perfect game into the ninth, just putting on a clinic - ground ball, pop-out, strikeout - and then giving up the fatal single with two outs.
It's as close as anyone ever got in the "It's Just Dice" League. And I can't tell you, after all the games I'd played, how tempting it was to simply call that first single a walk and give him a shot for the no-hitter - I sat there for ten minutes (rain delay!) thinking about it and finally decided that, even in pen and paper, you have to earn it. And after that the ball started flying around the yard and I actually had to go get him and have the closer end the game. Final line:
Yes, I do remember it that well. I may even have the scorecard somewhere in the basement.
Then Video Killed the Role-Playing Star. I eagerly scored a copy of Tony LaRussa's Ultimate Baseball, on two (!) 3.5" floppies, for your IBM-compatible PC running DOS. I translated my team over there (because who needed the Montreal Expos?), and even took the time to get enough stats to recreate many of the actual big-leaguers of the mid-90s. (They didn't have a players license, but they did have all-time teams.) Some of the folks who eventually worked on the High Heat series for 3do helped program this game, and it was very good - down to small details, such as having to pull a pitcher at the second mound visit.
Pity that 3do is gone now, but they brought it on themselves by failing to follow HH2001 with anything approaching its quality. The last edition didn't even offer mouse support and did away with the historic ballparks. Still, some things come full circle.