From time to time, we actually do come across a toy or game that we have not played with or even heard of. Recently, a friend of Toys Bulletin loaned us a game called “Ump-Rite,” produced by Financial Consultants Coronado. He simply said it was sold briefly in the mid 70s, and we might want to take a look at it. Because our readers continue to clamor for nostalgic reviews of older toys or games, we thought “Ump-Rite” might prove to be an interesting choice.
“Ump-Rite” is not your typical baseball board game. Back in the 70s, APBA, Strat-O-Matic and Negamco were the big names in table top baseball. In fact, I played APBA Baseball beginning at age 10 until I started college. I still have the original games and player cards today. All of those games attempted to replay games, or entire seasons and have the results statistically match the performance of the players and teams of specific years. They worked just as advertised and had huge followings.
But “Ump-Rite” took a completely different approach to its baseball game. Although “Ump-Rite” did use dice to create hits, outs and runs, it was actually a game intended to teach or emphasize the rules of the game. The game of baseball is one of the most complicated games ever invented. There are rules and exceptions to those rules, and many diehard baseball fans “think” they know them all. After playing a few games of “Ump-Rite,” players will find there is much they do not know and their knowledge of the rules of the game will suddenly be enhanced.
The game contents include a game board, which is a baseball diamond, measuring 20″ x 20″, a three dimensional scoreboard, 23 game discs, 2 dice, a 28 page Play Pad, a 65 page Blue Book, and a one page set of introductory rules called “Scouting Out Ump-Rite.” To begin play, two teams are each given 9 clear discs representing their team’s starting lineup, plus there are 4 umpire discs and one baseball disc. During the game, the discs are moved around to the batter’s box, to the bases, to appropriate defensive positions, or to the pitcher’s mound. The idea is to create a visible game simulation, including the correct placement of umpires and even following the ball from pitcher’s hand toward home plate.
Now it is time for the first batter; the two dice are thrown by the pitcher, representing a pitched ball. The dice are not combined, but rather the lower numbered die is read first and the higher numbered die is read second. For example, if the pitcher rolls a 4 and a 6, that would be 46. After the dice roll, the resulting number is referenced to the appropriate page in the Play Pad. There is a page for each possible dice roll, and the result depends on the number of players on base and the number of outs at the time.
Let’s assume that there are two outs, men on 2nd and 3rd, and that 46 is the dice roll. The Play Pad reads like this, “The pitch bounces in front of the plate. But that doesn’t bother the batter. The ball bounces through the strike zone. Boppo! He slugs it high into center field. But that spoiler out there catches the fly-ball. Now the batter’s trying to tell the umpire that was “No Pitch.” Next the fun begins, the game rules say that the batting player decides how to interpret that play. In this case, it might appear that the batter is correct and it is “No Pitch.” However, if the batting player is unsure, or he is challenged by the pitching player, they must consult the Blue Book, which is the bible of rules (the Umpire’s guide) for the final answer. In this case, the Blue Book reads as follows…“A pitch that hits in front of the plate is in play. The batter can hit it legally on the bounce.” Therefore, in this case, the fly-ball registers as a routine out, and the inning is over with no runs crossing the plate. I believe most fans might consider any bouncing ball at home plate to be a “ball call.”
So, I think you get the idea of how this clever teaching game actually works. There is kind of a game within a game, as players not only compete head to head in a game of dice baseball, but they also learn the rules of baseball, without having to pour over a rule book and scan hundreds of pages.
We at Toys Bulletin were especially impressed with the “Ump-Rite” baseball game. It was a special experience for its time and still great fun to play today, but we sadly had to return the game to its original owner. We are not certain of the retail price of “Ump-Rite” back in the 70s, but we estimate it was probably $10.00 or less. You may want to join us on Ebay as we search daily for our own copy of “Ump-Rite” baseball.