Baseball Stars for the Nintendo Entertainment System is the best baseball video game for any system; I still play it even though it came out in 1989. It’s even better than the Neo Geo versions and the NES sequel. It was the first sports game to save stats, had the RPG element to boost abilities, fire players, add free agents, create new teams, may money, etc. This was the trendsetter and pioneer. Enough with why Baseball Stars is the best; when I was a kid I was always trying to decode the players on the teams. They were “fictional” due to copyright, but the American Dreams roster was obviously based on real life, and so were some other teams. In this article, I will attempt to decode the players on the American Dreams roster. Keep in mind the company SNK is from Japan.
Sandie: Sandy Koufax
Cy: Cy Young
Denny: Denny McLain
Dizzy: Dizzy Dean
Frank: This was a mystery to me. As a kid, Frank Viola of the Twins/Mets was HOT, so I thought perhaps SNK wanted to include a modern player in the mix. I played Frank as Viola. The only other options are Frank Tanana, Frank Lary, Frank Dwyer, Frank Smith, and Frank Sullivan. Neither belong on this team, so it’s possible that Frank was just an inside joke to prove that the American Dreams were not based on real players.
Pete: Pete Rose. Don’t tell Pete because he will sue.
Babe: Babe Ruth
Joe: Joe DiMaggio
Hank: Hank Aaron
Lefty: Lefty O’Doul, who is credited with bringing baseball to Japan, and was a great hitter in the U.S.
Willie: Willie Mays
Jay: Here’s another mystery one. This game came out before Jay Bell truly embarked on his Hall of Fame career (joke), so we have to default to Jay Johnstone, who played 20 years as a role player. Doesn’t make sense. Jay Baller was an American who played in Japan, but he was a pitcher. “Jay” could also represent the letter “J”. What about Joe Morgan, since the American Dreams already has a Joe?
Jacks: Jackie Robinson (he has high Running and Defense, as opposed to Batting Power like Reggie Jackson would have).
Lou: Lou Gehrig.
Johnny: Johnny Bench
Eddy: This was a tough one. There’s no hitter named “Eddy”, but there are a bunch of “Eddies” in baseball history, such as Eddie Collins, Eddie Mathews, and Eddie Murray. Since Murray was still active in 1989 and not quite a Hall of Famer, I would think Mathews is the American Dream due to his Hitting, Batting, and Defense stats (all high). As a kid, I saw him as Ed Kranepool because I was a Mets mark, but I’m 93% sure it’s Mathews, who was one of the best 3B of all time.
Billy: The best “Billy” in baseball history is Billy Hamilton. This American Dream player is a bench player with only one attribute: Defense. Hamilton was known for speed. Billy Williams, Billy Herman, Billy Nash, Billy Martin, and others may be options, but it doesn’t seem right. As a kid, I viewed Billy as Billy Ripken- after all he couldn’t hit.
Paul: Paul is a bench player; he’s the fastest character in the game, and actually has the highest Prestige. His defense is good as well, but he has Zeros in hitting and Luck. Options: Paul Molitor (who was already recognized as a great player in 1989), Paul Waner, or Paul Blair. Paul Dade was an obscure American player who had one season in Japan in 1981. As a kid, I saw him as Paul Blair because Molitor was too good of a hitter to be have Zero.
SNK created obvious characters but was able to avoid paying royalties and license fees. They didn’t use career stats, teams, cities, or full names. It was fun. They managed to escape under the radar the first time, but not for Baseball Stars 2 (ROMSTAR created that game).
But there a few mystery ones that don’t fit the puzzle.
Who is Frank from Baseball Stars American Dream roster?
Who is Jay from Baseball Stars American Dream roster?
Who is Billy from Baseball Stars American Dream roster?
Who is Paul from Baseball Stars American Dream roster?
Since the names I listed are stretches for explanations, I believe that either the programmers misunderstood the names or made random characters for some reason- possibly as a defense to a lawsuit contending they had created a roster of all-time greats or maybe as a joke.
After all, Frank, Jay, Billy, and Paul sound like average and generic American names. Don’t underestimate the humor of the SNK team: the SNK Crushers is a team made up of their own names, and they are the purposely worst team in the league!
Here’s an out-of-the box theory: the programmers originally wanted to design the game to allow you to fire, trade, and hire from all the Computer teams (the final version of the game just allows this for user-created teams). The word MAX is still there in the CPU player cards, as is the salary of the player, so perhaps the CPU teams would have been like user teams in terms of earning money and ability points. So the programmers put around four or five placeholder players that the user would have no qualms about getting ride of. After releasing these players, the user would have been able to create Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Walter Johnson, or whoever they wanted.
What do you think?