Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hal Richman

Its easy to think of our Heroes of Capitalism as exclusively captains of industry who have created vast amounts of wealth. But we're looking to celebrate all of the people who have used private property to create wealth. Even if we're not talking about billions of dollars. So today I'm taking a look at an entrepreneur, but one who is more of a niche provider of a good, rather than a captain of industry.

For fans of board games and fantasy baseball leagues, Hal Richman is a household name. For the rest of the world, he is a relative unknown. In 1961, Hal created Strat-o-matic baseball, a dice and card board game that allows players to create teams and leagues using the their favorite baseball players from seasons gone by.

Yes, I know, it sounds terribly geeky. And, to be honest, it is. But we also know that fantasy sports leagues are a multi-billion dollar enterprise today. Hal Richman tapped into this part of the sports fans’ psyche long before ESPN and CBSsportsline and all the other fantasy sports websites.

From humble beginnings in the early 1960’s Richman has grown his product, significantly, adding defensive ratings, ballpark ratings, clutch hitting, and many more elements designed to add to the reality of game play. With the rise of the computer age, Richman’s growing company even developed a computer version of the game to try to stay with the times, adding internet play 6 years ago. Given the success of the baseball game, Richman also has expanded into basketball, football and hockey versions of the game.

Over the years, millions of copies of the Strat-o-matic game have been sold, but since it is not a publically traded company, actual revenue figures are not available. For turning a youthful passion for baseball into a multi-million dollar operation (and cult phenomenon), Hal Richman is a Hero of Capitalism.

And yes, I’ve been one of these geeks

1 comment:

Cyril Morong said...

Great choice as the playoffs are going on. I played lots of strat-o-matic. I think one of the great features of strat was the way he simulated pitchers which is very individualized. It was a great leap forward over how other simulation games modeled pitchers.