“I’m not sure if it’s every baseball fan’s dream to create a baseball world of his or her own, but it certainly has been mine,” says Peter Cerling, also known as “cephasjames” on the OOTP forums. He not only created a world with seven major leagues and 22 minor leagues, but he also designed logos and uniforms for its more than 500 teams, with those designs changing across six eras.
Cerling even created two documents for his quickstart, one that covers the changes that occur during each off-season and another that follows each team from year to year. The end result is a monumental effort whose downloads can be found in these two forum threads:
Here’s how he describes his world:
“American Baseball 1871-Present covers baseball in America with a pre-planned history starting in 1871 and proceeding until the present. It is based on real history, using real league names and historical nicknames for almost all teams. Throughout its history there will be seven major leagues and 22 minor leagues. The major leagues are the same as real history’s major leagues, with one minor name change. The minor leagues are real historical leagues that existed for about 50 years or more. In real history many minor leagues had gaps in existence; in this history those gaps are filled.”
He adds: “With some exceptions (mainly in the major leagues), every city uses only one nickname throughout all of history. The nicknames chosen for major league cities are fictional. The nicknames chosen for almost all minor league cities are taken from nicknames historically attached to those cities at some point in time.”
Sharing With the Community
Asked why he embarked on such an ambitious project, Cerling replies: “The biggest reason is because, despite the OOTP mod community being so tremendous, I felt really bad asking for so much help so often. There were so many caps and logos that I wanted to have done, but it didn’t feel right asking people to do them all for me.
“With the logos, the caps, and the jerseys, I discovered that I really enjoy doing them and I really like sharing them with the community because it is so wonderful. That’s why I keep doing them.”
A ‘History Simmer’
When he toys around with his creation in OOTP, Cerling says he tends to be a “history simmer.” He explains: “I will create a world in order to sim it through tens or hundreds of years in order to see what happens over the long haul of its existence. I love pouring over decades’ worth of stats to see who accomplished what or who came oh-so-close to toppling a record, only to fall short.”
He relates a favorite anecdote: “In one of my games there was this particular player who looked like he was going to be the greatest player ever. He was drafted in the first round with the first pick and had potential through the roof, but he was already good enough to be a starter on any team. He shot through the minors and, at 19 years old, was a starter by season’s end.
Cerling continues: “The next season, his first full season, he started and played so well that he won Rookie of the Year and MVP hands down. But then the next year, despite not having any negative ratings changes, he lost his starting job. The following year, again with no negative rating changes, he only played in about 40 games, despite having no injuries.
“After that year, only his third full season, he was cut by the team. The next year, nobody signed him. The year after that, nobody signed him. Yet another year and nobody signed him. He retired at 26 because nobody wanted him to play baseball on their team. What was it about this guy that nobody liked? I don’t know, though I have run through countless possible stories in my head. It is definitely one of those stories that make baseball and OOTP so interesting to follow.”
He says that stories like that one are the reason why he keeps playing OOTP: “I love the stories of baseball. History tells stories. Stats tell stories. Each individual who plays or manages the game has a story. While good stories exist within the timeframe of a single season, what really catches my attention are the stories over the long haul.
“That’s why I’ve invested so much time into creating a fictional world spanning such a huge amount of time. I want to hear the stories within my world being told. OOTP, like no other baseball game, captures and tells those stories again and again and again. That’s what keeps bringing me back to OOTP.”
Not Satisfied With Anything Else
Cerling began creating baseball worlds with Microleague Baseball and Nintendo’s SNL Baseball Stars, but neither game quite lived up to what he wanted. He moved on to High Heat Baseball, which “was the deepest computer baseball experience I’d ever had, though it still left me wanting more.” Then one day he discovered Season Ticket Baseball 2003, learned that it was actually Out of the Park Baseball 3, and never looked back.
“I have never been even remotely satisfied with anything else since I discovered OOTP,” he says.
Pulling a Scott Smalls
Cerling has also been a baseball player since he was four years old, and his penchant for storytelling shows up in his remembrances of those experiences too. “At the end of the Little League season, our t-ball team played an exhibition game against the worst Little League team. I remember standing in centerfield when the biggest seven-year-old I had ever seen hit a rocket into the sky that was heading right to me. I pulled a Scott Smalls and stood there with my glove, hoping the ball would land in it … and it did.”
He adds: “I was hooked for life. I ended up playing second base, just like the Tigers’ Lou Whitaker, for the rest of my career, which ended in high school. My favorite team has always been the Tigers.”