S-O-M Game of the Day: 71Pirates at 81 Astros

Strat-o-Matic is a baseball simulation that began as a cards and dice game in the early 1960s before entering the computer age.

These featured games on Shoestring Catches are part of season replays or tournaments played with cards and dice.

Today’s game matches the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1981 Houston Astros.

I’m always amazed when the cards and dice produce something that was very similar to real life.

Steve Blass was on this 1972 Topps card after winning game seven of the 1971 World Series.

Steve Blass was on this 1972 Topps card after winning game seven of the 1971 World Series.


HOUSTON — Steve Blass dominated on the mound and teammate Al Oliver produced all of the runs that the Pittsburgh Pirates would need as they defeated the Houston Astros 3-0.

Blass faced 28 hitters as he held the Astros to one hit with three strikeouts. The right-hander was perfect through six innings until Houston’s Terry Puhl doubled to lead off the seventh.

After surrendering the only Houston hit, Blass retired the next nine batters in front of the Astrodome crowd, including Puhl to end the contest.

Houston pitcher Nolan Ryan perhaps deserved a better fate as he gave up just six hits. After walking Willie Stargell in the fourth, Bob Robertson singled to set the stage for Oliver.

Oliver blasted a three-run homer off Ryan that was the difference maker. Oliver and Dave Cash led the Pirates with two hits each, while Roberto Clemente had the other hit.

IN REAL LIFE: The Pirates beat the Baltimore Orioles in the 1971 World Series with Clemente being named the Most Valuable Player.

Blass, who was 15-8 in 1971, earned his two most impotant wins of the year in the World Series. He lost the opener of the National League Championship Series to the San Francisco Giants. The Pirates won the next three games to advance.

The next time Blass pitched he went the distance against the Orioles as the Pirates won 5-1 in the third contest of the World Series. In the seventh game, Blass and the Pirates won 2-1 as he tossed a complete game.

al oliver 1982Also in 1971, Blass led the league with five shutouts. Ironically, one of them occurred in the Astrodome and Oliver hit a solo homer to help the cause.

An all-star in 1972, Blass was 103-74 in his 10-year career. His best seasons were in 1968 and 1972. He was 18-6 in 1968, while posting a 19-8 mark in 1972.

Blass can currently be heard as a broadcaster for the Pirates.

After Pittsburgh

Oliver played 18 years in the major leagues with 10 of those seasons in Pittsburgh. The seven-time all-star also spent time with the Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos, Giants, Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays.

terry puhl 1978A four-team trade after the 1977 season had Oliver moving on to Texas. His best season would come in 1982 as he won the NL batting title with an average of .331, while he led the league with 109 RBI.

In 1985, he finished his career in Toronto as the Blue Jays made the playoffs.

The 1981 Astros

During the strike season of 1981, Houston won the NL West in the second half to earn a spot in the post-season.

The Astros fell to the eventual world champion Los Angeles Dodgers in five games during the very first NL Division Series.

Puhl played 14 years for the Astros before ending his career with the Kansas City Royals in 1991. He made the NL all-star team in 1978 and was a .280 career hitter.