There's a certain amount of nostalgia when it comes to video games. So, it's natural that the nostalgic game of baseball would lend itself to gaming consoles for the past few decades. In fact, you probably recall crowding around the arcade game at the local pizza place with your teammates. Or, rainy conditions made the Atari baseball game the backup activity choice. You may have even asked your kid to step away from the gaming console, because it was time for practice.
Baseball video games provide just as many memories as the actual field. So, join JustBats as we detail the 11 best baseball video games of all-time.
Best Baseball Video Games
11. MLB Slugfest, Xbox (2003)
More "street" style than rule-abiding. MLB Slugfest's mature themes means the ability to attack other players and a more...umm...relaxed in-game commentary. The game is far from kid-friendly, but developed a cult following due to its similarities to NBA Jam and its overall hilarity.
10. Frank Thomas' Big Hurt Baseball, Sega Genesis (1995)
Licensed by Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and bearing the likeness of White Sox Frank Thomas, Big Hurt Baseball detailed MLB ballparks well. It's focus on pitching and defense was unique from other games, but the inability to change batter's stance was often frustrating. But, hey, it featured the Big Hurt.
9. Triple Play Baseball, Playstation (1996)
MVP Baseball's predecessor, Triple Play Baseball from EA Sports was the first game to feature rotating cover athletes, including Tony Gwynn in 1997 and Brian Jordan in 1998. The game was intuitive and easy to play, even if you had to rely on the previous season's rosters. The game's true differentiator was the ability to select weather and/or if it was a night or day game.
8. Backyard Baseball, Microsoft Windows (1997)
55 neighborhood kids, including some professionals, Backyard Baseball recreates the game we played as children. Power-ups and modes make the games more competitive and the player names are amusing. The series has changed since its original installment, but it's ease and friendliness make it a homerun.
7. All Star Baseball, Nintendo 64 (2000)
The first video game to perfect the Commissioner element of baseball, as you could create an expansion team and place in a new city. Redesigned 3D stadiums, easy-to-use batting and pitching mechanics, and fun play-by-play made the game a fan favorite. Unfortunately, by the time All Star Baseball became available on Xbox, it had already been surpassed by others.
6. MLB 2K, Playstation 2 (2005)
Powered by ESPN, the game featured unparelled realism with the pitcher/batter interface. Discontinued in 2014, the game also included Web Gem instant replays, baserunner mode, and unique batting elements not seen in other games. In terms of reality, MLB 2K was a gold standard when it was released.
5. Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball, Super Nintendo (1994)
The only real player was The Kid, but all the MLB teams and stadiums were real since there was an agreement with MLB and not MLBPA. The SNES version came with a promotional Griffey baseball trading card, which helped the game's commercial success (1.2 million sold). The game's popularity has little to do with game play and a lot to do with Griffey, pop culture elements, and the fictitious player names; for example, the Detroit Tigers players were named after Motown singers.
4. Home Run, Atari (1978)
The graphics were lousy, the players were unrecognizable, you could not throw the ball to the base for a force out, and the pitcher was the only fielder. Yet, Home Run was the first true baseball video game on the widely accepted gaming consoles. It's greatest contribution to baseball video games? The players wore baseball hats. The few games before simply had non-identifiable pixel dots for players.
3. R.B.I. Baseball, Nintendo (1986)
Licensed by MLBPA, this was the first console game to use actual MLB player names. You could slide the pitcher across the rubber to place a pitch better and the game featured a National League All-Star roster and American League All-Star roster. If you played Nintendo video games in the 1980s, then either 1) you played R.B.I. Baseball or 2) you're a liar.
2. MLB: The Show, Playstation (2006)
The only MLB-licensed 2006 game, MLB: The Show overloaded the play features, which still remain today. You can play in career mode, The Show mode, and focus on one player's journey. But, Home Run Derby, King of the Diamond, and Franchise modes also set this game apart from others on the market. The series still remains a commercial hit.
1. Baseball Stars, Nintendo (1989)
The first game to have battery backup. Why is that a big deal? Users had the ability to create players, teams, and seasons and save statistics. It was easy, realistic, and a pioneer. Even the 10-run mercy rule was okay, because Baseball Stars focused on off-the-field elements, such as earning money, increasing attendance, and even adding female players to your team.
At JustBats, we know all about baseball bats and softball bats. In fact, call us at (866) 321-2287 if you have any questions. But, admittedly, we're not video game experts. So, what do you think? Did we leave any games out? Follow @JustBats on your favorite social channel and send us a message if we missed your favorite baseball video game.