I had the luxury of speaking with a fellow baseball enthusiast and fan! Dwight Baird, Co-Creator of the Xtra- Innings board game was a delight to speak with and was happy to do the interview. He has formulated a very interesting board game consisting of specific baseball strategies that a player will experience at game speed. Expect now he/she can do this in their living room! Here is how our conversation went.
Whats your story and how are you involved with baseball?
I played a bit of baseball when I was a teenager and then fastball for a few years in my twenties. I always followed the game and was a major Montreal Expos fan in the eighties when they had some really great teams…Then bad ownership came in, they left and broke my heart along with the hearts of a lot of others…
I am a full time artist/painter and it was during this time that I decided to do a series of paintings on baseball – not just players swinging away at the plate, but a real behind the scenes look at all the things most fans never see. This project took me to sand lots, minor league ball parks, a couple of stadiums in the Dominican Republic, inside the clubhouses including the umpires clubhouse and, of course in the stands with the fans…I produced a series of over fifty works entitled “The Baseball Collection” and ended up being a licensee of MLBP, had work featured in Baseball Weekly and various other publications, and in 1984 had an image of mine used as the inspiration for the cover of the All-Star Program…and then the strike happened and everything changed…..
How did you come up with the concept of Xtra innings?
It was my partner Francois Dore who came up with the original concept for Xtra Innings. I was pretty much out of baseball at the time – my team had moved to Washington, so my interest as as fan had pretty much disappeared. One day Frank dropped by for a visit and showed me an idea he had for a baseball card/board game. He had developed and very unique “Pitching Sequence” for Balls, Strikes and Hits, and, as he knew I was pretty familiar with the game, asked me if I would be interested in helping him developing the idea…I was pretty intrigued, we worked together on the project for over two years and Xtra Innings was finally born…
Can you give a brief description of the rules?
The game revolves around a unique “Pitching Sequence” and the subsequent playing of Offensive and Defensive cards. There are NO dice in Xtra Innings – it is not a game of luck.
Both players throughout the game use an identical set of five “Pitch Cards” and also begin each inning with either seven Offensive cards or Defensive cards, depending on whether you are hitting or in the field.
There are two categories in the five “Pitch Cards” – Three “Power Pitches” (Inside Fastball, Outside Fastball, Nasty Slider) and two “Off Speed Pitches” (Slow Curve, Change-Up)
It plays out a little bit like Rock, Paper, Scissors. Players hold their “Pitch Cards” in “poker fashion” and each player selects one card and throws it down on the board at the same time. The combination of these two cards determines whether it is a Strike, a Ball or a Contact. It follows a certain baseball logic.
Any combination of a “Power Pitch” and an “Off Speed Pitch” is always a Strike. Any two cards in the same category (two Off Speed or two Power) is always a Ball, as long as they are not the exact same pitch. Any time two players throw down the exact same “Pitch Card”, (eg.Nasty Slider + Nasty Slider), it is Contact. Players pick up their “Pitch Card” after each pitch and go through a pitch by pitch count just like in a real game…
But what makes this game really unique and duplicates all strategy of the game are the Offense and Defense cards which can be played after Balls, Strikes or Contacts. Every play possible in baseball is in Xtra Innings, on both Offence and Defence and you have to decide on every pitch and then every play. You have to manage the game just like you were in the dugout. You can try and move a base runner on 1st along with a “Sac Bunt”, (Take and Out!), a “Wild Pitch” or “Stolen Base”(Take a chance!) to try and avoid the “Fielder’s Choice” or “Double Play” cards. You know what you have in your seven Offence cards but you do not know what your opponent has in his seven Defence cards. You decide – no luck, but pure baseball strategy.
Will this actually help baseball players get better?
It will definitely help younger players understand a lot more of the fundamentals and strategy of the game and what they see when they go to the ball park. When the play Xtra Innings and learn how to use the “Stretch”,”Hit ‘N Run” , “Squeeze Play”, “Balk” and Pick-Off” cards, for example, they will understand these situations a lot better when they see them during a real game. The “Intentional Walk” card shows younger players the strategy of how to set up the “Double Play” with a runner on 2nd and 1st base open. But, as in the real game of baseball, it does not always work out exactly as you hoped it would…But that is what is unique about Xtra Innings – it really does mirror what happens on the diamond.
Who is it suited for and why should they play it?
As I said, it is a great game for younger players to learn baseball strategy.. The “Pitching Sequence” is really kind of addicting and younger players really love the throwing down of the cards. The game also includes a “Minor League Editon” , where the more complicated cards can be taken out and a five inning game is played with just twenty Offence and Defence cards with all the basic plays.
Older players who understand all the strategy of the game will be amazed at how Xtra Innings duplicates not only all the strategy , but also the pace and emotion of a real game. For all the fans who always thought they could manage a baseball team, this is the game where you can actually prove it.
The game can be played with either two or four players(two teams of two players) – with one player playing the “Pitch Cards” and the other playing either the Offence or Defence cards. Playing four players is really great social and family fun and ideal for parents looking for an educational sport game they can play with their kids.
Where is it available?
At the moment Xtra Innings is only available is a few selected stores as we have not yet secured a national distributor for the game. If you cannot find it in your neighborhood game store and ask for it. Say you read about it and are interested in becoming part of the Xtra Innings team! You can also order it online at www.xtrainningsgame.com and check out our Xtra Innings Coaches Clinic videos on our Facebook site here: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001922386929
What is the best way for fans to contact you?