How to make Professional Athletes work for you. humble beginnings of Fantasy sports

Hey sports fans! Welcome to this special edition of Fanaticsport. Today marks a very important day in sports history. On April 13, 1980, Fantasy sports were born.   Let take a look at how ten  friends changed the face of sports forever

The beginning

What grew into a 4 billon dollar industry started   in a small restaurant in New York called La Rotisserie Francaise.  Every week, the inventor of the game, Dan Okrent and his friends would meet at the restaurant and talk baseball.  Dan figured this game he created would be a way for him and his friends to prove who had the most baseball smarts. Since Okrent and his friends met at a rotisserie restaurant  they decided to call the game  the Rotisserie Baseball League.

How Did the Founders play?

Each team would get 9 pitchers and 14 hitters for a buy cost of $260.  Each hitter would be scored in these categories

  • Batting average
  • Steals
  • Home runs
  • RBIs

Pitches would be judged on different  set criteria such as

  • Wins
  • Saves
  • ERA
  • Whip

Whip stands for hits and walks over innings pitched. This stat was needed because it was a way to judge a pitcher on their performance vs a batter. This gives the owner of the team a better sense of how the pitcher is preforming regardless of how the players fielded the ball.

 The Draft

Before the draft, the founding fathers of Rotisserie Baseball League wrote a constitutional outlining the rules and regulations for the draft and the league overall. The Constitution began like this

“We, the People of the Rotisserie League, in order to spin a more perfect Game, drive Justice home, kiss domestic Tranquility good-bye, promote the general Welfare in Tidewater – where it’s been tearing us the International League – and secure the Blessings of Puberty to ourselves and those we’ve left on Base, do ordain and establish the Constitution for Rotisserie League Baseball, and also finish this run-on sentence.”

 “Rotisserie League Baseball” p. 10 by Glen Waggoner and Robert Sklar, Bantam Books, New York, 1989

To read the full to read the full Constitution click here.

The first draft was chaotic to say the least. Each team went around the table and shouted out   the amount of money the team was willing to pay for each player.  In the end, the team with the highest bid would get the player. It is important to note that each team had a spending cap of $260, so teams needed to be smart with their money, making sure they had enough money to trade with throughout the season. Being the first draft it was hard for the teams to know what a reasonable amount to pay for each player was. In the 1980 draft a relief pitcher buy the name of Neal Allan was drafted by the Getherswag Goners for two dollars. Although Allan was unknown at the time he became one of the most important players drafted. Alan went from being an unknown back up relief pitcher, to being the starting closer for the Mets. In 1980, Allan had 22 saves with a whip of 1.305; these numbers helped the Goners win Championship in 1980.

What Did You Get When You Won?


When a team won, they got a trophy called the Wiggy Cup, along with fifty percent of the money that was in the pool.  In addition to the cash and the trophy, there would be a party at the end of the year.  At the party, the winners would get a Yoo Hoo shower to celebrate their victory!



  The Game Spread like Wildfire!


As rotisserie baseball became more popular, the founding fathers decided to see if they could make money with the game they invented. With many of the founding fathers working in the book industry it was easy for them to get a book published.   In 1980 they published a book call Rotisserie League Baseball, the official rule book and A to Z scouting guide. With this book people were able to start leagues all over the country.



In the End It Was All Just a Fantasy.

The Achilles’ heel of rotisserie baseball came in the form of copyright laws.  The founders decided to copyright the name Rotisserie Baseball. Unfortunately, because of the book, everyone knew how to play. This allowed people to use the same rules but just change the name. With the invention of the internet, Rotisserie Baseball took off, because now all the stats were kept for you and you could see same day results. The only difference is now it was called Fantasy Sports and there was nothing the founding fathers could do about it.


So next time you sit at your computer and pick your fantasy line up, I want you to think about the founding fathers sitting around a small table eating chicken and talking baseball. Because in the end it’s not about the money, it’s about proving to your friends that you’re the best and having fun along the way!

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Fanaticsport out.