Top Baseball Video Games

In 1961, inventor John Burgeson created the first-ever computerized baseball simulator game. In the decades since, there have been literally hundreds of video games released that, at least in part, are based on his concept. And although every baseball fan can’t play in the majors, anyone can practice their sliders and home-run swings on their gaming consoles.

As spring training approaches, it’s time to continue along the path that Burgeson set out by enjoying these nine classic baseball video games. Batter up!

1. R.B.I. BASEBALL (1987)

This title was the first of its kind to include licensing by the Major League Baseball® Players Association (MLBPA). As a result, it was the first video game to use the names of real players, including superstars of the era like Nolan Ryan and Andre Dawson. Although it did not include actual team names, there were eight squads from cities like Boston, Detroit, New York and others. Making it even more realistic, the virtual players boasted various skillsets (some were speedy on the basepaths, others had a great fastball). For gamers of a certain age, this is the Holy Grail of baseball titles. Preview it here.

2. KEN GRIFFEY JR. PRESENTS MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL (1994)

This game from Software Creations® did feature the names and stadiums of real MLB® teams, including the Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners, though unlike R.B.I. Baseball, it didn’t offer the names of actual players, with the exception of the title’s namesake. In the 1990s, Ken Griffey Jr. was the star of stars on the diamond and his inclusion in this game made it a must-have. Available for consoles like Super Nintendo®, there was a later release on Game Boy™ that did include real players, but even the original provided the groundbreaking feature of allowing users to save their stats during their season. Preview it here.

3. TRIPLE PLAY 97 (1996)

In the mid-to-late-1990s, video games began to look more realistic. Gone were the cartoonish, rudimentary baseball images of players and in came graphics that looked almost like a real-life matchup. This title from EA Sports® was at the forefront of that movement. Not only was it one of the best baseball video games of its time, it was one of the best video games of any kind, period. Triple Play 97 featured real players, real teams, announcers, crowd noise and more, providing a life-like immersive experience. Preview it here.

4. BACKYARD BASEBALL (1997)

Most sports video titles are known for taking themselves and their subject pretty seriously. More and more, they aim to be as accurate as possible in terms of the look, feel and pace of the actual pro game. But not this one! There is accuracy, to be sure, but it’s of a different kind — that of a child’s imagination. The premise here is: What if you and your school-aged friends got together for a game at the park? From homespun uniforms to cute trash-talking, this one is as fun as a Saturday afternoon with friends. Preview it here.

5. MLB SLUGFEST 2004 (2003)

This offering from Midway Home Entertainment® leaned into the fantastical. Users could play as real-life teams, including the Kansas City Royals or St. Louis Cardinals, or they could play as a band of ninjas, with swinging samurai swords in place of baseball bats. Similar to basketball games like NBA Jam or football games like NFL Blitz, this title allowed players to enjoy an extreme version of the sport that was at times part-wrestling match. Preview it here.

6. MVP BASEBALL 2005 (2005)

Though MVP Baseball is nearly two decades old, it might just be the best baseball video game ever. It not only features real players and teams, but it also was granted licensing from Minor League Baseball®, meaning users could play with a franchise’s farm team. Now that’s detail! But it also presents the game within the game, as users could make trades, manage rosters and navigate player injuries as if they were a real-life team’s coach or front-office executive. Compared to everything that came before, this is mind-blowing stuff! Preview it here.

7. MARIO SUPERSTAR BASEBALL (2005)

Love baseball and also love the Super Mario Bros.™ world of characters? Then this game is for you. Here, you don’t have to know contemporary pitchers or hitters; you just have to step up to the plate with folks like Luigi, Wario or Princess Peach. Originally created for the Nintendo GameCube®, it’s actually one of several Mario Bros.-themed sports games, including Mario Power Tennis and this title’s sequel, Mario Superstar Baseball. As colorful and light-hearted as you might expect, this is a game for all age groups. Preview it here.

8. SUPER MEGA BASEBALL 3 (2020)

Somehow realistic and over-the-top at the same time, this title combines the oversized cartoonish nature of some baseball video games with the lifelike gameplay of others. While the first rendition was released in 2014, Super Mega Baseball 3, the third in the series, came out in 2020 and is one of the more popular games to date. Available for consoles like Nintendo Switch™ and PlayStation 4®, it includes a franchise mode where users can control not just a batting lineup but a whole fictional team, like the Sharks or the Heaters. The game can also be played online against opponents all over the world. Preview it here.

9. MLB THE SHOW 20 (2020)

Some may see this game for the first time and confuse it with an actual Major League Baseball contest — it’s that realistic. Created by San Diego Studio® for PlayStation 4, this title features minor league baseball players as well as those in the majors. Users can play online against other opponents or just bask in the realism it offers. It’s hard to imagine video games getting more lifelike than this one. Even the onlooking fans in the stands seem real with their own individual movements and appearances. Add in varying weather conditions, day and night games and real-life ballparks, and you have just about everything you need to completely replicate the actual in-stadium experience. Preview it here.

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