Complete Baseball

While Microsoft might not have hit a home run with their latest CD-ROM entry, "Complete Baseball," they certainly have at least a three-bagger on their hands -- make that on the scoreboard. With a little improvement, the company could have a product that will circle the bases.

While Microsoft might not have hit a home run with their latest CD-ROM entry, “Complete Baseball,” they certainly have at least a three-bagger on their hands — make that on the scoreboard. With a little improvement, the company could have a product that will circle the bases.

Like the company’s other best-selling multimedia CD-ROMs, “Encarta” and “Cinemania,” which incorporate video and audio, “Complete Baseball” is a comprehensive reference work, this time containing enough historic, biographic and statistical information on America’s pastime to fill the bleachers at Fenway Park. Users can download updated daily baseball info and stats with a modem, making “Complete Baseball” one of the first products to combine the technologies of CD-ROMs and online services.

Highlighted by a stunning graphical interface, “Complete Baseball” is divided into sections, each of which can be accessed with the click of a mouse. Among the sections are “Almanac,” which includes season summaries, awards and honors, info on All-Star games, league leaders, postseason stats and final standings; “Players,” which contains more than 2,500 photo-packed biographies and statistics on more than 17,000 personalities, and “Chronicle,” which presents a variety of historical perspectives and uses the majority of the textual content from the well-known book, “Total Baseball.”

Of course, no reference work on baseball would be worth much without a comprehensive section on records, and “Complete Baseball” goes the distance, listing records in 68 batting, fielding and pitching categories. But while the records are extensive, looking them up isn’t so easy. While the Baseball Encyclopedia book lists a player’s records for his entire career side by side, “Complete Baseball” lists records on a yearly basis.

Among some of the great audio clips included are Red Barber’s call of the home runs hit by St. Louis Cardinals Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial during the second game of the 1942 World Series, and announcer Russ Hodges famous call of New York Giant Bobby Thompson’s “shot heard ’round the world” in 1951.

While there aren’t nearly as many video clips, there are some great ones, including Hank Aaron’s record 715th home run, Los Angeles Dodger Kirk Gibson’s game-winning home run in the first game of the 1988 World Series against Oakland and Nolan Ryan’s seventh no-hitter in 1991.

What makes the program better than just being a reference tool — which can quickly become outdated — is that users can subscribe to “Baseball Daily,” Microsoft’s online service that will allow baseball fans to receive the latest major league news, stats and scores by modem each day of the 1994 season.

Once a user logs on to the service, “Baseball Daily” deliversthe past day’s highlights, the day’s schedule, latest scores and stats, standings and league leaders in six different batting and pitching categories. But the price is $ 1. 25 a day, much more than the cost of a newspaper, which would supply the same information.

While it isn’t perfect, “Complete Baseball” is a worthy contender that will make make baseball fans almost as happy as if they were sitting in Wrigley Field on a summer day. And like everything else that comes out of Microsoft, this CD-ROM should only get better with each new version.

That’s a lot more than you can say about the Chicago Cubs.

Complete Baseball

Production: Microsoft Corporation; "Complete Baseball,"$ 79.95; Macintosh or Windows; "Baseball Daily,"$ 1.25 per issue.

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