One of my all time favorite PC sports games was High Heat Baseball 1999. It was behind its time and had sub par graphics, but it was a smooth playing game that was insanely customizable. It had replaceable graphics, importable stadiums (real Citgo sign for Fenway) and custom sound effects and player musical anthems you could add.
Around 1995, well before my High Heat days, I played hours and hours and hours of Hardball baseball. One of the first CD-ROM’s I ever owned — which came with my first 4X CD-ROM drive — was an Accolade game compilation that contained Hardball, Unnecessary Roughness football and Jack Nicklaus golf.
Hardball never had awesome graphics, but it, like many other PC sports games, especially at that time, was game you could truly make your own. You could add players, change teams, add yourself and your friends, add legendary players and change everyone’s skills accordingly.
The March 1996 edition of Computer Gaming World Extra, the free CD that came with issue 140 of the magazine, contains a demo of Hardball 5 as well as CRY.SYS, Space Bucks, 11th Hour, Age of Rifles, Fulltilt! Pinball, Heroes of Might and Magic, NCAA College Basketball and FPS Football 96 packed into a disc with patches, a comic strip and the obligatory AOL installation. It was a very typical magazine CD back then.
The Hardball series itself has been around since 1985, when Accolade put it on Commodore 64. It later ended up on Apple II, Apple IIGS, Macintosh, the Atari 8-bit family, Atari ST, Amiga, MSX, ZX Spectrum, PC (DOS in CGA and EGA), and eventually the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, and Sony PlayStation — if you believe Wikipedia.
Hardball 5 is one of the highest-rated PC baseball games ever made. Gamespot’s Hugh Foster called it “the most playable baseball sim on the shelves today,” in an early review.
It was also one of Accolade’s late titles before the Infogrames took over in 1999. Accolade is responsible for the Test Drive, Deadlock, Bubsy, Brett Hull Hockey, Barkley: Shut Up and Jam (AWESOME Genesis title) and Star Control gaming franchises among many others.