Return of 'R.B.I. Baseball' Is What My Generation Needs

Kavitha A. Davidson is a former Bloomberg View columnist.
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To anyone who grew up in the late 1980s to early '90s, this is the most exciting news of the day: MLB Advanced Media is reviving "R.B.I. Baseball."

The iconic video game, which was first released in 1986 and ran on the original Nintendo Entertainment System in the U.S. from 1988 to 1995, will return this spring, as announced in a sly tweet by @MLB, and will be available across the spectrum of game consoles and mobile devices.

"R.B.I. Baseball" was the first video game licensed by the Major League Baseball players' union and thus the first to use real names. Some of us will always have a soft spot in our hearts for the primitive 8-bit graphics, but I can't wait to see what MLBAM does within today's high-definition gaming experience.

The first video game developed by MLBAM seems to be part of a concerted effort by baseball to capitalize on nostalgia among fans in their 20s and 30s. Last year, the MLB Fan Cave released this awesome video of young players like Robinson Cano and Andrew McCutchen paying tribute to the '90s classic "The Sandlot" for the film's 20th anniversary. This month, the Topps Co. offered a peek at a set of baseball cards featuring fictitious Cleveland Indians Jake Taylor and Roger Dorn from 1989's "Major League" in honor of the film's 25th anniversary

It makes sense to appeal to fans who are about the same age as today's MLB stars and who experienced the heartbreak of the 1994-95 strike, the subsequent power- and steroid-driven revival, and the league's recent attempts to transform itself through technology and social media. According to the league, the average avid fan is about 45, but the average Fan Cave fan is 25. And those of us in the younger generation are more willing to engage with our wallets: According to Scarborough Research, MLB fans ages 18 to 29 are 37 percent more likely to buy league merchandise than the average fan.

So keep coming after us, MLB. As you'll see from sales figures of "R.B.I. Baseball '14," the sport isn't dying among my peers, and invoking the sporting symbols of our youth could be the key to retaining its hold on us.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

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Kavitha A Davidson at