Tony La Russa is hitting home runs seemingly each day this off-season as he makes the pre-Holiday rounds of bookstore signings and radio show interviews. By accounts, his remembrances of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2011 World Championship season, “One Last Strike,” is very popular with baseball book-buying fans.
In the near-term at least, another of La Russa’s retirement projects is not going to be competing for time on his busy public appearance calendar, however.
Recently, the former manager rekindled a partnership with veteran video game designer Don Daglow to develop a mobile-based baseball game. Targeted for smartphones, the proposed new offering, Tony La Russa’s Baseball with Fans, has failed in its initial attempt to reach financial first base.
Daglow and his Stormfront Studios of Sausalito, CA, and La Russa previously joined forces during the 1990s. They brought to market the original – and very successful – series of Tony La Russa Baseball computer games which ran on a number of then-popular platforms including PC and Sega Genesis.
It is relatively easy for a public figure to allow his name to be used on a product. It is another level of commitment entirely to provide the financial backing needed to turn a concept into reality. As former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling has learned very publicly and painfully, an entire career’s earnings can be lost in this industry rapidly.
For their new project, Daglow and La Russa hoped to use OPM – other peoples’ money. Specifically, the next step was to attempt to secure initial financial backing totaling a quarter of a million dollars. On November 19, Daglow initiated a campaign using an online tool called Kickstarter to take the concept directly to potential investors.
They quickly fanned – looking.
After more than a week, the proposal managed to surface just one percent of the cash needed – $2,490 – from 24 potential backers. A virtual pass-the-hat exercise generating roughly $100 each from two dozen people clearly was not going to cut it. The Kickstarter site indicates the funding campaign has now been suspended.
While their new project has definitely taken a setback, it may not yet be down to its last strike. They may be considering making another run with an offering that would target more serious gamers by utilizing specialized systems as its platform rather than the smartphone.
Whether La Russa and Daglow can recapture their past magic in a video game industry that has evolved dramatically over the last two decades remains to be seen.