Big Business

Dan Okrent discusses inventing Rotisserie baseball

"I swear that if I bring peace to the Middle East and find a cure to cancer, then my obituary will say Okrent died, Invented rotisserie baseball. There's no way of avoiding it. This was something that came to me in the 1979-1980 off season. It was loosely based on something that a very dear friend and professor of mine at the University of Michigan had done when I was an undergraduate there that was an extremely rudimentary form of it. It was almost hieroglyphs. And I had some similarly crazed friends. We used to meet on a monthly basis and talk ball at a really lousy restaurant on the East Side of Manhattan called La Rotisserie Francais. That's where we got the name. It has nothing to do with the hot stove league. And because several of us were in the media we got a lot of coverage. And we particularly got coverage in the 1981 strike, when there was nothing else for baseball writers to write about. And it spread very rapidly. And you know people now say that there are millions playing it, that it costs the economy three billion dollars of lost time in the office. And of course I've become an extremely, extremely wealthy man from having benefited it which is to say I made about a dollar fifty."