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DID TOO MUCH FUN ‘N’ GAMES HINDER TED’S ’88 CAMPAIGN?

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Forget the effects of a bad campaign strategy. Forget the impact of Merrill Cook and Gov. Norm Bangerter.

Democrat Ted Wilson lost the 1988 gubernatorial race because of a fantasy baseball game.Strange as it sounds, some campaign workers believe Strat-O-Matic Baseball, a game manufactured in New York, was a major distraction among the men trying to get Wilson elected.

It's an allegation campaign workers, including the men, find ludicrous.

But some high-ranking officials on the campaign, none of whom would allow their names to be used, said the men on the campaign staff spent an inordinate amount of time with the game, rolling dice and talking sports.

Strat-O-Matic attempts to re-create the performances of each major-league baseball player. For seven years, high-ranking Democrats have met with high-powered lobbyists and some media members to draft teams, play games and win money.

The games didn't stop during the 1988 campaign, but those who played said fantasy baseball didn't interfere with Wilson's campaign.

Wilson campaign manager Rob Jolley said he played at the campaign headquarters only once, and that was after 11 p.m. He said the game was a diversion that kept him sane during the difficult months.

Wilson knew of the games, but he dismisses any notion they cost him the race. "Frankly, I'd love to blame them. Then I wouldn't have to blame myself," he said.