The Story Behind Immaculate Grid, The Game That’s Captivated Baseball Fans

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When Brian Minter started Immaculate Grid in April, he was impressed that 20 people were playing daily.

Soon word of mouth worked.

His brother told his friends.

His friends told their friends.

One of them shared the daily trivia game on Reddit. Then the guys at Foolish Baseball — with more than 150,000 Twitter followers — found it.

“We had 200 games played in a day and I said, ‘It can’t get to 300,' and when it got to 300, I said ‘it can’t get to 600,’” said Minter, a 29-year-old software engineer from Atlanta.

Compare that to Tuesday's figures, when Immaculate Grid was played more than 100,000 times — and that was with eight more hours to spare.

It was the game's 100th grid.

It was also its last as an independent operation.

Baseball Reference acquired Immaculate Grid on Tuesday for an undisclosed sum, just three months after Minter spent two straight days coding the program.

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Minter sold his version about a month faster than the founder of Wordle sold his game to the New York Times in Feb. 2022 for a reported low seven-figure amount.

Special Edition: Immaculate Grid #100@ImmaculateGrid x @Baseball_Ref#immaculategrid
Retweet or reply with your score!

— Immaculate Grid (@immaculategrid) July 11, 2023

Immaculate Grid asks baseball fans to try to guess nine players that fit perfectly into a grid. For example, in the aforementioned grid, the player needs to have played for both the Dodgers and Mets to fulfill that square on the board. The player on the top right corner needs to have been a member of the Dodgers when he had 200 or more hits in a season. And so forth.

While guessing nine out of nine is ideal, so too is guessing players that others don’t. The lower your rarity score, the better. If you nab a player below 5%? Dynamite.

For the Dodgers-Mets guess, Brett Butler was guessed by 0.2% of players, giving the player a .2 rarity score.

As Immaculate Grid play grew exponentially, Minter had some buyout offers but ultimately reached out to Baseball Reference because, he says, it’s the gold standard in sports data.

Minter cold called Sean Forman, who has been running the site for 17 years. Forman needed no introduction.

“We had been playing it at work and the results would fill our morning Slack channel,” Forman said. “We’ve looked at games like this in the past, but this is the strongest use case we’ve seen. So we were naturally flattered that Brian saw the fit.”

Forman said the game, for now, will live on the Immaculate Grid dot com site and Baseball Reference will recoup its investment by selling minimal advertising, like it does on its stat pages.

Baseball Reference reports that it has observed a jump in player page views for those who fit the day's Immaculate Grid. Is it people cheating?

“We make the charitable assumption that it’s people looking for other answers after they played,” Forman said, with a chuckle.

Baseball Reference will also receive additional page views by presenting links to all the possible answers after a player has reached his or her maximum guesses.

Having built stat pages for the NFL, NBA and soccer, Forman said Baseball Reference will begin to build Immaculate Grid pages for those sports, too.

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