2008-01-04 / News

Winning $75,000 is real for fantasy sports champ

By Sam Bari

The check is not a fantasy. Ed Gillis, right, and son Dominique hold a check showing part of the $75,000 they earned over the last fifteen months playing fantasy baseball and football. Photo by Sam Bari The check is not a fantasy. Ed Gillis, right, and son Dominique hold a check showing part of the $75,000 they earned over the last fifteen months playing fantasy baseball and football. Photo by Sam Bari Jamestown native Ed Gillis, 48, and his son Dominique, 17, are national fantasy baseball and football champions, winning more than $75,000 in two championships at the high stakes game.

"I select the players and actually play the game, but Dom is my sidekick, my partner, and good luck charm. He helps me a lot when we're in the thick of things. I take him to Vegas, Chicago, and New York - wherever we have to go to play," Gillis said.

He also said that he prefers to play fantasy baseball because more skill is involved. "Football requires more luck, and has fewer players to choose from. That's why I concentrate on baseball," Gillis explained. "The selection for the draft involves 700 to 800 players."

Gillis also said, "It isn't cheap to play," and emphasized that he is one of the lucky ones to be ahead of the game. "When we got to the Fantasy Superbowl in 2007, we won $13,500 in the Ultimate," Gillis said. "But we still had to pay $1,300 just to play."

Gillis is the only two-time winner ever in the Ultimate category in both sports. He won $27,500 in Ultimate Football in 2005 and $47,537.50 in Ultimate Baseball in 2006. He is also one of only two, three-time winners of main events. The other three-time winner is Shawn Childs from Cape Cod. Gillis and Childs have become close friends, Gillis said.

Gillis explained that players can participate in three different levels of national play: the Win, the Main Event, and the Ultimate categories each have different entry fees and payouts. He also explained the rules of the complex game.

He said that players must first join either a local league or a national league. The national leagues take place in Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando, and New York. Players are required to go to those cities to participate in the drafts, he said.

He went on to explain the differences between the "snake draft" and the "auction," as well as other esoteric terminology. Official 2008 rules and information about prizes and joining a league is available on the Internet at www.fantasybaseballchampionship. com/rules2008. asp for baseball and at www.fantasyfootballchampionship. com/index. asp for football.

Gillis started in a local league in North Kingstown in 1993, he said. "There weren't enough guys to play because at least 11 were needed to make a team, although most are 12 player leagues," he said. "I got three other guys from Jamestown to shore up the league and it's been together ever since. We called it the Out of Control League," Gillis said.

According to Gillis, the game as it is played today started in New York in 1988. "It was called 'Rotisserie' because the guys who started it did the draft in their rotisserie restaurant, he said.

An Internet encyclopedia said that early forms of fantasy baseball were sometimes called "tabletop baseball" and started as far back as the early 1960s. One of the best-known was the Strat-o-Matic, which began publishing a game containing customized baseball cards of Major League Baseball players with their stats from recent seasons in 1963. Participants could re-create previous seasons using the game rules and the statistics, or compose fantasy teams from the cards and play against each other.

The landmark tabletop game Pursue the Pennant that debuted in 1985 took baseball board games to much more realistic levels of play to incorporate ballpark effects, clutch hitting and pitching and many other nuances of the game.

Gillis said that winning the money helped his family financially. "It got me out of debt and six mortgage payments ahead," he said. However, the price to play is going up, as are the winnings, he said. "Now I have partners - people who have faith in me absorb some of the entry fees and we go in together. The entry fees discourage many from playing in the national leagues, but the local leagues are still affordable and fun," he said.

Gillis is a painting contractor and has lived in Jamestown all his life. He and his wife, Mehgan, have four children, Joshua, 19, Dominique, 17, Ashlin 14, and Grant, 12.

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