Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sharpe Since 92 Cipher Solution


Ha! I have always wanted to write that, but have never had any information that would really spoil anything for anybody since normally when you have a kid you are three steps behind in anything pop culture. Example? The last movie I saw in the theatre was Harry Potter 6.

But now for the spoiler alert. Anybody who might attempting to crack the cipher at Sharpe Since 92 and does not want to know the solution to it, please leave now...but come back soon! After a week or so of starting, quitting, and starting again, I finally broke through and figured out the solution to Jim's diabolical code. Jim has asked me to share the solution with you.

So who is this guy...much like Ginter 2009, a card and a name is the answer to the cipher. I will tell you how to get there.

So Jim included a couple pieces to his puzzle. Initially he listed 17 baseball cards

Leon Durham
Gorman Thomas
Bo Jackson
Kent Tekulve
Andy Van Slyke
Bip Roberts
Dennis Eckersley
Steve Lake
Rickey Henderson
Dave Magadan
Jim Fregosi
Dave Concepcion
Eric Davis
Floyd Rayford
Donnie Hill
Tom Seaver
Enos Cabell

Jim also include a 100-character number code consisting of digits 1-18.

This here already represents a problem. The first thing I did, and probably everybody else was to assume that there were 18 cards and each card represented one letter for the number part of the cipher. Unfortunately 17 does not equal 18, no matter where you are from.

So my next step drove me crazy for the next week. How do you organize the cards? Alphabetical by first name? Last? Team? Mascot? Color of square? Color of text? Also, knowing the Codemaster himself only made it harder for me, because Jim dives into some pretty serious sh*t when it comes to codes and I had to assume he was making it much harder than the rest of the "normal" population could deduce.

I figured that there had to be a way to spell words from the cards that would give instructions on how to do the numbers, but how? Hmm, these are all reasonably random players from the 1987 Topps set, what is the common denominator?? Wait.....1987? Could it?

I took the numbers 1-9-8-7 and placed one digit next to each of the 17 cards...

1 Leon Durham
9 Gorman Thomas
8 Bo Jackson
7 Kent Tekulve
1 Andy Van Slyke
9 Bip Roberts
8 Dennis Eckersley
7 Steve Lake
1 Rickey Henderson
9 Dave Magadan
8 Jim Fregosi
7 Dave Concepcion
1 Eric Davis
9 Floyd Rayford
8 Donnie Hill
7 Tom Seaver
1 Enos Cabell

I then took the corresponding letter from each card based on counting that many letters in to each card...

1 Leon Durham = L
9 Gorman Thomas = O
8 Bo Jackson = O
7 Kent Tekulve = K
1 Andy Van Slyke = A
9 Bip Roberts = T
8 Dennis Eckersley = C
7 Steve Lake = A
1 Rickey Henderson = R
9 Dave Magadan = D
8 Jim Fregosi = O
7 Dave Concepcion = N
1 Eric Davis = E
9 Floyd Rayford = F
8 Donnie Hill = I
7 Tom Seaver = V
1 Enos Cabell = E


Sweet! Finally some plain english after a week of gibberish. Hmm, card one five. Here was a major fork in the road because there is a card in this bunch of Donnie hill of the A's, that not only does Donnie have the number 15 written on his bat knob, but he is also the 15th card of the bunch! This had to be it, right?

So I jumped back on the computer to head back to Jim's code to take a look at the Donnie Hill Card. When I scrolled through his site, I bumped into this...

A checklist from a post after Jim posted the code. I had a though and decided to take a quick glance at the numbers...sure enough this card is for cards 1-64 (totally odd numbering total by the way, but that ginormous yellow box took up space for #65).

Whoa...speaking of ginormous, check out the length of the name for card #15. I quickly jotted down the name and counted the letters and...yep....18 letters! Take that Donnie Hill and your red herring. Jim later told me that Donnie Hill was a complete coincidence with his bat number and his position on the board.

Okay, so here we now have card #15...

Claudell Washington, and a damn Yankee at that. 18 letters. So here is now a simpl(ish) substitution where C=1, L=2, A=3 etc...to apply to the 100-character digit code. Here it is all jammed up...


A few things don't quite make sense here, but with a little common reasoning you can determine that "NN" equals "M" (Jim needed to find some creative ways to use certain letters that were not part of Washingtons name)

Basically here is what you get....


Any player state page from google will get you the information you need. in 1982 Claudell had 150 hits in 150 games minus the 50 walks = 250. Thus is you look up card #250 online, you will find...

# 250, Teddy Higuera! I told Jim I have no idea who this guy is and I am being dead serious, back in 1987 I was into GI Joe, and Lego's and Star Wars and Top Gun. It would still be at least a couple more years before Organized professional sports became what it was all about. I have since learned a ton about the history of this great game, but alas 1987 was not on my "to-do" list :)

I want to thank Jim for organizing this cipher. He knows that these things just bug the hell out of me as to where I cannot quit until I know how it is done, so I just kept plugging along after quitting about eight times! This is pretty impressive stuff for a regular ol Jim who decided to throw something together in about an hour. It has several layers to it and if anything, was more satisfying that any ol word scramble that Topps could conjure that nobody would even how to find.

Make sure to drop Jim a comment of thanks for organizing the puzzle, and get him motivated to make another!


  1. Damn you, JD and your genius code-breaking abilities!!! :) I was stuck on Donnie Hill because not only was he the 15th card on the list and had the #15 written on the bottom of his bat, he also wore #15 on his jersey in 1987 (although he was playing for the White Sox that year). I was so sure that I had the right card (Donie Hill), that I never considered that it could have been something else. That's what I get for being narrow-minded.

    Good job, brother! Enjoy the spoils of your victory! I'll beat you next time! LMAO!

  2. Good work - I used to consider myself adept at solving these things - but I'll confess to have gotten stuck with the "all you need is here" comment on the blog. I had some crazy ideas though - and they may end up making it into a code contest of my own at some point...after all, I still have that complete set of Ginter to do something with!

  3. Yeah I think that somebody needs to create "Ginter Code 2.0" where you don't need to throw in the towel to actually get the code.

    I also agree with the "all you need is here" comment, and if not for scrolling through Jim's website I would not even have thought about the checklist.

  4. I knew it had something to do with '87 Topps, but that's as far as I got. Thanks for spoiling it for me... jerk.

  5. Great Job! I figured the checklist card was involved but couldn't figure out the math.

  6. I actually went back and deleted the "all you need is here comment" because I felt it was misleading. It was directly about "do I need the backs of THESE cards?" and my answer was NO, not THESE cards.

    Although, I do think that with the messages you got, all you NEEDED was given to you. maybe, possibly :) Hopefully it was fun even if it was confusing!

  7. I think you owe us all David Price autographs :)