TCABT-VII: Announcement … Saturday, April 1st, 2017

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The Neil Ess Memorial Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament will be held Saturday, April 1st, 2017.

TCABT-VII

  • Date:  Saturday, April 1st, 2017
  • Location:  Darrel Skogen’s home in Maple Grove, MN
    • 9575 Glacier Lane, Maple Grove, MN 55369
  • Time:  8:15am till finish (plan on around 6:30pm)
  • Team selection:  Begins Saturday, January 7th at 12:00am

Any MLB team from 1901 to 2016 is eligible, except for the following previous TCABT champions:

  • 1927 YANKEES
  • 1954 GIANTS
  • 1902 PIRATES
  • 1937 YANKEES
  • 2011 RANGERS
  • 1930 CARDINALS

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As in past years for our April tournament, team selection will begin on the first Saturday of January.

  • For TCABT-VII, team selection begins:  Saturday, January 7th at 12:00am

Email your top 3 team selections to Jim Fraasch at “jwfraasch@mchsi.com” starting after midnight on Friday (Saturday AM).  Teams are awarded on a first entry received basis.  If your team has already been selected before you turned in your entry, you would then be given choice #2 or #3 on your list, etc.

Team selection continues through Saturday, March 11th.

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Some tournament rules include:

  • 22 man roster
  • DH must be used
  • 4-man rotation in division play (to be a starting pitcher, pitcher must have made at least 10 starts in actual season)
  • 3-man rotation during the “best-of-three” bracket play, with the rotation starting over for the beginning of each series.
  • 8 teams qualify for the “best-of-three” bracket play.
  • For a player to be in the starting lineup, he must have had at least 100 PA during the actual season.
  • For a non-pitcher to be on the roster, he must have had at least 25 PA during the actual season.
  • Basic game, using all advanced rules.
  • We also use the APBA Journal Error Distribution Card and Unusual Play Card.
  • We also have our own Bases Empty Error Re-roll card for Fielding One infielders (2b, SS, 3B)
  • No injuries extend past the current game (players are only injured for the remainder of the game)
  • No rain-outs, re-roll dice using Unusual Play Card a 2nd time.

 

APBA’view: Fred Johnson

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About 2 years ago, I had spotted a little Craigslist ad, a man selling a few APBA Baseball sets which were sitting idle, collecting dust.  I am an APBA collector and player.  When I see an ad listing for anything APBA, I usually jump at the chance to pick up the item, whether I need the item or not.  It gives me a chance to meet another person who might be associated with APBA in some fashion.  The additional APBA sets are nice, but gaining a new relationship, through APBA, is definitely more valuable to me.

The man posting the Craigslist ad was Fred Johnson, of Cottage Grove, MN.  I called the number, and was informed the 2 sets he had for sale were the 1976 and 1977 sets.  I already owned these sets, but what the heck, I asked where we should meet and I would love to pick up the sets.  We decided on a location in the southeast Twin Cities metro, a Caribou Coffee shop.  Upon meeting Fred, one of my first questions was “what was your experience with APBA”?  It turns out, Fred had played APBA in his youth, growing up with 2 buddies in the 1950’s and playing hours and hours of APBA Baseball.  Back when the cards were all single-column cards, and when the Athletics found their way from Philadelphia to Kansas City, and “first in War, and last in the American League” was still a common and accurate phrase uttered in the Washington DC area.  You could say Fred’s exposure to APBA was during the “Golden Age” of baseball and the very early years of APBA.  However, by the time APBA had first issued the double-column cards in 1959 (the 1958 season), Fred was leaving APBA behind after high school graduation (1959) and college.  Fred’s buddies kept playing through the years, until each had sadly passed away over the last few years.  The 1976 and 1977 sets which Fred had in his possession were given to him by the wife of one of his buddies.  Fred decided he did not need the extra box of APBA cards sitting around the house, and just wanted to find a home for the sets, and was not looking to make any sort of money on the cards.

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Our meeting turned out to be much more than just a lackluster transaction involving APBA cards from the 1970’s.  Over a cup of coffee, I mentioned to Fred that I play in a semi-annual APBA tournament in the Twin Cities, and that we currently had about 20 guys involved.  Instead of a blank stare, and instead of a polite “oh, that’s nice”, Fred’s curiosity was peaked, and by the end of our visit, Fred was planning to attend our 3rd tournament, scheduled for April of 2015, after not having rolled any APBA dice since 1959.  He has attended each semi-annual tournament since, and plans to not miss another.

Onto the interview questions for a famed author of Minnesota History, a very humble Fred Johnson …

Jimsapbabarn question #1:  Tell us about yourself, your youth, etc (outside of APBA)?

Fred Johnson:  Red Wing, my hometown, prided itself as a basketball and baseball hotbed so I was immersed in both sports during my 1950s era childhood years. I lived just four blocks from the beautiful ballpark home of the Red Wing Aces, a venue that is familiar to many Minnesota town team veterans. My friends and I used that field as our personal diamond as grade-schoolers and played on it for real as members of city’s high school baseball team and later the town team.

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red_wing_athletic_field

red_wing_aces_town_team

(Current day Red Wing Aces town-team players)

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zach_batting_at_athletic_field_in_red_wing

(Ed. note:  The irony of doing this interview with Fred Johnson, is that a few years earlier before I knew Fred, I had taken this cell phone picture of my son Zach, batting at Athletic Park in Red Wing during an American Legion game)

Sports came first for me, a fact my teachers would readily confirm. The seasons just ran together—football followed by basketball, baseball, summer baseball (Little League, VFW, American Legion), and pre-football captains’ practice. Then the cycle started over again until I managed to graduate. History, writing and literature were of great interest to me and I pursued all of those subjects on my own, not considering them as part of my formal schooling. Any endeavors involving these three interests, along with sports, were pleasures to be enjoyed, certainly not labor.

Somehow college scouts failed to understand my athletic potential and no scholarships were forthcoming. Similarly, my academic record eluded the talent scouts of the nation’s greatest colleges and universities. I attended University of Wisconsin-River Falls, which proved to be an excellent school, as an elementary education major with a journalism minor. Eventually I taught in St. Paul for more than three decades.

Cascade Avenue entrance

 

Jimsapbabarn question #2:  When and how did you discover APBA?

Fred Johnson:  In the summer of 1955, a new friend invited me to play APBA baseball with him. He owned the complete 1952 and 1953 editions. During the first summer, we casually played teams we liked, but committed to doing a full season the following year. We played all sixteen teams according to their schedule and had a great time but, of course, couldn’t come close to completing the 154 game schedule. A mutual friend joined us in 1957 and we recreated the 1956 APBA season.

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Our trio added a fourth and we kept playing until 1959 when high school activities intervened. We would roll an occasional game when we got together, even if we didn’t have the cards and boards. Each of would pick favorite teams, lineups that had been committed to memory well enough to make the games work.

 

Jimsapbabarn question #3:  I know you spent time as a community paper sportswriter, how did you get going with the job and how long did you write the column?

Fred Johnson:  As noted, my interest in writing only grew during high school. I joined the school newspaper as its sports editor, a tricky proposition when covering teams on which I played. Fortunately there proved to be no conflict of interest. I never did anything on the football, basketball and baseball teams that was noteworthy. Sportswriting became a bigger part of my life when I became sports editor of the weekly newspaper serving Cottage Grove, Woodbury, St. Paul Park and Newport. I began in 1970 and continued for thirteen years.

My love of history only grew stronger over the years. I began writing about Minnesota’s past in 1986 and in retirement got much more involved. Local historical societies hire me to write community histories and I also author magazine articles on topics interesting to me. Ten of my books are now in publication and I continue to write.

 

Jimsapbabarn question #4:  What are your memories of TCABT regular Gregg Nelson and his brother, the current MLB umpire, Jeff Nelson, as high school athletes?

Fred Johnson:  First, as a teacher and unlike typical sportswriters, I tended to take the broader view of high school athletics. The importance of sports is overblown in our society and I didn’t want to make heroes or goats of teenagers. Although cautious in dealing with individuals, I enjoyed pointing out those who were noteworthy for athletic success but also positive leaders, hard workers, and good teammates. Gregg and Jeff were in that category.

fred_vs_gregg_the_reunion

(TCABT-III:  Fred Johnson on left facing off vs Gregg Nelson on right)

Ed. note:  I am dropping in the story I wrote in a recap of TCABT-III …

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The “reunion” … this picture has a big story behind it.

This is Fred Johnson on the left, and Gregg Nelson on the right.

Fred Johnson’s last APBA Baseball game he played until this tourney day, was in 1959.

Fred Johnson spent his career as a school teacher and local sports writer in Cottage Grove, MN, which is the same town Gregg Nelson grew up in, playing APBA Baseball with his brother, Jeff Nelson, who is now a Major League Baseball Umpire. Fred covered the high school basketball playing days of both Gregg and Jeff Nelson. Gregg recalls reading Fred’s column each and every week in his community newspaper. The chance that this meeting would ever take place, some 30+ years since Gregg’s high school days is truly amazing. I happened to stumble upon an APBA Craigslist ad several months ago. The seller was Fred Johnson, selling a ’76 and ’77 APBA set which he never used but had acquired from his friend who had kept up with APBA until he died. I mentioned our TCABT tournament to Fred, and he was interested in coming out and meeting the guys and playing, even though he had not rolled the dice since 1959. When Gregg saw Fred Johnson from Cottage Grove was coming to the tournament, it dawned on him that this had to be the same Fred Johnson that wrote the sports column each week in his old hometown community newspaper. Sure enough it was … Gregg mentioned this to his brother Jeff, who asked for a picture of the 2 together at the tournament. The divisions were determined with rolls of the dice a few weeks in advance and another random occurrence, put these 2 in the same division, which meant they would be rolling the dice vs each other. Fred’s ’30 A’s won both games over Gregg’s ’98 Braves, 2 1-run games. I think Gregg was just happy he got to roll a series vs his favorite sports columnist. Today, Fred Johnson is an author and a Minnesota Historian. He has written several books on specific events in Minnesota history, has published several articles and has appeared on local TV shows.

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jeff_nelson_ump_with_girardi

(2009 World Series:  On left, Gregg’s brother, Jeff Nelson #45 with the upper-hand, as Yankee Skipper Joe Girardi pleads his case)

I remember Gregg and Jeff as determined, capable, versatile, dependable athletes who their coaches could count on to perform to the best of their ability. They competed. The Nelsons were the kind of kids a coach, fans, and teammates wanted on their side, a compliment to their parents, school and community. Can’t do much better than that.

 

Jimsapbabarn question #5:  How did you come to write your first book on Minnesota history?

Fred Johnson:  My first book The Sea Wing Disaster came out in 1986 and was revised and expanded 2014.  The steamboat Sea Wing carried 215 people when it overturned south of Red Wing on Lake Pepin in July 1890. Ninety-eight people died. It is among the nation’s most deadly steamboat accidents. My great-grandfather worked as one of the teamsters at the city levee, loading victim’s bodies on wagons and driving them to makeshift funeral parlors. Two sisters, who would have become grand-aunts to my wife, drowned. The family connection led me to write the story.

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sea_wing_wreckage

(The Sea Wing wreckage … July 1890)

My favorite book authored?:  Books are like an author’s children, each unique and sometimes challenging but you love them all. That said, The Big Water: Lake Minnetonka and Its Place in Minnesota History (Deep Haven Books, 2012) was the most enjoyable to write.

big_water_lake_mtka

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uncertain-lives

 

Jimsapbabarn question #6:  You seem to have a good grasp on what makes a great history book … what is your advice for someone thinking about heading down this path?

Fred Johnson:  Narrative histories, the kind popularized by modern, scholarly historians— David McCullough, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stephen Ambrose, come to mind—are written in story-based form. Readers enjoy approaching history in this manner; I certainly do. Such books certainly not like school texts. A warning: Each narrative history, including mine, requires years of research, documentation and writing.

 

Jimsapbabarn question #7:  You might be the only person who began playing APBA in the 1950’s, left it behind in the late 1950’s, and waited about 60 years to pick up the dice again … what is your take on the game today?

Fred Johnson:  APBA today is certainly more realistic than the 1950s era game. We had less managerial control and limited knowledge of tactics we could employ. Starting out as ten year olds, we knew little about inside baseball and typically just rolled the dice to see what happened. The managers’ banter was at a juvenile level but nonetheless authentic. We talked to our players (cards) much more—giving advice, chewing them out, cajoling, threatening—and taunted our opponent especially after a victory. I believe improved grading of pitching and hitting—all factors actually—adds realism to the game.

 

A quick AROUND THE HORN with Fred Johnson …

      around_the_horn

Your favorite sports team?

Fred Johnson:  Minnesota football Gophers. Seven national champions, the last of which I actually saw play in 1960.

gophers_1961

Your favorite ballpark?

Fred Johnson:  Although I’ve only been in it once, I’d rate Fenway as number one. I’m a history guy after all and remember many of the early parks: The Polo Grounds, the upper Manhattan horseshoe, and Dusty Rhodes’s pinch hitting prowess in 1954 Series; Crosley Field, Cincinnati with inclined Terrace; Ebbett’s Field, Brooklyn (it seemed all World Series games, when I was growing up, were in NYC).

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Your favorite athlete?

Fred Johnson:  A tough one considering the many thousands I’ve seen. There is a person whom I greatly admired as a player, commentator and general truly good guy: Harmon Killebrew.

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Your favorite movie?

Fred Johnson:  The Bridge on the River Kwai

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Your favorite “hole-in-the-wall” place to eat?

Fred Johnson:  Magnolia’s, Payne Avenue (St. Paul’s East Side).

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A big THANK YOU to Fred Johnson for taking part in this 8th “APBA’view” I have been able to write and post.  A few things I would like to say about Fred, who I consider a friend … Fred could not be a more unassuming, humble, self-effacing individual who has found success, not only in the books he has authored, but in his everyday life.

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(Fred pictured with his 2 cats, Winston and Chruchill)

Our TCABT group is honored to have a guy like Fred as an active participant.  I am going to end this interview with a JimsAPBABarn “re-post” of a write-up which Fred penned after his 1929 Athletics went 2-8 in TCABT-V:

By the way, this tournament might feature one champion, but it is loaded with “losers” …😉 Nobody has done a better job with summarizing the plight of a losing tournament team better than local Minnesota Historian, author and TCABT regular, Fred Johnson.  Here is Fred’s write-up of his 1929 Athletics dismal showing in TCABT-V:

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Don’t Forget the Losers

By the King of the 2016 Losers, the UnAthletics (by Fred Johnson)

While winning is always an important part of the semi-annual Twin Cities Neil Ess Memorial APBA baseball tournament, one must not forget the losers. Take, for instance, the case for the 1929 Philadelphia Athletics and their almost total collapse during the April 2, 2016, showdown at Darrel Skogen Fields in Maple Grove.

Manager Fred Johnson’s club established a breathtaking record of failure during the tourney. It wasn’t the UnAthletics 2-8 won-lost record, though piteously weak, that drew attention. It was their shockingly dismal performance at the plate. In ten games the Athletics totaled 18 runs, were shut out four times (including one and three hitters), while posting a streak of 19 straight scoreless innings. The A’s scored one run in two other losses. Yes, the UnAs averaged less than one-run-per-game in six of their defeats.

Far worse than that miserable showing was the performance of the A’s three Hall of Fame sluggers Jimmy Foxx, Al Simmons and Mickey Cochrane, along with that of Jimmy Dykes (in a career-best year). They formed a Murders’ Row at 3-4-5-6. In a combined 163 plate appearances (148 at bats), they picked up 25 hits for a .160 BA. The foursome’s batting average was deceptively high, buoyed by Cochrane’s lofty .210 mark. Jimmy Foxx, the great Double X, rapped two singles in 35 at bats for a .057 average. He recorded no rbi for the UnAthletics, failing to drive in runners during those rare seven events when he actually found them in scoring position. He did ground into a DP with two men on.

Simmons starred for this collection of doleful, defeated, diamond-dust dead-beats, knocking in five runs and hitting three homeruns, thus finishing the A’s first and last round with a nifty 7-for-39 record. In a heroic performance, Dykes produced a 7-for-38 and two rbi. Cochrane clubbed six singles and two doubles in 37 at bats en route to his new home, just a step over the Mendoza Line.

Manager Johnson held up admirably under a steady spring blizzard of base knocks and a hail of fastballs. He made his best move early on, nearly convincing ’68 Cardinals boss Rob Skogen to rest Bob Gibson when game one went to extra innings. Skogen questioned why Lefty Grove was still twirling for the A’s after ten, thus recognizing the trap. The 11-inning setback seemed to encourage the UnAthletics, however, as they tallied two runs during the 6-2 setback. Johnson sent Moose Earnshaw to the rubber in game two and the A’s exploded for three runs during a 3-2 rout. Johnson, never known for sportsmanship, celebrated the win, attributing it to Bing Miller’s knockout of Card catcher Tim McCarver with a questionable first inning slide. “Suck it up, Timmy!” Johnson advised helpfully as stretcher-bearers lugged McCarver from the field.

Roger Parsons started the UnAs on a phenomenal 19 inning scoreless skein as his 1972 Pirates beat Rube Walberg 7-4 and Bill Shores 3-0. Chris Lyons and his 2006 Twins then dazed Lefty Grove and the A’s 6-0. The UnAthletics pilot, fearing his boys would never score again and now near tears, stopped a passing Gregg Nelson seeking counsel. “You’re over-managing,” offered the Sage of Wayzata before hurrying away from the simpering A’s skipper.

Johnson employed Nelson’s strategy, advising his club to “relax” and “have fun” as he eased the pressure on his bewildered batsmen. They responded exploding for three runs while Earnshaw shut out Lyons’s Twins. With a 2-4 record, the A’s swaggered on to meet the unintimidating 1912 Red Sox.

Sox boss Chris Shores, a crafty, remorseless APBA vet, obliterated the hopes of A’s and their lachrymose leader, guiding his Beantowners through 5-1 and 5-4 romps. Shores actually weakened some in the second game and, irritated by disgusting pleas for mercy from Johnson, ordered his right-hander Charley Hall to groove a couple of pitches to Al Simmons. Two meaningless homers resulted, blows that did little to assuage fears of the fainthearted UnAthletics.

The A’s knew Bruce Tyler’s second round-bound 1910 A’s were up next. A clearly bored Tyler—he kept nodding off when Johnson’s club was at bat—sent Jack Coombs to the mound. Coombs allowed two men reach base (a double and a walk) struck out Foxx, Simmons and Cochrane in the seventh, and got the last 14 batters in a row to win 4-0. Chief Bender, alternating between pitching right handed, left handed and finally underhanded, surrendered the A’s lone run when Cochrane chipped a double to right. (manager Tyler was resting all of his outfielders for the playoff round.) Dykes then scored on a single.

Devastating defeat, some say, can break a man. And getting smoked at an APBA tourney, of course, qualifies as such a disastrous setback. But UnAthletics manager Johnson took it all like a man.

That is, if being a man means huddling in a corner and endlessly sobbing, “Double X, Double X, Double X,” whatever that means.

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TCABT-VI … The Results

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(TOP ROW from L to R:  Joe Pavlicek, Steve Ryan, Leroy Arnoldi, Fred Johnson, Pat Martin, Dan Skillings, George Adams, Kevin Cluff, Phil Geraffo, Chris Shores, Garth Anderson, Roy Langhans, John Kalous, Dave Norlander.  BOTTOM ROW from L to R:  Craig Christian, Gary Borthwick, Bruce Tyler, Jeff Boeding, Beau Lofgren, Ben Lofgren, Ron Emch, Darrell Skogen, Jim Fraasch)

TCABT-VI is in the books.  23 teams took their chances on a beautiful Saturday October 1st in the Twin Cities.  After the usual opening where 1st-timers are introduced, a quick rules Q&A, and the big group photo, the dice rolling commenced by around 8:45am.  We had 3 divisions of 6 teams playing 10 games each (HHH Metrodome Division, Nicollet Park Division, Target Field Division), and 1 division of 5 teams playing 8 games each (Metropolitan Stadium Division).  The top 2 from each division would advance to the 8-team best-of-three Championship Bracket.  We also held a consolation bracket for the teams not in the Championship bracket.  11 teams played in the consolation one-and-done bracket.  110 divisional games were rolled.  Divisional play was wrapped up by 3:00pm.

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(Consolation play:  George Adams with one of his “generic” ballparks battling Dave Norlander)

In the HHH Metrodome Division, Bruce Tyler’s 1930 Cardinals led the way with an 8-2 record.  Steve Ryan’s 1998 Braves were just 1 game back at 7-3, good enough for 2nd place and a berth in Championship Bracket play.  In the Nicollet Park Division, Leroy Arnoldi’s 1977 Phillies win it, with a 7-3 record.  For 2nd place, Roy Langhans won a 3-way tie-breaker with a record of 5-5, tied with the 1930 A’s (Garth Anderson) and the 5-5 1946 Red Sox (Chris Shores).  In a 3-way tie for first in the Target Field Division, the 7-3 ’53 Dodgers managed by Fred Johnson winning the run-differential tie-breaker.

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(Sitting foreground, Fred Johnson on left vs Gary Borthwick on right)

Gary Borthwick’s 1911 Giants (also 7-3) would gain 2nd place in that division with John Kalous drawing the short straw (also at 7-3).  In the Metropolitan Stadium Division, the only division with 5 teams, saw the tightest race, with all 5-teams neck-and-neck, especially when you look at their run-differentials.  Host Darrell Skogen’s 2014 Orioles went 5-3, winning the division.  A 3-way tie for 2nd, with the Championship Bracket berth going to Ben Lofgren and his ’95 Indians (4-4, with a +1 run diff).  Phil Geraffo’s 2001 Mariners were also 4-4, as were Jim Fraasch’s 1930 Senators, both teams with a 0 run diff.  Last place in the division, was Craig Christian and his 1981 Expos, at 3-5, and a run diff of just -2.  Darrell’s 1st place run diff was +1.

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(Divisional play:  Darrell Skogen on right, vs Jim Fraasch on left)

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(Divisional play:  starting all the way in the back:  Phil Geraffo vs Craig Christian, Jeff Boeding vs Garth Anderson, and foreground, is APBA HoF’er, Roy Langhans)

Championship Bracket play saw 8 teams fight it out in 7 best-of-three series.  The Quarter-finals saw all series go 2 games to none, with the 1930 Cardinals, the 1977 Phillies, the 1911 Giants and the 1998 Braves advancing to the Semi-finals.  In the only 3-game series of the Championship Bracket play, in the Semi-finals, Bruce Tyler’s 1930 Cardinals defeated Gary Borthwick’s 1911 Giants, 2 games to 1.  Game 3 of that series saw the 1911 Giants with a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the 9th, give up 3 runs as the 1930 Cardinals stormed back to win the game and the series.

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(Bruce on left, Gary on right)

Leroy Arnoldi’s 1977 Phillies took care of Steve Ryan’s 1998 Braves, 2 games to none.

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(Darrell watching as Steve on left, takes on Leroy’s 1977 Phillies on right)

The TCABT-VI Championship came down to Bruce’s ’30 Cardinals vs Leroy’s ’77 Phillies.

1930_cardinals VS 1977_phillies

The ’30 Cardinals won in 2 games, by scores of 9-8 and 7-5.  Bruce Tyler wins his 1st TCABT Championship, and the 1930 Cardinals are now eliminated from TCABT competition.  Leroy’s (we call him Mr. October) loss was the first time he did not bring the trophy home in October.  It was only fitting as the 2 managers, Bruce and Leroy, have played together in the same face-to-face APBA league since they were kids in the early 1960’s.

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(Standing, Jeff Boeding on left and Ben Lofgren on right watch, as Leroy Arnoldi sitting on the left faces off vs Bruce Tyler on the right for the TCABT-VI Championship Title)

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(Bruce on left with his pile of dice, Leroy on right going for his 3rd October title)

 

In consolation play, Garth Anderson’s 1930 Athletics won the one-and-done bracket, over John Kalous’ 2015 Astros.

 

 

A look at some interesting numbers which played out in TCABT-VI:

  • 23 Attendees in all (24 if you count Mr. Gregg Nelson stopping by early in the AM to take our group photo – thank you Gregg!)
  • 7 Attendees from out of state.
  • 2092 Miles, the round-trip distance traveled by car, with the majority of those miles driven by Steve Ryan’s wife (Harrison, TN to Maple Grove, MN)
  • 110 Division games rolled.
  • 15 Championship bracket games rolled.
  • 10 Consolation bracket games rolled.
  • 135 Total games rolled.
  • 2 No-hitter’s, one pitched by Dallas Keuchel (2o15 Astros, John Kalous) and the other by Lefty Grove (1930 A’s, Garth Anderson, during the consolation play)
  • 2 The number of almost no-hitters (thru 8-2/3rds) broken up by George Adams and his 1966 Astros.
  • 2 The number of triple-plays that Albert Belle grounded into for Ben Lofgren’s 1995 Indians.
  • 3 The number of times Jeff Boeding’s 1933 Pirates were shut-out consecutively, and Jeff’s team scored just 1 run in their 1st 4 games.  Jeff’s Pirates also records back-to-back 2-0 shutouts.
  • 4 Consecutive HR’s by Evan Gattis, coming in 12 inning of last pool game, then first 3 AB in Consolation bracket (2015 Astros, John Kalous)
  • 6 The number of hits in 1 game by Chick Hafey (6 for 6) of the 1930 Cardinals (Bruce Tyler) while completing the cycle.
  • 7 The number of double plays turned by Garth Anderson’s infielders in a single game vs Chris Shores’ 1946 Red Sox (the AL record is 6 in a game).
  • 8 The number of errors committed in 10 games for SS Jose Pagan, of Dan Skillings’ 1962 Giants.
  • 17 Games rolled by eventual TCABT-VI Champion Bruce Tyler and his 1930 Cardinals (finishing with an incredible 14-3 overall record).
  • 19 Runs, the most runs scored in a game, thanks to Fred Johnson and his 1953 Dodgers.
  • 18 Runs, the 2nd most runs scored in a game, ditto, Fred Johnson.
  • 72 Degrees, the high temp in Maple Grove, MN for TCABT-VI.

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(Leroy’s field with Charlie Brown shown hurling from the mound)

Each year, the TCABT is held on the first Saturday of April and the first Saturday of October.  TCABT-VII will be held April 1st, 2017.  TCABT-VIII will be held October 7th, 2017.

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(Ron Emch on left vs Kevin Cluff on right)

Ron Emch posted a terrific video on Youtube, showing the “announcement show” for the 8 teams qualifying for the Championship Bracket portion of the tourney.

gary_vs_dan

(Gary Borthwick, top, vs Dan Skillings, bottom)

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(Steve Ryan on left, vs Beau Lofgren on right)

phil_vs_craig

(Phil Geraffo on left, vs Craig Christian on right)

Friday morning I was able to meet Roy Langhans for breakfast at Al’s Breakfast, located in Dinkytown (on the University of Minnesota campus).

breakfast_at_als_with_roy

Thanks to George Adams, another ballpark addition … Griffith Stadium in D.C.

griffith_stadium

 

THE NEIL ESS MEMORIAL TWIN CITIES APBA BASEBALL TOURNAMENT – VI

STANDINGS:

TCABT-VI 23 TEAMS
Saturday, October 1st, 2016
HHH METRODOME DIVISION W L R OR RDIFF
1930 CARDINALS (BRUCE TYLER) 8 2 71 35 36
1998 BRAVES (STEVE RYAN) 7 3 43 29 14
1990 ATHLETICS (BEAU LOFGREN) 5 5 42 32 10
1972 ATHLETICS (JOE PAVLICEK) 4 6 36 44 -8
2008 CUBS (PAT MARTIN) 3 7 22 42 -20
1966 ASTROS (GEORGE ADAMS) 3 7 39 71 -32
TOTALS 30 30 253 253 0
METROPOLITAN STADIUM DIVISION W L R OR RDIFF
2014 ORIOLES (DARRELL SKOGEN) 5 3 28 27 1
1995 INDIANS (BEN LOFGREN) 4 4 26 25 1
2001 MARINERS (PHIL GERAFFO) 4 4 34 34 0
1930 SENATORS (JIM FRAASCH) 4 4 35 35 0
1981 EXPOS (CRAIG CHRISTIAN) 3 5 24 26 -2
TOTALS 20 20 147 147 0
NICOLLET PARK DIVISION W L R OR RDIFF
1977 PHILLIES (LEROY ARNOLDI) 8 2 49 26 23
1985 CARDINALS (ROY LANGHANS) 5 5 54 47 7
1930 ATHLETICS (GARTH ANDERSON) 5 5 36 39 -3
1946 RED SOX (CHRIS SHORES) 5 5 37 41 -4
1948 INDIANS (DAVE NORLANDER) 4 6 39 49 -10
1933 PIRATES (JEFF BOEDING) 3 7 31 44 -13
TOTALS 30 30 246 246 0
TARGET FIELD DIVISION W L R OR RDIFF
1953 DODGERS (FRED JOHNSON) 7 3 79 43 36
1911 GIANTS (GARY BORTHWICK) 7 3 48 41 7
2015 ASTROS (JOHN KALOUS) 7 3 40 37 3
2010 TWINS (KEVIN CLUFF) 4 6 47 49 -2
1962 GIANTS (DAN SKILLINGS) 4 6 38 45 -7
1998 PADRES (RON EMCH) 1 9 29 66 -37
TOTALS 30 30 281 281 0

TCABT-VI CHAMPIONSHIP BRACKET PLAY RESULTS

Seed TCABT-VI   QUARTER-FINALS G1 G2 G3 SERIES
1 1930 CARDINALS (BRUCE TYLER) 6 9 2
vs
8 1995 INDIANS (BEN LOFGREN) 1 6 0
2 1977 PHILLIES (LEROY ARNOLDI) 5 4 2
vs
7 1985 CARDINALS (ROY LANGHANS) 4 1 0
3 1953 DODGERS (FRED JOHNSON) 1 5 0
vs
6 1911 GIANTS (GARY BORTHWICK) 4 7 2
4 2014 ORIOLES (DARRELL SKOGEN) 1 2 0
vs
5 1998 BRAVES (STEVE RYAN) 8 4 2
Seed TCABT-VI   SEMI-FINALS G1 G2 G3 SERIES
1 1930 CARDINALS (BRUCE TYLER) 6 8 6 2
vs
6 1911 GIANTS (GARY BORTHWICK) 8 7 5 1
2 1977 PHILLIES (LEROY ARNOLDI) 3 4 2
vs
5 1998 BRAVES (STEVE RYAN) 1 2 0
Seed TCABT-VI   CHAMPIONSHIP G1 G2 G3 SERIES
1 1930 CARDINALS (BRUCE TYLER) 9 7 2
vs
2 1977 PHILLIES (LEROY ARNOLDI) 8 5 0

CONSOLATION ONE-AND-DONE BRACKET

basement_group_2

(Garth Anderson show here during divisional play, facing off vs Jeff Boeding on the left)

Seed 1ST ROUND (CONSOLATION)
1 2015 ASTROS (JOHN KALOUS) BYE
2 1990 ATHLETICS (BEAU LOFGREN) BYE
3 1930 SENATORS (JIM FRAASCH) BYE
4 1930 ATHLETICS (GARTH ANDERSON) BYE
5 1946 RED SOX (CHRIS SHORES) BYE
Score
6 2010 TWINS (KEVIN CLUFF) 3
vs
11 1998 PADRES (RON EMCH) 0
7 1948 INDIANS (DAVE NORLANDER) 1
vs
10 1966 ASTROS (GEORGE ADAMS) 2
8 1933 PIRATES (JEFF BOEDING) 2
vs
9 2008 CUBS (PAT MARTIN) 13
Seed QUARTER-FINALS (CONSOLATION) Score
1 2015 ASTROS (JOHN KALOUS) 12
VS
10 1966 ASTROS (GEORGE ADAMS) 6
2 1990 ATHLETICS (BEAU LOFGREN) 1
VS
9 2008 CUBS (PAT MARTIN) 2
3 1930 SENATORS (JIM FRAASCH) 2
VS
6 2010 TWINS (KEVIN CLUFF) 4
4 1930 ATHLETICS (GARTH ANDERSON) 1
VS
5 1946 RED SOX (CHRIS SHORES) 0
Seed SEMI-FINALS (CONSOLATION) Score
1 2015 ASTROS (JOHN KALOUS) 5
VS
9 2008 CUBS (PAT MARTIN) 3
4 1930 ATHLETICS (GARTH ANDERSON) 6
VS
6 2010 TWINS (KEVIN CLUFF) 3
Seed CHAMPIONSHIP (CONSOLATION) Score
1 2015 ASTROS (JOHN KALOUS) 3
VS
4 1930 ATHLETICS (GARTH ANDERSON) 9

Where the action is:

APBA GAME COMPANY

apba_baseball_image

The 1930 Washington Senators

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Photo is of the 1931 Senators opening their season at Philadelphia.

TCABT-VI is almost upon us.  Last April, I took the 1930 Washington Senators with me to compete at TCABT-V.  The actual 1930 Senators finished in 2nd place in the American League of 1930, with a decent 94-60 W-L record, 34 games above .500.  However, they were 8 games behind the dynasty that was, the 1930 Philadelphia Athletics.

For whatever reason, the 1930 Athletics have not performed particularly well in our Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament.  Nor have the 1929 Athletics, or the 1931 Athletics.  Those 3 Philadelphia clubs are considered to be one of the strongest dynasties in baseball history, partly because they took down the 1926-1928 Yankees teams, that were the dynasty of all dynasties.

So why the 1930 Washington Senators you ask?  If the Senators, why not the 1924 World Champions or the 1933 AL Champions?  Well, while those other 2 Senators teams may have won more glory, than their 1930 counterparts, they do not look as strong when you start to analyze the 1 thru 8 in the batting order hitting strengths.  With the 1930 Senators, the pitching does leave you wishing for more.  There is no Walter “Big Train” Johnson, pitching for the 1930 Senators (he was their manager that year).

connie-mack-and-walter-johnson-horizontal-large-gallery

(Circa 1930:  Walter Johnson shaking hands with Athletics Mgr., Connie Mack)

What the 1930 Senators have with APBA, is a lineup that can hit and get on base, although the hitting is more singles, doubles and triples, instead of the long ball.  They steal some bases, though not like the deadball era bandits.  The pitching?  It just has to be good enough, with the lineup that can put up some runs, fairly consistently.

April 2nd, 2016, the 1930 Senators were ready to roll.  While I had rolled a few games at home with my squad, I really did not know what to expect.  My starting rotation was ok by APBA standards, and good for a hitting year like 1930, but not so great when you consider the teams entered in our 5th Twin Cities APBA Tournament.  My rotation consisted of the following:

Alvin “General” Crowder (BZ)

Bump Hadley (BY)

Ad Liska (B)

Sam Jones (CZ)

Like I said, just has to be good enough … and in many respects, they were good enough.  I did not have much for relief pitching either.

Firpo Marberry (CZ)

Lloyd Brown (CZ)

I have actually decided to use Firpo Marberry as my 4th starter, in place of Sam Jones, for TCABT-VI.  Grade-wise, it really does not matter.  I just make sure I leave 1 LHP and 1 RHP in the bullpen, just so that I can use the 1st batter grade-bump, if I bring my reliever in during the middle of an inning, and the first batter they face bats from the same side.  A small consolation for not having a bullpen worth using much.  Meanwhile, most of the teams these 1930 Senators face, have at least 2 Grade-A pitchers in their bullpens, meaning every game, according to our TCABT rules, these Grade-A relievers can be used in all games after 5 IP by the starter, for 2 IP each game.  A little generous, but since these are tournaments, we assume the pitchers are going to be used to their fullest, in pool play games and best-of-three bracket play series.

general_crowder

(Alvin “General” Crowder)

Ok, so we have documented the fact that my 1930 Senators do not have much pitching, what about the hitting?  With the DH, I have a lineup, where 1 thru 9, there really is not a weak batter.  Does this mean the entire lineup is going to hit?  Especially vs a lot of Grade-A pitching?  Not necessarily.  While my 1930 Senators compiled a 7-3 record in division play in TCABT-V, and a 10-5 overall record after advancing to the TCABT-V Semi-Finals, the scoring was good, but I also saw my team fail to score more than 2 runs, in the last 14 innings they batted vs Kevin Cluff’s 2011 Texas Rangers, the eventual TCABT-V Champions, during the Semi-Finals.  In fact, after defeating the 2011 Rangers in Game 1 of their best-of-three Semi-Final series, by the score of 7-5, and having a 4-1 lead after 4 innings in Game 2, the Senators went on to lose Game 2, 7-5 and then lose Game 3, 7-1, to get knocked out of the tourney.  The hitting stopped, and my pitching gave up runs in bunches, to a tough hitting Rangers team.

How was the hitting?

Joe Judge had a phenomenal tourney, leading the 1930 Senators with a .379 batting average, 11 doubles, and tied for the lead with 3 triples.  He led the team in runs with 12.  He also led the team in OBP at .397.

joe_judge

(Joe Judge)

While the 1930 Senators are not known for their HR power, they did manage to hit 10 HR in the 15 games.  But more importantly, they ended up with 59 XBH, in the 15 games.  Their 82 runs scored equates to 5.47 runs per game, which is not bad considering the amount of Grade A pitching they faced in this tournament.  So score they did.  The surprise was that Joe Cronin, hit only .183.  While he still managed to be tied for the lead in RBI with 13, I wonder how many RBI he could have had, if he had been hitting like he should.  Cronin batted cleanup for me, and will remain my cleanup hitter for TCABT-VI.  Sam West should hit much better than the .196 that he did, so I like my chances to see some better run scoring in TCABT-VI with a few of my hitters coming back to hit like they should.

Cronin Joe 1456.68 = WTD_act_ PD
(Joe Cronin)

How was the pitching?

The pitching was not bad.  The team ended up with a 4.09 ERA, which is not bad considering that every lineup they face, is a run producing lineup.  Bump Hadley (BY), not quite Sandy Koufax like, still managed to go 4-1 with a 3.51 ERA in his 5 starts.  He was 4-0 until he lost the Game 2 Semi-Final to the 2011 Rangers.  A game in which he had a 4-1 lead after 4 IP.  The ace of the staff, General Crowder (BZ) limped along to gain a 3-2 record, but his ERA was a bloated 4.43 in his 5 starts.  Hadley and Crowder twirled the 2 shut-outs, which was 2 more than I expected playing vs the run-generating lineups in TCABT-V.

bump-hadley_art

(Bump Hadley)

One under-rated aspect of playing APBA Baseball, is having a good defense.  Having a good defense in APBA means that you are going to gain more outs, especially with a “Fielding One” defense, thus giving up fewer runs.  Since my pitching staff is not the greatest, I was counting on my defense to make my pitchers perform “better”.  I think that played out to be true.  We use the “Advanced Fielding Rules” in our TCABT.  So individual fielding really matters.  Having a Fielding One third-baseman means you are going to turn more DP’s from balls hit to 3B.  Also, we have our own innovation which limits the errors made by 2B, SS and 3B when the bases are empty.  Otherwise, Fielding One players at these 3 positions make too many errors when the bases are empty.

ossie_bluege_tags_babe_ruth_1925

(Ossie Bluege applies the tag as Babe Ruth slides into 3rd)

How was the fielding?

The 1930 Senators committed just 8 errors in the 15 games played, which is pretty stout.  The 8 errors did lead to 6 unearned runs, as the Senators pitching staff gave up a total of 66 runs, with 6 of those unearned.

Can the 1930 Senators win a coveted TCABT crown?  They played well enough in TCABT-V to earn another shot.  The field will be tough.  If this squad can make bracket play again, anything can happen.

1930_senators

TCABT-V 1930 SENATORS Game Results:

DIVISION PLAY

Game 1:  2001 ATHLETICS 3, 1930 SENATORS 2

Game 2:  1930 SENATORS 11, 2001 ATHLETICS 9

Game 3:  1930 SENATORS 5, 1998 YANKEES 2

Game 4:  1930 SENATORS 7, 1998 YANKEES 6

Game 5:  1976 ATHLETICS 9, 1930 SENATORS 6

Game 6:  1930 SENATORS 3, 1976 ATHLETICS 0

Game 7:  1930 SENATORS 6, 1922 BROWNS 2

Game 8:  1922 BROWNS 5, 1930 SENATORS 1

Game 9:  1930 SENATORS 4, 1977 PHILLIES 0

Game 10:  1930 SENATORS 6, 1977 PHILLIES 3

1930 SENATORS:  7 WINS, 3 LOSSES

 

BRACKET PLAY

QUARTER-FINALS

Game 1:  1930 SENATORS 7, 1954 INDIANS 5

Game 2:  1930 SENATORS 11, 1954 INDIANS 2

1930 SENATORS WIN Best-of-three series, 2 games to none.

SEMI-FINALS

Game 1:  1930 SENATORS 7, 2011 RANGERS 5

Game 2:  2011 RANGERS 7, 1930 SENATORS 5

Game 3:  2011 RANGERS 7, 1930 SENATORS 1

1930 SENATORS LOSE Best-of-three series, 2 games to 1.

1930 SENATORS finish TCABT-V with overall record of 10 WINS, 5 LOSSES

 

 

 

TCABT-VI: Divisions and Schedules are set … October 1st, 2016

tcabt_october_trophy

Hard to believe it is that time again … TCABT-VI takes place on October 1st, 2016 in Maple Grove, MN, at the home of Darrell Skogen.  23 APBA fanatics will take aim at the October Championship trophy, currently being held by Mr. October himself, Leroy Arnoldi.  Leroy has won each of the 2 October championships, managing the 1954 Giants (in 2014) and the 1937 Yankees (in 2015) to October championships.  This time, Leroy will make his run at a 3rd October championship with the 1977 Phillies.  Defending April Champion, Kevin Cluff, a two-time winner of the April Championship (1927 Yankees and 2011 Rangers), will be looking for his 3rd TCABT championship, bringing the 2010 Twins club with his original standard issue tiny APBA dice.

TCABT-VI features 3 APBA Hall of Famers in attendance:  1st time attendees, Roy Langhans and Jim Sce, and regular attendee Kevin Cluff.

blair_langhans_simonelli_cluff_2

Above:  (Roy Langhans – 2nd from left, and Kevin Cluff – on right)

Below:  (Jim Sce – 2nd from left)

carr_sce_rinaldi_lincoln

 

The number of “out-of-state” attendees includes the following 8:

  • Roy Langhans (Cockeysville, MD) – 1st timer
  • Jim Sce (Burbank, CA) – 1st timer
  • John Kalous (Shiloh, IL) – 1st timer
  • Steve Ryan (Harrison, TN) – 1st timer
  • Ron Emch (Toledo, OH) – 3rd tourney
  • George Adams (Kansas City, MO) – 3rd tourney
  • Craig Christian (Eau Claire, WI) – 5th tourney
  • Jeff Boeding (Platte City, MO) – 6th tourney

The 23 total attendees for TCABT-VI will match last October’s TCABT-IV attendance … we had 30 at TCABT-V last April.  The trend has been for the April tourney to out-draw the October tourney.  But sometimes the smaller number is alright.

tcabt_v_group_photo_all_30

Here are the divisions for TCABT-VI:

TCABT-VI 23 TEAMS
Saturday, October 1st, 2016
HHH METRODOME DIVISION W L R OR RDIFF
2008 CUBS (PAT MARTIN) 0 0 0 0 0
1972 ATHLETICS (JOE PAVLICEK) 0 0 0 0 0
1966 ASTROS (GEORGE ADAMS) 0 0 0 0 0
1990 ATHLETICS (BEAU LOFGREN) 0 0 0 0 0
1930 CARDINALS (BRUCE TYLER) 0 0 0 0 0
1998 BRAVES (STEVE RYAN) 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 0 0 0 0 0
METROPOLITAN STADIUM DIVISION W L R OR RDIFF
1995 INDIANS (BEN LOFGREN) 0 0 0 0 0
2014 ORIOLES (DARRELL SKOGEN) 0 0 0 0 0
2001 MARINERS (PHIL GERAFFO) 0 0 0 0 0
1981 EXPOS (CRAIG CHRISTIAN) 0 0 0 0 0
1930 SENATORS (JIM FRAASCH) 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 0 0 0 0 0
NICOLLET PARK DIVISION W L R OR RDIFF
1946 RED SOX (CHRIS SHORES) 0 0 0 0 0
1930 ATHLETICS (GARTH ANDERSON) 0 0 0 0 0
1948 INDIANS (DAVE NORLANDER) 0 0 0 0 0
1977 PHILLIES (LEROY ARNOLDI) 0 0 0 0 0
1985 CARDINALS (ROY LANGHANS) 0 0 0 0 0
1933 PIRATES (JEFF BOEDING) 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 0 0 0 0 0
TARGET FIELD DIVISION W L R OR RDIFF
2015 ASTROS (JOHN KALOUS) 0 0 0 0 0
1953 DODGERS (FRED JOHNSON) 0 0 0 0 0
2010 TWINS (KEVIN CLUFF) 0 0 0 0 0
1962 GIANTS (DAN SKILLINGS) 0 0 0 0 0
1998 PADRES (RON EMCH) 0 0 0 0 0
1911 GIANTS (GARY BORTHWICK) 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 0 0 0 0 0

tony_oliva

APBA’view: Greg Barath (OGuard62)

player_greg_barath_62

(Greg in his high school playing days, #62)

Greg Barath is known today as one of the premier APBA Football guru’s, especially when it comes to the season replay.  In my opinion, his replays are the best ones documented, thanks to his game by game posting of his replays at the APBA Between The Lines forum and his own blog site, OGuard62:  APBA Football Replay website.

(Note:  Greg’s OGuard62 blog site has received well over 90,000 views from almost 15,000 visitors.  These visitors come from all around the world, 89 different countries to be exact, everywhere from Albania to Venezuela … Thanks to Greg for providing these blog stats)

I have witnessed Greg offer help to anyone looking for advise or answers on anything to do with APBA Football, whether it be a rule interpretation or an innovation to use, etc.  He has also played a vital role in the APBA Football Convention held in Canton, OH, in 2014 as well as making a habit of attending the regular APBA Convention which is currently held in Alpharetta, GA every June.

Speaking of the APBA Convention, if you were in attendance this past June (I was not unfortunately) you would have witnessed Greg Barath being inducted into the APBA Hall of Fame, earning the award thanks to his never wavering support and encyclopedic wealth of knowledge for the game of APBA Football.  His methods used in his season replays are well documented, and are a perfect illustration for how to make your replays organized, realistic, relatively simplistic and most important, fun.  Greg’s contributions to APBA Football include several Youtube videos demonstrating different features using the APBA Football game.  I have included a few links throughout this interview, including this link:

Greg was inducted along with another APBA Football guru, Ray Dunlap, and APBA Game Co. owner/CEO, John Herson.

ray_dunlap_greg_barath_apba_hof_2016

(Ray Dunlap on left, Greg Barath on right)

While Greg received an early introduction to APBA through his father, I would say that Greg’s APBA trail was blazed a little later in life and perhaps more profound than many of us, as you will discover through the following interview questions.  On to the interview ….

Jimsapbabarn question #1:  Tell us about yourself, your youth, etc (outside of APBA).

Greg Barath:  I was born and raised in Gary, Indiana.  Being a typical kid in the pre-internet or video game age, I played outside from dawn to dusk participating in unorganized and organized sports. From 8 to 12 years old my life revolved around baseball (Little League) and the Chicago Cubs.  I can remember putting the Cubs cap on the minute I got dressed and removed it only at dinner time or when going to bed.  I wish I had a dollar for every time over the years my Dad would ask me “Do you have a test today?” and I would reply “No” and we would be heading to Wrigley Field.  My fondest memory was all the games we went to during the 1969 season and being able to see Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal or Tom Seaver dual Ferguson Jenkins, Bill Hands or Ken Holtzman.  My mom’s favorite player was Ron Santo but my dad’s and mine was the great Ernie Banks. Tremendous memories!!  I was a very accomplished catcher at a very young age.  From the time I was 8-years old my Dad would have me put on my protective equipment and his friends and him would fire away at me. I learned really quick not to whimper or I would face his ridicule.  He daily worked on my arm strength for eventually throwing to second.  Countless times we sat behind home plate at Wrigley to watch Randy Hundley work.

randy_hundley_1969_topps

All I can say is his methods worked; I was the only 10-year old starting in the majors (ages 10-12) and made the All-Star squad as an 11-year old.  Back in Gary at the time they had an All-City team which consisted of two, 12-year olds from each team in the city.  It was a real big deal and I can remember my heart breaking when I learned that our star pitcher and the coaches’ son would be representing our team.  After that season, I never had the desire or urge to ever pick up a glove or bat again. After that, football became the only sport that I have ever been interested in.

Once I turned 13-years old, I discovered a passion that would rule me for the next 25 years.  I walked into my first poolroom.  Over the next four-years, my game and life experiences increased ten-fold. Every waking minute was spent on improving my game.  When I turned 17-years old, my parents decided to move to Naples, Florida.  Trust me when I say there is a monumental difference between “The Region” (northwest Indiana) and Naples, Florida. The first two things I did were locate a poolroom and try out for the football team.  I ended up becoming the starting left guard my first year (junior) and making the first-team, All Southwest Florida squad my senior year.  My jersey number was #62 and that is how Oguard62 came to pass. However, my real education took place at Brookside Billiards were I learned the art of nine-ball, southern style.

After my first semester in college, I decided to quit and pursue my dream of becoming a professional pool player.  For the next seven-months, I would be spending 10 to 12 hours a day either practicing on drills or gambling.  Needless to say, my game took off. I could walk into any poolroom and run five racks with a cue off the wall.  During this time, I met my backer, Billy Angel, who was a 45-year old ex-con.  We traveled a lot of miles together and he staked me in a lot of matches. One of my fondest memories is when we were at a Pro-Am Tournament in Melbourne, Florida.  The place was littered with hustlers, Jimmy Reid, “St. Louis” Louie Roberts, Steve Cook, etc.  The tournament format was double elimination, race to eleven. Steve Mizerak (Lite Beer Commercials) put me in the losers’ bracket after beating me 11 to 8.

My next match was against this fellow named Bill Stegall, who had been the Florida state champion on numerous occasions.  I eliminated him from the tournament after winning 11 to 5 and he was fit to be tied.  To make matters worse, all the other players were busting his chops about losing to some 19-year old kid.  He wants me in the worst way but if you know anything about pool players is they will bicker for days on trying to obtain that “edge” before ever picking up a cue.  Billy asked me how much better he was than me and I honestly answered “a ball and half”. With that said, Billy said we needed the seven and the break to even consider playing him.  He would only give me the eight ball which was a bad proposition so the game never occurred.  We were just beginning our road trip to Sheffield, Alabama, to play in another Pro-Am tournament when fate took over.  Billy was driving and we get pulled over, next thing I know we are surrounded by police cars.  When they ran his license, it was red-flagged for having an outstanding warrant in the state of Pennsylvania for a book-making charge.  He gets taken to county jail for an extended stay while they decide if he is going to be extradited or not. I remember going to visit him and listening to him laugh about being on vacation.  He said “Greg I spent 22-years in cell block “C”, I can do this time standing on my head”.

From there I decided to drive up to Tampa to check out “Bakers” poolroom which was owned by Bill Stegall. After some small talk, he gives me the seven but not the break and we start playing “one-hundred dollar freeze out” which was a race to 5.  I win the first four matches and he said that the seven was too much weight and he would only spot me the eight.  I agreed and over the next five hours I’m more than holding my own and I’m up about a grand.  The spot goes away and the bet goes up and something magical happened, I went into the “zone”.  Over the next five-hours, I played the finest pool of my life.  There I was beating Bill Stegall straight up in his own poolroom on his own table.  At that moment, I actually felt like Paul Newman in the Hustler.  To make a long story short, after 26 consecutive hours, I felt like Fast Eddie Felson again because I left there completely and utterly broke.

greg_barath_with_famous_pool_player_earl_strickland

(Above:  Pool great, Earl Strickland, with a young Greg Barath)

strickland_vs_archer

I headed back to my parents’ house with my tail tucked between my legs. After being home for about a week, one afternoon my Dad and I are playing gin rummy and he starts to ride me. Listen, when Jack Barath got on you, he was relentless.  It was a verbal barrage of what a no-account loser I was and how I was going nowhere in life, on and on and on.  Just to stop the madness, I blurted out that I was going to enlist in the military. Now, I absolutely had no intention of going into the military but just wanted to shut him up.  Than a funny thing occurred, two days later I’m sitting at a recruiter’s office and six months later I’m getting my head shaved.

I entered the United States Air Force on May 2, 1983.  I went into the Security Police career field and my first duty assignment was Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota.  I’ve never been in a place colder in my life, I remember from Jan 1 thru mid-February 1984 the temperature never got above natural zero and I’m not factoring in the wind chill factor. I literally watched my Florida car die piece by piece until it imploded in flames on US Route 2. In August 1985, my permanent change of station was Ramstein, Germany where I spent 8 glorious years.  It was during these years that I really grew as a person and a professional.  I enjoyed the various cultures, cuisine and especially that fine German beer.  Professionally I started making a name for myself at Command level for operating and managing electronic security systems for nuclear laden areas.  I met my soul mate in 1991 and she followed me to Great Falls, Montana in July 1993.  We were married in August 1993 and started our life together.  One of my future replay projects will be “93” season because the Jets were solid and it was just a great year for me personally.  In 2000, I got my dream assignment to Eglin AFB, Florida to work directly for the Secretary of the Air Force as one of only three enlisted Test Directors for the Air Force Operational Test & Evaluation Center.  My job was to determine the operability and suitability for any security sensor or system being considered for the Department of Defense.  My mantra for my last three years was “Plan, Execute, and Report”. All of my final test reports were reviewed by the decision makers at the Pentagon to determine if the item-under-test would go into full or limited production or never see the light of day. In April 2003, I retired from the Air Force as a 20-year Master Sergeant. The following week Becky and I moved up to northern Virginia and I began my career as a Defense Contractor. Ten years later, I changed companies and we relocated to the “Rocket City” Huntsville, Alabama where we reside today.

 

Jimsapbabarn question #2:  How did you discover APBA and what APBA games do you own?

Greg Barath:  My dad was a big APBA guy, he played the football game some but he was all about APBA baseball.  He had stacks of spiral notebooks were he would have all his box scores and statistics from his replay projects. I’ll never forget when my dad says to me, “Hop in the car, we are going to the library to get the Baseball Encyclopedia.”  Well he wasn’t kidding, we walked directly to the card file station to determine the location and then proceeded to appropriate book shelf and there it was.  He looked at me and said, “Son, this is the holy grail” and he picked it up and walked directly out of the library while waving at the librarian like nothing was wrong.  On numerous occasions over the years, I would walk up to him while he was playing and ask if I could also play.  The response was always the same, he would put up his big hand in front of me and say, “Son, this is not for you, this is SERIOUS”. I eventually was allowed to dabble some with his football game.

Oguard62

I only own the Football game and have no desire to play any other game.  The only other board game that I played from “nuts to bolts” was “Title Bout”. Let me share how I got back into the game.  One day in early 2001, Becky and I were sitting at the bar in a poolroom in Fort Walton Beach, Florida and I turned around to observe my fellow patrons. While looking around I had an epiphany, that not a single person in this room was a credit to society in any way, shape or form.  I looked at Becky and said, “Get me out of here because there is not a person besides you in here that I give two flips about”. When we got home, I put my custom-made cue away and have not used it in a meaningful way since that date.  The next day I placed my order for the APBA 2000 Football game.  It’s ironic because I’m now using those cards for my current 1999 NFL replay.

 

Jimsapbabarn question #3:  What was your first complete NFL replay?

Greg Barath:  I always viewed a full NFL replay as a marathon, so I completed numerous smaller projects as stepping stones before undertaking a full replay. My first full NFL replay was the 1981 season, being a life-long Jets fan this season was near and dear to my heart.  I owned the original card set but I wanted to be able to use the modern boards without having to use conversion tables.  So I repeatedly pestered my dear friend, Mark Zarb, to card the season and he finally did for me.

mark-zarb-e1428159787546

(Greg’s good friend, Mark Zarb)

The season was a joy to replay and I learned so many things all the way.  The team and league statistics can be viewed on my site to include the play-by-play of Super Bowl XVI.  https://oguard62.net/super-bowl-xvi/

 

Jimsapbabarn question #4:  Tell us about the APBA Football “convention” that was held in Canton, OH, at the Pro Football HOF in 2014?

Greg Barath:  It was an absolute joy! The entire event was the brainchild of Geoffrey Giordano and he did a fabulous job organizing it.  We not only had a tournament but he slotted presentations and even offered them to be viewed on-line.  Although we all contributed money, I know that he paid a substantial amount of his own to reserve the great room we had.  The Hall of Fame is an incredible exhibit but when you truly the love game of football, it’s hallowed ground.

greg_barath_speaking_to_apba_football_group_at_canton

The best part for me was actually meeting folks that I’ve known virtually for years through the Delphi forum or articles in the APBA Journal.  I can remember back in ’01, I spent three-nights at the kitchen table writing out index cards for Ray Dunlap’s match-up system and there he was sitting in front of me.  Had the opportunity to meet Johnny Cochrane and his better half and of course, my good friend, Greg Wells.  This is when I realized that the APBA community is family.

canton-group

(The 2014 APBA gathering at the Pro Football HOF in Canton, OH: From left – Pat McGregor, John Cochrane, Ray Dunlap, Robert Tassinari, Greg Wells, Greg Barath, Jerry Zajack, and Geoffrey Giordano)

The one other important part of that trip was on the last day; all participants discussed how we could incorporate football somehow into the APBA Convention.  Well, the following convention, Ray Dunlap and I were there demonstrating our methods of play for whoever was interested. https://oguard62.net/2014/05/29/2014-apba-convention/ .  At last year’s convention, John Herson had Ray and I give presentations on the football game and this year we are having our first football tournament.

NOTE:  Greg has made it a habit to share his wealth of APBA Football knowledge, which is the “shirt-off-his-back” genuine nature of Greg Barath.

Gregs+office+3

Jimsapbabarn question #5:  What is your favorite NFL moment?

Greg Barath:  That’s a tough one, of course eliminating New England in the divisional round of the playoffs in 2011 was a big deal, especially after they humiliated us on the Monday night game a few weeks earlier.  I don’t know if everyone feels this way but for me the games of your youth just resonate more than when you are older.  The first truly memorable moment I experienced as a kid was November 28, 1971.  Of course, this was light years before the “Sunday Ticket” so it was surprising that the Jets – 49ers game was being televised.  I can remember sitting on my grandfather’s couch watching Bob Davis flop around on the ground in agony and all of a sudden, Joe Namath removed his jacket and trotted onto the field.  I was cheering with all the fans at Shea Stadium.  Once he got warmed up it was a magical to watch, it was the first time in my life that I watched greatness.  However, my all-time favorite moment happened when I was in college on November 22, 1981. The Jets just came off of a decade of failure and here they were facing their arch rival in a game for first place.  Richard Todd had broken ribs and this was the first game that a QB wore a flak jacket for protection.  The Dolphins were winning late in the game and were about to put it away when Abdul Salaam stuffed the Dolphins ball carrier on a third and one to force a punt.  The Jets got the ball back with a little over a minute remaining.  Richard Todd started marching them down the field.  I can’t adequately describe the elation and exhilaration I felt when Richard Todd found Jerome Barkum in the end zone for a touchdown with 16 seconds left.  Once Pat Leahy made the extra point for the Jets to take a 16-15 lead, I got up and kissed the television.

 

Jimsapbabarn question #6.  Why the NY Jets?

Greg Barath:  That’s easy, Broadway Joe Willie Namath!

joe-namath-catching-a-breath-on-the-sidelines-retro-images-archive

He was my idol as a kid and for that matter, he still is today. You have to realize that my nationality is Hungarian and so is Namath’s.  The church I grew up in was Hungarian-American, meaning there was a Hungarian service followed by an English service.  So he was a real big deal to a lot of the folks I grew up with. Unfortunately I’ve betrayed a lot of things in my life; however, I’ve never betrayed my football team. I will bleed Kelly green to the day that I die.

Gregs+Office+1Gregs+office+8Gregs+Office+4

 

Jimsapbabarn question #7:  What would you like to see APBA Game Co. produce in the future for the APBA Football game?

Greg Barath:  APBA Football is a very simple but effective game engine that renders outstanding results when played correctly.  So, how do you make it the best football game on the market?

Simple, you repackage the Master game in the same print/format as the Basic game.  The Basic game is formatted by field position, not play type, so there is minimal page flipping resulting in quicker play time.  Secondly, the black and white print is easier to read and appears not to fade.  I understand that I play a high volume of games; however, I go through four Master game booklets per year because the print wears off from all the page flipping.

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(Denny Hodge on left, going head-to-head on the gridiron with Greg Barath)

Greg, it is easy to see why you are so respected and highly touted in the APBA Gaming community.  Without your involvement in APBA Football, there is no doubt the interest level in the APBA Football game would not be quite as avid as it is today.  Congratulations on your well deserved, recent induction into the APBA Hall of Fame.  Thanks for giving us your time.

As a “Hail Mary” attempt, I would like to send a shout out to NFL head coach, Rex Ryan, a noted SOM Baseball fanatic (http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-videos/0ap3000000423890/NFL-Films-Presents-Strat-O-Matic-with-Rex-Ryan) … if you come across this Greg Barath interview, please send us a note if you would be interested in taking part in an APBA Football game between yourself and Greg Barath.  Of course, Greg will be coaching the NY Jets …😉

For you APBA Football fans, please make sure you check out the following APBA Football websites:

Greg Barath’s site – OGuard62’s Replays:  http://oguard62.com/

The APBA Football Club:  https://apbafootballclub.wordpress.com/

(*Note:  For the APBA Football Basic Game, Greg has added “How to” videos, you can find each of the links here:  APBA Football, the Basic Game, How to )

 

 

 

 

 

The Thunderbird Motel, The Mick and #534 … Bloomington, MN

Met_Center_Thunderbird_Motel_Postcard_large

After viewing the following home movie, posted on Youtube, a home movie by a fellow named Jim Campbell, circa August 22, 1968, showing the visiting Yankees staying at the Thunderbird Motel in Bloomington, MN, I decided to write a new blog post about the soon to be demolished structure of the old Thunderbird Motel.

Very rare footage, but a common occurrence of the visiting American League ballclub staying at the Thunderbird Motel when playing the Minnesota Twins, which, due to its close proximity to Metropolitan Stadium made it a no-brainer travel decision for the visiting club.

For some of you reading this, perhaps you had a chance to stay at the Thunderbird Motel, during a Minnesota trip, with tickets to the Twins game.  I grew up in Minnetonka, MN, about 30 minutes away from Metropolitan Stadium, which meant my family would not need to stay at a hotel to go to a Twins game back in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  So I missed out on my chance to stay at the popular, Native American Indian themed motel, which became in more modern times, an over the top marketing scheme which played in the 60’s and 70’s and somehow lasted into the politically correct times of the early 2000’s.

thunderbird_1967(Circa 1967, from the front of the hotel, side facing 494)

tb_sign_1(6/16/2016, what remains of the Thunderbird sign, from the opposite angle, on side facing 494)

thunderbird_thru_2000(The Thunderbird in the year 2000)

tb11(Same view, 6/16/2016, during the “removal” of junk via the junk trucks)

 

The old Thunderbird Motel, which became the Ramada-Mall of America after 2005 …

Ramada2-600x330(Post 2005, The Ramada was just as busy, with its close vicinity to the Mall of America)

tb20(6/16/2016, the junk trucks taking their hauls of junk from the abandoned Thunderbird/Ramada)

closed its doors for the last time in the winter of 2016.  The motel is marked for demolition later this summer, 2016.  I took advantage of a beautiful summer afternoon in June (the hotel is just a mile or so from the office building in Bloomington that I work at) to walk around the fenced off motel complex, taking as many pictures with my iphone as I could.  You will see some of the photos I took, and in contrast with older photo-clips from the 1968 home movie youtube video , to show the last “breath” of the 1960’s in the professional sports corridor known as the Metropolitan Sports Complex in Bloomington, MN.  The 3 physical structures included Metropolitan Stadium, where the Twins and Vikings played from 1961-1981.  The Met Center where the North Stars played from 1967 to 1993.  And the Thunderbird Motel, of which the physical structure existed from 1962 to today, that is, until it is torn down later in the summer of 2016.

rizzuto_mingles_with_fans_outside_of_thunderbird_08-22-1968(Phil Rizzuto mingles with fans outside of Thunderbird Motel on 8/22/1968)

tb14(View on opposite side of Motel on 6/16/2016)

rizzuto_signing_autograph_thunderbird_08-22-1968(Rizzuto signing autographs for fans outside of the Thunderbird Motel, 8/22/1968)

rizzuto_walking_on_sidewalk_by_outdoor_pool_thunderbird_08-22-1968(Rizzuto walks along the sidewalk near the outdoor pool, Thunderbird Motel, 8/22/1968)

Mickey Mantle’s final season, 1968, meant one last stay for the Mick at the Thunderbird Motel.

mantle_leaving_thunderbird_08-22-1968(Mickey Mantle exiting the Thunderbird Motel on 8/22/1968)

entrance#5_2

tb3(Doorway exit to the external parking lot of the Thunderbird Motel, on the Metropolitan Stadium side of the motel, 6/16/2016)

mantle_entering_car_thunderbird_08-22-1968(Mantle getting into his “ride” parked outside of the Thunderbird Motel – note the sign, 8/22/1968)

Mickey Mantle would not disappoint Yankees or Twins fans for that matter, in what would be The Mick’s final game played at Metropolitan Stadium.  In fact, in his very last at-bat at Metropolitan Stadium (as seen towards the end of the youtube video), Mickey pinch-hits in the top of the 9th, down 3-0 with nobody on, facing Jim Merritt, who he had homered twice off of earlier in the month, and smacks his 16th HR of the 1968 season, a solo-shot, the 534th HR of his career.  He would hit just 2 more HR’s as his career ends a few weeks later.

mickeys_last_AB_at_metropolitan_stadium(Mickey steps on plate after homering in his last AB at Metropolitan Stadium, 8/22/1968)

The surroundings have changed, while the ghostly structure of the Thunderbird remains.  The following panoramic photo shows the Motel’s present location in relation to the Mall of America:

tb_pan_4(Mall of America on left, the old Thunderbird on right, 6/16/2016)

In-between the Mall of America and the old Thunderbird Motel, sits the IKEA store, which takes up the old location of the Met Center where the North Stars played from 1967 to 1993.

ikea_site_of_old_met_center(6/16/2016, The IKEA store, and note the street sign, “Thunderbird Rd” which leads to the parking lot for the old Thunderbird Motel location)

Thunderbird_Hotel_Near_Met_Center_large(The Thunderbird Motel advertising of the late 1960’s)

totem_pole_ad_from_1969_twins_program

(Ad from a 1969 Twins program for the “Totem Pole” bar at the Thunderbird Motel)

As you can see from the above advertisement from 1969, for the “Totem Pole” bar, political correctness was still several years into the future.

About a year ago, I had hatched a plan to replay the 1965 All-Star game (my 1965 APBA Baseball replay is currently heading into the month of June), by renting a room at the Ramada, and with a view of the Mall of America where Met Stadium once stood.  With the Thunderbird Motel/Ramada’s impending demise, I’m looking into a back-up plan …

tb_stained_glass_peek_1

tb16(Photos taken June 16th, 2016)