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)

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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.

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(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.

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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

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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)

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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)

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(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)

TCABT-VI: Team Selection to begin 7/2

St. Louis Cardinals Stan Musial's Last Game
#6 – Stan “The Man” Musial

Team selection will begin this coming Saturday, July 2nd, 2016 for TCABT-VI:

THE DETAILS:

What – The Neil Ess Memorial Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament – VI (TCABT-VI)

When – Saturday, October 1st, 2016 (dice rolling to begin around 8:30am)

Where – Darrell Skogen’s home

9575 Glacier Lane

Maple Grove, MN 55369

As team selections start to filter in on Saturday AM, July 2nd (after midnight), I will update this post with the entrants and their selections.  We plan to get to 32 entrants.  Once we get beyond 32, we will have a waiting list, with the possibility of expanding the tournament to 36 teams.  Also, any person on the waiting list would be asked to enter the tournament if their is a late drop-out.  Thanks!

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TCABT-VI:  TEAM SELECTION

  1. 1946 Red Sox – Chris Shores (Minneapolis, MN)
  2. 1930 A’s – Garth Anderson (Ramsey, MN)
  3. 1911 Giants – Gary Borthwick (Crystal, MN)
  4. 1948 Indians – Dave Norlander (Bloomington, MN)
  5. 1984 Tigers – Rob Skogen (Forest Lake, MN)
  6. 1939 Yankees – Paul Van Beek (Winona, MN)
  7. 1995 Indians – Ben Lofgren (Hawley, MN)
  8. 1951 Dodgers – Beau Lofgren (Hawley, MN)
  9. 2014 Orioles – Darrell Skogen (Maple Grove, MN)
  10. 1957 Braves – Jim Sce (Burbank, CA)
  11. 2001 Mariners – Phil Geraffo (Minnetonka, MN)
  12. 1953 Dodgers – Fred Johnson (Cottage Grove, MN)
  13. 2010 Twins – Kevin Cluff (Apple Valley, MN)
  14. 2015 Dodgers – Dan Walker (Woodbury, MN)
  15. 1981 Expos – Craig Christian (Eau Claire, WI)
  16. 1988 Twins – Eric Berg (Jacksonville, IL)
  17. 1930 Senators – Jim Fraasch (Savage, MN)
  18. 2008 Cubs – Pat Martin (Brooklyn Park, MN)
  19. 1977 Phillies – Leroy Arnoldi (Prior Lake, MN)
  20. 1968 Tigers – Bill Lilley (Akron, OH)
  21. 1930 Cardinals – Bruce Tyler (Elk River, MN)
  22. 1933 Pirates – Jeff Boeding (Platte City, MO)
  23. 1966 Astros – George Adams (Kansas City, MO)
  24. 1998 Padres – Ron Emch (Toledo, OH)
  25. 2004 Yankees – Cleon Pavlicek (Bloomington, MN)
  26. 1985 Cardinals – Roy Langhans (Cockeysville, MD)
  27. 1962 Giants – Danny Skillings (Edina, MN)
  28. 1998 Braves – Steve Ryan (Harrison, TN)
  29. 2015 Astros – John Kalous (Shiloh, IL)
  30. 2015 Cubs – Scott Egge (Woodbury, MN)
  31. ?
  32. ?

APBA’view: Darrell Skogen

leroy_vs_darrell

(TCABT-I, Darrell on right, sizes up his opposition)

In my 6th “Jim’s APBA Barn” blog interview, I am finding it is hard to not find something remarkable about the people involved with APBA, with a variety of different backgrounds.  Darrell Skogen’s story is no different.  I came to know Darrell Skogen through the Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament group.  Back in 2013, 6 of us APBA devotees (Bruce Tyler, Leroy Arnoldi, Neil Ess, Darrell Skogen, Kevin Cluff and myself) met for lunch for the first time at O’Gara’s in St. Paul.  Upon meeting Darrell for the first time, I knew this was the same Darrell Skogen who had his various replays published in the APBAlone column in the APBA Journal back in the 1970’s/1980’s.  Darrell’s friendly manner is evident with the first firm handshake and smile.  If I had to give a quick 2-word description of Darrell, it would be “People Person”.  His friendly nature, quick-wit, and accommodating ways, only demonstrate a first impression, which is ultimately proven to be a very accurate description of a guy who has meant so much to so many in his 45 years of teaching.

Darrell’s home in Maple Grove, MN (northwest suburb of Minneapolis) has been home to each of our first 5 Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournaments.  Darrell’s home has seen anywhere from 8 to now 30 tourney entrants make his home their tourney day home, which is the first Saturday every April and October.

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(The 30 attendees of TCABT-V)

The availability of Darrell’s home means we are not held hostage to a “time limit” for a reserved locale, nor are we confined to just one area, or one room.  Between the kitchen, the dinette, the family room, the den, the library and more recently the basement, the dice have been flying throughout Darrell’s wonderful Maple Grove abode.  With the increased number of attendees, Darrell has yet to flinch.  Apparently 32 possible attendees for TCABT-VI will be accommodated as well.  The tourney day for the attendee is long.  But for Darrell, it is even longer.  Prep for the house, might begin to take place in the weeks leading up to the tourney.  I know that Darrell’s nephew, Rob Skogen, has provided much appreciated help for the pre-tourney prep at the house.  And when the day is done, and the attendees have all left, the house is, well, full of stuff from 30 guys eating food, rolling dice, and leaving personal items behind.  Bill Lilley plans to return to TCABT-VI, and he will find his Detroit Tigers jacket waiting for him, which he left behind the previous October while attending TCABT-IV.

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(Darrell on left battles for the TCABT-V championship vs Kevin Cluff on right, the first time the Championship series was held in the basement)

Darrell even keeps his APBA collection, which is massive, open for viewing by the various attendees.  I’m not sure I would be able to do the same.  Cards which go back to original sets from the 1950’s, to the most recent seasons, are all available for viewing.  All he asks, is that you place the cards back to the season you pulled them from.  I believe Darrell is still looking for his 1938 Yankees which apparently were misplaced after one of the earlier tourneys.

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(The 3 extra large storage bins, above, contain just half of Darrell’s APBA Baseball collection, with the remaining half below)

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Darrell just retired from 45 years of teaching this June.  However, he has accepted a part-time position with his High School, St. Michael-Albertville.  This is a big-time blessing to those students and teachers who appreciate his ever vibrant personality and attitude walking the halls.  Darrell also plans to remain on the football staff as his STMA’s football statistician.

Onto the questions for Darrell Skogen, of Maple Grove, MN …

Jimsapbabarn question #1:  Tell Us About Yourself, Outside Of APBA.

Darrell Skogen:  I grew up in North Minneapolis, and my family moved to working class suburb Coon Rapids in 1961 when I was in 6th grade. Graduated from Coon Rapids High School, then Augsburg College in 1971, with masters degree from Hamline University in 1988. Two brothers, older one David who passed away last fall, and younger one Tom, who lives in Coon Rapids still. Majored in History and English at Augsburg, and am retiring this spring after 45 years teaching, 4 years in Wabasso, MN, and the last 41 at St. Michael-Albertville High School in St. Michael, MN. I live in Maple Grove in the home my wife Ruth and I purchased in 1981; she died of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS, after an 8 year illness in 2002. I have done football stats for high school and college teams since my senior year in high school in 1966, and last fall STMA football won the class 5A championship in MN with me on the sidelines charting the game–first championship in my 50 years! I have also done stats for high school and college basketball 25 of the past 50 years. But my first love is baseball, which I started following closely in 1958 when I was 9 years old and began collecting baseball cards.

(Ed note:  the following link says it all about Darrell Skogen)

http://northwrightcounty.today/2016/03/high-school-documentary-features-stma-legend-darrell-skogen/

The direct video link contained in the article … a MUST SEE tribute!!!

 

Jimsapbabarn question #2:  How did you discover APBA?

Darrell Skogen:  I saw an ad in Baseball Digest for the game in the fall of 1961 and got my parents to buy the game for my birthday. First set of cards was the 1961 set. I began playing solo and taught my best friend Dave to also play the game, and we collaborated to complete 1965 shortly after I had played 1959 NL and 1957 AL by myself in the mid sixties. I continued to do replays, and after taking time off to go to college and not really touch the game, I got back into playing during the summers in the early years of my teaching career. I bought a bunch of original sets before reprints began, and by the early 90’s had every original set either in reality or copied by xerox machine. I purchased a bunch of the older seasons, and then Ruth got ill and the purchase of cards was limited to new sets only. I have six huge drawers full of sets now. I started playing in mail leagues in 1979, and currently I am in TBL (won the World Series in this 24 team master league in 2009) and NABL (just joined last season to have a non-master game league for more fun too). I have been the commissioner in several leagues, and have replayed a bunch of seasons in the basic game with no amendments to rules.

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july_1960_baseball_digest_cover

 

Jimsapbabarn question #3:  You recently retired from 45 years of teaching … what are your plans?

Darrell Skogen:  I ended a 45 year teaching career this spring and will collect full pension and social security. Since I am really old, I can also work pretty much unlimited amounts and triple dip, and I have been hired half time by my school district to continue teaching several AP college level classes to high schoolers. I will keep doing this as long as the part time work exists and I am well enough to do it.

Projector

 

Jimsapbabarn question #4:  I consider you a “Replay” guru, based on the many replays you have completed, and I recall reading about several of them in the old APBA Journal. List the replays you have completed. What replays are planned?

Darrell Skogen:  I have replayed every season from 1958-1970, as well as three original replays in which I traded players willy nilly (57 AL, 59 NL, and 65), which I am replaying to have “real” seasons. I just finished replaying 1959, and now I am working on 1965, 1971, 1972, and 1973 all at the same time. Going back and forth from year to year allows me to stay fresh, and as I get into the replays, one will stand out and then I will kick butt to finish it. Right now, I am really enjoying the 1965 replay, so it might get some pretty serious play this summer. All the replays are original game, basic rules, no adaptations other than the injury card. I use the boards from the sixties, the small book from 2006, and the new big book, depending on what kind of play I am doing. If the cards are original, I prefer the 06 booklet or the original boards. Just personal preference–I don’t get into questions about which ones might be more accurate for each replay. I move players from roster to roster during the season based on real life trades, and sometimes I have to make some cards to make a team able to have a bench until trades increase the size of their rosters enough. NO attempt to mirror the real season with lineups from Baseball Reference–I know a lot of guys like that, but I am not fanatic about it.

Below is Darrell’s 1968 replay published in the October, 1982 issue of the APBA Journal:

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Jimsapbabarn question #5:  As the 5-time host of the Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament, what can you say is the best part of having 30+ APBA fanatics take up space in your home twice-annually?

Darrell Skogen:  It is cool to see all these guys come out of the wood work. We play in obscurity and don’t really know how many guys in our own area play–and then here are all these local guys, new friendships get made, great ideas for play get shared, and there is lots of camaraderie as you play games and eat/talk baseball between pool play series. It has been great fun to start this with Jim, Kevin, Leroy, Bruce, and Neil and see it take off. The guys who come in from greater distances have been great additions, and we have a nice blend of young and old players at the house. When I tell people about this, they can’t believe there are people as geeky as I am about a kid’s game I have played all of life since I was 12 years old!

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(TCABT-III:  Darrell on left, Eric Berg and Scott Egge on right)

 

Jimsapbabarn question #6:  Your nephew Rob Skogen plays APBA. Has anyone else in the “family” shown any interest in your APBA hobby?

Darrell Skogen:  Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. My wife Ruth used to tell me she felt sorry for me and married me because I spent my time playing the game alone, so she assumed I had no friends and no life.

Baseball+library

(The baseball library of Darrell Skogen, is another great room for rolling TCABT games within)

More+library

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(Fred Johnson on left vs Gregg Nelson on right in the Skogen “Library”)

 

Jimsapbabarn question #7:  What would you like to see APBA Game Co. produce in the future (involving any of the sports)?

Darrell Skogen:  I am pretty much a baseball guy. I did play the football game in the sixties, and with the 1962 set, I played five seasons, trading players, creating expansion franchises…that led to the football stats as a senior in high school. I have the 1957 and 1958 cards as well, with the old football boards. But I am pretty satisfied with what Mr. Herson is providing at present for baseball, and if I have my cards, I don’t need much else to have all the gaming fun I am looking for.

Command+center

(The game set-up at the Skogen home in the Den)

 

A quick “Around-the-horn” with Skogen:   around_the_horn

 

 

 

– Your favorite team and player of all-time?

Minnesota Twins, toss up on Harmon Killebrew and Kirby Puckett

 

– Your single best day as a school teacher?

Too many to have a permanent answer, but the day we won the state high school football tournament last fall is right up there with all time favorites.

state+tournament

(Darrell Skogen pictured on far left of football staff photo after St. Michael-Albertville 5A State Championship game won at TCFBank Stadium in Minneapolis)

 

– Your favorite ballpark?

Kansas City is beautiful; Twins Target Field is awesome; loved old Yankee Stadium, Fenway, and Wrigley. Hard to top Dodger Stadium. Hey, if it’s a ball park, I love it.

target-field-rainbow-hr-derby

 

– Your favorite baseball announcer?

Vin Scully, hands down, all time, forever!

Vin-at-Ebbets

 

– Your favorite baseball movie?

Old time — Pride of the Yankees

New time — Bull Durham

I want to thank Darrell Skogen for taking the time to be part of my series of “APBA’view’s”.  Darrell’s generosity is ever-flowing.  I can only imagine what a wonderful woman your wife Ruth was.  The heavy irony of a die-hard baseball fan like yourself, ending up with a wife named Ruth, who tragically dies from ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease.  It is easy to see why you leave the impression you do, as evidenced by the school produced retirement video.  You have touched a lot of peoples lives in a profound and positive way.

BTW, for those of you on the APBA Delphi Between-the-Lines forum, Darrell’s handle is “guru1987”.

masked+man

To Tell The Truth, May 1st, 1961 …

“To Tell The Truth” and several other popular game shows from the 1950’s and 1960’s would often feature professional athletes as guests and participants during an episode.  I stumbled upon this episode of To Tell The Truth which featured the 2 bat boys from the inaugural season of the Minnesota Twins, with the Washington Senators moving to the Twin Cities for the 1961 season.  While you might not appreciate why a game show back in 1961 would want to use the Minnesota Twins new bat boys as participants, it plays out well, with the “stars” asking good questions, testing the bat boys knowledge.

The episode can be watched here, spanning from the 8:45 minute mark to the 16:15 minute mark.

A few interesting things that stand out about this episode:  The episode was sponsored by Salem cigarettes.  The contestants would receive a free carton of Salem cigarettes after their time on the show was over.  However, since the portion of the show included these high school kids acting as Minnesota Twins bat-boys, the cigarettes were not offered when they left the stage.

It is also interesting to see the baseball knowledge and interest shown by the “stars”.  Baseball was a popular game in 1961, including being popular among the Hollywood crowd.  Don Ameche especially, as his questions zeroed in on the inaugural game played by the Twins, at Yankee Stadium.  He was correct that Pedro Ramos pitched a 3-hitter for the Twins and a shut-out.  The score of the game was actually 6-0, Twins.

The give-away that the first set of “twins” were the actual Twins bat-boys should have been the fact they did not have a northeastern accent, like the 2nd set and 3rd set of “twins” had, who were all from New York and New Jersey (near where the show was filmed).

Richard and Peter King are pictured here, in the bottom row of the 1961 Minnesota Twins team photo.

1961_Minnesota_Twins

Minnesota Twins 1st manager, Harry “Cookie” Lavagetto.

cookie_lavagetto

Note the jersey shown in the card of Lavagetto was actually the jersey the Twins wore during Spring Training games in 1961, as they had not yet finalized their official jersey for the 1961 season.  The script across the front did change in time for the 1961 season opener to the familiar “Twins” script.

twins_1961_script

Make plans for TCABT-VI …

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TWIN CITIES APBA BASEBALL TOURNAMENT – VI:  SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1st, 2016

With 30 in attendance for TCABT-V, and at least a few new curious APBA fans wondering how they can enter the next TCABT-VI, we are hopeful we might get to 32 entrants.

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The TCABT-VI winner will claim the October TCABT Championship trophy, which is currently held by Leroy Arnoldi … our 2-time TCABT October Champion, first with the 1954 Giants in 2014, then with the 1937 Yankees in 2015.  Can he make it 3 October’s in-a-row?  31 other entrants will have something to say about that …

Mr. October himself, with the October Championship trophy:

october_2015_champ_leroy_arnoldi

We plan to be at Darrell Skogen’s home again.  The location is great, on the northwest side of the Twin Cities suburbs.  July 2nd will be the beginning date of “Team Selection” for TCABT-VI.

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THE DETAILS:

What – The Neil Ess Memorial Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament – VI (TCABT-VI)

When – Saturday, October 1st, 2016 (dice rolling to begin around 8:30am)

Where – Darrell Skogen’s home

9575 Glacier Lane

Maple Grove, MN 55369

Our next update (later in May or early June) will include any rule updates and the details around team-selection for TCABT-VI which will begin on Saturday, July 2nd.  Make sure if you plan to be there, you enter early with your team selection, as we plan to hit 32 entrants, and anyone entering after 32, will be placed on a waiting list.

Team-selection is any MLB team which APBA Game Co. has printed the cards for, between 1901 and 2015.  The 5 previous championship teams are excluded:  1927 Yankees, 1954 Giants, 1902 Pirates, 1937 Yankees, 2011 Rangers.

So make sure you don’t let TCABT #6 pass you on by!!!

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The Legend of George Grantham

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George Farley “Boots” Grantham played against the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the 1927 World Series.  He was a Pittsburgh Pirate in 1927.  He also played for the Cubs, the Reds and the Giants.  His career spanned from 1922 to 1934.  With 5899 career plate appearances, he finished with a career batting average of .302.  While I am not trying to make a “Hall of Fame” case for the late George Grantham, he is an “unsung” hero from an era of baseball known for it’s slugging.  He was primarily a 2nd-baseman, playing the position in 848 games.  He also played 502 games at 1st-base, 19 in left-field and 14 at 3rd-base.

Actually, the main reason I am writing about George Grantham, is because of an email I received this past Spring while I was in Arizona for 8 days in March.  Coincidentally, George Grantham attended Flagstaff High School in Flagstaff, AZ, and attended Northern Arizona University.  Post-retirement, he lived out his life in Kingman, AZ, dying at the very young age of 54, on March 16th, 1954.  The email I received was from a man named Cameron Grantham, who happens to be the great-grandson of George Grantham.  I had written a blog post in February about the 1927 Pirates, and Cameron had stumbled upon my blog post when he was doing a search for his great grandfather.  Cameron was after any information I might have had about his great grandfather, that he, Cameron, did not already have.  Unfortunately, all I had was my 1927 Pirates APBA Baseball card, along with a few Grantham cards from other APBA season sets.

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I was able to describe the APBA game to Cameron, and what the cards were.  I also let Cameron know a great resource would be the archives at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

If you know nothing about George Grantham, you can take this tidbit away, which was revealed by renowned Baseball Statistician, Bill James, in a Hardball Times article by Chris Jaffe in 2008.

@ @ @

“One time, twenty years ago, I did a data base search to see if there was any player in baseball history who:

“1. Played in 1,200 or more games,

“2. Played a key defensive position, and

“3. Was above average in every basic offensive category. . . .

” . . . I discovered that there were two such players — Willie Mays and George Grantham. I just love this kind of crap, so I mentioned that several times in books over the years.”

Bill James, The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, page 522.

@ @ @

Being mentioned in the same sentence with, and given the criteria, the same level with Willie Mays, where no other player could be, is nothing to sneeze at.

Cameron forwarded me the following article, which describes Grantham’s fame in Kingman, AZ.

From this article, we know George Grantham had already fought in a war, prior to playing Major League Baseball.  He lied about his age so that he could enlist in the Navy and fought in WWI.

My thanks to Cameron Grantham for reaching out to me …

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/grantge01.shtml

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