“THE SHED OF DREAMS”
If you are an APBA fan, or a fan of any board gaming brand, what you are about to read about is a guy with a shed in Nebraska, a shed which would rival any sport’s “Field of Dreams” venue.
I am speaking of Richard Hormel. Richard is the guy who collects everything we would like to collect and keep in storage, only he has actually done it. We are not talking about a small room in the basement (which holds my collection). We are talking about a shed which is 60 ft by 90 ft, and according to Richard, the previous owner used the shed for detailing tractor trailer trucks.
Onto the interview with Richard Hormel …
Jimsapbabarn question #1: Tell us about yourself, your youth, etc (outside of APBA)?
Richard Hormel: I was born in New York City but grew up in the small town of Weston, Connecticut. A great place to grow up… I don’t know if it was a great place to live as an adult! My parents were both self employed artists. My Mom a painter and illustrator of some reknown and my Dad more of a designer type. I have two younger brothers.
We were all sports nuts. My Mom was the athlete in the family- used to pitch batting practice and hit fungos to us. My Dad was a baseball fan, however, and growing up I went to a lot of Mets games (I was a Yankee fan but Shea Stadium was easier to drive to from Connecticut). My Dad was good about making sure we saw Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron play. A lot of double headers too back in those days.
My Dad, begrudgingly, got involved with the local Little League and wound up running it for years. One nice by-product of this was that we would have various Yankee players come to our Awards presentation at the end of the year. I remember meeting Gene Michael (who was great), Fritz Peterson (also very nice), Ron Swoboda (a bit of a jerk) and Roy White (who was also great- we still have a half finished bottle of Pepsi that my Mom saved from his visit). I had them all sign their APBA cards. Gene Michael was very interested to know what all the symbols meant. He laughed when I told him he was ‘fast’. And he told me ‘this is the game that Peterson and Kekich play in the back of the plane’- I’m guessing it wasn’t the only game Peterson and Kekich were playing!
I played a lot of baseball, basketball and soccer through high school. My brothers also played every sport imaginable and also played a lot of APBA.
Jimsapbabarn question #2: What do you do for a living?
Richard Hormel: I’m an attorney. After graduating from Fordham College (and proud to be associated with the same school at Frankie Frisch and Vince Lombardi), I went to a little law school in St. Petersburg, Florida, Stetson College of Law.
Stetson was ‘home’ to quite a few Tampa Bay Bucs who went to school during the off season. I was good friends with J. K. McKay (another great guy). His younger brother Rich- who I think is still the President of the Atlanta Falcons- was a year behind us (we thought of his as a goofy younger brother). Also in my class was Larry Smith (the old Rams running back) and Mike Boryla (who was traded to the Bucs and was a complete wash out for them).
Since graduating, I have worked for the same firm my whole career- starting in our West Palm Brach, Florida office, moving to Boston for a couple of years, and coming out to Los Angeles in 1986. I represent employers and insurance companies in workers’ compensation matters. A very dry area of the law. What makes it a bit more fun is that we present several movie and TV studios and represent the New York Knicks and New York Rangers. Through a technicality in the law, many NBA and NHL players have filed workers’ compensation claims in California. The attorney for most of the athletes was Ron Mix, the old San Diego Charger- a very impressive guy well into his 70’s although he has had some tough recent issues. But I’ve met players such as Earl Monroe and Cazzie Russell which has been a great benefit to the job!
Jimsapbabarn question #3: When and how did you discover APBA?
Richard Hormel: I grew up playing Challenge the Yankees and Cadaco All Star Baseball. My Uncle, Dick Miller, lived in San Francisco and although I hadn’t met him at the time, knew I was a big baseball fan. He was an original 1950 game owner (Scott Lehotski found in one of Dick Seitz’s logs that my Uncle was the 66th person to order from the company) and ordered and had sent to me the 1966 edition baseball game.
I actually remember like it was yesterday, coming home and seeing the big box there. I was amazed that EVERY player was carded (unlike Challenge the Yankees and Cadaco). And I was immediately hooked! I think the first year, I played an 18 game season for all the teams and grew from there to 54 game seasons and one 72 game season. This last all through high school until I went away for college.
I bought the Football game soon thereafter. And, of course, Basketball, Golf, Saddle Racing and everything else APBA printed.
In High School, friends and I had a Baseball and Football league. Our first year, we hadn’t thought out ‘usage’ limits- I remember both Jim Brewer and Steve Mingori (who were both A&C’s) probably pitched 400 innings apiece.
I’m sure my parents thought I was nuts- I’d be locked away in my room rolling dice every night- but I have always been very fortunate to have ‘tolerant’ people in my life!
Jimsapbabarn question #4: I thought you had written for the APBA Journal at one time, can you tell us more about that?
Richard Hormel: Actually, I never wrote for the AJ. Did have an article or two printed in both the AJ and the APBA Innings. In fact, I have always felt guilty about not being more a part of the APBA community. I have really contributed very little.
One of Richard’s letters/articles appears in the August, 2000 (Issue #5) of the APBA Journal.
And the community is great. I did attend the 2nd APBA Convention in New York in 1975 (I believe that’s right). I was amazed by the turnout! Met Ben Weiser, Connie Horn and a lot of other ‘legends’ all of whom were great.
I haven’t been to any of the ‘recent’ conventions although I hope to sometime soon. But I have been very lucky here in Los Angeles to live near Hall of Famer Jim Sce who has organized several luncheons. If you haven’t met him, Jim is terrific with a great sense of humor. Through Jim, I have met other ‘legends’ such as Roy Langhans (reading the Game of the Day on BTL is always a part of my day); Michael ‘Pengy’ Davidson; and Mark Rukhaus (I was expecting a ‘nut’ due to some of his postings but another great and thoughtful guy!). Everyone I have met through APBA couldn’t be nicer- it is great to be part of such a wonderful ‘community’. And there are some very interesting people playing APBA- one of the luncheons attendees is the noted author Harry Turtledove.
Jimsapbabarn question #5: How much APBA do you play today, and do you play only solo and/or face-to-face?
Richard Hormel: The quick answer is that I don’t play as much as I wish. And I primarily play solo- cards and dice.
What I do do, however, is go through various seasons fairly regularly. I’ve got an extensive collection of old who’s who, Baseball Registers and Guides and magazines such as Street & Smith. I’ll go through old issues but almost as much fun is pulling out an old season and going through it. It is great remembering all the old names and player tendencies. And like a lot of APBA players, it is rather amazing but I can recall lineups and rosters for all the teams in the 50’s and 60’s but couldn’t come close to doing the same for today’s teams.
Jimsapbabarn question #6: Describe your APBA collection/storage and “museum”.
Richard Hormel: Here’s where I get in trouble. I do have a great collection. I inherited my Uncle’s old sets (obviously the most valuable being the original 1950 season, which he took to Korea with him but is still very close to ‘mint’ condition) and I more than filled in the gaps. I believe I have a copy of every card APBA has ever published (many in quantity). I continue to buy things I don’t need- I just still get a thrill each time a box is delivered- takes me right back to my childhood.
Living in Los Angeles did not afford me the space to really store things properly. I had games and cards stuffed everywhere. I got married late- at 52- and, again, I am fortunate my wife is very tolerant. But I know she couldn’t have been happy about sets being stored in the bedroom!
My wife (Lisa) is from Lincoln, Nebraska and has always wanted to move back there. So several years ago we bought a place in Lincoln, with the idea that we would eventually retire there. My wife’s parents became ill and we have been spending more time there now than originally envisioned.
But the big selling point to me was this big metal barn- a Morton Building’ on the property. The previous owner had used the building to wash and detail semi tractor trailers so this thing is a good size. When I first visited the property I was immediately sold- what a great place to spread out and store my APBA collection!
So that’s what I’ve done. I have all the card sets store in either APBA file boxes or boxes (the ‘Super Vault’) that I’ve ordered from Baseball Card World (they are terrific if you haven’t seen or used them).
In addition to the cards and games, I have such stuff as the ‘Seitz Archives’ sold in an auction by Scott Lehotsky years ago. In it is Seitz’s old notebooks with games he played over the years. I also bought an APBA banner sold to me by John Herson several years ago and a few things from Veryl Lincoln’s collection. I’m still working on getting everything organized but, for me, that is a big part of the fun.
Of course, we are talking Nebraska and the Morton Building is not heated or air conditioned so it is like an ice box in the winter and very hot and humid in the summer. The humidity has been a big concern of mine- besides the APBA stuff I have tons of old sports books and magazines. So I have several de-humidifiers working overtime in the Building.
I also commandeered a guest room in the house for the ‘more important’ parts of my collection. That room has quickly filled up and the wife is not allowed in (I think my tolerant wife would have a heart attack if she saw what all was in there). The guest room is in the basement- also hopefully safe from tornadoes!
At the moment, we are renovating and insulating the garage which will, hopefully house my books.
But it is very nice to have so much space- even if it is in Nebraska! And if any APBA types happen to be traveling through Nebraska, get in touch with me. We have plenty of room. I’d love to show-off my collection and roll a few games.
And if you have any choice, come through Nebraska in the fall. Hopefully, the Huskers will be home and there is nothing like going to a Nebraska home football game! And there are very few tornadoes in the fall!
Jimsapbabarn question #7: What would you like to see current APBA CEO, John Herson, create for APBA?
Richard Hormel: First of all, I think John is great! I don’t know what it is about APBA that causes all of us to become little kids- the cards are later, there are some mistakes and everyone goes crazy. But I think it is amazing the quantity and quality of the stuff he has been churning out!
Like I hope many, I would love to see some old Football seasons produced- anything from the 1960’s would be great!
I know it is a pipe dream but I would live to see Saddle Racing, Bowling, Boxing and dare I say Basketball get a new life. But I think we are very fortunate to have John running the show.
A quick AROUND THE HORN with Richard Hormel …
Your favorite sports team?
Richard Hormel: Easy. The New York Yankees!
Your favorite ballpark?
Richard Hormel: I’ve been very lucky to have gone to quite a few. Fenway and Wrigley are great but, again, not very objective but there was nothing like the old Yankee Stadium.
Your favorite restaurant in Lincoln, NE?
Richard Hormel: This is a bit of a sensitive subject. I am in no means a ‘foody’ but one of the biggest contrasts between living in Los Angeles and Lincoln is the selection of cuisines and number of great restaurants. I am always searching for places in Lincoln and what kind of sums things up was a there was a top ten list on-line of the best restaurants in Lincoln… number 6 was Chili’s! But there are some great steakhouses. If I had to pick one in Lincoln I would say ‘Misty’s’- where on the Friday before games, the Nebraska Marching Band would hold pep rallies!
Your favorite sports movie?
Richard Hormel: Field of Dreams is hard to top!
Your favorite athlete (current or past)?
Richard Hormel: Again, as a Yankee fan, there has been a whole parade. Lately it has been Derek Jeter while Larry Bird is my favorite basketball player.
Richard, I appreciate you taking the time for this APBA Interview. I hope to make another trip to Lincoln, NE, one day, to meet up and have a chance to visit. I’m already dreaming up a regional tournament event hosted at your shed … LOL! I often hear from others who have met you before, and they all say the same thing, what a terrific and humble person you are. Thanks for taking us inside the “shed”!