My decision to go with a 24-team tournament using the original 1973 baseball season set came after I had just finished reading “Swinging ’73” by Matthew Silverman. A book I highly recommend if you want more insight into one of the more peculiar seasons in MLB history. The 70’s in general were one of the more radical decades in baseball history, and 1973 might have been the most news worthy when you consider the odd events which took place, on and off the field.
For me personally, 1973 is the first baseball season where I have memories of watching games on TV and collecting Topps Baseball cards. I was 7 at the time. While I naturally followed the local Minnesota Twins, the Oakland A’s were my favorite team outside of the Twins. Something to do with those bright green and gold uniforms, and players like Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Gene Tenace, Vida Blue and Catfish Hunter. And at 7 yrs old, I was too young to understand any of the “off the field” stuff that went on that year. The big story being pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich trading wives and families during the off-season leading into the 1973 season. This is such a crazy, almost unfathomable story that 40+ years later it is being made into a movie, starring Matt Damon: http://www.nj.com/yankees/index.ssf/2015/04/the_matt_damon-ben_affleck_movie_on_yankees_wife_s.html.
Of course, 1973 would also be the first season where the AL implemented the DH rule. Controversial to say the least, even the APBA Journal had to tackle the topic. I recall reading back issues of the AJ from around 1973, which talked about how APBA Game Co would card the AL pitchers for hitting, etc. And would various APBA Leagues (Face-to-Face and Mail Leagues) adobt the DH rule, etc.
My original 1973 APBA Baseball set is well used, not by me, but whoever it was I purchased the set from years ago. It is my favorite APBA set, but I have not taken the time to roll many games using it. I would not discover APBA until I was 12 in the summer of 1978, and I recall at the time, wishing APBA still had the 1973 set in stock. Around 1980 or 1981 I was able to order my ’73 set from an ad in the APBA Journal. I am guessing I paid around $30 for it at the time, which was a lot of cash for a 14-15 yr old.
1973 would also feature one of the craziest division races in MLB history. The NL East was in flux the entire ’73 season. It was the division, no team really wanted to win. Countless lead changes, mainly due to the team that was in 1st place at the time, performing so poorly, the 2nd place team would take over just by playing a little bit better than .500. Just 5 games separated the 1st place Mets (82-79) and the 5th place Cubs (77-84). The last place Phillies finished 11.5 games out.
For my tournament, each series is a best-of-seven. It will provide enough games for each team, so that the 4 starting pitchers will each receive at least 1 start. And if a series goes 7 games, it means the top 3 starters for that team will each have 2 starts in that series. So a deep pitching staff will be key. I am using the Basic Game, and while I am using the original card set, I have decided to go with the most recent APBA Basic Game booklet because I feel it produces more accurate play results, compared to the old Basic Game boards from the 1970’s which I will defend to this day, are still the greatest APBA game boards around. I use the Advanced Pitching and Fielding rules. I also use the old APBA Journal Error Distribution Card and Unusual Play Card, to randomize those events. I even incorporate the Master Game Rare Play boards, when my re-roll using the Unusual Play Card is a dice roll of “12” or “65”. This adds a little variety of rare plays into my Basic Game play.
I have 2 series in the books, and will begin posting those results in the days to come. I also keep my 1965 full-season replay active. I switch between the 2 projects. Keeps both projects “fresh”, as I am in no rush.