Having found my way back to the APBA American Saddle Racing game, I have come to know an APBA “Jack of all trades” named Doug Reese. You may know of Doug Reese through the pages of the old APBA Journal (he wrote a few articles for then AJ editor/publisher Howard Ahlskog). Or maybe you know Doug from several “information packed” posts on the Delphi APBA Between the Lines forum (he has passed along knowledge of games which is hard to come by). But he is also indirectly known to many who have played APBA Baseball For Windows, or the computer version of APBA Saddle Racing, or have played APBA Football solo with a certain play-calling system recommended on Greg Barath’s APBA Football blog (https://oguard62.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/doug-reeses-play-calling-system/).
If you spent time on either side of organized crime in the Miami, Florida area (Doug was on the good side), you may have worked with or been confronted by Doug Reese. And if you are an actor from the 1980’s TV Series Miami Vice, you also know who Doug Reese is. If you are the current owner of the Boston Red Sox, you know Doug Reese. From APBA PC game creators, Kenneth Miller to Gary Stishan, Doug Reese is known to many. This “Jack of all trades” nature of Doug Reese, shows the passion Doug has had for APBA, and helping bring APBA games to life in other formats. But for me, it was his unselfish, helpful nature in wanting to assist me in understanding some nuances about the APBA American Saddle Racing game, a game he is probably more familiar with than anyone, other than Dick Seitz himself. And even with what he knows, he still prefers the Dick Seitz “out-of-the-box” rules for playing the game.
Onto the questions for Doug Reese:
Jimsapbabarn question #1: Tell us about yourself, outside of APBA.
Doug Reese: I was born, and currently reside, in Miami, Florida. Somewhere in between that time, I moved along with my family (my dad was in the navy) to many different locations. I have lived in state of Washington, California, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, and a few others, but those others were only for a short period of time. I have been in Miami (again) since 1966, which was when he retired from the navy. I was ten at the time. (This period of time was significant, as I will explain later.)
After school, college and grad school, I joined the police department. My police department was the same one that is depicted in Miami Vice. In fact, I had a radio show that I did for the department which aired one day a week and involved callers asking questions about the police. I actually worked as a technical adviser on the set of Miami Vice, and I am friends with all of the actors of that show. Michael Talbot was the most fun. He was the heavy set guy driving the Bug (surveillance) Van. I met many other actors, and musicians, who guest starred on the program. Phil Collins was the best! He still lives in Miami.
For 8 years I worked in Vice. I was undercover with the Italian mafia, and I’ve conducted more wire taps, and bookmaking investigations than I can even count. I’ve spent more time in nude bars, and sports bars than I can imagine. The department picked up the tab for all of the beer, and chicken wings that I have eaten, and they supplied me with an array of flashy sports cars to drive. I never got a Ferrari like Don Johnson did, however. <G>
I am a court certified expert in the field of gambling, and I often get called to do consultant wok. After my 8 years in Vice (which we actually called Organized Crime), I finished out my career working in Internal Affairs. We investigated corrupt police officers, and other government officials. By then, there was no place to go but out, so I retired after 30 years of service.
I retired in 2008, but I still keep in contact with many of “the guys”, and I am often called as an expert witness by many attorneys that I have met throughout the years. So, I stay pretty active. I retired at age 52.
I was married for 24 years to my wife (together 29), who passed away last year. She was only 51, and she had a very rare form of ovarian cancer. I have just one child. She is 23 now, and is finishing up her PhD in the field of Comparative (International) Police Studies. She is scheduled to go to Australia next year as part of her research for her thesis. (I doubt that she will take me.) She is the current Secretary for the Collegiate National Honor Society Board, and she desires to work for the FBI. Why? I don’t know.
(Doug Reese and daughter in their season ticket seats at Marlins Park)
I live less than a mile from the ocean. I actually do own a corvette, but it isn’t really very practical. I have several other vehicles (an Infinity SUV, a Ford truck and a Ford Mustang) that I also own, and I rotate them as often as I can. None of them have many miles on them. They are just kind of fun to drive.
I get lots of visitors who want to come and experience Miami. That’s ok, too, because it is a fun place to live.
Jimsapbabarn question #2: What are your favorite sports, and favorite sports teams?
Doug Reese: As I said, I was born in Miami, so I have a legit reason to be a Miami sports fan. Additionally, my mother grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and as I mentioned before, her family owned race horses. I got to “know” about race horses” from real life experiences. My dad was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and he personally knew all of the great, old time, NASCAR drivers. We had pit passes, and he introduced me to them at the Daytona 500 in February, 1979. They just seemed like a bunch of nice guy, red necks to me. They all seemed friendly to each other. At the end of the race, Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough were fighting it out for first place when they collided, and both spun out and ended up in the infield. The race continued (last lap) and was won by Richard Petty. While Petty was crossing the line, Donnie and Cale got into a huge fist fight on the infield. It was great! I’ve never seen such a crazy bunch of guys as those old NASCAR drivers. (See the link to the video below)
So, I grew to like NASCAR as well, and later in life, Gary Stishan and I created a computer NASCAR game, like the computer horse racing game. Gary could never sell APBA on the idea, however, and the game is now dormant on our computers. I still play with it from time to time.
I was able to see the very first Miami Dolphins game in 1966 against the Oakland Raiders. They were a part of the AFL back then, and my ticket was only $1.50 to get in. Dolphin running back, Joe Auer, grabbed the first kickoff in history, and ran the ball back (I think like 92 yards) for a TD, on the very first official play in their history. Back then, they offered public stock for the team, but I never could get any family members to buy me any. After a few years, Danny Thomas sold his shares, and Joe Robbie became the sole owner, and the rest is history.
I was always a baseball fan first, however, but Miami didn’t have a team. We would get the Game of the Week, with Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek broadcasting, but we mostly got to see the Yankees. I was able to listen to the Oriole games at night, and often heard the announcer refer to Brooks and Frank Robinson as the “Robinson Brothers.” Well, at age 10, you take everything literally. I was shocked when I finally got to “see” my favorite players weren’t actually “brothers.” Kevin Cluff sent this. It kind of sums things up.
Jimsapbabarn question #3: How did you discover APBA?
Doug Reese: 1966 Street & Smith’s Football Magazine. We all know what it said. I mowed some lawns, and sent in my money and waited for the football and baseball games to arrive. Thank goodness for that magazine, or I might have never known about APBA. You had to send away for the brochure first. It was in color, and it had the smell of fresh printing. Plus, you got a player card to hold in your hand. I was sold at that point. I even tried to play a game by trying to “see” the board as it was printed in the brochure. I rolled the dice to see if I could get a 66, a homer, from the image printed on the brochure. Those were great times.
Jimsapbabarn question #4: What are your favorite APBA games?
Doug Reese: That’s a hard question. I did quite a bit to bring BBW, and the computer horse racing games to life. I’ll always have a strong tie to BBW. many have heard me talk about my ties to BBW, so I don’t even want to go into that, but I am VERY protective over that. I was quoted by Kenneth Miller as to saying that “BBW is the best piece of software ever created.” I still believe that. There hasn’t been but a handful of days where I haven’t at least played with BBW since it was created.
(The day game image from Doug’s season ticket seats he uses for his Marlins Park, Baseball for Windows ballpark image)
As I said before, Gary Stishan and I transferred the horse racing game over to the computer. I was more of a traditionalist, and Gary was more of an adventurist. I got Gary to program the horse racing game right out of the box. Later, Gary added a bunch of other add-on innovations to the game. I never used those, but I did test them for him. It was during the development of the game that we first learned that APBA had three versions of the boards. We had trouble trying to match up results for a long time because of that. We couldn’t understand why Gary’s numbers didn’t match with mine. Then we figured out that I had the original boards, and Gary had version 2. After that, we stuck with version 1. I also helped Gary with some aspects of the APBA computer golf game, as well.
I have never sold any of my APBA games, or cards, They are all in mint condition, and date back to 1966. I probably have 5 of the old football games, plus the seasons; 2 Master Football Games; 6 or so, of the Basic baseball games, and seasons; 3 of the Master Baseball Game; 4 or 5 of the NBA games (and seasons, all never separated); 2 versions of the Golf game with several courses; the Bowling game with two seasons; the Boxing game with one season; 3 versions of the Hockey game (with three seasons); 3 versions of the soccer game; the computer versions (BBW) of the baseball, golf, hockey, boxing, horse racing and bowling games. I also have the APBA computer basketball game, which later became Cactus games. I have everything. In fact, I’ve probably forgotten some.
If I had to put them into “games that I play” order it would be: BBW, Board Hockey (which I actually play on the computer), Computer Horse Racing, Master game Football (which I play on the computer), Computer Golf Game. I also, play our Computer NASCAR game, but not as much.
(Doug Reese’s daughter also attends Florida Panthers games with her dad)
Jimsapbabarn question #5: I have gotten to know you through your responses on APBA Saddle Racing on the APBA BTL forum. You have helped on many Saddle Racing topics, and I also know you worked with Gary Stishan on creating the computer version of APBA Saddle Racing. What brought you and Gary together on the project?
Doug Reese: This is going to sound horrible, but I’m not certain who I would give credit to for this “marriage.” Gary would probably remember better, because it was Gary that contacted me.
IIRC, I put out some info that I was interested in finding a computer programmer to make some changes to BBW. I had a list, given to me by Kenneth Miller, of corrections which were scheduled to be done. I knew what needed to be done, I just needed someone to do it. I started with Alan Pratt, who had worked for Kenneth, but he no longer had the code for BBW. After a while, I started to learn a few things about programming (at least how it was done, not how to do it) and I gave up on updating BBW, instead selecting a new game to create. Since many of the other sports had been done, the horse racing game could be a likely candidate. I always liked that game, so I decided horse racing it would be. I talked to many people. Scott Lehotsky, and Roy Langhans were two that I had mentioned the idea to.
After a couple of months, Gary contacted me, and stated that he had been contacted by someone (probably Scott, but maybe Roy, too) who had told him that I was interested in getting the horse racing game onto the computer. Gary said that he had been thinking about the horse racing game, and had often thought about doing something like that, but didn’t know enough about horse racing to get started. Gary lived in Warren, Ohio, and I lived in Miami. We started talking and I started telling Gary “how” the game should be set up, and how it supposed to work. It was rough. I was a perfectionist, and I wouldn’t have blamed Gary if he would have just chucked the whole idea. It’s really tough to “listen” about what needs to be done from some guy that you have never met who is constantly telling you that you are doing it wrong. This is especially true when the guy telling you that it is wrong, doesn’t know how to program himself, and you are doing it for free. Gary is a saint. But, we kept going. As I said earlier, one of the problems that we were having was that our boards were different and we didn’t know it. After we got the track working, then it came time for horse racing strategy, which was my forte. After that, we started entering all of the season data into the database. Since Gary had done much of the actual programming, it was left up to me to enter the data into the data base. That was time consuming. Then, we had to do the jockeys. At this point we realized that “we” could actually market the game if APBA were to buy it. We also realized that the game needed to mimic the board game exactly, if that were to happen. So, I got my wish, and Gary had to make the computer version match the boards exactly. He did that, and he included several versions of the boards, so that anyone who has any set could play the game.
Through this time, George Gerney met Gary, and he started doing some of the art work. Lon Whitehead also started helping Gary as he progressed. Soon, Gary wanted to “expand” the game so that it mirrored BBW, with leagues, and stable management, etc. Gary got several others (Frank and Frank) to help him, as I kind of stepped back, and started thinking about our next venture. As he continued, I would test what he had, and I found a board NASCAR game called RASC, and I started learning to play that. I then got Gary to program that, it was easier because it was another race game with spots on the track, so it followed along in the same format. We approached the creator of RASC, but he wasn’t going to sell the rights to the game, and he wanted too much money for the computer rights, so that project died. Gary did manage to work a deal with APBA to sell the computer horse racing game,, and later the computer golf game, too. I worked on the initial stages of that with him. After that, Gary was heavy into golf, and had his own web site for selling horse racing add-ons. Eventually, something about Gary’s relationship with APBA changed, and they stopped selling the game. Meanwhile, I started working on the newer version of BBW for APBA, which never got published. The programmer (Tim) for that was kind of “lost” as far as how BBW worked, so that project was doomed; at least until our new and great programmer recently came along and started fixing BBW.
Gary, ironically, moved to Florida, and in the past few years has kind of dropped out of sight. He pops in every now and then, but the APBA world really owes lots to him.
(Doug informed me later on, that his voice is the voice you hear in APBA Saddle Racing, computer version.)
APBA’view question #6: What other APBA projects have you worked on, that we may not know about?
Doug Reese: I have already stated these but, BBW from 1984 to 1999 (and later); Computer Horse racing; Computer Golf; the computer NASCAR Game which may someday get published; I wrote some articles for The APBA Journal (as we all did), back in the day.
Many may not know but this but I actually met Kenneth Miller when I sent a letter to him (before e-mail, etc.) in 1984 about some errors that I had discovered in his new computer version of the baseball game. We became friends, and I started “working” for Kenneth in an unofficial capacity. After a while, I was given complete access to Miller associates files. I worked and as many as 12 different versions of a file each day, testing them for them. As the game progressed, it added a Draft function (before Draft Manager), and Stat Master, which we all know. Another great program that Kenneth developed was first called “Innovator” and later changed to Wizard. This program was essentially the formula that APBA “used” at the time to make baseball cards. later, Colby Duerk added his encyclopedia program (I worked on that, too.) which could be used to make cards from any season. More on that later. All of this came before Windows, so it was all DOS-based programs.
Kenneth then thought that he could get people to pay money to participate in an on-line league. He created a league (software, etc.) called CSN (Computer Sports Network, or something like that.) This is important because it opened the door for many things. CSN ran your leagues, and it provided options for you to be able to make trades, etc. CSN developed a strategy for fatigue, etc. (This would later become AIM.) It also called for an ability to have the computer actually manage your team when it was away. The winning percentage in leagues for the Home Team was about 70% at home, which indicated that the other manager might not be doing your team justice when it was HIS time to play your games at his location. That brought about the Computer Manager. Kenneth and I worked on the very first manager together over the July 4th Holiday, when year. In three days I had given him all of the strategies that were used in Blackie Dugan, the first manager. Almost everyone of those original strategies were mine. The Computer Manager is the GREATEST and most complex program that was ever created by Miller associates. It was also way TOOOOOO complicated. (Only Steve Galbraith understands it completely, and even I have to go to him to fine tune my managers.)
In any case, CSN cost $40 a 60-game season, and most people didn’t have that kind of money. The result was that CSN failed miserably. But, all was not lost. Just when Kenneth was ready to kill Miler Associates, I convinced Kenneth to produce what he already had in what was called a “Stand Alone version” so that each gamer could run his own league. It wasn’t how Kenneth envisioned it, but in order for all of this to work, it had to leave its DOS arena and be switched over to Windows. This is how BBW was developed. All of the failed CSN software was made to work together: Baseball, Draft Manager, Stat Master, and League Manager were all created to make it all work. Plus, the Computer Manager enabled it all to come together. Kenneth then added the Encyclopedia to be matched with Innovator (now called Wizard) and you could literally create your own season disc. So, all of this failure actually led to what we have today: BBW.
My involvement with Kenneth lasted from 1984 to present. I still talk to him from time-to-time. We have visited each other at our homes on several occasions. But, it’s obvious that BBW has quite a few of my ideas, and I have quite a bit of insight into it. For this reason, you will find that I am VERY protective of BBW.
One thing that I find interesting right now is that APBA is essentially exploring the concept of gamers paying a fee to play the game, and to make trades, etc. If you base it on past experience, then I personally doubt that people will do that. As long as we all HAVE BBW, we don’t need to pay someone else to play the game. I know that the game company was moving in that direction, but I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. It has already failed once. Long Live BBW!
Jimsapbabarn question #7: Does APBA have a future once guys who are 45 and older die off? I’m 49 so I included myself in this group 😉
Doug Reese: Jim, if you are 49, then you are just a baby. I’m 59, and Bill Staffa is even older than me. (Sorry, Bill) The two of us were talking the other day about creating horse cards for the Triple Crown. I know the formula for creating the cards, but neither of us really seem to have the energy to start on a project that is going to take so long to complete, and if we ever did sell it, it would probably translate to about .35 an hour, and we would have to split that. So, these “labor of love” projects that we all used to get involved with, are slowing way down.
Your question is a good one. What makes APBA, is the APBA name and the format, and the easily recognizable cards and charts. You are essentially asking a world filled with all kinds of electronic devices to junk those and show interest in a board game. That’s a tall order for any project. The older gamers here will eventually literally die off, and unless the product holds true to APBA’s traditions, but at the same time becomes modernized, this will be a tough sale for the current non-APBA public to start showing new interest. There are fewer people interested in APBA now, than before. This is a niche-type of hobby, and it is EXTREMELY important to those of us in it, but it means nothing to outsiders. For that reason, there really isn’t a lot of profit to be made.
APBA makes good games, and they appeal to many gamers. They could definitely do much more along the lines of public relations, because each time they fail on any issue, we all hear about it. Eventually, some even get fed up, and quit. To me, APBA needs to concentrate on public relations, and correcting errors before they release their products. Quality Control is paramount. And, they should be providing corrections for free, not because the customer had to send in a SASE. That’s crazy.
The gaming public also needs to help out. Being from a software background, I can tell you that lots of products are illegally copied and distributed to everyone in a league, etc. So, one disc, and 20 copies. That’s 19 sales that the game company didn’t get. If you really want APBA to succeed, then buy the disc. Also, buy some other products.
Speaking of buying products, it was just a few years ago APBA was almost pleading with its customers to come and buy the remaining horse racing games that they had in their warehouse before they moved to Georgia. Then, today, it was announced that one of the gamers just sold a horse racing game and two seasons for $750 on E-bay. That’s a lot of money. Where was all of this interest back then? Imagine if you had purchased those games and remaining seasons back then? Wow!
APBA needs to continue to produce new products (NASCAR, anyone), and refine those that they have. At the same time, it has to walk the fence between the past, and the future.
Is there a future for APBA? I sure hope so. It has provided me, and everyone else here, many years of enjoyment. Long live APBA!
I was able to ask Doug a follow-up question …
Jimsapbabarn question #8: Interesting that Kenneth Miller is a friend of yours, and you still see him around now & then?
Doug Reese: He finally got married, and had a kid. That killed his free time. He had been listed as one of NY’s most eligible bachelors for a long time. He comes from money. He went to Princeton, and his brother went to Dartmouth (or maybe Harvard), or vice versa. They took computer science in school, and both worked for IBM. Kenneth introduced me (over the phone) to a friend of his named “John”, who was having trouble setting up his baseball league. I worked with John for several hours and got him all squared away. A few years later, Kenneth told me, “Hey, a friend of ours is getting ready to buy the Marlins.” I said, you must mean “a friend of yours, because I know that I don’t know anyone who could pull that off.” He said, “Sure you do.” He then reminded me of “John.” I said, John who? I never knew his last name. He said, “Oh, John Henry.” Of course, as a baseball fan, you know that John Henry did buy the Marlins, and later sold them when he purchased the Red Sox. I met John when he was down here. He told me that APBA got him interested in baseball. You should probably put this little anecdote in there, as well. I find it ironic that Kenneth is such as great Yankee fan, but one of his best friends is the owner of the Red Sox. I like both of them. They were always nice to me.
Kenneth participated in leagues, as well. He got mad at me one year when he left the country to travel in Europe. He gave me his Woonsocket Rockets to manage while he was gone. While he was away I traded a new power hitter named Barry Bonds for an aging vet, Darryl Strawberry (he had a monster card.) We won the championship, but Kenneth hadn’t wanted to trade Barry.
Doug, thanks for your time. Thanks for adding on, at great length, to each question. You definitely brought more to the table than I imagined. The moniker, “Jack-of-all-trades” seems to fit, when you look at your involvement with APBA Baseball for Windows, the computer version of APBA Saddle Racing, a solo play call system for the APBA Football board version, not to mention the many APBA personalities you have come to know personally over the years. I also appreciate the time you have taken to enlighten me on the nuances of the APBA American Saddle Racing game.