(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.
(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.
(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.
(The 3 extra large storage bins, above, contain just half of Darrell’s APBA Baseball collection, with the remaining half below)
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)
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.
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.
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:
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!
(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.
(The baseball library of Darrell Skogen, is another great room for rolling TCABT games within)
(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.
(The game set-up at the Skogen home in the Den)
A quick “Around-the-horn” with Skogen:
– 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.
(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.
– Your favorite baseball announcer?
Vin Scully, hands down, all time, forever!
– 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”.