Checking in post-Chicagoland

Reader Jerry Hill writes:

Is every thing OK with you and the APBA Blog?

I admit I’ve slacked off a bit lately.  A job transition/promotion, focusing on my family (my youngest is in her senior year of high school) and working on some other projects has taken a little of my time away.

Jerry, don’t worry.  Rob Spatz’ Chicagoland Tourney was just what I needed to get me on track.  As you can see I’ve posted a bit this week and there are a few articles by Scott Fennessy that are queued up to post too.


“When will you post the next episode, Tom”

At Chicagoland this past weekend, Dick Butler (above) complimented me on my Excel stat tutorials a while back.  I enjoy doing them and still plan on continuing that project (I promise Brett Cline, Pivot Tables are coming!).

Speaking of keeping stats, I had a chance to watch Dave Rueck keep stats on iScore on his iPad at Chicagoland.  While, I love keeping score with a pen and paper, iScore looked intriguing.  Using iScore, Dave was able to tell me exactly what his team was hitting.  That kind of real-time stats is pretty awesome.

Maybe a review is forthcoming.


Tournament history

Last weekend at Chicagoland, Bob Eller and I got into a discussion about collecting an archived history of regional tournaments.  After a year or so, winners of the tournaments are fresh in our heads.  However, now that they have been going on for years and we have tournaments all over the country, we have some accumulated history that we do not want to lose.

Take a look at APBA’s Wikipedia page and you can find National Convention tournament winners and runners-up for each year.  Someone is being diligent about updating its page.

Bob said it would be great to have a similar history recorded for all of the regional tournaments.  The APBA Blog will do its part in helping out.


Prairieland III

Finally, the Prairieland organizers (and a few of the regulars) were starting to talk about Prairieland III in 2018.  First up, we’ll be picking a date and a theme. Stay tuned!


thanks for writing, Jerry. It is much appreciated.  Say, when are those new cards coming??

Posted by: | Category: Stats | Tags: , , | 3 comments


Weird Card Wednesday: 1967 Allan Lewis


Q:  How does an APBA card reproduce 14 steals in just 6 plate appearances?


A: Any way that it can.

Season Totals
1967 Totals 34 0 6 6 7 1 0 0 0 0 14 5 0 3 .167 .167 .167
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/15/2017.


thanks, Brett Cline!


Posted by: | Category: Card Analysis | Tags: , , | 9 comments


“Happy to play APBA” Pastor Rich wins 2017 Fall Chicagoland tournament

On Saturday, a total of 34 APBA fans descended onto the Comfort Inn-O’Hare in Des Plaines, Illinois to play APBA, talk baseball and have some fun.  Thanks to the tireless efforts of organizer Rob Spatz this tourney could not have happened.  APBA fans came as far as Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin.

When it was it all over, it was Pastor Rich Zawadzki and his 2011 Philadelphia Phillies who were left standing.  His Phils defeated Todd Daniels and the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks.


A thrill for me was playing Rich’s son, Eric.  I believe this is Eric’s first Chicagoland tourney and wow, he really did well.  He wasn’t in my division but my 2016 Nationals had one inter-division game with his 2016 Red Sox.  Eric and the Sox had no problem scoring runs against the tough Nationals pitching (A-B-B rotation, five A*) and he came out the winner.

My scoresheet is still buried but I can tell you the Sox’ had their hitting shoes on.  When I finished, Eric told me he was “Happy to play APBA”.  Indeed. Eric made the playoffs and almost made faced his father in the final.


First-timer Ron Glos went 1-8 for the day…


…but Joel Koppenhoefer’s (right) first time included a playoff game against champion Pastor Rich.

Eric was one of several new Chicagoland tournament participants.  Like Eric, Joel Koppenhoefer also made the playoffs with his 2015 Toronto Blue Jays.  Others like Ron Glos, Alec Otto and John Gedwill cut their teeth on our tournament play.  Regardless, it seemed like all had a great time all time!

How did my 2016 Washington Nationals stand up to the rest up of Chicagoland?  Well, we started out 0-2, then won a few and got up to 4-3.  We ended up losing the last two (thanks Eric Z.) and finished with a 4-5 mark.  We were disappointed by AKZ starter Max Scherzer who enjoyed giving up runs (13 in the first two games).

Todd Daniels was in our division and represented us well.  He made it to the final round.

“Son, stop hamming for the camera. It’s time to play.”

It’s worth noting that two father-son combos faced off in Saturday’s tournament.  Organizer Rob Spatz played his father Bob Spatz.  In addition, Larry Eichman and his son, Clark Eichman at the next table.  Had Eric Zawadzki advanced in the postseason and faced Rich Zawadzki, that would have three father-son combos.

Awesome APBA videomaster, Ron Emch took a video of Chicagoland action and uploaded it to YouTube.  Check it out!

Photos from the day here

A final thank you to Rob Spatz who pours his life and soul into this tournament.  Rob, you provide us all a great service and continue a wonderful tradition that Doug Schuyler and Jim Saska began years ago.  You should be proud.  From all of us, thank you!

Posted by: | Category: Tournament | Tags: , , , , | 1 comment


Scott Fennessy: XC – Ecstasy or Excessive?

I was recently purchasing a season for the upcoming Chicagoland Tournament and I chose the 2016 Chicago Cubs.  But since I don’t have the team and also wanted to own the first Cub world championship roster in my lifetime I went ahead and ordered it.

However, when I went to APBA’s site to purchase the team and then added the XC cards to the cart I was sort of floored by the total cost.  No, I am not slamming APBA for the cost of the set, but was somewhat surprised as I have usually purchased deadball era teams and they are a lot less.

I realize the difference is the number of teams, therefore the much larger number of cards, hence the cost.  But the question remained, do I really need to spend $100 dollars on a set if you include the XC’s?

I looked at the rosters and then the XC’s.  This brought about the subject matter.  Do I or don’t I want or even NEED the XC cards.  In the two seasons that I have purchased since APBA has begun to reissue the sets I did get the XC cards.

In all honesty, I find that while you get some monster cards here and there, they are mostly cards that won’t see much past a defensive replacement or blowout relief appearance.

Back in the “old days” when APBA had 20 -25 card rosters and 10 XB cards that you had to tear apart as an option; I always ordered the XB’s as I always needed them as the seasons progressed.

Maybe I am just lazy, but I really don’t need the set for replay purposes.  80% of the cards end up in an envelope stuffed so full it can barely hold them and never get used.

But I realize they play a vital role for those that do actual game day lineups (and for putting THAT much work into a replay I salute you.)  So to those of you who read this, how important to you is the XC card set to you?


Thanks to Craig Christian for the photo!

Posted by: | Category: opinion | Tags: , , | 11 comments


Kevin Burghardt: APBA connects the dots of our lives

Thanks to Kevin Burghardt for submitting this article!  It really hit home. -TN

So many of us that play this wonderful game called APBA Baseball have stated how it’s changed our lives for the better. I was thinking the other day just how true that is for me personally.

As I was taking my daily after work walk recently, I was struck by a new and sudden thought: APBA Baseball has not only changed my life for the better, one can firmly state it’s changed my son Eric’s life for the better as well.

Check out my personal APBA edition of connect the dots:

  • I started playing APBA Baseball as a kid. In my 20’s I put an ad in the APBA Journal looking for a mail league.
  • A guy named Sam answered the ad and told me about his league, which I joined shortly thereafter.
  • Several months later I met Sam and two other league members for the first time in Seattle for a weekend of LDBA league play and sight-seeing.
  • I struck up a close friendship with Dan, one of the other two league members I met that weekend.
  • The years went by and eventually Dan and I left the league, but remained close friends.
  • I took my son Eric on college tours the summer before his senior year of high school. Purdue was included in the campus visits and it only entered my radar (and in turn, Eric’s) because Dan is a Purdue graduate and raved about how much he loved the school.
  • Eric ended up receiving and accepting a magnificent scholarship offer from Purdue the following spring.
  • My son is still on scholarship, now in his junior year in West Lafayette.
  • All indications are that Eric will graduate with honors with a double major in math and computer science come spring of 2019. Where life takes him after that is anyone’s guess, but of course I couldn’t be prouder!

Sure, my son was accepted at other schools and likely would have done well wherever he went, but I don’t know that this could have turned out any better: Happy with the campus, going to school for (practically) nothing, and promising job opportunities awaiting him in a couple of years.

Safe to say that if I don’t play APBA, I don’t meet Dan, and I don’t think twice about Purdue.

So many great things about APBA that I’ve lost track. Feels like this one is right at #66 on the list though………….

Posted by: | Category: People | Tags: | 4 comments


Weird Card Wednesday: 1981 Doug Bair

It always seems that the strangest cards come from sets during shortened seasons.  In this case, this Doug Bair card hails from 1981 which was infamous for its split season due the labor dispute (sorry Reds fans!).

Bair’s 1981 card is the ultimate in all-or-nothing.   In six plate appearances, he struck out four times and hit a homer (in case you’re curious like I was, he also popped to first base).  His homer on May 20 was a key one in the Reds’ 10-7 victory over the Cubs.

Season Totals
1981 Totals 35 6 6 1 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 4 .167 .167 .667

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table

Generated 9/13/2017.

Bair’s card in 1981 was pretty much on the money.  He received twenty-one 13s but also five 1s.

In addition, he received these numbers:

  • 12-25
  • 14-30
  • 15-23
  • 45-36
  • 52-27
  • 55-21
  • 64-12
  • 65-35

That means even numbers like 34 and 54 result in 13.

Like the Major League, Bair split his time in 1981.  He played for 24 games the Reds before St. Louis acquired him.  Either way, the Grade D is deserved in this case as Bair had a combined unusually high 5.10 ERA in 54 innings.

The homerun in 1981 would be the only one he would hit in his career.  In fact, it would be one of only five hits in the 15 years he would play pro ball.

Posted by: | Category: Card Analysis | Tags: , , | Leave a comment


Terrible Card Tuesday: 2016 Russell Martin

When Scott Fennessy rolled a 33 on catcher Russ Martin against me at last weekend’s Illowa APBA League weekend, I cringed.  I thought for sure, Russ banged out an rbi double.  Fortunately for me, I had a B pitcher going and it was an out.  My curiosity was piqued though and I asked to see his card and took the above photo.

This is not what I expected from a four-time All-Star.  I had forgotten about Martin’s rough year with Toronto in 2016.  This looks more like Yan Gomes’ 2016 card and not the former IAL first round pick.

Season Totals
2016 Totals 137 535 455 62 105 16 0 20 74 2 64 148 .231 .335 .398

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table

Generated 9/12/2017.

To be fair, 2016 Russ Martin is a Catcher-9 which is a rarity. On top of that, he has four 14s and a 42 which even a Z pitcher can’t stop.

Yet somehow, rollers for Martin are to coax 20 homers from this card in 535 plate appearances and I’m not sure if they can do that.  Martin’s .231 batting average will be easier to replicate if he faces more C and D pitchers rather than A or B pitchers since he has the 8-8-8-8-9-9 combination.  That extra 8 will make the difference.

That said, Martin’s 31-36 and 51-38 are pretty painful.

Looking ahead, Martin’s numbers for 2017 (.223/.354/.381) are pretty similar to 2016 (.231/.335/.398) so don’t look for any drastic improvements on his card.

Posted by: | Category: Card Analysis | Tags: , , | Leave a comment


In strange ending, City Boys hold off Country Gents in 2017 IAL All-Star Game 6-5

A tense moment during the 2017 IAL All-Star Game

In one of the closest Illowa APBA League All-Star games in history, the City Boys held off the Country Gents in a 6-5 contest.  The City Boys had the lead the whole game but the Gents made a comeback scoring a run in the ninth inning bringing the score within one run.  That brought about one of the strangest endings to an All-Star game I’ve ever seen.

With two outs in the 9th inning and runners on second and third, Jose Altuve was up for the Country Gents and Aroldis Chapman was on the mound.  Manager Dennis Jennings rolled a 64-22 on Altuve.  Everyone was scrambling to look that up on the charts and once they did, it was necessary to double check the defensive fielding.  It didn’t really matter; the game was over either way.

Here was the result of the last play:

22–C-Runner picked off 3rd; A-C PO-3B

D-SINGLE; runner on 2nd hit by batted

ball; other holds 3rd; PO-SS

For probably the first time in IAL history, the last out was made on a base hit.  Altuve gets credit for a hit but Buster Posey who was on second, is called out which ended the game.

Northside Hitmen Nolan Arenado thirdbaseman was voted All-star Game MVP.  Arenado went 3 for 4 with a double, two rbis and a run scored.

The ‘Boys were also helped by a two-run shot by Adam Duvall.  Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer for the Country Gents.

Back to your Regularly Scheduled Season

Of course, we all ended up playing some regular season APBA too.  We each had 30 games to play for the weekend.

John ‘Brando’ Brandeberry’s Missoula Rattlesnakes was the big winner this weekend going 19-11.  Brando moved firmly into playoff position from 4th place to 2nd.  He essentially traded positions with normally tough Chuck Lucas and his Northside Hitmen who suffered a 13-17 weekend.

Since Brando lives in Missoula, Montana, we used Skype on a mobile phone so Brando could participate in the All-Star Game.

Brando, if you’re reading this, this is how we saw you during the All-Star Game.  The photo doesn’t pick up your image well but we saw you fine.

Yes, you were propped up against the cookie jar.  It actually worked pretty well until Chuck wanted a cookie and forgot it was holding you up (sorry about that, buddy!).


After the win, the City Boys gave him high fives (and the Country Gents big congrats).


A Founder Returns


You may recognize the man on the left in the photo above.  That’s Don Smith who has attended many APBA tournaments (note the famous duck call).

The man on the right is Dennis Jennings.  Both are original founders of the Illowa APBA League going back to 1975 (along with current President Mike Bunch). Dennis has a rich history with the IAL including (but not limited to) a run of four years in first place (1985-1988). His year in 1985 was pretty phenomenal.  He went 115-47 with the help of MVP Harold Baines.

Now, Dennis has decided to make a return to APBA and the Illowa APBA League after a 29 year absence!  Denny will be helping out the league when we have a need for a pinch-manager.  We’re glad to have you back, Dennis!

Congrats to the City Boys especially game manager Keith Smith.

Posted by: | Category: League Updates | Tags: , , | Leave a comment


Monster Card Monday: 1953 Ernie Banks

banksIt’s fun to see a future Hall of Famer’s APBA card before they made it big.  Sometimes they start off slow with a poor card and then find their groove.  In other cases like this 1953 Ernie Banks card, you get a quick snapshot of what is to come. 

Banks only played ten games for the Cubs in 1953.  Looking at his game log at Baseball Reference, I can see that Banks was a late callup on September 17.  Banks started 10 games, made the most them and the rest is history.  The next year, he played every game of the season. 

Banks didn’t miss an inning during those ten starts.  In 39 plate appearances, he batted .314 with two homers, a double and a triple. 

Season Totals
1953 Totals 10 39 35 3 11 1 1 2 6 0 4 5 .314 .385 .571
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/4/2017.

Banks’ 1953 card while certainly limited, is quite exciting. To be realistic, Cubs fans may feel obligated to play adequate but rather unexciting Roy Smalley and that will be hard to do.  Any Cub player with double 1s AND a single column 2 is worth rooting. 

To add to that, Banks has a nifty 55-7 which is enough to forgive his SS-6 rating. 

Card trivia:  this is the first reprint of the 1953 set published in 1985.  If I remember correctly, the first reprint sets caused quite a stir among APBA fans who collected the sets because many thought the reprints would drive down the value of the original sets. 

imageFormatting issue?  Because of the font and overall layout of the card, this type of formatting of the above card remains one of my favorites, dated as it is.  That said, it occasionally was plagued with the vertically offset printing issue in which the play result number would not be aligned with the dice roll number. 

In Banks’ card, it is especially pronounced from dice roll numbers 56 to 66. 

Posted by: | Category: Card Analysis | Tags: , , , | 2 comments


Terrible Card Tuesday: 1965 Don Kessinger


Okay, I grew up with the idea that Don Kessinger was a typical leadoff man.  I suppose in the sixties, he sort of was.  I’ve gotten past this of course but I’ve never forgotten the Kessinger-Beckert duo that lead off so many Cubs games. 

Before Don K. got to the point where he was even considered for such a role, he batted eighth for the Cubs in 1965 and 1966.  Looking at his ‘65 card, you can probably see why.  In his first full year with the Cubs, he batted just .201 with only seven extra base hits in 336 plate appearances. 

Season Totals
1965 Totals 106 336 309 19 62 4 3 0 14 1 20 44 .201 .252 .233
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/29/2017.

Now, I have long since come to terms with Kessinger’s bat issues but it’s the SS-7 that’s a little hard on the eyes.  Kessinger upped it to a SS-8 by 1966. 

I mentioned in my mid-June update that Kessinger is doing pretty well with the stick in my 1966 replay.  It’ll be hard for this ‘65 card to match that.  Don has a pretty nasty 51-13.  He also has an interesting 31-39 which seems backwards; Kessinger was ahead of his time!

To recreate four doubles and three triples in 336 plate appearances, APBA gave him a single column 4.  I was leafing through the ‘65 set last night and it seemed Seitz was a fan of the single column 4 that year.  Some players even had two. 

Kessinger’s ‘65 card has three 13s but he also has an inordinate amount of fly out numbers especially 30s.  This makes me think he was used to bunt often that year.  Actually, the 1965 stats don’t bear that out though.  Just three times.

Finally, two Cubs fans (assumedly) voted for Don Kessinger for the Hall of Fame in 1985.  Nice try. 

Posted by: | Category: Card Analysis | Tags: , , | 1 comment

Back to top