The 2016 Prairieland APBA Baseball Tournament is now in the books. We had a total of fifteen participants that traveled from as far away as Michigan and Nebraska to Urbana, Illinois to play APBA baseball. At the Hampton Inn, we broke into two divisions and played our opponents (one game each).
When the dust settled, there were four left, two from each division. From the Lou Boudreau Division (named as such since Boudreau was a University of Illinois alum), two teams from the 1940s were left. Bob Eller’s 1948 Cleveland Indians (including Boudreau himself) went 5-2. Jim Welch and his potent lineup of the 1941 Boston Red Sox also went 5-2.
In the Robin Roberts Division (named because Roberts hails from Springfield, Illinois), both winners were from the modern era. Tom Fulton’s 2015 Toronto Blue Jays went 5-1 as did Joe Schall’s St. Louis Cardinals of 2001.
Semi-finalists, Bob Eller and Joe Schall ponder what could have been as Tom Fulton congratulates winner Jim Welch
In the semi-finals, Fulton’s Jays battled with Eller’s Indians and the Jays won out. Jim Welch beat out Joe Schall’s 2001 Cards and the finals were set. A crowd gathered for the championship final and while Tom Fulton’s Blue Jays battled, Jim Welch and the 1941 Red Sox won out and took the Prairieland Tournament championship.
Congratulations to Jim Welch!! Jim not only won the traveling trophy but a set of Negro League APBA cards donated by Eric Berg.
“The Prairieland” also had a consolation tournament for those who didn’t advance to the playoffs. It was a simple single elimination tournament. Congratulations to Kyle Daniels! His 1954 New York Giants were unlucky during regulation with a 1-6 record but they powered through the consolation round. Kyle took home a dice tower donated by Tom Fulton.
How did my 1930 New York Giants do?
We started out hot, winning three of our first four. Once Christy Mathewson of Lew Ramey’s 1908 New York Giants shut us out, we kind of went downhill. By end of regulation, we were 3-4.
Our big man was Mel Ott who had three homers and ten rbis in those first four games. With Bill Terry and Fred Lindstrom batting ahead of him, he had runners on base to drive in. Second baseman Hughie Critz managed to hit an rare homer with his two zeros and three ones in the second column.
Carl Hubbell went 0-3 for the day. I don’t blame him for his appearance in the consolation round. He gave up two runs in the first inning against Kyle Daniels’ 1954 Giants then proceeded to pitch eight no-hit innings only to still lose the game.
Some of the tournament highlights from my perspective
– Meeting co-organizers Dave Rueck and Tom Fulton for the first time. See, both Dave (above left playing G.F. Korreck) and Tom (above center) live in my area and Dave even works across town but I’ve never met either of them in person. In addition to Eric Berg who unfortunately could not attend, both were very helpful in planning the event. Thanks guys!!
– Tom Fulton’s infectious enthusiasm. The week before the tournament, things were hectic for me in general and I was not sure if this tournament was going to go as planned. Then a few days before the tourney, I get a message from Tom Fulton saying, “Thanks for making my dreams come true”. That gave me extra resolve. Tom F. was a lot of fun at tournament and I’m glad he did well seeing the tournament was his idea in the first place.
– John Roels’ quick wit and humor. He had this folksy way about him yet his one-liners had me in stitches. John (above left) seems to be making a funny with John Kalous in the above photo as well.
– Chatting with John Kalous on the APBA scene. I took a moment to catch up on the APBA situation with John. He started going to the national APBA conventions at about the time I last went to one. His perspective was really helpful. I’ll be in touch, John!
– Kyle Daniels’ Chico’s Bail Bonds jersey from The Bad News Bears was a hit at the tournament as well as with those who saw his photos on Facebook. Kyle (right, playing Doug Bedell across from Lew Ramey) and I were talking during the break and he told me he played at vintage base ball tournaments. Well, it turns out I have photographed a few tournaments myself. We were looking through my online galleries and found a few photos of him and his brother.
–Talking to Dick “don’t call me Richard” Butler. Dick is not only one of nicest guys in APBA but is helpful too. He stepped up to lend a hand organizationally when it was needed.
– Hanging out with Bob Eller at the Illini baseball game Friday night. Sometimes it’s nice to step outside the APBA realm especially if it is still baseball related. Even better when the Illini win.
L to R: Darrell Angleton, Lance Freezeland, Kyle Daniels and Dick Butler
– Seeing a bunch of guys from different backgrounds all sit down and play a game we love. In attendance, we had a lawyer, an IT guy, a store clerk, an accountant, retirees among others. It is the midst of election season and no one talked about politics that I recall. The most heated debate was what baseball team was our favorite or who was better, DiMaggio or Williams. That’s pretty cool.
I’m calling “The Prairieland” a success. For a first-time tournament, everything went as smooth as possible and everyone seemed to have a great time. The few hiccups that we had were easily resolved because participants pitched in with their ideas. I got reacquainted with some old friends and met some new ones. I approach these tournaments as not an event to win but rather an event to foster friendships and have a great time. I think both were accomplished.
Again, congratulations to Jim Welch for winning the first Prairieland APBA Baseball Tournament! There will more to come!