I got thinking about APBA Baseball’s result number 12 after reading about the proposed change to keep it in one spot in my interview of John Herson. There were even a few comments by readers who noticed the possible change to the ol’ one-two.
There’s no doubt about it, there is a mystique about the result 12 when it comes to APBA Baseball. As much of a mystique that could exist around a simple number. A 13 is always a strikeout (the R rating notwithstanding) but the 12 holds so much to it and has so much inherent tradition and adds so much intrinsic value to the APBA Baseball game.
What makes the 12 so dang special? Well, for starters, you can’t pin it down. Under normal circumstances, result number 26 always goes to second base. Number 30 always goes to left field. Not the 12. Unlike most ‘out’ numbers which tend to go to same fielder under normal circumstances, the 12 is a rather ubiquitous result number in the game of APBA Baseball. Depending on the base situation and other factors, it can result in a ground out, fly out, strikeout, and yes, walk.
A quick and dirty breakdown of the 12 result
-For the longest time with bases empty, a 12 resulted in a unassisted groundout to first base. With the new boards that came out a few years ago , that was changed to a simple 5-3 grounder to third.
-With a runner on first, the 12 is a pitcher’s best friend as it induces a double play EXCEPT with runners on first and second.
-With first base empty, a 12 is a strikeout. The ONLY exception to this rule of thumb is when there are base runners on second and third if and only if the defense is Fielding One. Then score it as a Fly Out double play to left fielder who cuts the runner at home.
-If the pitcher has a W rating with a runner on first, you could throw everything out the window because a 12 would be turned into a walk. The anomalous first and third situation is an exception. (Note: I could write a whole article on the strange weirdness of the First and Third board… maybe I will sometime)
-Finally, with a runner on third base, a 12 results in a “Double Play; Fly out; runner out at home”. The interesting thing about this is that the double play could be reduced to a simple fly out if the manager playing it cautious and base coaching the runner on third.
Using the 12 to identify Season sets
However, the most intriguing thing and quite honestly, the most useful aspect of the 12 was APBA’s roaming assignment to a different dice roll each year. In the days before APBA printed copyright dates on the cards, it was the simplest way to identify the season card set a player’s card came from. Granted, with the year printed on the card now, that need has been made obsolete. APBA still continued the tradition of randomly placing the 12 at appropriate non-offensive numbers.
I say “non-offensive” meaning numbers that are not optimal in the game of APBA, of course. Of course, there have been times that the cardmakers seemed to have almost crossed the line, putting the 12 on somewhat “good” dice roll numbers much to the chagrin of some APBA fans.
My personal list of the best numbers that the 12 has appeared and the seasons they appeared:
|Dice Roll # with 12||Season|
|42||1948, 1965, 1970R, 1973R, 1985, 1996,|
|64||1915, 1924, 1933, 1949, 1955R, 1956RR, 1964, 1969RR, 1972R, 1981, 2003|
|62||1906, 1917, 1942, 1955, 1962R, 1971, 1977R, 2000, 2006, Hall of Fame,|
|36||1939, 1958R, 1960RR, 1962, 1978, 1994, 1950s decade, GTOP Vol 2|
No doubt, this caused good-natured frustration on the part of APBA dice-rollers.
This data, by the way, comes from Doug Burg’s APBA Baseball Card 12 List and Publication Data sheet which accurately documents all seasons that APBA has published with the location of the 12 (there’s lots of other helpful info on the document too).
So I hesitated a bit when I read in Herson’s recent interview that the 12 may find a permanent home on the APBA baseball card. I felt a little bit of APBA’s tradition was being stripped away. Is it really that important in the grand scheme of things? No, probably not. Is this something I couldn’t live without? No, of course not. But despite my griping at the beginning of each season that I’m still getting used to the new location of the 12, it’s part of APBA’s tradition. It’s the cardmakers having a little fun with us.
If this does happen, I’ll feel as Steve Stein put it, “a bit sad”. When we get our cards, we won’t be asking each other, “where’s the 12 this year?!” I guess we’ll be asking, “where will it be forever?”.