The Language of APBA

IMG_2476-001by Scott Fennessy

I was reading one of Tom’s Monster Monday articles lately and although I had probably not given it much thought he would take a player with an 11-5, 33-6, 66-1 and read it as 1-5-6. Where I grew up and learned the game it was 5-6-1. I have been on the APBA site and seen several variations on players who have 4 or more “power numbers.”

So I started reading other articles and blog sites from various APBA players and realized that just like if you travel to certain parts of the country the accent or phrases for everyday life vary, so does the lingo in APBA.

The person who taught me the game was from the Detroit area, so Shawn will have to let us all know if any of this was “local speak” or not. So some of the things we called things were if you hit a 0, it was “extra bases.” Never mind that there are tons of 11’s 7’s and even some 8’s in the dead ball era cards, but I still use the phrase to this day.

We referred to any of the numbers such as 11, 22, 33, etc. as the “double numbers”; and single column cards were “power hitters” despite the number of weak hitters who got single column cards, especially J-4 pitchers. When any pitcher had an X or XY we called them “power pitchers.”

I eventually began to be a solo player only. I rarely play heads up any more due to my current obligations. I have started to say when a B pitcher gets a hitter out with an 8 result that he “fooled him” or if it’s a pitcher with a known specialty pitch he used that to get the hitter out. When a pitcher gets a 9 that ends up with a strikeout he “overpowered him” and when a player has only 1 way to hit a home run and gets it I call it a “lottery roll”  And of course any roll that brought out a 37, 41, etc. was a "chart number", because we usually had to go to the charts to find out what just happened.

So I am curious to know if there are any readers across the country that have noticed any “local slang” when it comes to the great game of APBA baseball?

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Ron Emch is the go-to guy for APBA tutorials

One thing that I find difficult about introducing people to APBA is the playability factor between a new person to the game and an experienced player.  It’s not that APBA Baseball (or any other APBA game) is that hard.  It’s just that seasoned APBA players know the results so well that the learning curve of the boards is so unbalanced.

Ron Emch to the rescue.


I’ve been checking out Ron’s APBA tutorials on YouTube and they are fantastic.  Granted, I’m not learning anything but that’s ok.  Ron’s videos aren’t not geared towards me.  They are targeted towards the learning APBA player.  His down-to-earth style of talking to the viewer is great and would be conducive to those who want need to learn the basics.

Ron’s got a couple of videos posted now.  Right now, I’m watching his APBA Basic Game Fielding Calculations Example that you see above.  He has a few more.

This one is a good demo of the game.  It’s an hour long but watching a few minutes of game time will give a newbie an idea of how the game is played.  Don’t miss his compilation video of the Pittsburgh Tournament that Ken Schulz hosted.

Nice going, Ron!  I’m bookmarking your videos for future use!

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Do you really want to roll a 6 in APBA?

imageIf you play dice APBA, you’ve probably had this happen.  After rolling the dice, one die lands squarely on a six and the other one is spinning.  It keeps spinning and you’re encouraging it in your own special way (Mike Bunch, my commissioner in the Illowa APBA League, would shout out, “Git it! Git it!” while his rogue die is spinning).  If you’re lucky, it ends up another six. 

But is rolling a six on one die really a good thing in APBA?  I guess it depends on the situation.  Rolling a 66 is a fantastic thing; we can all agree on that. However, look at the other possible rolls with a white six.

  • 16:  automatic groundout
  • 26 (and 46): most likely a strikeout or if you’re Albert Pujols, a DP
  • 36: if you’re lucky, it could be a 14- walk but probably a pop out
  • 56: monster cards may have a 14 but again, either a pop out or a strikeout

The options aren’t much better for a red six:

  • 61: could be a DP or if you’re lucky an unusual play
  • 62: this is catch-all number but most likely a 13 or unusual play number
  • 63:  a fly-out number, a 31 if you’re lucky
  • 64:  other than 66, the best of the bunch
  • 65: the most automatic of all result numbers… every hitter gets a 35 here

The point of all this is that other than a 66, there is no really fantastic number you can roll with a six showing. 

In short, APBA’s general placement of the numbers on the APBA baseball card are no accident.  Dick Seitz and his card-making successors have deviously placed the intrinsic value of each of 36 possible rolls very strategically. 

imageIn the case of the red die, it is seen just by viewing the APBA card.  In the case of 2013 Chase Utley’s 11-16 numbers, we don’t see any high offense number clustered together too often (it has happened).  Statistically, they are pretty evenly distributed.  Mathematically speaking, each includes one double number plus a slightly less valuable hit number (in this case the 15-10). 

But take a look at the white die situation as well.  APBA follows the same formula.  One could argue the white one is pretty decent with rolls like 11, 31, and 51.  But what’s this?  We have rolls like 41 and 61 which are prone to the double play.  Without doubt, the best white die to roll is the five.  You have nice dice rolls like 15, 25, 35, 45, and 55.  On most average hitting cards, they will be hits or walks.  Of course even here APBA throws in the the one number, 65, which is the same automatic out on every single APBA card that has ever been published. 

Getting back to the six dice roll and my example of 2013 Chase Utley, would I want to roll a six on one die with him?  Well, here are his numbers:

White Six

  • 16: 28
  • 26- 29
  • 36- 33
  • 46-13
  • 56- 13
  • 66- 1

Red Six

  • 61- 36
  • 62- 26
  • 63- 31
  • 64- 13
  • 65- 35
  • 66- 1

Other than Utley’s 66-1, his only remotely positive roll with a six in it is the 62- 36.  Utley is not typical of every player and your mileage may vary.  I just picked him out of a pile. 

This is truly a trivial exercise and there is nothing to be gained for me by writing this or you by reading this except for understanding and appreciating the beauty of the APBA card.  I will give credit to former IAL manager Dennis Jennings for prompting this article.  A long time ago when we hand wrote our newsletter and sent it out by postal mail, Dennis who was a mathematician, wrote a treatise on this subject for his monthly article.  This was back in 1990s and his point still stands after all these years. 

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Monster Card Monday: 2014 Andrew McCutchen


Let’s go current style today.  Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates ranks as one of the better all-around National League players in the 2014 set.  He excels at so much and there are very few downsides to him. 

In 2013-2014, he helped the Pirates to their best finishes in years.  Last year, he led the NL in OBP (.410) and OPS (.952) while hitting 25 homeruns and 18 steals.  He walked 84 times and hit 38 doubles. 

For his effort in 2014, he was named an NL All-Star and came in 3rd in the MVP balloting. 

2014 Totals 146 648 548 89 172 38 6 25 83 18 84 115 .314 .410 .542
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/29/2015.


McCutchen’s 2014 card has incredibly solid offensive numbers.  His power numbers are clutch at 1-4-5-6 and he has a 44-7 to go along with them.  Add a 15-11 to along with his four 14s. 

But there more to Andrew McCutchen.  He has intangibles that won’t hurt you on the ball field or on the APBA boards.  He is rated as a fast baserunner.  APBA gave him a solid OF-3 defensive rating.  No 24s on this card, he gets a 41-28.  Cutch also got plunked enough to warrant a 42-22 and a 53-15. 

Not that you necessarily would want to but you could hit and run with McCutchen too.  He has two 31s on his card. 

McCutchen is looking at another solid year in 2015 but perhaps not quite as great as his 2013-2014 seasons.  The season is not yet half over though. 

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Kenn Tomasch’s new stadium is pretty awesome

I am really loving this YouTube video posted by Kenn Tomasch who created his own elaborate ballpark to roll his APBA dice.


Built out of mostly common materials, Kenn’s new stadium has been named Al Lopez Field after Hall of Fame player and manager who hails from his home town of Tampa.

In the video, Kenn does a great job in not only describing his ballpark but also gives some great tips in how he built it.  This is at least his second go-round in building a stadium dice surface.  He shows a view of his previous one and shows why his new one is even better.

Kenn’s Al Lopez Field includes a scoreboard, a palm tree, a backdrop of downtown Tampa and a even a button which plays the last few bars of the national anthem and an umpire shouting “Play Ball!”.

Great stadium, Kenn!  I’m glad you shared it with everyone!

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Preparations underway for first Toledo Glass City APBA Tournament


For those interested, Ron Emch is putting together an APBA Baseball tournament in Toledo, Ohio.  The scheduled date is August 29th.  Ron is billing it as the Toledo Glass City APBA Tournament I

Here are the pertinent details…

When: Saturday, August 29 at 9:00am – 5:00pm EDT

Where: Maumee-Bowling Green Elks Lodge #1850

137 West Wayne St, Maumee, Ohio 43537

Some tournament details are still up in the air but Ron has written up a good preview of what to expect at the Toledo Glass City APBA Tournament…

There will be coffee and donuts in the morning. You will be able to order lunch at the club. Standard pub food. It’s good. Probably around $10. You will be able to purchase water/soft drinks.

There will be coffee and donuts in the morning. You will be able to order lunch at the club. Standard pub food. It’s good. Probably around $10. You will be able to purchase water/soft drinks.

You cannot bring your own food or drink into the lodge.

Deadline for firm commitment and team selection is August 8th, 2015.
Please email me at rce@emcher.com or send me a message on Facebook with your name, cell phone number and your team. First come, first serve.

I will be using pretty much the same setup/rules as the Michigan and Pittsburgh tournaments. I do plan on using the unusual play and error distribution play chart. I am considering advanced fielding, but that is up in the air as of right now. Rules will follow soon.

The Toledo Mud Hens are in town that night. If you are interested in attending, let me know. I can obtain tickets for the game. It would be a fun way to end the day. The Mud Hens stadium is a fantastic place to watch some baseball. I believe tickets would be $15.00.

You can follow the event on the Toledo Glass City APBA Baseball Tournament Facebook page. 

Good luck, Ron and have fun everyone!!

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Scott Fennessy’s 1903 replay: Races heating up in August

Fred_Clarke_Baseballby Scott Fennessy

Things continue to roll along as I am now at game 851, or August 24th.  Both leagues are featuring some good chases, although unless the Red Sox team train crashes at some point their ticket to the series is basically punched.  That said, the AL still has some exciting chases amongst the rest of the teams.

Since the Yankees had to move Ambrose Puttmann out of the rotation (one of a few pitchers that I failed to notice was a J-4) the Bombers have come back down to reality a bit.  They have been caught, but not yet passed by the Tigers, who have suddenly been bitten by the injury bug.  They lost 5 players in a three day stretch, and their bench is not exactly their strong point.  But Jimmy Barrett, Sam Crawford, and Charlie Carr keep the offense moving enough for their solid rotation to keep up.

The A’s continue their underwhelming performance, but Jasper Davis and Socks Seybold continue to hit well, and Topsy Hartsel is finally coming around, but 3 players are hitting 50 or more points below their actual average and it is really hurting the team as they don’t have a lot of hitting on the bench.  But kudos to Albert Daly, who is trying hard to steal Lave Cross’ job.  I benched him about 5 games ago just to try anything to get them going.  Daly has a pretty awful card, but not Terrible Tuesday bad.  He has a 2-8-7-2, with a 31 36 and I just noticed a 13-13.  Maybe I was wrong about that Tuesday part?  He only has 9 hit numbers, and depending on if they face an A or B starter 3-4.

Somehow, despite only getting 35 games total (about 12 as a starter when Cross missed some time with an injury and this current stretch) has managed to hit .278 (his actual season average was .190) with 1 double, 11 triples, and that lottery moment all Mendoza-like players live for, that 66-2 with runners on first and second for a very unlikely homer.  I swear he hits 11 or 66 almost every game.  I really don’t like playing him, but it’s hard to bench a guy being so over productive.

Rube Waddell just set the AL record over a very tough Indians team with 14 strikeouts.  He was clearly on a mission and mowed the lawn with the tribe.  He has just passed his own league record with 274 strikeouts for the season and is battling Christy Mathewson for the new season record (289 by Matty in 1905)

Speaking of the Giants after having to put Leon Ames on the bench (B KYW) and his 14 wins and 280 K’s and replace him with a Luthor Taylor, a D starter for the rest of the way I expected a huge collapse, and while their dominance still continues it’s like waiting for the bottom to drop out at any time now.  Taylor, much to my surprise stunned the meteoric Reds in his first start with a 3 hit shutout, and followed that up with a lucky victory over the Pirates in a game he got shelled in, but the trio of McGann, Bresnahan and Mertes overcame the odds with their strong hitting cards.  It was oddly enough the collapsing Cubs that roughed him up the other day that has the countdown to second place underway.

The Pirates, whom I thought were going to be benefiting from the Giants "controversy" partially negated that with some of their own.  I noticed that Lafayette Winham (B XW ) was also a J-4 and had to move Ed Doheny into the rotation.  Fortunately for Pittsburgh their enormous roster is deep with pitching and Ed’s a B W.  They have been on a tear of late and are just a game out of first now.

Usually the season starts with their hall of fame trio of Ginger Beaumont, Honus Wagner and Fred Clarke getting off to the same starts.  This has happened the exact same way in each of the three seasons so far.  Beaumont starts of solid, and stays the same most of the season, but once September comes he goes on a tear and carries the team.  Wagner starts off like Ryne Sandberg, and cannot buy a hit until sometime in mid May then goes on a tear until September, then stays the same while Clarke starts of steady and goes on a slow uphill pace until season ends.

But despite Wagner and Clarke always being more famous Beaumont has usually been the one to put the team on his back at   this point.  This time it’s different.  Beaumont is having a solid year, but has begun to slump for the first time while Wagner is having an even better August than in 1905 when he crushed everything in sight and his timing could not have been better as his 8 game hit streak has lined up with Clarke’s 8 game hit streak and while Wagner only has 3 homers he has begun to steal a lot more and Clarke (I really need to submit him for a Monster Monday with his card) has absolutely exploded this month.  and is suddenly almost exactly on line with his season numbers (My apologies to John and Skeeter as I silently ripped them hard for not giving him a 66-1).  He currently has a .353 average with 33 doubles, 12 triples and 9 homers.  Think about that, in a dead ball era he has 54 extra base hits in late August.  Combine that with 24 stolen bases and you have an almost unanimous MVP.

Photo by Chicago Daily News photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Divisions and Rules for the Chicagoland tournament on July 25th!


Tournament organizer Doug “Al Haig” Schuyler: “I’m in charge”

The 2015 Chicagoland APBA World Series Tournament is almost a month away!  The divisions have been selected for Tournament which will be held on July 25th at the Grayslake Historical Society in Grayslake, IL. 

Doug Schuyler has organized all 28 teams into four divisions.  Each team will face every other team in their division once in the first round.  The two teams with the top W-L records will go on to the second round.  Playoffs will be cross-bracketed with #1 facing #2 in different divisions.

Without delay, here are the divisions. 

*** denotes division leaders  

Frank Thomas Division


Bill Lilley***

1968 Tigers

Ricky Cobb

1976 Phillies

Matthew Pike

1998 Yankees

Chris Witt

1990 A’s

Maddelyn Vanicelli

2004 Cardinals

Rob Spatz

1983 White Sox

Justin Schubert

1906 Cubs



Ernie Banks Division


Bob Eller***

2012 Nationals

Richard Butler

1969 Orioles

Thomas Nelshoppen

1984 Expos

Jim Welch

2002 A’s

Kurt Bergland

1973 Mets

Shawn Witt

1995 Indians

Gary Lindley

1939 Yankees



Kris Bryant Division


Kevin Burghardt***

1974 Dodgers

Joel Pike

1975 Reds

William D. Blair

1970 Orioles

Eric Berg

2011 Cardinals

Don Smith

1961 Angels

Andy Bartel

1994 Expos

Dave Rueck

1927 Yankees



Jose Abreu Division


Curt Bartel

2010 Rangers

Craig Christian

1989 A’s

Bradd Romant

2011 Brewers

Alex Dunning

1993 Giants

Scott Fennessy

1981 Expos

Corey Kirsch

1901 Pirates

Doug Schuyler***

1995 Rockies



Will Scott Fennessy win his second Chicagoland trophy?

Game rules will be similar to past tournaments with one exception…. we will have a four man rotation!  Should make it more interesting. 

It seems like a long list of rules.  A lot of them are just common sense and quite honestly, a few of them are actually rules of the APBA Game itself. 

APBA Chicagoland World Series tournament rules


  • The basic game will be used with either old school boards and booklet, or the newest version. The dice roll winner will determine which version is used.
  • You may bring any MLB team 1900-present. (APBA issued cards only – no copies allowed)
  • 20 man max roster (bring APBA roster sheet for your team). (regular and xb cards may be used. No xc’s allowed. Bring regular and xb roster sheet for your team)
  • Top 2 teams from each division will advance to the playoffs
  • One division head will be chosen to assist in keeping track of scores.
  • The DH will be used for all games to speed up play for games and tournament.


  • A 4 man rotation will be used.
  • No j-4 starting pitcher may start
  • No pitcher only rated as a reliever (denoted by an asterisk next to the pitcher’s grade) may start.
  • Regular APBA basic game pitcher grade advancement will be used; 5 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run=equal a grade advancement(example: for grade D pitchers who pitch 5 innings without allowing an earned run will advance to grade C, six innings without allowing an earned run for a grade C pitcher to advance to grade B, etc.) One grade advancement for each additional inning without allowing an earned run. Any pitcher that allows 5 earned runs in any 3 consecutive innings is lowered one letter grade.
  • Starters must pitch at least 5 innings unless affected by grade reduction.
  • Relief pitchers with *asterisk are limited to two innings or 6 total outs.
  • Any relief pitcher is advanced one letter grade for only the first batter they face in the middle of an inning only.
  • All pitchers will be grade D starting the top of the 10th inning to ensure speed of game and tournament.
  • In the final championship game, any pitcher rated as a starter may start that game. A relief pitcher may not start.
  • Pitchers cannot bat but may pinch run.


  • Total team fielding and optional fielding ratings will be used.
  • Any player who does not have a fielding rating for a position will be considered the lowest fielding rating at that position if placed into the game.
  • The manager must declare deep or in with a runner on third base. If not declared, the infield will be considered deep.


  • A manager must declare whether or not a runner is playing it safe. If they are playing it safe they would only advance as far as the batter. For example, with a runner on first base and the batter doubles, the runner would only advance two bases and go to third and not score despite what the board says. All board steal results or thrown out trying to steal are negated if the manager was playing it safe the runner.
  • No limit to sacrifice attempts.

Housekeeping rules

  • Any injury is only sustained for that game. The player may return to the lineup for the next game.
  • Roll for home field prior to the game. High roll wins home field advantage.
    Re-roll both dice if they go off table or out of box
  • If one die rolls off, then only re-roll that die.


I’m really looking forward to this.  Sadly, organizer Jim Saska will not be there even though he had a hand in getting this together.  Jim, it won’t be the same without you. 

The big question is… will Craig Christian bring his dreaded dice tower??

Posted by: | Category: Tournament | Tags: , , | 7 comments


Monster Card Monday: 1995 Albert Belle


I saw this 1995 Albert Belle card from Doug Schuyler and I knew it was a candidate for today’s column.  Now I knew I had done a column on Belle before but it turns out it was on his 1994 card.  Both are fantastic cards in their own way.  Belle’s 1994 card is full of hit numbers but nothing says “Monster”  like six full power numbers like his 1995 card does. 

Albert Belle’s 1995 season was pretty amazing.  Not only did he hit 50 homers AND 52 as well as 120+ runs and rbis but he did it while playing just 143 games.  His .317 batting average is accentuated by the fact that his walk to strikeout ratio is pretty decent.

Belle’s two weaknesses were 1) defense… he did play left field but not well.  And 2) hitting into the DP.  He was charged with 24 GIDPs in 1995.

1995 Totals 143 631 546 121 173 52 1 50 126 5 73 80 .317 .401 .690
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/22/2015.


This is a yummy card!  Nobody is going to turn away power numbers 1-1-5-5-6-6 ever.  He even has a 15-10 thanks to the five steals. 

Because of the 15-10 and the six power number, presumably, Belle’s 1995 card has the 8-8-9-9 combination.  A third 8 would probably make his card a little too strong. 

Fun numbers:  55-6, 44-6, 22-5

Belle only has four 13s but because of the four 24s and four 14s on the card, there are two in a row,  He has a 16-13 and a 21-13. 

Albert Belle did not win MVP for his performance in 1995.  He came in second.  Ok without looking, guess who won MVP in 1995.  I did not remember and it was a surprise to me.  Answer here for those who can’t wait. 

thanks, Doug! 

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Abreu tops in Boys of Summer League Draft


It’s been a recurring theme this year in APBA baseball leagues.  Every manager wants Jose Abreu on their team. 

At the Boys of Summer APBA League draft, it was Corktown Tomales manager Chris DeMercurio who got to call the slugger’s name.  Joc Pederson went second and Jacob deGrom came third. 

Overall, the first round of the Boys of Summer League went like this:

1 1 1 ABREU, Jose 1B CORK
1 3 3 de GROM, Jacob SP BRK
1 4 4 TANAKA, Masahiro SP CHI
1 5 5 ADAMS, Matt 1B BUF
1 6 6 SPRINGER, George OF URB
1 7 7 GONZALEZ, Miguel Angel SP KING
1 8 8 BETTS, Mookie  OF SPAR
1 9 9 PINEDA, Michael SP HOL
1 10 10 PANIK, Joe 2B S.D.
1 11 11 SANCHEZ, Aaron P SWAT
1 12 12 INCIARTE, Ender OF KBB
1 13 13 CASTILLO, Rusney OF CHI
1 14 14 SOLER, Jorge OF S.S.
1 15 15 HENDRICKS, Kyle SP POR
1 16 16 GILES, Ken RP FAIR


With 200 players taken in 14 rounds, the BoS League finished their rookie draft this past weekend.  The draft was conducted primarily through Facebook chat.  After some starts and stops during the first few rounds, the league whipped through the remaining draft last Saturday on record time. 

This will be the league’s third year in existence.  There are a few new faces in the league but rest assured Robert Mosher is there to defend his title and Brad Stark is knocking at the door after two straight NL championships. 

Commissioner Shawn Baier went from worst to first and is looking to repeat while I did the opposite. My Urbana Locomotives were one game from the NL Championship two years ago only to finish last this past year.  Looking at the full draft, it’s obvious I’m still in a rebuilding phase but next year is looking pretty good. 

Thanks to Shawn for all his work and good luck to all in the BoS APBA League!

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