Thunderchickens will wait till next year, Todd Ventresca’s Gamblers overtake last playoff spot in IAL

ial 2012 draft 035My Thunderchickens were THIS close to making the playoffs in the Illowa APBA League.  Had they done so, it would have been a great story.  But this cinderella story will have to wait to be written for another year.  Todd Ventresca and his Three Rivers Gamblers had one more trick up his sleeve. 

It’s actually a pretty good story in of itself.  The three remaining contenders for the last playoff spot really pulled it together for their last series of the year.  The three teams had a combined record of 22-5.  But in the end, it was Todd’s 8-1 series against the Chicago Highlanders that put them in the postseason.  They ended up with an 85-77 record for the regular season.  My Thunderchickens’ 8-1 series against the Bamm Beanos put me at 83-79 and in 5th place while Mike Bunch’s Green Rock Bombers 6-3 series against the Molly Putts Marauders gave them an even 81-81 record good for 6th place. 

Congratulations to Todd and his Gamblers!  Good luck to him, too!  He’ll have a tough row to hoe facing Marcus Bunch and his 102-60 Moline Upperdeckers in the first round of the IAL playoffs. 

Realistically, I had no business in the playoffs.  Starting out 18-30, I was fortunate to put some hot streaks later in the season but really, this year’s team didn’t play like they belonged in the playoffs. 

With the playoffs out of the picture, I’ll now turn my focus to next year.  It’s not much of a consolation but the only silver lining of my loss is that I’ll get to draft one spot higher in the coming year’s rookie draft.  I would trade it back in a heartbeat but who knows, that one spot might make a difference. 

Again, congratulations to Todd!!

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Flashback Friday: APBA Question and Answer sheet

This week, Flashback Friday features a gem from Scott Veatch’s Vault that I found pretty interesting.  By my guess, it came out in the late 60s (edit: Scott says it came out in 1964) and it’s a list of commonly asked questions by phone callers.  I suppose in today’s lingo, it would be called a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

APBA started out the Q & A form in this manner:

“Over a period of years, the same general questions are repeatedly asked by our customers.  In order to save a good deal of repetitious correspondence we have prepared this Question-and-Answer form.  Perhaps the answer to your question will be found here.”

I probably make a blanket  disclaimer that any statement made in this pamphlet was the policy of the APBA Company back 40-50 years ago and not of today’s APBA Company.

This first screen cap got my attention.  The question asked if the APBA fans could make their own cards.


APBA answered in part: “There is nothing to prevent you from trying…” with the usual disclaimers that it might not be up to APBA’s quality.  “However, if you just want cards with names to fill out your roster and you do not care about accurate results, you may certainly try to devise your own cards.”


As mentioned in other articles, the question, “What does APBA stand for” has probably been asked a lot.


I enjoyed this attempt to quell the rumors especially this bit:

“APBA really has no meaning to anyone but us but if you are a hep APBA fan, you must pronounce it “APP-Bah”.  Never, no never, call it “Ay, Pee, Bee, Ay!”

I appreciate the forcefulness of this answer.  None of this “the customer is always right” business.  But I say, cool cat, what is “hep”?


I’m sure a lot of APBA fans callers asked the Hoy Grail of questions…”how are pitchers’ ratings made?”  Rather than being super-secret about the issue, APBA gave a little insight into the mystery.


APBA claimed that pitchers’ grades were determined mostly by games won, ERA, innings pitched, games pitched and complete games.  Further ratings are determined by strikeout and walk records.

That’s nothing earth-shattering for most of us but still interesting from a “how much info did they give out” point of view.

There are a whole lot more questions in the full Q&A sheet that was published by APBA way back when.  These few are just a sample.  You can see the whole Q&A sheet here if you want to read it.

Thanks again to Scott Veatch.  You can see his growing archive of old brochures and pamphlets here.

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1905 Chicago Cubs replay update: Phillies stun Reulbach, set Cubs back

by Scott Fennessyduggleby (1)

Philadelphia, PA

The Cubs face the Phillies in a double header today as they continue to pressure the Giants who face the Reds in a twin bill in the big apple as well. The Giants win game one 5-1 as Mike Donlin racks up 3 more hits. Meanwhile Ed Reulbach faces Bill Duggleby in game one.

The Cubs go down quietly in the first, but the Phillies have no plans on making “Big Ed’s” day so easy. Sherry Magee, who has really had a tough second half rips a liner that goes to the wall. Jimmy Slagle gets to it, but by the time his relay comes in Magee is in with a triple, with the Phillies best hitter, John Titus at the plate. Titus hits the 1-1 offering high and deep. “Wildfire” Schulte races back, and this may clear the wall, but he makes the running catch at the track. Magee tags and scores easily. Hugh Duffy pops up to Johnny Kling behind home plate, and the inning ends with the home team on top 1-0.

The Cubs again don’t offer much resistance for Duggleby in the second, and the Phillies get another big hit. This time with a booming double to center by Bill Bransfield to set the stage. With one out and Bransfield now on third Red Dooin, who has been downright awful this season hits one deep to left down the line. Slagle giving chase, and is near the corner and this one may go out of play, but Slagle makes the catch just in fair play in deep left. Bransfield tags and scores and the lead is now 2-0. Reulbach calms down and holds the line, but has been hit hard when the other team makes contact.

The score would remain the same. Duggleby was in total control for the Phillies, and Reulbach finally settled down until the Phillies hurt Ed again in the 7th. Magee rips another liner, this time down the first base line. Schulte can only get the ball in as Magee has his second triple of the game, and his 12th of the year. Titus again rips a sac fly to Slagle in left (he’s been VERY busy today) and the lead is now 3-0. That actually was a good thing for the Cubs as Hugh Duffy rips one deep to left for a double, and was left on base as the inning ends. Duffy has a bit of a strange card. He did not hit any home runs in his 41 plate appearances, but did have a triple and 2 doubles, but somehow got a 6-6-2 card. Duffy then got an 11 6, which would have been a homer.

The Cubs continue to struggle with Duggleby, and the Phillies seal the deal in the 7th when Bransfield gets his second leadoff double (number 10 for the year) of the game and Ernie Courtney follows with a walk. One out later they are on second and third when Mickey Doolan hits yet another sac fly to Slagle and the inning eventually ends 4-0 Phillies.

Unfortunately that is how the game ended. Reulbach never really got untracked and the Phillies hammered his every mistake. Duggleby pitched a 3 hit beauty and the Phillies derail the Cubs in game one.

[photo credit]

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Weird Card Wednesday: 1966 Ken Suarez

62 Suarez

Scott Veatch came through with this very interesting Ken Suarez card from the original 1966 set.

Rookie catcher Suarez played for the Kansas City Athletics and actually started 26 games for them.  Batting .145, his only extra base hit was a triple.  He did walk fifteen times so his OBP (.298) was nearly double of his batting average.

Incidentally, he also stole two bases.

1966 Totals 35 26 85 69 5 10 0 1 0 2 2 15 26 .145 .298 .174
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/14/2014.


Of all the “Weird” cards I’ve done, Suarez’ has the most quantitative oddities starting with the singular first column 2.  And let’s face it, that 66-2 was a gift.  With one triple in 85 plate appearances, he will probably hit two.  However, that brings up a good question, is APBA wrong in this?  Probably not.  If played realistically, this might mean one extra triple in a full replay.  Hardly worth getting too worked up over.

Second, he appropriately has five six 14s compared to the five total hit numbers on his card.  All told, he has hit numbers 2-8-9-10-10.

But strangest of all is the placement of Ken Suarez’ 10s.  Instead of placing them at 15 and 25 where we would expect them, APBA put them at 22 and 44.  He has 14s where you would expect his steal numbers.  My educated guess is that APBA felt awkward about putting a non-hit number (a 14) at 22 for a non-pitcher.  Again, just a guess.

Considering his playing time, Suarez’ 1966 card isn’t that bad despite his .145 batting average and even his .298 on-base percentage (not to mention his C-5 fielding rating).

Here’s why I say this:

To gauge hitters, I like to count the numbers that get on base against an A pitcher.  It’s a habit I picked up probably reading an APBA Journal article from years gone by.  Suarez’ card has a 2, two 10s and five six 14s for a total of eight nine.  In my experience, that’s average to good if you discount power.  To give you some perspective, 2013 Albert Pujols has just seven on base numbers against an A pitcher and 2013 Jose Reyes has eight.  That probably tells you the emphasis that APBA places on offensive walks more than anything.

Of course, Suarez’ card probably won’t hit any homers and he really won’t get many hits at all.  Admittedly, his offensive value is just getting on base… when he actually plays.

As some of you know, I’m in the middle of replaying the 1966 NL right now.  I’ll have to dig up the KC Athletics since I’m using the reprint version of the 1966 set and see how APBA worked up Suarez’ card the second time around.

thanks again Scott!

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1905 Chicago Cubs replay update: Cubs crush Phillies in series opener

by Scott Fennessy

Philadelphia, PA

The Cubs continue their east coast trip and come to Philadelphia to face the struggling Phillies. It is hard to believe about 3 weeks ago they were beginning to turn things around and trying to make a move on the Pirates for third place, but the wheels fell off the wagon, and now they are in danger of being overtaken by the Reds, and worse yet, the Cardinals have put together a few wins and are gaining as well.

Today’s game features Jake Weimer, who is one of the elite pitchers in the NL against Frank Corridon, who after a great start has fizzled and is settling in for a mediocre season. Neither team does anything in the first, although John Titus, who is the best hitter the Phillies have, got a two out double only to watch as Johnny Evers makes a great diving stab at Hugh Duffy’s one hop smash and throw him out to end the inning.

The Cubs come through in the second as Jim Casey leads off with a walk and is on second with two out when Joe Tinker slaps an opposite field single to plate the first run of the day. Weimer, who is having a solid year as a hitter then drops a soft single to left and runners are on first and second. Billy Maloney then hits a single to right scoring Tinker, but shortstop Mickey Doolan cuts the throw and fires to Ernie Courtney at third and Weimer is out with ease to end the inning.

The Cubs press the advantage in the third as Evers gets a leadoff single and with the hit and run on Frank Schulte goes with the pitch and this one is hit hard to right center. Duffy chases it down, but Schulte slides in just under the tag and is safe with his 14th triple of the season, and Evers makes the lead 3-0 Cubs. Weimer gets a scoreless third and this already looks bad for the home team.

No changes until the 5th inning when again with two outs the Cubs bats come alive. Schulte gets a single to left, and it’s nice to see “Wildfire” start coming around. They really need his bat. Chance then gets a single and quickly steals second to put runners on second and third and now the pressure is all on Corridon, and he does not answer the call. Jim Casey who is another middle lineup guy that looks to be coming out of a prolonged dry spell as he rocks one to deep center field. Sherry Magee gets to it, but not until it is too late, and Casey is in with a two RBI triple and the blowout is on. Johnny Kling flies to right to end the inning, but as Weimer continues to roll in the bottom of the inning it is now 5-0 Cubs.

The score was still the same in the 8th inning as Chance leads off with his second hit of the day and was still on first with one out when Corridon makes his final mistake of the day and grooves a fastball to Kling. Johnny hits this one hard and deep, and all he can do is hang his head as it clears the wall for a home run. This is number five for the season, tying him with Chance for the team lead.

The Phillies bullpen takes over, and despite using their two worst relievers the Cubs get nothing more and Weimer cruises to his 27th victory of the year as the Cubs win 7-0. Pending the results of the Reds/Giants later today in NY they could be back in first.

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Terrible Card Tuesday: 1972 Maury Wills


Wow, it was really time for Maury Wills to retire.

Scott Veatch passed on this 1972 Maury Wills card to me.  It was Wills’ last year in the majors and at age 39, all offensive skills had been used up apparently.  In 71 games and 30 starts, he went 17 for 132 for a miniscule .129 batting average.  Not only that, he only stole one base.

1972 Totals 71 30 152 132 16 17 3 1 0 4 1 1 10 18 .129 .190 .167
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/14/2014.


Those doing a realistic 1972 replay will have to suffer through Maury Wills playing time.  He gets one deserved zero with nine 2s in the second column.  After that, Wills has hit numbers 8-8-9-9 plus one 10.  I almost think the single column 10 is a sentimental gift.  A couple 11s in the second column would have done the trick.

Ugly numbers: 51-13, 25-39, and quite honestly, 15-10.

Wills still maintains his Fast rating at 39 as well as his SS-8 and 3B-4 fielding.

A piece of Wills’ trivia:  He led his league in caught stealing more often than he did stolen bases (7 times to 6).  Not judging; I’ll leave that to Don S.

thanks Scott!

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Never trust your commissioner…

…especially this one

Mike Bunch

Recently, I wrote about my 8-1 series victory over the Bamm Beanos to put myself in a good position to make the playoffs (in our league the top four teams go on to the postseason).  I’ve been keeping a close eye on Todd Ventresca’s Three Rivers Gamblers who are neck and neck with me in the standings.  However, I knew that with a 8-1 series win, our commissioner, Mike Bunch could tie me as well.  Not very likely but possible.

Well, I got this email on Sunday night from Mike.

Hey Tom I got bad news.  I took 8 from Don so we are tied.


How serious did I take this?

Well, I forwarded it to my buddy Brando to lament my situation.  I also forwarded Mike’s email to Todd and his January opponent Rob Moore to appraise them of the situation.  Not only that, I was halfway done with an article for this blog about the close race in our league and the possibility for a three-way tie for the last playoff spot.

Well, as you might gather after this long explanation, Mike was having one over on me.  I found out from Don that he actually won three against Mike’s Bombers.  The Bombers will finish with an 81-81 record, two games below me.

You really had me going, Commish.  Probably Todd too, after he received my email.  Don’t worry, he knows the truth, now.

Well played Mike.

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Monster Card Monday: 1911 Joe Jackson

shoeless joe 1911

I was going through my repository of Monster Cards (still thinking of doing my Monsters vs. Terribles series) and ran across this 1911 Joe Jackson card that Pastor Rich Zawadzki suggested.  Deadball or no, it’s a monster card!

Playing for the Cleveland Naps, Shoeless Joe hit .408 in 1911 which ranks 15th all-time.  Strangely, he did not lead the AL in hitting, though.  Ty Cobb batted .420 for the Tigers that year.

Jackson scored 126 runs and drove in 83 behind 233 hits, 45 doubles, 19 triples and 7 homeruns.  He had a career high 41 stolen bases.

1911 147 641 571 126 233 45 19 7 83 41 56 43 .408 .468 .590
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/12/2014.


Jackson’s 1911 card has gap power, a lot of hit numbers and plenty of speed.  He has four zeros, three 7s, two 11s and a 10.  His last hit number is a 62-9 though he has an oddly placed 61-8.

In total, he has 17 on-base numbers against a D pitcher not including his error number.

Fun numbers:  31-7, 46-40, 61-8

A bonus for Jackson… he only has one 13; it’s at 24.

There was tough competition for Shoeless Joe for the AL 1911 Chalmers Award, the precursor to the MVP Award.  That year was the first time the award was doled out based on merit rather than purely on batting average.  The change was made partially because of the Cobb/Lajoie controversy of 1910.  Cobb won it anyway in 1911 but Jackson was also outvoted by pitcher Ed Walsh and Eddie Collins.  Even Walter Johnson who was 25-13 with a 1.90 came in fifth in the voting.

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1905 Chicago Cubs replay update: Objects in rear view mirror are closer than they appear

Mordecai_Peter_Centennial_Brown (2)by Scott Fennessy

Brooklyn, NY

The Cubs face the Dodgers in the series finale today and are going for the four game sweep. Today’s action features Mordecai Brown (right) against William Scanlan in a rematch of the first game in which was a closely fought battle.

In his pre-game interview manager Frank Chance was very complimentary of his opposing hurler, and pointed out the improving play of his own starter, and Billy Maloney and Frank Schulte, who had really been scuffling of late. Today’s game is very important as a victory for the Cubs and a Giants loss to the Pirates would put the Cubs back in first for the first time in about two months.

Scanlan quickly mows down the first two batters of the afternoon, but then Frank Schulte takes a 1-1 fastball into center for a single and despite the pitchout is able to steal second ahead of Lou Ritter’s throw. The red hot Chance is walked to set up the struggling Jim Casey, but Scanlan is a little too close to the hitting zone and Casey crushes this one into deep center and over Jimmy Sheckard’s head.

Schulte and Chance score easily, and Casey is safe at third with a stand up triple; his 6th of the season. Johnny Kling, another hitter struggling hitter beginning to hit better of late gets a low and outside fastball and goes the other way, and this one splits the gap in right center and two hops the wall as Casey scores the third run of the inning. Kling is not overly fast and has to settle for a double. Slagle pops up to Emil Batch to end the inning. Brown takes the hill in the bottom of the inning and gets a crisp first frame and the Cubs trot back to the dugout on top 3-0.

The Cubs continue to hammer at an unusually ineffective Scanlan in the second, but fail to score. Brown allows a two out double to Bob Hall, but again the home team is retired and the score still the same. The score is still 3-0 Cubs in the 4th as Scanlan has really been hit hard, but has managed to escape several jams. Meanwhile Brown is in complete control of Brooklyn.

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Scanlan continues to play with fire, and eventually gets burnt. Billy Maloney draws a two out walk on several pitches and Johnny Evers executes a textbook hit and run at bat and runners are on the corners with two out and a struggling hurler on the mound. Manager Ned Hanlon comes to the mound to try and calm his frustrated hurler, but it really does not help. Chance sends Evers with the pitch, and Johnny gets a solid jump. Maloney, who had been completely ignored by Ritter starts for home and Charlie Malay comes in towards the throw and fires it home! And Billy’s safe! Evers steals second and Maloney gets his first steal of home this year. Schulte then gets an infield single that moves Evers over to third and Chance is given the unintentional intentional pass to set up a force at any base. Casey strikes out to end the inning, but the rout is on with the Cubs on top 5-0.

Brown shuts the Dodgers down again, and the bruins continue to pound away at Scanlan. Jimmy Slagle gets a one out single and moves to second with two out. Brown hits a seeing eye single between short and third that scores the Cubs left fielder with the sixth run of the afternoon and sends Scanlan to the showers. Fred Mitchell, a pitcher who has been almost useless this season is asked to come in and slow the onslaught. He answers the call to end the inning. Brown gets through another shutout inning and the Cubs come to the plate in the top of the 6th leading 6-0.

Unfortunately Hanlon elects to keep Mitchell in, and true to form he allows more damage. Evers hits a grounder that eats up Batch and Johnny is on with the error. Now on second with one out Chance finally gets a hittable pitch and ropes this into right field for an RBI single. Mitchell does get the next 2 hitters to end the inning, but the Cubs are comfortably on top 7-0 as Brown gets another scoreless inning.

The Cubs threaten again in the 7th but don’t score. Meanwhile Brown continues to roll with a 1-2-3 inning and no further scoring until the bottom of the 8th inning. Brown hoping to get a shutout has that dream die as the bottom of the order does the damage. Lou Ritter, who has had a miserable season so far, but admittedly, has been coming around for the last 5-6 days gets a leadoff single, and steals second. John Dobbs comes in to hit for Mitchell and gets a “get me over” change up and he drills this down the line in left and it’s into the corner. Ritter scores and the Dodgers finally have something going. With two out Sheckard drops a soft single to center that scores Dobbs and the rally is not over yet. Harry Lumley gets a single to right and runners are on the corners, but then Lumley steals second and suddenly the bums have two runners in scoring position. Kling visits the mound and the conversation works as Brown gets the last two hitters and the inning ends with the Cubs still leading 7-2.

Former Cub Malacai Eason comes in to finish for Brooklyn and he had no better luck than his predecessors. With two out Billy Maloney gets a big triple to right and scores on Evers second RBI single of the afternoon. Eason finally gets the third out, but the Cubs are now on top 8-2. Brown allows a leadoff single to Bob Hall, but he goes nowhere and the Cubs win 8-2. Pending the results across town in New York City they are tentatively ½ game on top. GO CUBS!

Brown looked shakier than the numbers showed, but that has been his game all year. Bend but don’t break. Of the Cubs trio his hits per 9 innings and HR allowed are much higher than the others, but he still is having a solid year for certain. Billy Maloney stole three bases and is now at 53 for the year. With 38 games to go he must go on a real surge to catch John McGraw’s record of 95 in 1901. Given his recent struggles it looks like the record is safe for now. Here is to hoping the Pirates can hold off the Giants.

Cubs 72 30 .706
Giants 69 29 .704

[photo credit]

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Who has the K, R, ZZ and 14* in the 2013 baseball set?

As some of you know, the baseball data disk doesn’t allow for extrapolation for the pitcher ratings of R, K and ZZ as well as the steal asterisks on batting cards.  With the arrival of the new set, we now know who has these ratings. 

Reader John Briggs who just received the 2013 card set, passed this rating information on to me.

Here’s John’s note:

These are the K-R and * numbers for the new card set

3.. Villar-Hou. Dyson-KC (5 total *)
2.. Casilla-Bal, DavisR-Tor, Gentry-Tex
1.. Bradley-Bsx, DavisK-Mlw, Getz-KC, Gomez-Mlw, Gutierrez-Sea, HairstonS-Was, JohnsonE-Atl, MartinL-Tex, RodriguezA-NYY, SchaferJ-Atl, Weeks-Mlw, Wong-StL, YoungE-NYM

NOTE > DavisR has 18 second column 6s & Dyson has one 6* & one 17*

Albers- Min RZ
Britton- Bal R
CruzR- Hou RW
Diamond- Min RZ
Garland – Col R
Gibson- Min R
Guthrie- KC RZ
HernandezP- Min R
League- LAD RZ
Petricka- Csx RW
Richard- SD R
Westbrook- StL RW

Mujica- StL YZZ
Rivera- NYY YZZ

Alburquerque- Det KW
BaileyA- Bsx KW
Chapman- Cin KXYW
Darvish- Tex K
Delabar- Tor KW
Farquhar- Sea KY
Frieri- LAA KW
GomesB- Tam KYZ
Grilli- Pit KY
Henderson- Mlw K
Hochevar- KC KZ
HollandG- KC KX
Jansen- LAD KXZ
Kelley- NYY K
Kimbrel- Atl KX
Logan- NYY KZ
MillerA- Bsx KYW
PerezO- Sea KW
Perkins- Min KZ
RodriguezP- LAD K
Rosenthal- StL KY
Salazar- Clv K
Santos- Tor KZ
Siegrist- StL KW
SmithW- KC KZ
Uehara- Bsx KXZ
Withrow- LAD KW

Who cares R
Schumaker RW
Recker RW
Carroll R
Fuld R

thanks, John!! 

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