Dan Warren - Horseshoe Bay, Harbor Beach, Annandale, and Long Island won division titles in 1987, with Evanston and Meadowlands as the wildcards. Jim McEneaney’s Islanders beat back all challengers, topping Metro rival Meadowlands in the finals at Lancaster, PA. Jesse Elicker’s NL New Oxford Lions won the last overall TCBA championship to be played.
Jesse Barfield led the league in home runs with 52 and in RBI with 169, while Bergen’s Phil Bradley won the batting crown with a .367 average.
Pitchers were led by Jack Morris (23), Fernando Valenzuela (21), Charlie Hough (20), Mike Krukow (20), Mike Scott (20) and Roger Clemens (20).
Dick Gorney - My bad trades are too numerous to mention, and I buried them.
Bob Braun – Long-time local favorite Juan Beniquez played his last game for the home town fans, being released at the end of the season. After six years and 543 games, advancing age and the fact that the Braves had improved dramatically were factors in Juan’s departure. During his stay, Juan had a career .305 batting average in 1601 plate appearances. His was a difficult yet necessary cut.
Larry Smith - In 1987 Ricky Henderson appeared in all 162 Mimosa games, appearing in every Mirth Maker game over the previous seven seasons!
Bob Braun (1987) - My first experience with APBA was in 1966 when I responded to an advertisement in The Sporting News, (probably the same ad that APBA uses today!), I got the 1965 season with XB’s that came on a white sheet of paper, and dice so small that I spent half of my playing time on hands and knees hunting through the deep carpet pile for a stray white die. The most fun from that season was the numerous times I piled the cards all together and then dealt them into new teams. I’d spend hours drawing up lineups for each team, trading a few players, and determining which new team was the best. Then I’d play a few games and shuffle them all over again! Fortunately my mother didn’t know what those cards were when she unilaterally decided to dispose of my boxes of baseball cards.
I haven’t looked at that ‘65 set in years, though it’s still up there on the closet shelf. Somehow, and I’m not really sure how, I now find myself more deeply interested and maybe even more pleased with APBA antics than I ever remember being back in ‘66. When I really stop and think about it, this “game” has tapped an energy source that might have gone unnoticed and unused. Perhaps that’s the real meaning of the APBA “mystique;” that indescribable but very potent binding that has captivated the interest of some 40 grown men in a totally irrational way for more than a dozen years.
I don’t know how it all got started. I don’t know why I’ve felt compelled to be a part of TCBA for all these years, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
An Article attributed to Diana Fiehl in the TCBA Newsletter from 10/12/87 - I overheard Marty say that tonight was the last game of the regular season on TV. Ordinarily that would make any other baseball wife happy, but nooooooo, not in this house, because even though baseball season is over, APBA season never ends! There’s always something going on month after miserable month.
For instance, February is the month that the almighty CARDS come out. This means that all normal daily activities must come to a screeching halt for approximately five days while THE CARDS are folded, separated, collated, and then have stats written on each and every one of them. Once, I reluctantly agreed to help with the folding and separating process. “First fold it in this direction, then fold it in that direction. Put it on a flat surface and tear it clean, don’t rip it!” There were more instructions than the Kama Sutra. By the end of the evening I was ready to tear something, but it wasn’t the cards. What the heck is an XB anyway?
Prior to the arrival of THE CARDS is the anticipation of the arrival of THE CARDS. Every day at lunch time the phone rings...”Is there a large box on the front porch, dear?” I answer happily, “Gee, I’m sorry sweetheart, but they didn’t come yet.” About five years ago, during one of Marty’s respites from college, he actually skipped a half day from work because THE CARDS had arrived, and he couldn’t go back to work without looking at all of them. All I know is there must be some kind of magic in that box to put a normally sane (?) man into a trance like that.
At this very moment, Marty is on his knees showing me the recap that he wrote last month and trying to explain some of it to me. The problem here is that I’m presently in the throne room and he knows I can’t get away from him. I’m trapped like a wild animal.
Then there’s the annual trip to Lancaster, From what I’ve heard, there’s this group of mismatched personalities who converge on a hotel in Amish country, gather together in one room to drink beer, eat, sleep, (and this next one is a biggie for Tony Orlando) watch Crime Story, play with their cards, and make trades. Then they come home and say, “What a great time we had. We’ve already made our reservations for next year.” I ask you - does that sound like a great time?
After that comes the annual Braunfest (this takes him about a month’s preparation to get ready, or to talk about getting ready), then the innumerable phone calls (“I’m going to a meeting tonight, dear, and I’ve got a few trade feelers out. If anyone calls, tell them to call back after 9:00”); the swearing in front of the TV (“Damn, my pitcher just broke his arm” or “Ha, ha, Bob Wood’s pitcher just broke HIS arm!) I had to put my foot down when Marty bought an infant-sized baseball uniform, cut a hole in the seat for a tail, and dressed up Felix, our cat.
Ah, ladies, I could go on. But enough about the House of Fiehl. Won’t you kindly submit some of your own thoughts and gripes about these APBA men that we love so much.
P.S. - I hate baseball!!
Marty’s Hot Country Hit of 1987 - “I don’t care how many 14’s are on your card, you don’t have the balls to walk out on me.”
Brian Reasons - was expelled from TCBA for a variety of reasons, including this curious practice:
“Lotto Lineups. Once I select the starting lineup, I shuffle the cards and bat them in whatever order the cards wind up in.”
Jesse Elicker - The number one memory occurred in Lancaster, February 1988. The New Oxford Lions, who had won their division with only 92 wins, had marched through the Cooperstown Cardinals (Bill Stamper), the Red Hill Rollers (Bill Brunton) and the Northboro Crusaders (Dave Branagan) to be able to represent the National League in the TCBA World Series. This Lions team featured no superstars, no monster cards, just good balance, good defense, a good bench and a solid bullpen. My American League opponent was Jim McEneaney and the team from Long Island.
The playoffs in the NL operate in a slightly different manner than they do in the AL. In the AL, losing teams and non-participants stand around and watch the action. In the NL, non-participants could care less until the 9th inning, and losing teams would just as soon be at home. Well, maybe I'm stretching things, but I think you get the picture. As we set up to play, I remember the World Series as more than Long Island vs. New Oxford; it was the AL vs. the NL, and this was a series for respect and pride! There were nine (or maybe 8) AL managers present, and each rolled for a player in the LI lineup. I remember Bob Wood leading off by rolling for Brett Butler. Al Keefer rolled for Jim Morrison. As for the others, my memory is not very clear, but it felt like I was being ganged-up on by this hoard of Long Island fans. I had only one supporter, Kerry Brashears.
The AL contingent played in a party-like atmosphere. There was laughter and hollering and joking, yet they were serious about winning. I was intimidated by the number of people, nervous as could be, and scared that I would "let the NL down". I think my fellow NL managers' lack of support told me that they didn't think I had a chance. Or they didn't care. Or both. This series was no longer for them, it was for me! Who needs them? I hope a fly lands in your beer! In fact,..
Oh, back to the series. Game one matched up Fernando Valenzuela (14X, +22) against Floyd Bannister (9Y, +23). Long Island's team was built upon power and a never-ending list of relievers, who often pitched for less than an inning at a time.
Long Island scored first in the bottom of the 7th when Tom Brunansky doubled home Jim Morrison for a 1-0 lead. The Lions answered in the 8th when Johnny Ray hit a one out, two run homerun off Jeff Dedmon to give NX a 2-1 lead. Four consecutive singles later it was 4-1. A 9th inning insurance run closed the scoring at 5-1. Rob Murphy (grade 28) got the win.
Game two paired up Rick Rhoden (15Y, +24) against Sid Fernandez (12X, -22). The Lions blew this game open early by scoring 7 runs in the 3rd inning, keyed by a Sal Butera bases loaded double and Gary Ward's homer and triple (bet that's a one inning record!). At the end of the game, it was 14-1 and Sal Butera had a 4 for 5 line with 2 doubles, a homerun and 5 RBI. With a 2-0 lead, smugness started to settle in. But wait,..
Games 3, 4 and 5 moved from the LI park to Bob Moose Memorial Stadium, home of the Lions. Floyd Bannister came back after his 2 inning stint in game one to face Vida Blue (12Y, -31). Blue was picked apart, giving up single runs in the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th innings. A pair of sac flies in the 7th sealed the game for LI and they won 6-3.
Game 4 was a nail biter. Jim Clancy (8Y, +23) vs. Fernando Valenzuela. Jim Morrison hit his 4th double of the series in the 2nd inning and scored on Wally Joyner's single to give LI a 1-0 lead. New Oxford finally broke through in the 6th when Mel Hall's 2 out double plated Johnny Ray to tie the game at 1. The game remained tied at 1 as we went into extra innings. This seemed to be a very pivotal moment in the series as a Lion win would put them up 3 games to 1, while an Islander win would knot the series at 2 and swing momentum in the favor of LI. Grade 28 reliever Rob Murphy was able to get 2 out in the 10th with Tony Pena on 2nd. Defensive sub Donnie Hill came to bat and delivered with a single to score Pena and make it 2-1 in favor of LI. Reliever Todd Worrell, in his third inning of work, allowed a two out double to PH Ron Cey, but was able to get Gary Ward to foul out (yes, a 65) to end the game.
Tied at two, feeling bad. Kerry tried to console me, but I was down. This game featured Sid Fernandez vs. Rick Rhoden. Now mind you the atmosphere of the room has changed quite a bit from game 1 to game 5. What do most guys do when there is a ballgame on TV or radio? If you said drink, you were right. I was of the opinion that some of the "rollers" for Jim's lineup might be ready to roll more than dice, as the volume and harshness of the cheering increased.
Bob Braun - We were all gathered in a first floor room at the HoJo’s, just down the hall from the swimming pool. This was in the days before we had a hospitality suite, so we all just crammed into each other’s room for events such as this.
In the dozen or so years that we have been gathering in Lancaster, this night was the only time that I ever had to deal with the hotel security guard! By the time Game 4 was complete, we had already received our first call from the front desk, letting us know politely that the other guests in the hotel didn’t care for our rousing cheers of support for Jim McEneaney’s Islanders. Heck, it was only midnight, and the beer was still plentiful!
Jesse Elicker - Butler led off the first with a walk and scored off John Grubb's 2 out single to give LI a 1-0 lead. The fans roared. The Lions came back in the third with singles from Ray, Trammell and Buckner, followed by Buddy Bell's ground out to give NX a 2-1 lead. In the 4th that lead was increased to 4-1 as Ray and Trammell drove in runs. Horner homered in the 5th to make the score 5-1 and the crowd decreased in the celebratory activities. LI picked up a run in the 7th to pull to within 3, but the Lions answered in the 8th with a 3 spot off a double by Gary Redus and a single by Ray. LI scored two more in the 9th, but fell by an 8-4 count. New Oxford held a 3 games to 2 lead and my heart was pounding!
Game 6 matched up Blue against Lacoss (10, +21) as we "moved" back to Long Island. Al Keefer was relentless. LI went up 2-0 in the first and then Al got started. With 2 out, 1 on in the 3rd, Jim Morrison circled the bases via a 66 from the hands of Mr. Keefer. LI now was up 4-0.
In the 5th, same situation, same result. Jim Morrison, two run HR, now a 6-0 LI lead. Morrison now had 9 hits; 1 single, 6 doubles and 2 homeruns.
Bob Braun - This home run brought a roar from the AL guys that shook the HoJo’s to its foundation. Within seconds the phone was ringing and the front desk was now rather rudely insisting that we quiet down. We closed the door.
Jesse Elicker - Morrison added his 7th double in the 8th inning. Plans for game 7 were already in the makes as the Lions looked to regroup.
The Lions scored a single run in the 7th to make it 6-1, and then came the event. The single most memorable event of my TCBA, no, my APBA baseball life. THE EVENT! With two out in the 8th, Mike Lacoss advanced to a grade 15, Johnny Ray walked. Alan Trammell singled. PH Gary Ward walked. The bases were loaded with Buddy Bell at the plate. While Jim brought in reliever Dave Righetti (16, +25), I, as every APBA player does, hoped to see the big 66 fall on the table.
Bob Braun - The massive beer buzz I had going at the moment had not dulled my psychic reflexes. As Jesse began slowly shaking his dice, I had the sickening feeling that a 66 was in the room. I felt sick and tried to head for the door. But a crowd was pressing behind me, we had closed the damn door, and I never made it to the hall before...
Jesse Elicker - I shook the dice, they fell, and the room grew silent. Sixty-six. Staring at my face. Buddy Bell had just hit a grand slam and the Lions were back in the game, now trailing 6-5. I slapped Kerry's hand but said nothing.
Righetti was gone and now Todd Worrell was in to shut things down in the 9th. Eddie Milner, the hero from both the Cooperstown and Red Hill series, led off with a single. One out later, Dave Lopes drove in Milner with a double to tie the game at 6. An unbelievable comeback had occurred, but the game was far from over. Worrell got the next two and we went to the 9th. Rob Murphy finished the 9th so extra innings, here we come.
Both teams went down in order in the 10th. In the 11th Bo Diaz hit a two out double for the Lions, but a depleted bench meant that Jesse Orosco had to bat and he left Diaz stranded on 2nd. Orosco put LI down in order in the bottom of the inning. In the 12th, with one out, Johnny Ray singled. Tom Henke (12XY, +16) came in to face Alan Trammell. Trammell greeted Henke with the second big 66 of the game to give New Oxford an 8-6 lead!
In the bottom of the 9th, LI was not going to roll over. Dawson walked with one out. With two out, PH Johnny Grubb doubled, and Dawson was held at third. Tony Pena then grounded to Horner at first. Horner picked up the ball, stepped on the bag, and the series was over. The Lions were TCBA Champions for 1987!
This was the best APBA baseball experience I have ever had - thanks to all of you who were there, and of course to Kerry. I'll never have a team like that again, with so many over achieving players like Eddie Milner. This one year of victory more than makes up for the 10+ stink-up-the-joint teams I've had in the other seasons. Thanks for a great memory.