Friday, March 1, 2013

Francisco the Great

Ahhh... APBA memories, everyone has them, even the absurd ones when we were younger and still learning about he dynamics of the game.

For those that know me from the APBA Baseball Group on Facebook or my blog, it may not come as no secret that I am a fan of two teams, my local Detroit Tigers and the Atlanta Braves. I always enjoyed the lovable loser Braves from watching them on TBS when a Tigers game may not be on. I also loved that TBS called them "America's Team", when it should have been "America's Losers" or something on those lines. They had Dale Murphy of course, with Bob Horner, Ken Oberkfell, Glenn Hubbard & Bruce Benedict, among others.

So when my parents sold our house, my folks went house-hunting as my mom stayed with us... bouncing around from campground to campground all summer long in up-north Michigan. My dad wanted to move us out of the Detroit Metro area to give us a better life, if that actually meant sacrificing pay. In fact I would have went to high school at Waterford Kettering High School, the same high school that my father graduated at, with World Series hero Kirk Gibson. I'll have to do talk more about that story in the future, but anyways... here we are bouncing around from campground to campground, which means no television, so I was keeping myself updated in the baseball season with my USA Today Baseball Weekly (which is now unfortunately known as Sports Weekly), we had occasional radio, but when it's summer and you're approaching 15, the last thing you want to do is sit there in front of a radio when you could be scouting the beach looking at pretty girls laying out in the sun.

So much to my surprise was the emergence of Tom Glavine and the Atlanta Braves, here's a guy who went 7-17 in 1988 with a 4.56 ERA (Which back then was like a 6.00 ERA is today) -- Glavine wins again, and again... I remember my dad even reading the stats leaders, "What's up with this Glavine guy for Atlanta? wow!" -- Glavine of course would go onto win 20 games and the N.L. Cy Young, with a 2.55 ERA. 1991 will be the first of 5 seasons he would win 20 games, and the first of three straight seasons of 20-plus. We eventually found a place in a small town outside of Traverse City to call home, and for the rest of the summer into my freshman year that fall, I would watch the Braves and their crazy fans (at the time) go tomahawk crazy, with their Native American chant & their run to catch the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was like watching a real-life version of "Major League" the movie, it was simply amazing and I they have been one of my two loves in baseball ever since. Especially a good substitute for my Tigers who would continue to go as far down as any franchise could possibly go.

So when it came to the fall of 1991, my birthday was approaching on October 28th, and I knew what I wanted, I wanted to purchase my first-ever set of APBA Baseball Cards. My dad and his friends played for years, in fact my Dad would go to three consecutive World Series, winning the middle one in 1987, in which he happened to have all the Who's Who's? of 1987, he happened to have both Andre Dawson & George Bell with Alan Trammell (who should have been A.L. MVP), and others who happened to have huge years, even Ozzie Virgil's surprise season of 27 HR's. Virgil would even do better for my dad who popped like 20 HR's in their 72 or 76-game season, pacing for at least 40 HR's in a full season.

My brother and I would purchase a couple more sets in our high school years, even getting some school mates together for a league. My brother had his own league for inside the house, with my dad and me involved, we each had something like two teams, and did something whacky like when a guy got traded in real-life, you lost that guy or whatever. 

During my brother's 1992 season, in which we never ended... of course -- Being kids, when did you ever finish something? I was the Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals (not sure why, looking back at it), and as a kid we didn't really set rules for At-Bat & Innings limits, so we played the tear-outs as starters even, which leads to Mr. Francisco Cabrera.

Cabrera's game-winning pinch-hit against the Pirates during Game 7 of the NLCS, of course will go down as one of the greatest moments in postseason history; for me, there is only a few that tops it (Gibson's HR off Eckersley & Bobby Thomson's shot heard around the world, are two of them). Not to mention the crazy fact that Sid Bream, dubbed bread mold for his great base-running (LOL!) actually made it in safely! Cabrera only had 10 at-bats in 1992, in which he happened to get 3 hits & 3 RBI with 2 HR's.

So you can imagine the fun I had with Francisco Cabrera's card, let's put it this way -- We might see this on Monster Card Mondays on the APBA Blog. I know for sure it was a J-4, single column tear-off XB card, and my memory might be a bit rusty, but I do want to say he had 1's under 11,22,33,44,55 & 66, but the more and more I think about it, it was probably 4 1's and 2 5's. So we started playing my brother's season, and in like our first 33 games, I believe I had 26 HR's with Cabrera (hahaha) and my Braves were like 28-5! Terry Pendleton was batting like .345 (He actually won the batting title in 1991 with a .319 avg, and the N.L. MVP as well). In that same season, I would pitch David Cone for K.C. into extra innings to get 25 strikeouts & he would follow-up that performance with a no-hitter! Young, whacky fun with APBA when there are no limits.

For Cabrera's career the pinch-hit would be he pinnacle, he was out of baseball by the age of 26, which is strange because his career numbers are pretty decent for only 351 career at-bats. I think the problem, if I remember right is that he wasn't that great defensively.

  • Career numbers: .254 AVG, 17 HR & 62 RBI, including 17 doubles in 351 at-bats. Problem are he only had 21 BB's & struck out 69 times with a .294 On-Base Percentage & possible defense woes. 

His OPS was a decent .747 though & he was only 26, you would think that someone else would maybe see if that power can be taken advantage of. Maybe he disappeared in the haze like many careers that were effected with the mess of 1994. For example, Kevin Mitchell... I was surprised the other day looking at the team standings in 1994, the Reds were in first, so I clicked on their roster & Mitchell's stats were staring right back at me. With players like Griffey, Matt Williams, Jeff Bagwell & Frank Thomas stealing the headlines with their 94' power numbers, they overshadowed players like Mitchell who actually had 30 HR's for Cincy, this is well (and many pounds) after Mitchell's 1989 season with the Giants in which he clocked 47 HR's, 125 RBI with a .291 AVG & OPS of 1.023 (all leading league) earning him MVP honors. His 1994 numbers? He batted .326, 30 HR, 77 RBI with an OPS of 1.110! If he had played a full possible season that year, he would have had 43 HR & 110 RBI, I believe he played in Japan in 1995, came back to the states in 1996 for the Red Sox, and getting traded back to the Reds that season; I think at this point his weight & injuries were starting to play a factor, because he still did really well in his brief at-bats in 96': .316 AVG, 8 HR & 39 RBI, .925 OPS in 206 at-bats.

Back to Cabrera, I loved seeing this on Baseball, under the sponsors section:

Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke? sponsors this page:
"He (Cabrera) has ruined my childhood and destroyed a franchise. The only thing I can do now is make sure a Braves fan can never sponsor this page."

I thought it was funny, too.

That's what I love about this game, I love the beauty of everything baseball, the star players and the guys that are forgotten, the heroes and the scapegoats. It's a game of drama, a game of passion, the sport is literally a religion for me & I love the simple fact that I can relive all this with APBA Baseball & share it with my friends.

Awww... APBA memories.


  1. Classic..... In 1991 is when I discovered the Braves on WTBS. Living in California the Angels or Dodgers weren't always on but the Braves were... I used to watch them every single day..... And sure enough, became a huge closet Braves Fan.... Even got a hat and foam tomahawk chop!!!

    1991 was the year I joined the SCBL ABPA league and drafted Tom Glavine as a D pitcher, knew absolutely nothing about him and I suppose it was luck that I picked him.... I am partial to Lety's if you look at my rotation even today!! LOL

    It was awesome watching Tom Glavine pitch each and every one of his starts that year and since then he has always been one of my pictures of all time. I have seen Glavine pitch in San Diego, Los Angeles and New York.... I even attented a Braves Game at Turner Field in 1999.

    As a result of being a Braves fan I also had Steve Avery, Jeff Blauser, Mark Lemke, David Justice, Ron Gant and Marquiss Grissom on the Sharks over the years.... But Tom Glavine was always the favorite.....

    Flash forward to 2013 and now that all those old time Braves are gone, I am over them..... Wouldn't consider myself a fan anymore. But when I play my March Madness World Series Super Tourney Each Year that 1995 Braves Team is always one I am rooting for to win that thing!!!

    Good times!!!

    1. I have been fortunate to see two games at Turner Field when I was stationed at Ft.Gordon,GA. The Dodgers came to town and Greg Maddux came up to bat against Kevin Brown, and me and my military friends started chanting "Chicks dig the longball, Greg!" mocking his commercial with Glavine, where Heather Locklear is digging Mark McGwire -- Maddux or Glavine, one of the two says "Chicks dig the longball".

      Kevin Brown pitched one low and inside and Maddux sends it to right-field, just a few rows ahead and to the left of us, by probably a section, just getting into the first few rows -- HOME RUN!

      After Tony Gwynn, I'd say I have a few hundred of each Maddux, Glavine & Smoltz. I have many of Javy, Andruw, Justice, and Klesko from those days as well.

      I had the foam tomahawk, but there was some sort of mis-communication on my wife's part when we were moving, and we believe it got thrown out.. sadly.


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