Just following the Glass City APBA Baseball Tournament, my friend Ron Emch sent an email to the guys who all attended the tournament, spreading the word about my blog. He also spread the word about The APBA Blog, which was created by my friend Thomas Nelshoppen.
It was Nelsphoppen's The APBA Blog that inspired me to do my blog, The Boys of Summer. It was Nelshoppen's word of mouth with his blog, that helped promote the 2nd Chicagoland APBA Baseball Tournament, along with an interview with co-created Doug Schuyler.
Recently, Tom shared pictures of that tournament from 6 years ago, and I repeated what I repeated in that email to Ron & the Toledo gang, that I felt the 2013 (Fall Edition) of the Chicagoland tournament really was APBA's big bang that kicked off the APBA Tournament movement.
This was the email, I sent back to Ron & the Toledo gang, a few months back.
For those that don't know, I just really love blogging about all the APBA projects in my life, and sharing my love for the game. I also write about Out of the Park Baseball, and of course, MLB Baseball, as well as Hall of Fame debates, and all the interesting aspects of the game itself.
I believe it was late 2012, I was not happy with my job, and I was frustrated with all the politics (election year) that summer, and that's when I fell upon Thomas Nelshoppen's 'The APBA Blog' and Kenneth Heard's 'Love, Life and APBA Baseball'. I was happy to see that there was a big APBA community out there, bigger than I could have ever imagined. Their blogs are what inspired 'The Boys of Summer'.
I also found the APBA Facebook Group late that year, or at about the turn of the calendar to 2013. Through that group, I developed friendships with numerous APBA junkies such as myself. One of the friends that I met through that group, was Pastor Rich Zawadzki. We would both sign up for our very first APBA Baseball Tournament during November 2013 -- The APBA Chicagoland Tournament. I rode down to Kalamazoo on a bus, stayed the Friday night in the hotel. The next following morning (early hours, maybe 4 am), Rich (coming from Jackson, out east) came by the hotel in Kalamazoo, picked me up, and we were off to Chicago.
That particular tournament, I feel may have been the spark that fueled the APBA community. At that time, we didn't realize it, but a big bang reaction was taking place. This was the 2nd Chicagoland tournament, but really in many ways was the first one. The first actual one, happened the summer prior with 11 contestants, and it was through the APBA Facebook Group, The APBA Blog & I want to say, Jim's APBA Barn (another great blog, by the way) that helped advertise the fall edition that Rich and I would go to.
The tournament took place in a gathering room, located a small library in the cozy town of Woodstock, Illinois (the same town that Bill Murray's Groundhog Day was filmed). There was about 24 of us, we played 6 games in our brackets, 2 games against the 3 teams, in each division.
I had the 1912 New York Giants, and had to battle the 1931 Philadelphia Athletics, 1976 Cincinnati Reds & the 1998 New York Yankees. I believe for all of us, we can all look at any one of those games, and wonder if a play here or there bounced this way, it would be me, or him or so-and-so moving on to the playoffs. I got swept by Cincy, then won the first game against then-Chicagoland Tourney runner Doug Schuyler's 1998 Yankees... It was the 2nd game of that series, that really decided my team's fate. He had Shane Spencer coming up to the plate, he had a runner on, and I want to say it was the 7th inning (it was definitely late into the game), I was leading by a couple runs.... So I decided to do the logical thing, intentionally walk that monster card, and take my chances with Homer Bush (who, yes batted .340 or something, but had no pop).... Homer Bush, of course, hit a three-run homer to give the Yanks the lead & eventually the game. Doug won our division with a 4-2 record, I was 3-3 along with Tom Johnson's Reds, and Gary Lindley's 31' A's finished 2-4 (I swept him).
The experience was amazing, the first tournament always stands out, win or lose. The experience had me craving for more, while it inspired Rich to start up the Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament in March 2015. The Schulz brothers (Ken & Darren) would go to the GMABT and Chicagoland Tournaments in the future, which then created the Pittsburgh tournament, the Linda B. Schulz APBA Baseball Tournament (LBS), named after their late mother.
It should be noted that Johnson would return years later to win a Chicagoland Tournament, while Lindley I believe either won the next summer tournament (or summer after that). I would go on to win the 2016 Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament with the 1993 Atlanta Braves, which of course, is an interesting experience in itself.
It was through the Greater Michigan APBA Tournaments, that I met Ron Emch, our gracious host to the Glass City APBA Baseballl Tournament. I had the 1917 Chicago White Sox, and I want to say that he had the 1954 New York Giants (I could have it wrong, we had the 1962 Giants in our bracket as well), and I believe we split 1-1. Ron would go onto the playoffs, and although neither one of us won it that day, it was a start of our friendship. As some of you might know, Rich and his son draw the names of the teams out of a hat for the division matchups.... Ron and I, would have the privilege of playing each other in opening division play for the first 3 years of the tournament's existence, which was pretty cool. We were just chatting in Toledo, about our two teams (the 1993 Braves & 1998 Braves) in GMABT II, going head-to-head with each of us pitching Greg Maddux against one another.
I am just glad I finally got to make it to my friend's tournament finally, and now that I have, I plan to come to this one year-after-year. I also plan to eventually make it to the Twin Cities & the Pittsburgh tourneys as well.
It's things like that, and through these tournaments that we build memories on top of the older memories. It only gets better as friendships build up, while you get to meet new people through these tournaments as well, while I now look forward to building on these friendships as well. I really do think we have a great APBA community, and I really love writing about this game, and the people that I meet along the way.
It was a pleasure meeting everyone, and to many more tournaments ahead.
Traverse City, Michigan