APBA (pronounced "APP-bah") is a game company founded in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was created in 1951 by J. Richard Seitz. The game company on their official website states that the letters stood for "American Professional Baseball Association" which was the name of a boyhood league Mr. Seitz participated in with his friends. After 60 years in Pennsylvania, the company headquarters was moved in 2011 to Alpharetta, Georgia.
The company's first offering was a baseball simulation table game using cards to represent each major league player, boards to represent different on-base scenarios (e.g. "Bases Empty", "Runners on First and Third," "Bases Loaded"), and dice to generate random numbers. Seitz's product was derived from the game National Pastime, invented and patented by Clifford Van Beek in 1925, a game which Seitz played in his youth. The game can be played against another person or in solitaire fashion. Devoted fans keep track of the results and assess how players' performance compares to their real-life statistics.
Later, computer adaptations of some of these games were produced.
APBA enthusiasts have included Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush; David Eisenhower; sports agent Arn Tellem; and journalist and memoirist Franz Lidz. Many players and others involved in the game have been fans.
For much of its history APBA's main competitor has been Strat-O-Matic. Other competitors include, or have included, Replay Publishing, Statis Pro Baseball, MLB Showdown and, in APBA's early years, Big League Manager. In 2000 APBA redesigned the packaging of its baseball game and for a brief time expanded its marketing approach to include hobby shops and sport card dealers, with limited success.
Computer versions of the baseball game
In 1984, the game company authorized a computer version of an advanced "master" version of their baseball game. It was published by Random House in 1985, first for PC computers and later for Apple. McGraw-Hill became the publisher after the company acquired Random House's software division in 1989, and the original game developers, Miller Associates, took over publishing and sales in 1990.
In 1993, Miller and APBA announced a version of the game for the Windows platform, and it came out that summer. Titled APBA Presents Baseball for Windows (with the first two words in small print), Miller continued to update and publish the game software; their final version, 5.5, came out in the summer of 1999. Late in 2000, APBA announced that it had agreed to take over sales and service for the game; Miller Associates disbanded.
In February, 2007 the APBA Game Company announced that they had acquired the rights to the Baseball for Windows code, and planned an upgrade to be released in the fall of 2008, featuring the voice of Pete Van Wieren, replacing the earlier editions' Ernie Harwell. Complications in game development, as well as errors in the code that had gone long unrepaired, delayed the release. As of November, 2011, the current release schedule has not been announced. The current version of the game runs on Windows 7 in 32 bit mode. For 64 bit versions of Windows 7 it requires Virtual Mode software. Some APBA players maintain computers with older versions of Windows solely for running the APBA software.
In August 2012, APBA released an updated version of Baseball for Windows 5.5, called APBA Computer Baseball version 5.75. The game comes with 3 seasons(1921, 1961, and 2011), and is priced at $20 plus shipping & handling.
Computer Gaming World in 1992 criticized aspects of version 1.5's interface, but praised the sophistication of the MicroManager module's BaseballTalk langauge for creating custom managers for simulated games. The magazine called APBA "a work in progress, an impressive baseball park under construction ... but for what it delivers today, at the price asked, APBA Baseball would not be my first choice".
Conventions and tournaments
APBA continues to have a devoted following, with conventions now held every year under the game company's sponsorship. The highlight of the convention is a tournament played by the attendees.
APBA conventions go back as far as June 1973, when more than 300 fans got together in Philadelphia for a convention sponsored by the game's independent publication, the APBA Journal. The convention tournament was won by Robert Weeks. A record 650 got together in New York City in June 1975, with Joseph Krakowski the tournament winner. The third and final APBA Journal convention was held in June 1976 in Philadelphia, with Richard Beggs winning the tournament. The tournament structure for those conventions allowed participants to construct a team from all the cards they owned.
(The Journal continued to be published under different management until 2002, but never held another convention.)
Conventions resumed in Lancaster in July 1995 under game company sponsorship. The tournament was limited to stock teams that finished with percentages between .480 and .515. Chris Dineen's 1982 Expos prevailed. The June 1998 tournament, held in nearby Millersville, was limited to teams with percentages below .550. Ten-year old Devin Flawd won, using the 1995 Mariners.
Conventions have been held annually beginning in 2001. All except 2003 were sponsored by the game company. The limits on team winning percentages were dropped after 2002.
The 2013 convention was held near the new corporate offices in Georgia; it was unique in that it produced the first back-to-back tournament winner. In addition, Brian Wells, a two-time winner himself, was inducted into the APBA Hall of Fame along with his father, Greg Wells.
Convention tournament results
Year - Location - Winner - Team
- 1999 - Mini Camp Lancaster, PA - Karl Hasselbarth - 1975 Giants
- 2001 - Lancaster, PA - Paul Cunningham - 1976 Athletics
- 2002 - Lancaster, PA - Brian Wells#* - 2000 Diamondbacks
- 2003 - Lancaster, PA - Todd Davis - 1977 Royals** def. Devin Flawd - 1982 Phillies
- 2004 - Las Vegas, NV - Eric Naftaly - 1957 Braves def. Joe Krakowski - 1969 Orioles
- 2005 - Lancaster, PA - John Hunt - 1975 Reds def. Frank Welsh - 1957 Braves
- 2006 - Las Vegas, NV - Bob King - 1977 Phillies def. Jackson Chapman - 1930 Athletics
- 2007 - Frazer, PA - John Duke* - 1927 Yankees def. Dan Trout - 1970 Orioles
- 2008 - Las Vegas, NV - Brian Wells* - 2001 Mariners def. Mike Harlowe - 1956 Dodgers
- 2009 - Lancaster, PA - John Duke* - 1909 Pirates def. Walt Husted - 1930 Cardinals
- 2010 - Lancaster, PA - Ron Seamans - 1969 Orioles def. Brian Wells - 2004 Cardinals
- 2011 - Lancaster, PA - Chris Sorce - 1930 Cardinals def. Ray Oulette - 1913 Giants
- 2012 - Lancaster, PA - Steve Skoff - 1912 Giants def. Charlie Sorce - 1910 A's
- 2013 - Alpharetta, GA - Steve Skoff§ - 1911 Giants def. Pat McGregor - 1995 Indians
- 2013 - Canton, OH - (Football) - Greg Wells 1984 Forty Niners def. Greg Barath - 1999 St. Louis Rams
- *Two-time champions
- #Youngest champion (Age 9 in 2002)
- §First Back-to-Back Champion
- **The 2003 Tournament was held in Lancaster, PA, but was not officially sponsored by the APBA Game Company. Todd Davis was the champion.
- Franz Lidz, "Apba Is The Name, Baseball Is The Game, And Obsession Is The Result", Sports Illustrated, Dec. 8, 1980
- Van Beek, Clifford. "Game". US Patent 1536639. US Patent Office. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- APBA Game Company. "Company History". APBA Game Company Website. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- Franz Lidz, "Apba Baseball", Sports Illustrated, April 9, 2001
- Rogers, Win (1992-08). "Miller Associates' APBA Major League Players Baseball 1.5". Computer Gaming World. pp. 72–74. Retrieved 3 July 2014.