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Soccer, mostly, but some other stuff, too

APBA32: The Big Hur(s)t

Don Hurst baseball cardOne of the joys of my My APBA mini-replay of the 1932 baseball season is learning about events and players about which I had little or no knowledge. (Learning is good, y’all!) One such player is Phillies’ firstbaseman Don Hurst (right), who is leading the National League in hitting at the moment with a robust .567 average. (Yes, small sample. Shush.)

Frank O’Donnell Hurst had been the Phillies’ regular firstbaseman since joining the club in May of 1928 and replacing Big Bill Kelly. He’d been hitting .308 in Rochester when he was called up, after a really good year (.323, 16 home runs) at Syracuse the year before. He hit .305 with 78 home runs and .897 OPS over the next four years, but it was 1932 when he really exploded. Hurst hit .339 for the 1932 Phillies, with a league-high 143 RBIs and an OPS of .959. He finished seventh in the NL MVP Award voting (teammate Chuck Klein won it) and the tandem helped the Phils to their highest finish in 15 years, a surprising fourth at 78-76.

Hurst held out in training camp after that big year, slumped in 1933 and was traded in 1934 (in an interesting circumstance) to the Cubs for Dolph Camilli, for whom he played just 51 games and hit .199. His major league career was over before his 30th birthday, though he continued to play in the minors, first in Columbus (where he had attended Ohio State University), then Los Angeles and, finally, in something called the PONY (Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York) League, where he was player-manager for the Hamilton Red Wings and hit .314 with 8 homers in 61 games at age 33. Charles Faber‘s 2010 book, Major League Careers Cut Short: Leading Players Gone by 30, notes that Hurst worked as a manager at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Culver City, California (which still exists) and that he passed away on December 6, 1952 after “an illness of several months.” He was 47 years old.

In the early stages of my replay, the Phillies are tied for the league lead at 5-1 and they’ve scored 40 runs in the six games. Hurst has at least one hit in all six games, and at least two in five of the six:

  • 4/13/1932 vs. Boston: 2-for-4 with an RBI in the first game of a doubleheader, which the Phils lost 4-3.
  • 4/13/1932 vs. Boston: 3-for-5 in a 5-4 win in the second game of the twin bill.
  • 4/14/1932 vs. Boston: 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored in a 6-1 win that gave the Phillies the series.
  • 4/22/1932 at Cincinnati: 1-for-4 with a home run, a walk and an RBI in an 8-3 win over the Reds.
  • 4/23/1932 at Cincinnati: 3-for-6 with a double and three RBI in a 13-5 blowout win.
  • 4/24/1932 at Cincinnati: 5-for-7 with two doubles and three RBI, including the 14th-inning game-winner, 5-4.

It’s early, but Hurst and the Phillies are making noise in the National League. It will be interesting to see how long they can both keep it up. Standings, stats and stuff are after the jump.

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A Little Vintage Baseball

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I went to check out the Arizona Territories Vintage Base Ball League today and shot photos of a game between the Phoenix Senators and Glendale Gophers. The Gophers rallied in their last at-bat to beat the Senators 10-9, but the real stories were the attention to period detail and the fact that everyone just had fun, period.

The ATVBBL – like many similar leagues around the country – plays by rules from the 1860s. No gloves, a ball can be caught on one bounce and still be an out, and pitchers deliver the ball underhand. The game of the 1860s was far more gentlemanly and far less athletic, and both the Senators and Gophers played a polite yet high-spirited game and seemed just happy to be out playing ball on a lovely Saturday morning.

As you can see by the photos, the Senators have uniforms that look more like modern baseball togs, while the Gophers’ attire harkens back to baseball’s infancy (when the name of the game was two words, rather than one, and gentlemen wore clothing you might see them wear in their “regular” lives).

The whole thing was huge fun and a blast to shoot and I hope you enjoy this bit of nostalgia. Photos are after the jump.

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APBA32: Unraveling Sox

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The Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox both had historically bad seasons in 1932, and art is imitating life after five games of my APBA mini-replay of that long-ago season. Both clubs are winless and making a habit of getting blown out.

Chicago and Boston both fell to 0-5 on Saturday, April 23, with the White Sox losing 6-3 in New York and the Red Sox absorbing a 17-3 pounding at the hands of the Indians in Cleveland. The beleaguered Red Sox pitching staff has now given up 43 runs in five losses and has an ERA of 9.00.

Chicago, which opened by getting blown out three times at home against the A’s (15-4, 9-1 and 9-3) seems to be getting closer. Their 7-5 and 6-3 losses in the first two games of the series against the Yankees could at least be seen as some sort of progress. But their team ERA (9.21) is the worst in the league, with only spitballer Red Faber (1.59 ERA in three outings) distinguishing himself.

In real life, the White Sox – whose legendary owner, Charles Comiskey, had passed away the previous October – finished 49-102 in 1932, enduring a 10-game losing streak in August and finishing 56 and a half games out of first place. Yet they weren’t the worst team in the league that year, thanks to going nearly .500 (10-12) against the Red Sox, who were seven and a half games worse at 43-111. Tom Yawkey bought the club in February 1933 (four days after inheriting his adoptive father’s $40 million estate) and owned them until his death in July 1976.

To this day, eighty-three years later, the 1932 season still represents the nadirs for the Red Sox and White Sox.

Results, standings and notes after the jump.

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APBA32: Am-A’s-Balls

Connie Mack

Connie Mack in 1911, By George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


The Philadelphia Athletics built two distinct dynasties in the first three decades of the American League. From 1901-1914, Connie Mack’s men won six American League pennants and three World Series. After selling off or losing most of his good players to the upstart Federal League, Mack’s club finished last every year from 1915-1921, but started to contend again in 1925. They finished second in three of the next four years, getting within two and a half games of the Yankees in 1928.

By the fall of 1929, just before the stock market crashed and plunged the country into the Great Depression, the A’s were champions again, finishing a full 18 games ahead of New York and thrashing the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. They would win three straight pennants from 1929-1931 and back-to-back World Series in 1929 and 1930 before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in the 1931 Fall Classic.

In the early going of my APBA mini-replay of the 1932 baseball season, the Athletics are swinging the lumber like no one else in either league and are looking nearly unbeatable.

More on the Athletics’ stellar start, along with results, standings, stats and notes, after the jump.

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APBA32: New York, New York

The Giants' Freddie Fitzsimmons.

The Giants’ Freddie Fitzsimmons.

The Yankees and Giants are both off to 3-0 starts in my APBA mini-replay of the 1932 baseball season, sparking early hopes of a Harlem River World Series. In reality, the Yankees did win the AL pennant, but the Giants finished sixth, ten games under .500 and were a year away from getting to (and winning) the World Series. But in this abbreviated (42-game) mini-replay, anything can happen (and so far, many things have).

As the first round of games (the initial three-game series) came to a close, the Giants and Cardinals finished off sweeps of the Pirates and Cubs, respectively, in the National League. Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s, gunning for their fourth straight American League pennant, joined the Yankees and Tigers as undefeated teams through the first few days of play. Meanwhile, the Red Sox and White Sox are going to be terrible (as they were in real life) and Babe Ruth is on pace to hit 42 home runs. He won’t. Probably.

The final games of this round featured an historic (and really strange) complete game victory by Freddie Fitzsimmons (pictured), which you can read about (along with results, standings, recaps and notes) after the jump.

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Taking Attendance 12/30/2014: Tubular

That’s as in “going down the tubes,” which one Major Arena Soccer League team has already done and others seem poised to. In this final check of attendance for calendar year 2014, we see things aren’t going well in a lot of markets in the only pro indoor soccer league left.

Team G Total Average Median High Low
Rochester 4 25,267 6,317 6,025 8,214 5,004
Baltimore 5 29,971 5,994 5,516 7,812 4,911
St. Louis 5 28,665 5,733 6,486 6,679 4,207
Missouri 5 21,202 4,240 4,218 5,812 3,369
Dallas 5 18,548 3,710 3,768 4,008 3,209
Monterrey 4 14,527 3,632 3,212 6,339 1,764
San Diego 5 14,058 2,812 2,837 3,816 1,922
Syracuse 4 11,059 2,765 2,734 3,355 2,237
Harrisburg 4 9,956 2,489 2,246 4,126 1,339
Milwaukee 3 7,454 2,485 2,357 3,209 1,888
Chicago 5 9,909 1,982 2,006 2,483 1,253
Ontario *4 7,481 1,870 1,845 2,219 1,572
Las Vegas 4 5,332 1,333 1,251 1,970 860
Wichita *4 4,925 1,231 1,251 1,539 885
Texas *5 3,985 797 1,079 1,388 75
Seattle 5 3,695 739 867 1,348 204
Hidalgo 3 1,943 648 250 1,468 225
Detroit 5 2,940 588 549 756 534
Brownsville 6 3,440 573 525 850 375
Tulsa 4 2,055 514 516 562 461
Saltillo 4 2,015 504 418 980 200
Turlock 5 2,445 489 493 569 425
Sacramento 3 1,245 415 435 447 363
MASL TOTAL 101 232,117 2,298 1,724 8,214 75
*Missing one game

December is a notoriously tough time to try to sell indoor soccer, always has been, so perhaps it’s too early to start digging graves. (Though La Fiera de Hidalgo is dead, very dead, and don’t be surprised if at least one or two others follow suit here before too long.)

Indoor soccer attendance usually picks up after New Year’s Day, but a lot of that is an illusion that comes from December being historically bad for crowds. All told, since 2001, MISL (in its various iterations) attendance was about 8% higher on average after January 1 than before it. Nothing to pin your hopes on.

A few quick notes:

  • Tulsa, which has struggled to get people to a big arena, will try to get people to come to a smaller arena. It says here the move (from the 7,000 seat Cox Business Center to the 6,311 seat Expo Square Pavilion at the Tulsa Fairgrounds, which is certainly cost-based rather than optics-based) won’t be successful because the Revs don’t know what they’re doing.
  • The unfortunately named Oxford City FC of Texas has supposedly been sold to some unnamed investors who apparently plan to rename it Texas FC. Wait a minute! Oxford City has 132 years of history! (That barely resonates in Oxford, much less Beaumont, Texas.) The team – which used to be the Texas Strikers – was owned for five months by an American with an interesting past. I’m not sure the club – whatever it’s called next – has much of a future.
  • Nor is it promising in Seattle, where news on the Impact hasn’t been good on (where they are 3-and-6) or off the field. The Impact is supposed to make a midwest road trip to end its season. We’ll see if that happens.
  • Again, it’s not a surprise that the four teams leading the league in attendance are MISL refugees. The Dallas Sidekicks – with the most history, best arena and best front office of the former PASL teams – is tops among the teams that competed under the PASL name last year. But many of the rest…oy.

APBA32: AL Bats Erupt

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After two rounds of my APBA mini-replay of the 1932 baseball season, a couple of things are apparent: the Red Sox and White Sox are terrible and American League pitchers are in for a tough season. In the first eight games of the AL campaign, there have been 110 runs scored, an average of 13.8 per game. The NL games have averaged just 5.5 runs per outing. The games of Wednesday, April 13 saw an offensive explosion in the Junior Circuit, topped by the Yankees’ wild 18-12 win over the Indians.

Detroit, Philadelphia and the Yankees are off to 2-0 starts in the AL, while the Cardinals and Giants are the lone 2-0 teams in the NL.

Results, standings and notes after the jump.

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APBA32: Take Me Out To The Ballgame

President Herbert Hoover throws out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day 1932 in Washington, DC. Courtesy whitehouse.gov.

President Herbert Hoover throws out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day 1932 in Washington, DC. Courtesy whitehouse.gov.

My APBA mini-replay of the 1932 baseball season is officially underway. President Herbert Hoover continued the tradition of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Senators’ home opener on April 12, after which Walter Johnson’s Nats beat the St. Louis Browns 4-1 behind General Crowder’s three-hit pitching. That was the AL’s first game, while the Cincinnati Reds had the honor of opening the season the day before (as they did much of the time from 1876-1989, though, oddly enough, not in 1932 in the “real world”) and beat the Dodgers 3-2.

Results, standings and notes on the first two “days” of the replay are after the jump.

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APBA32: Ready to Roll

Brooklyn Democratic political boss John H. McCooey, flanked by Boston Braves’ manager Bill McKechnie (left) and his Dodger counterpark, Max Carey on Opening Day at Ebbets Field in 1932. New York World-Telegram photo courtesy US Library of Congress.

Brooklyn Democratic political boss John H. McCooey, flanked by Boston Braves’ manager Bill McKechnie (left) and his Dodger counterpark, Max Carey on Opening Day at Ebbets Field in 1932. New York World-Telegram photo courtesy US Library of Congress.

After completing several World Series replay simulations with the APBA Baseball Game over the last several years, I’m embarking on a more ambitious project: a mini-replay of the 1932 American and National League seasons.

One thing I know for certain is that I’d never have the attention span to complete a full-season replay (1,232 games between the two leagues), so I’m limiting play to 42 games for each team, a total of just 336 games, which seems manageable. Instead of playing each opponent in its league 22 times (eleven each home and away), I’m going to have each team play each other team just six times (two three-game series, one home and one away). This way I can get a decent taste of each of these teams, not let cards go to waste, learn about an important period in baseball/American history and not have to roll 286 games involving the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox, who were both terrible in 1932.

The 1932 season featured Jimmie Foxx’s assault on Babe Ruth‘s five-year-old single-season home run record, the Yankees and Cubs winning pennants and seven twenty-game winners between the leagues. It was also a year that saw a worsening of the Great Depression, with US unemployment reaching 24 percent. Before the year was out, Franklin Roosevelt would be elected president for the first of an unprecedented four times.

Over the course of this mini-replay, I’ll be posting game results, stats, stories and other ephemera, as well as historic flashbacks of what was happening in the country and the world throughout the spring, summer and fall of 1932.

Taking Attendance 12/15/2014: Brave New (Indoor) World

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Now that everyone in the new Major Arena Soccer League has played at least one home game, we can take a look at where the 23-team circuit’s teams stand in terms of announced attendance. Here are the numbers through last night:

Team G Total Average Median High Low
Rochester 2 14,033 7,017 7,017 8,214 5,819
Baltimore 5 29,971 5,994 5,516 7,812 4,911
St. Louis 4 22,091 5,523 5,603 6,679 4,207
Missouri 4 16,984 4,246 3,902 5,812 3,369
Monterrey 3 11,843 3,948 3,740 6,339 1,764
Dallas 5 18,548 3,710 3,768 4,008 3,209
Milwaukee 1 3,209 3,209 3,209 3,209 3,209
Syracuse 3 8,822 2,941 2,951 3,355 2,516
Harrisburg 3 8,617 2,872 2,518 4,126 1,973
San Diego 5 14,058 2,812 2,837 3,816 1,922
Chicago 4 7,903 1,976 2,084 2,483 1,253
Ontario 4 7,481 1,870 1,845 2,219 1,572
Las Vegas 4 5,332 1,333 1,251 1,970 860
Texas *3 3,710 1,237 1,243 1,388 1,079
Wichita 4 4,925 1,231 1,251 1,539 885
Hidalgo 2 1,718 859 859 1,468 250
Seattle 3 2,419 806 867 1,348 204
Brownsville 3 2,015 672 715 850 450
Saltillo 3 1,815 605 635 980 200
Detroit 4 2,393 598 552 756 534
Tulsa 4 2,055 514 516 562 461
Turlock 3 1,454 485 460 569 425
Sacramento 3 1,245 415 435 447 363
MASL TOTAL 79 192,641 2,438 1,764 8,214 200
*Missing one game


NOTES:

  • The six teams that left the moribund MISL III behind over the summer are all in the top eight, which is not a surprise given their budgets, infrastructure and history. Monterrey (where indoor has been pretty popular, off and on, going back to 1993) and Dallas (where they have approached things in a very professional manner since their re-boot) are the party-crashers there, as one might have figured. San Diego is probably underachieving a bit.
  • The PASL averaged 1,349 last year, and the former PASL teams in the MASL are at 1,669 at the moment. The former MISL teams are averaging a collective 5,006.
  • The pro-multi-point-scoring people (who I’ve written about before) will probably look at the fact that games with multi-point are averaging 4,726 in announced attendance and single-point games are averaging 1,988 and say “Ah-HA! Told you!” That’s the level of analysis they’re at, unfortunately. It will be far more telling to see what happens in Milwaukee, Missouri and St. Louis (where they had multi-point last year but now are single-point) and in Harrisburg (the opposite) to see if there’s an actual impact on how many people show up. (It would be far better to have a similar number of teams on each side, but we’ll do what we can.) If SPS really depresses crowds, then the Wave, Comets and Ambush should see diminished crowds this season. (Right now, Missouri is basically unchanged, St. Louis is down slightly and Milwaukee has only had the one home game, so it’s too early to tell.)
  • The best-drawing teams in the PASL last year were Monterrey (5,858 per game), San Diego (4,272) and Dallas (4,003). The best drawing teams among the former PASL clubs this year are Monterrey, Dallas and Harrisburg (where a large home opener was apparently the result of a youth ticket giveaway promotion).
  • The PASL’s worst-drawing teams last year were Tijuana (263 per game), Illinois (299), Sacramento (313) and Texas (322). Tijuana and Illinois aren’t in the league this year, Texas is up considerably (though their carpet needs some work) and Sacramento is at the bottom.