My cousin Richard, with whom I did not really become friends and close to until about five years ago (he grew up in Switzerland and I in Berkeley), noted early in our relationship that I was not particularly sentimental.
"You are right" I replied, "but I am quite a romantic."
And, I am. When I asked Diane to marry me, I made dinner reservations at Tavern on the Green in Central Park and then reserved a horse carriage to drive us around the park as I figured out how to ask my partner of a decade if she wanted to tie the knot.
So, I think about this kind of stuff even if I am not tied to it over the long haul. And, one of the things I love about baseball is its history and eras. I consider myself lucky now that I got to see Bob Gibson and Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron and Stan Musial actually play live, which might bring the envy of younger fans today. By the same token, I never got to see Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson, or Pop Lloyd play.
I do, however, play in the "Strat-O-Matic Summer League of Champions," curated by the venerable Larry Denicola. The SLOC, as it is called, includes 24 teams. We start play with the Strat-O-Matic Hall of Fame set, and each draft ten players out of the immortals. Subsequently, we pick a season and use that year to augment out ten players.
For example, this past year, 1961 was the year so I got Pete Runnels and Rocky Colavito on my team along with Bob Gibson and Ed Delahnty, although our season was far from successful. However, there is some fun with putting Joe McClain in as a situational lefty to hopefully get Babe Ruth out.
Every three years, we throw the HOF guys back in a pool and have a new snake draft, meaning maybe next year I can actually get Josh Gibson as my first pick? And, note that the HOF set includes not just those in the Hall, but guys who are close like Dwight Evans and Orel Hershiser.
So, we have the HOF draft every three years, and then the draft for players of the selected year. But in between the two, owners are allowed to cash in their respective troops and redraft their HOF players. So, any of the either new owners (should an owner leave, that roster automatically goes into the draft pool) or existing owners who simply want to rebuild get to do so.
This year, there were five such owners, and I thought it would be fun to look at the results of the draft. So, here are the 60 players. I made a few comments on a few guys. And, among the fun things about this league is the HOF set includes greats from Japan as well as Carribean and Latin players who never really made it here but elsewhere on the planet were stars. Amazing what one can learn!
1. SASKATCHEWAN SASQUATCHES - LOU GEHRIG - OBP and power are the best attributes a player can have, hence #1.
2. MAINE SANDPIPERS - WALTER JOHNSON
3. ALL NATIONS STARS - JIMMY FOXX
4.PA COALMINERS - CHRISTY MATHEWSON
5. AMARETTO SLAMMERS - TOM SEAVER
6. DAKOTA COLTS - "THREE FINGER" BROWN
1. DAKOTA COLTS - CY YOUNG
2. AMARETTO SLAMMERS - NAPOLEAN LAJOIE
3. PA COALMINERS - HANK GREENBERG
4. ALL NATIONS STARS - PERUCHO CEPEDA - Orlando's Papa was THE Bull.
5. MAINE SANDPIPERS - JUAN MARICHAL
6. SASKATCHEWAN SASQUATCHES - JOHNNY BENCH
1. SASKATCHEWAN SASQUATCHES - DUKE SNIDER
2. MAINE SANDPIPERS - ROBERTO CLEMENTE
3. ALL NATIONS STARS - HACK WILSON
4.PA COALMINERS - GEORGE BRETT
5. AMARETTO SLAMMERS - EARL AVERILL
6. DAKOTA COLTS - AL KALINE
1. DAKOTA COLTS - JOSE MENDEZ - Cuban ace only could get as far as the Kansas City Monarchs, but was 75-28 as charted in his home country among other vague stats.
2. AMARETTO SLAMMERS - GAYLORD PERRY
3. PA COALMINERS - YOGI BERRA
4. ALL NATIONS STARS - JOHN CLARKSON
5. MAINE SANDPIPERS - RYNE SANDBERG
6. SASKATCHEWAN SASQUATCHES - JOHN J McGRAW
1. SASKATCHEWAN SASQUATCHES - NICKEY WELCH
2. MAINE SANDPIPERS - TIM RAINES
3. ALL NATIONS STARS - MARIANO RIVERA
4. PA COALMINERS - MARTIN DIHIGO - Negro and Mexican Leagues star who could hit and pitch.
5. AMARETTO SLAMMERS - HARMON KILLEBREW
6. DAKOTA COLTS - KIRBY PUCKETT
1. DAKOTA COLTS - WILLIE McCOVEY
2. AMARETTO SLAMMERS - HUGHIE JENNINGS
3. PA COALMINER - STEVE CARLTON
4. ALL NATIONS STARS - CAL RIPKEN JR
5. MAINE SANDPIPERS - CHIEF BENDER
6. SASKATCHEWAN SASQUATCHES - RANDY JOHNSON
1. SASKATCHEWAN SASQUATCHES - GEORGE DAVIS
2. MAINE SANDPIPERS - KEN BOYER
3. ALL NATIONS STARS - REGGIE JACKSON
4. PA COALMINERS - LEON DAY - Negro Leagues pitcher inducted into the Cooperstown HOF.
5. AMARETTO SLAMMERS - CAP ANSON
6. DAKOTA COLTS - BOB FELLER
1. DAKOTA COLTS - RON SANTO
2. AMARETTO SLAMMERS - DAZZY VANCE
3. PA COALMINERS - WHITEY FORD
4. ALL NATIONS STARS - MASAICHI KANEDA - 400-298, 2,34 w/4490 whiffs in Japan.
5. MAINE SANDPIPERS - KEITH HERNANDEZ
6. SASKATCHEWAN SASQUATCHES - TAKEHIKO BESSHO - 310-198, 2.78 with a 2.13 ERA in Japan.
1. SASKATCHEWAN SASQUATCHES - BOBBY DOERR
2. MAINE SANDPIPERS - SAM BANKHEAD
3. ALL NATIONS STARS - BILL FOSTER
4. PA COALMINERS - TOM HENKE
5. AMARETTO SLAMMERS - CHINO SMITH - Died young. Hit .427 in 1927 in the Negro Leagues.
6. DAKOTA COLTS - ALAN TRAMMEL
1. DAKOTA COLTS - ERNIE LOMBARDI
2. AMARETTO SLAMMERS - WARREN SPAHN
3. PA COALMINERS - LUIS TIANT JR
4. ALL NATIONS STARS - JOE GORDON
5. MAINE SANDPIPERS - PABLO MESA - Cuban star of the 20's.
6. SASKATCHEWAN SASQUATCHES - DUCKY MEDWICK
As noted, I tried to highlight players who were maybe not as well known. And, stats from the Negro Leagues are kind of iffy, hence I quoted none.
And, playing in such a league is great fun, keeps baseball going during the off-season and keeps us well-versed in baseball history.
Remember to tune into the Tout Wars Hour on the FNTSY network, hosted by me, with Justin Mason and featuring Lord Z every Thursday night at 9 PM ET.
Follow me @lawrmichaels.