Tuesday, March 31, 2009


APBA Baseball (official site) is a lot like Strat-O-Matic, except most of the action is determined by charts instead of the cards. The basic game is almost too basic - all but ignoring things like stolen bases and lefty/righty breakdowns. The master (advanced) game, however is sublime - a very fair approximation of the real thing.

I switched from Strat to APBA at some point (early ’80’s), and then back again. (And then back again, and so on...). Despite the decline of table-top (and text-based computer) games in the Playstation era, I have yet to play a decent baseball video game that gives me the same thrill as APBA.

When I was a kid, I dreamed of visiting the APBA offices in Lancaster, Pa - a nice little brick building depicted on the box of the ‘70s era Master Game (see above). One Saturday in 2007, I finally did. It was in dire need of some landscaping (and looked much smaller in person) - but it was the building I remembered from my youth.

Of course the office is closed on Saturday, so all I could do was snap a few pictures.

I returned last year - with my wife in tow - to buy a baseball game in person. Their “store” is a large wood-paneled room that looks more like a small banquet hall. The walls are decorated with pictures of mostly middle-aged men playing the game at conventions and such.

We were followed into the store by a middle-aged man who seemed to be there solely to chat up one of the employees about a game he was playing (in progress). I believe the best word to describe my wife’s expression during the visit is “bemused”.

APBA also sells a Football game. In their day, they also sold Basketball, Ice Hockey, Bowling, and Saddle Racing games. A revamped Ice Hockey game is making a comeback later this year.

Here’s APBA President Marc Rinaldi demonstrating the game at a trade show.