The following press release covering the Linda B. Schulz Memorial APBA Baseball Tournament was submitted by Darren Schulz.
Hosting players from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Florida, Illinois, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin, Canada as well as good old Pennsylvania, the ROCK was a soundboard for rattling dice. As players were greeted by tournament director Ken Schulz and yours truly during registration, the coffee and conversation began over donuts, bagels, and the sounds of game 7 of the 1979 World Series as presented on the big screen by Mark McDonel. Shortly after 9 AM, the final total was 44 participants which was narrowed down to 42 as Ken and I decided to drop our entries this year in hopes of being more available for questions, concerns, and most importantly, sharing our appreciation for those who traveled to support our efforts in remembering our late mother and the love we share for this great company. Once two time defending champ and APBA Hall of Famer Greg Wells was presented with his championship plaque with an affectionate round of applause along with some amicable trash talking, the schedule was simple: seven divisions of six players for a round robin schedule resulting in 10 games. When the playing fields were cleared for playoff preparation, ten managers were left to determine the next LBS champion.
The top 10
#1 seed 1975 Cincinnati Reds (Greg Wells- Maddog Division – 10-0 record!!!)
#2 seed 65 Pittsburgh Pirates (Bill Lilley – Teke Division – 2017 APBA Convention Runner up)
#3 seed 1962 San Francisco Giants (Matthew Pike – Maz Division)
#4 seed 1974 Los Angeles Dodgers (Steve Skoff – Cobra Division – APBA Hall of Famer and two time convention winner)
#5 seed 1968 Detroit Tigers (Phillip Silvis – Manny Division – youngest playoff qualifier at 10 years old!)
#6 seed 1963 New York Yankees (Rob Spatz – Candyman Division – Chicagoland regional tourney director)
#7 seed 1976 Kansas City Royals (Brian Silvis – Pops Division)
#8 seed 1976 Cincinnati Reds (Mel Maricic – Wild Card 1)
#9 seed 1970 Baltimore Orioles (Tim Rounds – Wild Card 2)
#10 seed 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates (Brian Murphy – Wild Card 3 – 2016 LBS runner up)
A major change for this year: the championship finale would be a Best of Three series!
After some amazing wild card battles and close quarterfinals, the final four found the hall of famers Skoff (74 Dodgers) at Wells (75 Reds) on the top half of the bracket and Spatz (63 Yankees) at Lilley (65 Pirates) on the bottom portion. The surprising results – two complete game shutouts for Don Sutton of the Dodgers and Bob Veale of the Buccos! Wells’ remarkable run at the LBS comes to a close as Skoff had the hot hand from a first inning Steve Garvey two run bomb in a 10-0 rout. Lilley, a former Chicagoland tourney champion, fresh off his outstanding performance in Alpharetta, clawed his way back into another finale with a 3-0 triumph. The 2017 LBS Championship series was set!
Game 1: 74 Dodgers (Andy Messersmith Ax) at 65 Pirates (Vern Law Az) – After a scoreless first inning by both squads, Jim Wynn opened the top half of the second with a leadoff walk. After reaching third on a couple of groundouts, catcher Steve Yeager (keep his name in mind) induced a base on balls as well. From there, Skoff’s hot dice from the semifinals continued with consecutive hits by Ron Cey (rbi single), Bill Russell (two run double), and Davey Lopes (rbi single). Then in the top half of the third, the onslaught continued. After Law walked Steve Garvey, Wynn and Willie Crawford hit back to back long balls to make the score 7-0! Then the Dodgers really sealed the deal in the fifth with five safeties by Joe Ferguson, Yeager, Cey, Billy Buckner, and Garvey. After five complete, the Dodgers had a 10-0 lead behind their ace. The Buccos did manage to avoid the shutout with a one out single by Jerry Lynch that knocked in Donn Clendenon in the 7th inning. That was the only blemish in Messersmith’s complete game 5 hit, 10-1 game one victory. Now for the cross country trip to LA for game two.
Game 2 65 Pirates (Bob Veale Axyw) at 74 Dodgers (Don Sutton Byz) – The pitching heroes of the semifinals did not disappoint the fans of either team in this one. Veale looked like he may have been nervous from the bottom half of the first when Davey Lopes took the first pitch over the right field fence for a 1-0 Dodger lead! On the other hand, Sutton seemed poised in giving up only one hit through the first four innings. With the score still 1-0 heading to the top half of the fifth, Clendenon ended Sutton’s playoff scoreless inning streak at 13 with a leadoff bomb of his own. Both pitchers were masterful in silencing the bats of these potent lineups that included franchise legends like Clemente, Stargell, Garvey, and Buckner. Sutton retired 22 of 26 hitters during his nearly dominant 9 innings of four hit ball. Meanwhile, after serving up the leadoff homer to Lopes, Veale managed to retire 23 of the next 29 batters he faced before leaving in the bottom half of the ninth with Buckner standing on second with one out. Closer Al McBean was called upon, and he easily dispatched Wynn and Crawford to silence the LA crowd. For the third year in a row, a potential title clinching LBS finale was heading to extra innings. Skoff made his first call to the bullpen this series by sending in his closer Mike Marshall who gave up a one out single to Jerry Lynch but then set down Jim Pagliaroni and Bob Bailey by way of the strikeout. McBean still looked fresh going out for this second inning of mound work by getting DH Ferguson (who, by the way, hit four consecutive homers between two games during round robin play) on a routine fly ball. Then Steve Yeager etched his name into LBS tourney immortality with a walk off blast that sent manager Steve Skoff and his 1974 Dodgers into championship glory!
Congrats to Steve Skoff in capturing his first LBS Memorial tourney title in memorable fashion. The 1974 Los Angeles Dodgers are now officially retired from future tournaments. Mr. Skoff will have his name and team etched into the championship plaque. Skoff also took home a brand new 1979 World Series/All Star APBA Baseball Card set. Skoff will receive his own personal championship plaque at the 2018 LBS tournament. Additional congrats goes to Bill Lilley’s great tourney performance. He officially retires the 1965 Pittsburgh Pirates teams from tourney play and took home a 1960 World Series/All Star APBA Baseball Card set . By virtue of winning the consolation third place game, Greg Wells earned a Negro League Baseball Card set and promptly delivered it to 15-year-old Ontario resident Reese Mooney. Final four member Rob Spatz received a copy of the APBA Baseball Game with the 2016 Playoff teams. Special thanks goes out to Ken Schulz for organizing the event, Mark McDonel for providing the side entertainment of the 1971 All Star Game as well as the 1979 and 1960 MLB World Series game 7 broadcasts, Jackie Schulz for all of her help with the food preparation, and Melissa Schulz for providing lodging information for our out-of-town guests. As for me, I was in awe at the number of participants we gathered (20 in 2016 to 42 in 2017), which included an amazing number of father-son and mother-son combinations (eight total) managing in this year’s event. It is a blessing to be a part of this APBA community, and I end this summary with the same line I will every year. Our mother, Linda Schulz, loved to hear the dice rattle, so for all of you who have supported the tourney the past three years, there is a special place for all of you in the hearts of the entire Schulz family.
2018 UPDATE: The fourth LBS MEMORIAL APBA BASEBALL TOURNAMENT will take place at the Slippery Rock Township Building and will include teams from 1950-2017. The 1965 Pittsburgh Pirates, 1974 Los Angeles Dodgers, and the 1977 Philadelphia Phillies are banned as retired championship finalists. First come, first serve so contact Ken Schulz at firstname.lastname@example.org with your team selection.