SteveMRyan's Blog

August 9, 2016

The Bronx was Burning

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevemryan @ 10:50 pm

In the Summer of 1977, I was 12 years old and between sixth and seventh grades.  I remember following Spiderman in the comics.  And every day I checked the standings for the National League West.  My Reds seemed to be facing an uphill battle as they tried to win their third World Series in a row.  The Reds had the best player in the game in my opinion as George Foster slugged 52 homers.  Cincinnati was in 2nd place, 6 1/2 games back of the Dodgers on June 18th.  The Dodgers would end up winning the division by 10 games but lose the World Series to the Yankees.

On June 18, 1977 the Yankees were in Fenway Park playing the Red Sox.  In the bottom of six, Jim Rice hit a check-swing blooper to right field that Reggie Jackson played into a double.  Yankees manager Billy Martin visited the mound to change pitchers and sent Paul Blair to right field for what he perceived as lollygagging on Jackson’s part.  That is basically the opening scene in the ESPN presentation of The Bronx is Burning.

This is a well-made show chronicling the Summer of ’77 as the Yankees pursued the AL Pennant and World Series along with the serial killer Son of Sam.  New York was in the midst of electing a new mayor and enduring a heatwave that precipitated blackouts due to the demands of air conditioning on the city power grid.

The ESPN story uses what appear to be actual clips from network broadcasts in their telling of the story.  My family didn’t have cable in 1977 so the Game of the Week was a weekly event and my best chance to watch baseball.  I believe that was the summer we got central heat and air.  Even in mid-June, the afternoons were especially hot and we wanted to stay in the air conditioning.  I recall watching the game when Blair was sent to right for Jackson.  I remember the ensuing blowup in the dugout.  It was definitely a zoo in the Bronx.

I didn’t discover APBA until the Spring of 1980.  Ads populated the pages of Baseball Digest and The Sporting News.  I ordered the game after writing several companies for brochures or information about their games.  The brochure I received from the APBA Game Company was pure literature (plus a sample card).  Any person studying Marketing should read the APBA brochures to get an idea how to sell a product.  I ordered the APBA Baseball game with some money I received for my birthday.  When I got home from school I checked the mailbox and front porch every day until the game arrived.  My game came with the 1979 Season card set.  The first two past seasons I ordered were the 1976 and 1977 sets. 

I love the 1976 set because my Reds were awesome.  I love the 1977 set because of the possibilities.  I swapped Dan Driessen with Rod Carew because the Reds needed a better first-baseman.  The Reds let Tony Perez go to the Expos in a trade with Will McEnaney for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray.  Driessen was better than the aging Tony Perez but Carew was the MVP of the American League after hitting .388 with a .449 OBP and .570 SLG for an OPS of 1.019 to lead the Major Leagues.

When I used my 1977 Reds, I didn’t play a set schedule.  I pitted the Reds against most of the other teams.  I enjoyed learning about other teams and players and usually I followed the suggested lineups on the APBA Roster sheet.  The Reds won a lot of games and I seem to recall playing some tournaments and they won their fair share.

I played APBA in the mid-afternoon.  The mornings were spent playing tennis because it was cooler in the morning and I could be outside.  Later in the afternoon was cooler when the sun was behind the taller trees to the west of the basketball court across the street.  Tennis, APBA & basketball.  What a Summer!

I played Dizzy Dean Baseball but had broken my toe at school after the third game and limped through the rest of the season.  The season ended about the same time the cast came off, a week or so after summer break began.  My team didn’t make the playoffs and I was by no stretch an all-star.  In Dizzy Dean, all-stars were picked to play on league teams that qualified for district then state playoffs.  The previous year, my team had won our district, finished second in the state and gone to the Southern Region Tournament but I skipped all of that to go to camp with my cousin.  I didn’t have a good experience with that team.  It is a testament to my love for baseball that my passion for the game survived.  

I never played for a better team but I had more fun and played for better coaches in other seasons.  But once I discovered APBA I entered my own world where I was the coach.  My players’ cards were treated fairly and without bias. The cards are still treated fairly.

I am currently playing a World Cup style tournament with the 1965 MLB teams.  I have four groups with five teams.  Each group plays ten round robin games, four games per team.  Each team plays the other teams in their division once.  I have completed two groups with the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Braves advancing.  I could play twenty tournaments and probably get ten different winners.  I love playing the games though and it is very relaxing.

APBA has been a constant for the last 35+ years.  I score the games using Ballscore instead of by hand.  I have all of the teams from 1901 to the latest set.  Mostly I play eight-team, single elimination tournaments but I play other types of tournaments as well.  I have played the APBA Golf, Saddle Racing, Basketball, and Football.  Through the years, I always come back to baseball.  APBA Baseball pleases me.




  1. I need to get ’77!

    Comment by coalblack — August 11, 2016 @ 5:12 pm

    • Hey Shay,
      I love that set. The Dodgers are phenomenal! Carew was awesome and George Foster was outstanding. Tom Seaver joined the Reds during the season and of course, it was Reggie’s first year in the Bronx. I also recommend watching The Bronx is Burning while you roll a few games. John Turturro as Billy Martin and the Mickey Rivers character are worth the time!

      Comment by stevemryan — August 12, 2016 @ 3:26 am

  2. Joy and sorrow here, Steve. Netflix has The Bronx Is Burning, and I have added the whole shebang at the top of my queue. Bad news is, APBA is sold out of both ’77 and ’78. *cries* Hopefully they will reissue at some point.

    Comment by coalblack — August 12, 2016 @ 1:17 pm

    • I know. I’ve been waiting for the 1977 & 1978 sets among others because I like the Master Symbols and the Pitcher Fatigue Ratings. I want to get a few more sets with those ratings so I can use them in my tournaments I play. I would rather pay for them than calculate them myself. It also gives time for some innovations to be circulated so I can pick one that suits me the best. Just another reason I like APBA, the ability to personalize it to meet my wants and desires.

      Comment by stevemryan — August 12, 2016 @ 7:31 pm

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