OAPBA launched its 34th season in February, but the story of how the league started and grew has always been somewhat vague. Thanks to one of the league’s four Founding Fathers, Joel Prinsell, we now know precisely when the league began and how it moved forward during its inaugural campaign. Here’s Joel’s account of the league’s startup:
On Feb. 24, 1988, thirty-three years ago today, or, if any of us want to feel even older — a third of a century ago, the Orlando APBA league commenced its inaugural regular season schedule.
Attached for posterity are the scoresheets from the first two 2-game series played by the four original franchises – the Tourists, managed by Steve Lorman; the Platoon, managed by Joe Passiatore; the Metropolitans, managed by Bryant Applegate, and the Highlanders, managed by me. (Sorry, but a few of the attached PDF pages might be upside down, sideways, etc.)
A couple of weeks before the opening games, the teams had held a 25-round snake draft, where Kirby Puckett was selected by the Metros with the first overall pick.
The Tourists won Game #1, 5-0, over the visiting Highlanders. Nolan Ryan (who’s he?!) threw a one-hitter with 7 K’s, with Jeff (?) Reardon pitching the last 2 outs. Mike (?) Scott took the loss. Ryne Sandberg was the league’s first whiff victim. Tony Gwynn was the first player to reach base (how fitting), with a BB (but was caught stealing by “Spanky” LaValierre). Ozzie Smith had the league’s first hit (a single), the first SB, and scored the first run. Robin Yount had the first error. But the star of the game was Benito Santiago, who went 3-3, had the league’s first RBI (plating Ozzie), first extra-base hit (a 2B), and first HR.
The Highlanders came back to win Game #2, the nightcap of the doubleheader, 6-1.
The next day, the Platoon swept the Metropolitans in Games #3 and 4, 6-5 and 2-1. Although the Metros got off to a rough 0-3 start, they ended the regular season with the best record.
Two or three years later, the Beefers, managed by Rod, and the Taz Devils, managed by Dave, joined the league, and the rest is history — the longest running APBA league.
The Tasmanian Devils ventured to the Beefer Bowl for OAPBA’s opening series of 2021, winning three of four to move into first place in the season’s early going. The Devils hit .251 on the series with 11 doubles and four homers and demonstrated exceptional speed, swiping ten bases in 12 attempts. The Beefers hit .231 with nine doubles, a triple, and six homers. Jose Ramirez stole three bases for the Beefers. Michael Brantley was 7-19, .368 for the Devils while catcher J.T. Realmuto hit a pair of homers in six at-bats. For the Beefs, top draft pick Fernando Tatis was a total bust, going 1-18 while 1b Brandon Belt was 0-13. Beef RF Bryce Harper drove in four runs with a pair of homers and Luke Voit homered in the first two game.
Game 1 Beefers 7, Devils 6 (12 innings)
It took 12 innings, but the Beefers rallied from an early deficit to take game one. The Tazzies got to the Beefer ace, Shane Beiber when new Devils SS Dansby Swanson belted a grand slam HR. Beefs 3b Jose Ramirez hit a solo homer in the bottom of the second, making the game 4-1. Devils CF Cody Bellinger hit a two-run HR to increase the Tazzie lead to 6-1 in the third. Then the home team began to chip away at the Devils lead, starting with a Bryce Harper solo homer in the 4th. Luke Voit followed with a two-run blast in the 5th. The Devils started trotting out big reliever, but Beefer Will Myers wasn’t impressed, hitting a solo homer in the 9th made the game 6-5. Jeff McNeil followed with a double. Bo Bichette, in to pinch run, then scored the tying run on a single from Brandon Nimmo. The Devil offense went cold in the extra innings but Devon Williams was able to put down Beefer attempts to score, until the bottom of the 12th. With two out, Ramirez got a single off the grade 30*Williams (out numbers 12 and 35 are singles with the bases empty) . Ramirez then raced home as Harper hit a game-winning double.
The visiting Devils scored an unearned run in the second when Swanson doubled home Austin Nola and then added another unearned run in the 5th. Up 2-0, the Tazzies plated two more in the 6th, one run coming on a Mookie Betts double, the first of his three doubles on the game. Betts then scored on a Starling Marte single. The bottom of the 7th saw the Beefers come alive. Voit hit another two-run homer. Harper then singled and scored on a Myers pinch hit single. Brandon Lowe later hit a pinch hit double, bringing home a pair of runs. Up 5-4, the Beefer pen was tasked with holding the lead. The Devils however got three hits and a hit batter in the 8th to tie the game 5-5 in the 9th when Betts and Donovan Solano hit back to back doubles. Devil closer Liam Hendricks closed out the 9th to even up the series.
Devils 6-13-1 W- Darren O’Day (1-0) SV- Liam Hendricks (1).
This game took 13 innings to complete, with a combined total of ten relievers used in the game after starters Zach Davies for the Devils and Dinelson Lamet for the Beefs both went six-plus innings. Nimmo got the Beefy boys on the board in the bottom of the first when he tripled and scored on a fielder’s choice. Harper then would put the Beefs up 2-0 with a solo shot in the 4th. The Tazmen tied the game in the 8th when Michael Brantley singled home Swanson and Bellinger scored on a fielder’s choice. The bottom of the 8th saw the Beefs regain the lead when Ramirez singled, stole second, and scored on a Harper double. The top of the 9th saw the Devils steal two of their six bases on the game with the tying run coming on a Nola single. The game meandered into the 13th with neither team mounting much of a threat. But the top of the 13th saw Devils C J.T. Realmuto hit a two-run homer, followed by surprising Dansby Swanson, who followed with a solo homer. Devils reliever A.J. Mintor, who had entered the game in the previous inning, got the final three outs for the win. Devils 6-9-2 W- A.J. Mintor (1-0) HR- Realmuto (1), Swanson (2).
Beefers 3-9-1 L- Diego Castillo (1-1) HR- Bryce Harper (2).
Game 4 Devils 8, Beefers 1
The visiting Devils first three batters of the game all scored off Beefer starter Kyle Hendricks to give the Tazzies a 3-0 lead with Brantley, Betts, and Bellinger all driving in base runners. Realmuto increased the lead to 4-0 with a homer in the 6th. Devils starter Merrill Kelly was strong, tossing six shutout innings, but in the 7th, with one out, he gave up three hits, with a run being scored on D.J. LeMahieu single. Light-hitting Devils IFJon Berti then hit a wind-added tw- run round-tripper in the 8th, off Beef reliever Yusmeiro Petit. The Devils plated two more in the 9th as the visitors won game four and the series.
Devils 8-13-1 W-Merrill Kelly (1-0) HR- Jon Berti (1), J.t.Realmuto (2)
The Taz Devils, involved in all four trading deals during he off-season, wrapped up their pre-season roster development plans Wednesday, Feb. 11, sending LF Alex Dickerson to the Tsunamis in exchange for power-hitting, but injury-plagued, outfielder Aaron Judge. The Devils had no apparent plans for Dickerson while Judge is still regarded as a great prospect if he can stay healthy.
The complete trade log leading into the 2021 season:
Nov. 25, 2020 Beefers traded SS Marcus Semien and Beefers 8th round pick (#36) to Devils for OF Jeff McNeil and Devils 11th round pick #53
Jan. 22, 2021 Devils sent C James McCann to Tsunamis for OF Marc Canha
Feb 9 Devils send 2b Donovan Solano to Whatevers for P Zack Wheeler
Feb 11 Devils sent LF Alex Dickerson to Tsunamis for OF Aaron Judge
The 2021 OAPBA draft, the league’s first-ever online draft, was held via Zoom on Sat., Feb. 9, with the Beefers selecting San Diego Padres SS Fernando Tatis first in the draft.
Altogether, twelve LA Dodgers were drafted, followed by San Diego (11 players) and Atlanta (10 players). Washington reliever Kyle Finnegan was the only National player to be drafted, picked up by Walt Taylor’s Whatevers in the 15th round.
After Tatis’ selection in the number one slot, Dodgers C Will Smith went second in the draft, going to the Whatevers. The next seven picks were all pitchers, headlined by Brewers reliever Devin Williams (Devils) in the third overall pick, followed by starters Trevor Bauer (Tsunamis), Yu Darvish (Otters), Dinelson Lamet (Beefers), Tony Gonsolin (Whatevers), reliever A.J. Minter (Devils), and starter Corbin Burnes (Tsunamis).
Other notes from the draft:
RP Darren O’Day returned to the Devils for the third time in his OAPBA career. O’Day previously pitched for the Devils in 2010-2011 and 2015-2016. He has a lifetime record of 14-12, 3.34 with 10 saves. O’Day was picked up in the fifth round by the Devils
Another veteran returnee was LH reliever Tony Watson, who returned to the Beefers after being . Watson was a Beefer cut after 2019, but was re-drafted in the 13th round by the Beefs. He had been on the Beefer relief staff since 2014-2019 with 7-14, 2.79 lifetime record, all with the Beefs.
Four players named Brandon were selected: Brandon Belt, Brandon Nimmo, Brandon Woodruff and Brandon Kintzler.
Tyler-mania: The Devils drafted relievers Tyler Webb and Tyler Matzek, increasing the number of Tylers on the Devils roster to four. Tyler Clippard and Tyler Glasnow were already on the Devils roster.
Bargains: The Tsunamis and Otters both acquired standout players late in the draft.. The Tsunamis picked up RF Mike Yazstremki in the 11th round and the Otters then pounced on RF Michael Conforto with the next pick. Both players are considered premium players, but were overlooked as the draft entered the late rounds.
Armed and dangerous: The Tsunamis went for arms in the first 10 rounds of the 2021 draft, selecting pitchers with their first 10 picks before breaking the string in the 11th round with C Tucker Barnhart.
Second time’s the charm: Two draftees return to OAPBA after long absences from the league. First baseman Brandon Belt, who played for the Piranhas in 2013, was drafted by the Beefers. Second baseman Donovan Solano, who played for the Road Warriors in 2014, was drafted by the Devils in te 2021 draft and subsequently dealt to the Whatevers for starter Zack Wheeler.
The complete lineup of draftees (listed in order of draft:
Beefers: SS Fernando Tatis, SP DiNelson Lamet, 1b Brandon Belt, CF Brandon Nimmo, RP Stefan Crichton, RP Shane Greene, LF-DH A.J. Pollock, RP Richard Bleier, RP John Gant, RP Tony Watson, 3b Alex Bohm, Closer Raisel Iglesias, SP Antonio Senzatela, SP Joe Musgrove, RF Will Myers, SP Julio Urias.
Whatevers: C Will Smith, P Tony Gonsolin, DH Marcel Ozuna, RP James Hoyt, RP Adam Kolarek, DH-LF Dominic Smith, SP Brandon Woodruff, RP Lucas Sims, RP Trevor Rosenthal, IF Miguel Rojas, RP Jake McGee, 2b Donovan Solano, CF Trent Grisham, SP Dakota Hudson, RP Kyle Finnegan, LF Austin Slatef.
Devils: RP Devin Williams, RP A.J. Minter, C Austin Nola, SP Zach Davies, RP Darren O’Day, SP Zack Wheeler, RP Merrill Kelly, SP Dustin May, RP Jarlin Garcia, CF Starling Marte, SS Dansby Swanson, 3b K’Bryan Hayes, CF Raimal Tapia, IF Jon Berti, RP Tyler Webb, LF Alex Dickerson, RP Tyler Matzek, SP Adam Wainwright.
Tsunamis: SP Trevor Bauer, SP Corbin Burnes, RP Ian Anderson, SP Max Fried, RP Eric Yardley, RP Yimi Garcia, SP Kwang-Hyun Kim, RP Edwin Diaz, Closer Brandon Kintzler, RP Pierce Johnson, C Tucker Barnhart, RF Mike Yazstremski, DH Jesse Winker, 3b Eugenio Suarez, OF Tim Locastro, 1b Eric Hosmer, 3b Edwin Rios, CF Dalton Varsho, IF Luis Guillorme, OF Ramon Quinn.
Otters: SP Yu Darvish, RP Chris Martin, SP Zac Gallen, 2b Jake Cronenworth, RP Drew Pomeranz, Closer Jeremy Jeffress, RP Dylan Floro, SS Corey Seager, RP Richard Rodriguez, RP Victor Gonzalez, LF Chris Taylor, RF Michael Conforto, SP Sixto Sanchez, C Andrew Knapp, RP Grant Dayton, RP Rowan Wick.