For 60 years APBA has been the unchallenged King of quality sports simulation products.
APBA dates back to the 1930s and a bunch of high-school buddies in Lancaster, PA. The boys played a baseball simulation game invented by one of them, Dick Seitz. His game was loosely based on an old tabletop baseball game called National Pastime. But unlike any previous board game, it combined the randomness of dice with the on-field performances of individual players.
The boys called themselves the American Professional Baseball Association. That appellation soon was whittled down to its essential form: APBA. So while APBA is still an acronym for that first baseball simulation league, the word has taken on a meaning of its own. The game is APBA, and the word is pronounced “App’Bah” – a term as slick and condensed as the game.
Seitz’s original game went with him to war in the 1940’s. He printed player cards on his own printing press, typed out play charts and played APBA with three comrades in the barracks at Fort Eustis, VA. After the war, Seitz worked as secretary to Lancaster’s mayor and a purchaser for a trucking company, all the while refining APBA and playing the game with a league of friends.
The plot twist that took APBA from a handmade diversion to a nationwide phenomenon comes courtesy of the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies. The Whiz Kids captured the fancy of Seitz and his wife, Jean, and got them so baseball crazy that they resurrected the game. It played so smoothly that in 1951, Seitz decided to share his creation.
The original game offered 20 player cards for each of the 16 major league teams and two play charts. The whole shebang set you back $10. The 150 games sold encouraged Seitz that there was a market for his game so he produced new versions annually from 1952-56. That steady increase in sales encouraged Seitz to quit his job in 1957 to make APBA a career.
Year by year, APBA’s fan base grew. As more gamers played exponentially more games, innovations like dual pitcher ratings and double hitting columns were incorporated – but innovations were allowed only to a point. APBA has always trod a fine line between realism and playability, and Seitz stood resolute against wrinkles or gimmicks that would add a smidgen of realism to the game at a cost of five minutes more per played game.
As a result, the APBA baseball game played today is not much different than the 1957 version – one played millions of times by players worldwide. APBA changes with the times not only by changing, but by the rolls of the dice.