While searching for a way to find out if the APBA team sets I picked up the other day were complete, I made a minor discovery. One that at the least amused myself.
I found a source for checklists after a lot of Google searches – APBA’s website! The “Lineups” correspond to sets they’ve issued and for most re-issued. Think of APBA as Dungeons and Dragons lite – your dice rolls(2 die, one for the first digit, one for the second) determine how the batter does based on their stats on card in given situations(empty bases no outs for example) to play out the season’s games. Each year they would release updated cards with game affecting stats based on the previous season – since 1951!
A sample card.
So when long-time hobby editor/writer/DFW show promoter Rich said he had a few early 1970s sets he had picked up my interest was piqued. I believe I have a full/partial set now for the 1967, 1970, 1971, and 1972 Twins, as well as a 1970 Vikings set – the latter of which someone had “traded” O.J. Simpson and Fran Tarkenton(during his Giants hiatus) to the Vikings. Imagine that stacked team!
What could have been…
So with the teams that I did find, naturally I compared them to the checklists from APBAs website, and while creating a spreadsheet to keep track of which I find(….) I ran across a Twins player I had never heard of – a rarity. They were given an APBA card in essentially the “APBA Traded/Updates” set – XCs(Extra Cards). Allow me to introduce Christobal “Minnie” Mendoza. Now he’s not much of a major league hitter – in 16 plate appearances, Minnie had two runs, hits, two RBI, and a strikeout with his .188/.188/.188 slash line – however Minnie was a long time minor league and Mexican leaguer. In 19 seasons with the Cincinnati and Washington/Minnesota franchises, Minnie produced 1155 runs, 2389 hits, 350 doubles, 59 triples, 66 home runs, 817 RBI, 166 stolen bases, and averaged .290(no composite OBP/SLG) as an infielder mostly at third base. Quoting the blog post here, Mendoza is one of the oldest players to make their MLB debut:
The Twins said he was 36 (using the birth date that’s still believed to be correct), but Mendoza insisted he was 34. His promotion to the big leagues wasn’t exactly a gift; the previous season he had led the Class AAA American Association with 194 hits and batted .333. “Sometimes I feel like quitting, but I don’t,” he said in the spring of 1970. “I love baseball. I love to travel, too.”
After his playing career ended in 1972, Minnie managed the Ciudad Juarez Indios of the Mexican leagues in 1974(60-78) and again in 1975(58-80). His second stint as a manager went as well as his first – finishing his managerial career in his lone season with the Miami Orioles of the Florida State League in 1981(44-92).
Seen here on a 1981 TCMA set.
The aforementioned Miami team would swap allegiances the next season instead paring with the Athletics and becoming the Miami Marlins a team briefly graced with a 17 year old Jose Canseco. A few years later in 1989, the team would again change names becoming the Miami Miracle – and as fate would have it the team would move to the original home of the franchise Fort Myers in 1992 to become the Miracle. A Class A minor league team that’s served the Twins well over the years. :).