Baseball Intelligencer

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A quick intro to APBA Baseball for Windows

Posted by bbintelligencer on May 2, 2009

In my previous post I outlined the basics of the tabletop APBA Baseball game, here I will introduce APBA Baseball for Windows (BBW).


original packaging for BBW

BBW was not the first APBA baseball game made for the computer, instead it evolved from a DOS version of the game that was essentially a computerized version of the Master Game with no real significant changes. As the game was ported to the Windows environment, BBW evolved and slowly began to develop innovations not included in the table top game.  This means that while Baseball for Windows (BBW) remains based on the same kind of player cards as the Master Game, there are a significant number of innovations included in BBW which serve give more options to managers, as well as making game play even more realistic.

My first experience with Baseball for Windows was in the early 1990’s, the game was purchased at a local Best Buy (electronics big box store) in anticipation of purchasing my first Windows 3.1 machine. Yes, you read that right, in a classic case of “putting the cart before the horse”, I bought APBA BBW software before I had even purchased my first personal computer.

My first version of BBW (I think it was 2.0) loaded from 3.5″ floppy discs, and was essentially a dressed up version of the DOS and tabletop games, although I understand that the process of moving away from the simplicity of the card and dice game was already underway.  Some APBA enthusiasts are bothered by the changes that evolved, preferring a product that was true to the original board game.  It’s my understanding that folks of that particular ilk still play the old DOS version of APBA, using “DOS Box” or other similar emulator software to make that old game work on even the most “advanced” Windows operating systems.


the old Miller Associates logo

During the original heyday of Baseball for Windows, the game was designed and developed by a company named Miller Associates, under license from the original APBA game company.

The largest single innovation in the evolution of the game came with the release of BBW version 3.0 – a product which introduced Hall of Fame announcer Ernie Harwell as the voice of APBA “Broadcast Blast”. With this feature, the longtime Detroit Tigers broadcaster entered the virtual press-box of the APBA game engine and began announcing my fantasy baseball contests.

Here’s the company description from the original Miller Associates website.


Announcer Ernie Harwell sets the action…two out…bottom of the ninth…tie game…your last pinch-hitter his bat on the plate…the cheering swells…RUSSEL deals…and it’s crushed deep to right…JACKSON races back he leaps…

Baseball for Windows — long praised as the leading strategy game for serious fans — is now the first game ever with full-broadcast sound. With break-through SmartSound technology, every action is vividly described by Hall of Famer Ernie Harwell, his classic baseball voice taking you to a time and place known only to tru baseball fans.

Ernie Harwell

Ernie Harwell

Ernie Harwell calls the whiffs, the boots, the shots in this major new version!

  • From the first pitch to the heart-stopping, game-winning collision at home plate, sweat out triple steals, wild errors, rundowns, dramatic injuries, ejections, rain outs and rain delays, near-miss homers, and great home run calls from history including Ernie’s famous “it’s lonnng gone!”
  • Ernie announces the lineups, batter’s skills and current stats as he steps up to the plate. He’ll tell you who’s on base, who’s having a good games, who’s due, who’s yanked, and who’s working on a no-hitter.
  • Feel the tension as the pitcher stares down the slugger with the game on the line. Then listen to those home team fans cheer, groan, call for the hook. You’ll be on your feet!
  • Broadcast sound is available with all modes of play and separate controls over the voice, crowd, and music let you set the levels the way you want.
  • The crowd and new animations are pretty smart, too. They know when it’s regular season or championships, if it’s early or late in the game, blowout or close situations, and of course what team they’re rooting for. For example, when your home team wins on a clutch hit, watch out for the fireworks.

Advanced Draft 3.0 now links to all of history!

The new Advanced Draft makes your ultimate matchup fantasies easier to set up. Combined with Bill James Electronic Baseball Encyclopedia for Windows, you can now play any team or player in history. With Fantasy Linker, you get four ways to import players from the Encyclopedia:

  • Import whole teams or multiple teams into an organization
  • Import an individual player onto a team (using his entire career or any subset of his career years)
  • Import players for the Draft List
  • Import and replace a player (modifies the abilities of an existing player but the player name is unchanged)

Also with Draft 3.0

  • You can edit any performance rating for a player (except his batting “card” numbers or his personal characteristics, like handedness or positions — for that you can still use Wizard).
  • You can change a player’s first and last name. If you select from the Name List, Ernie speaks them during a broadcast game. More than 12,000 names are available, but if the name you want is not there, Ernie also announces initials.

Important Note: Players imported from the Encyclopedia are not “official” APBA players. The import rating algorithms were developed independently by the publisher for Draft 3.0. If you want official APBA players, including certain subjective rating, consider the individual season disks described under “Glory Seasons” starting on Page 27.

Many new features and free add-ons in BBW 3.0

In the past Miller Associates has always tried to give you more function and features than you expected. BBW 3.0 is no exception — the free add-ons make it a great startup and upgrade value. BBW 3.0 coms with:

  • 7 player disk included — 1921, 1943, 1971 and all four Old Timer Teams Volumes 1,2,3 and 4. They come with multiple lineups, rotations, and schedules all set up for you, so they are ready for replay. Note: The names of some professional players are restricted by license and do not appear on these player disks.
  • 3 additional ballparks included — all new Detroit (Day/Night), Ernie Harwell’s home field for more than 30 years, plus Cincinnati (Day/Night) and Minnesota (Dome).
  • 4 computer managers with modestly updated versions of Johnny McCoy, Larry Pepper, Cap Spalding, and Duke Robinson. McCoy and Pepper, the two fanmanagers by Larry Bubb, are designed to handle replays of older seasons when today’s concept of relief pitching was not in vogue. Robinson and Spalding are modern managers who like to use their bullpen.
  • 55 oil painting by noted baseball artist Andy Jurinko and Gerald Garston to enjoy as backdrops in Draft, StatMaster, and the Encyclopedia. This is more art than you see in many screen savers. You can tile each image or use best fit, as you want, and whichever painting you call up becomes the default are (of course, you can still use the ballparks, which is the way it worked in previous versions).
  • 25 Great Announcers biographies by Voices of the Game author Curt Smith. These are the stars of baseball broadcasting, and their biographies track the history of the game throught the spoken word. Ernie’s story is there, along with Barber, Dean, Buck, McNamee, McClendon, Saam, other classic announcers as well as the modern school of broadcasting.
  • Tale Spinner(TM) — a new program that displays paintings and photographs while you listen to professionals talk about their work. Hear Ernie’s Views from the booth, a 45-minute exclusive interview, including Ernie’s recitation of his Hall of Fame poem “Baseball in America,” and an interview with artist Andy Jurinko about his 600-painting masterwork The Game We Left Behind: 1946-1960.
  • Full-function Bill James Encyclopedia demo included — Just in case you want to give a try out to the Encyclopedia before buying it, we have included a demo version with BBW 3.0. It includes the full 1959 and 1960 season and will show you how charting, career analysis, and BBW 3.0 importing work. See the Encyclopedia of Page 7 for more details. (If you do buy the game and Encyclopedia at the same time and are not satisfied with either, you can return them for a refund — see our Unconditional Guarentee on the order form.)
  • Updated versions of League Manager and StatMaster with minor fixes in response to user comments.
  • New Advanced Options Menu helps you more easily manage custom choices and saves them from session to session.
  • Tutorial is now online so that you can have the Tutorial window open as you go step-by-step through the major features of each program.
  • Expanded Help and Readme now cover setting up league play and replays, importing players from the Encyclopedia, and all the new features of Version 3.0.

Even in today’s somewhat more jaded world of consumer electronics, that all sounds pretty good . . .

As was mentioned in the company description of BBW, there now was also a Baseball Encyclopedia associated with the game, and it allowed individuals to import players, teams, and even complete seasons directly from the encyclopedia to the game.  Previously, the only source for the actual players cards (with as played statistics and proprietary player ratings) was to purchase individual seasons from the game company, but now at least fair facsimiles could be created for any past season.  In my eyes, this was a wonderful development, as it gave me the ability to play a wider variety of seasons than I’d ever imagined.

Originally titled the Bill James Baseball Encyclopedia (BJBE), it was an essential tool on my desktop for years.  Not only did the BJBE interact with my APBA Baseball game, it also had the most comprehensive stats available in it’s day.  The first version of the BJBE included information on all of baseball history from 1876 thru 1994, including an even greater number of statistical breakdowns than the STATS All-Time Major League Handbook and the STATS All-Time Baseball Sourcebook, a pair of 2700 page reference behemoths that weigh not far from 10 pounds each.

Once upon a time, working from that encyclopedia, I printed out the complete individual statistical records of nearly every baseball player since 1900, a project that used nearly two full cases of paper (20 reams) and nearly filled a 4 drawer filing cabinet, not to mention a series of 3 ring binders which held season recaps and team statistics. Two upgrades (versions 1.5 and 1.51) followed the original Bill James Encyclopedia (version 1.0) – they each added one new season of statistics – version 1.5 adding the 1995 season’s statistics, while 1.51 included numbers from 1996.


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