A few months ago, I wrote an article about my brother’s APBA league, the North East League, which may well be the longest-running league in fantasy baseball (playing continuously since 1960). It seems fairly certain that the NEL was the first play-by-mail league.
To get a sense of the NEL’s history, here’s something from their latest newsletter, chronicling a unique fantasy baseball event.
With this series, Ken Meyer’s Norwood Quakers and Bill Linn’s Frankfurt Falcons played their 100th series in the North East League … all played head to head!
The two teams started playing in July of 1971, when the Falcons were an expansion team and the Quakers already were three-time NEL champions. In that first series, Norwood had people like Roberto Clemente, while Frankfurt was sparked by Ted “Super” Savage. Only two other current NEL managers (John Fain and Woody Studenmund) were in the league back then, and Mark Featherstone, the current NEL President, was just five years old!
Anyway, for that first Norwood-Frankfurt series Bill traveled from Connecticut down to Ken’s home (two houses ago) in Wyckoff, NJ. The first series was played head to head, and so has every Quaker-Falcons series since then, all 100 of them, over 34 years. That’s 800 consecutive games, eyeball to eyeball!
Through the ups and downs of the two teams, through all the changes in their personal lives, with dice and with the computer, Ken and Bill always found the time, the place, and, most importantly, the inclination to get together and go at it. APBA leagues have been around for a long, long time, and they’re way too numerous to count, but it’s sure hard to believe that there’s been anything, anywhere, ever, that’s come close to matching this Norwod-Frankfurt head to head record.
How did the 100th series come out? Well, Norwood won 5-3, to increase their divisional lead, but the real winners were Ken and Bill – making true history – playing head to head just as they always have for the last 34 years. Here’s to 34 more!