Monday, April 1, 2013

1984 - The First CFCL Draft

Two days ago we completed our 30th CFCL draft.  Anyone that is REALLY into fantasy baseball (and, I suppose, fantasy football) will tell you that Christmas happens twice a year.  First is Draft Day.  The second is December 25th.

The evolution of our drafts has been amazing, much of it in lock-step with the advancement of technology.  Let me take you back to 1984.

As I mentioned in the first post, we had six owners to kick off the CFCL.  We were all charged with naming our teams.  Represented at the draft were: The ForGoetz Me Nots (one of the best all-time team names); Fred’s Friars; Paul’s Penguins; Mudville Sluggers; David’s Copperfields (what was to become the first – and really only – CFCL Dynasty.  In the ensuing posts you will learn of the “history” of the Copperfields, but the origin of the team name was truly inspired genius.  Something to look forward to.); and Ben T’s Electric Eels.

Yours truly named the Eels.  Looking back on it I guess I was having trouble with creativity, although at the time I thought I really nailed it.  Here’s the background.  1984 I’m in high school and love radio.  I listen to Uncle Bobby Collins on WGN all the time.  He had a guy on his show named John Tondelli.  Every so often Uncle Bobby would play music and he would make his selection from a list provided by Tondelli.  So Uncle Bobby named it “John T’s Musical Something or Other List”.

The name of our team was supposed to coincide with something about ourselves, so I figured my last name was connected to me (see the logic so far?)  As I played with Bentel, I broke it down to Ben T and then the thought of John T’s music list hit me so I figured I could go with Ben T’s.  Now I had to account for the e and l of my last name.  Don’t ask me why but electric eel came to mind.  Look I’m trying to run a fantasy baseball team.  Most teams have numerous departments where they hire talented people to do marketing, sell tickets, design logos, etc.  Here in the CFCL you are basically Team President and Chief Bottle Washer and All Things in Between.  In 1984 my talents were not in Promotions.  As we will see in a moment, my talent was also not in Player Scouting.

OK, so now I have a team name (as stupid as it may be).  Next:  Draft Prep.  Keep in mind This is 1984!!  There was no Internet.  There was no ESPN.  There was no billion dollar industry of stat services and draft prep companies.  We had generic baseball magazines (although Bill Mazeroski’s annual periodical was the Holy Grail until they changed ownership).

I would like to tell you all about the extensive draft prep and details about the draft itself.  But that was 30 years ago and I’m a little fuzzy on what I had for breakfast.  There are a couple of memories that stand out clearly, however.

Draft Prep:  I specifically remember sitting in my mom’s living room with a pad of paper, ready to create a list of players I wanted to draft.  So I started with catcher.  Here’s what I wrote: 

1)     Gary Carter

2)    Jody Davis

3)    Tony Pena

4)    Terry Kennedy

That’s it.  No stats.  Just four names.  Sadly I also remember this thought: “Well, that should be enough.  I only need two catchers on my team and I’ve got a list of four.”
If it hasn’t already been plainly obvious why I have reached the top only twice in 30 years, this should remove all doubt.
To my credit, I did grab Gary Carter, for 44 cents out of a budget of $2.85.  Jody Davis and Tony Pena went to the Copperfields for .39 and .25 respectively.  Tomorrow I will post the complete Draft Day rosters from 1984, but it was amazing the amount of money we spent on catchers.  In addition to Carter, Davis and Pena, Bo Diaz went for .16, Terry Kennedy for .41, Bruce Benedict for .27, and Darrell Porter for .20.  We clearly had a lot to learn.
Who else did I get as catcher, since our roster required two?  You had to ask didn’t you?  Did the Copperfields put you up to it?  They never stop enjoying the fact that the Electric Eels drafted (for three cents – which ended up being waaaay too much) Jose Morales.  Who?  Yeah, I know.  Go to and look him up.  He was the backup catcher-pinch hitter extraordinaire for the LA Dodgers.  **He ended up getting all of three hits in 1984.**  In my defense, I did get him for .03 which means one of the other original six bid .02.
Let me point out the painfully obvious.  In 1984 there were twelve National League teams (six in the Eastern Division and six in the Western Division – before Herr Selig started screwing up baseball with realignment, interleague play, etc).  If we do our math, there are six CFCL teams.  Each team needs two catchers making the total need twelve.  There are twelve National League teams.  OK, Rich, that means that EVERY CFCL TEAM COULD HAVE DRAFTED A STARTING CATCHER!!!!  Why was I drafting Jose Morales, the Dodger backup catcher?  Well, see, he was really good at pinch hitting and . . . 
Only two championships in 30 years and at this point you have to be asking – not unlike the manager of the Durham Bulls, “How did you get the two?  Larry?”  Larry:  “It’s a miracle.” 
The other thing that I remember from the 1984 Draft was the PHENOMENAL pitching staff that Fred’s Friars put together.  They led the league in pitching that year with the likes of Charlie Lea, John Denny, Goose Gossage, Nolan Ryan among others.  They got those guys and only spent a grand total of .26 (of their 2.80 budget).
The Sluggers beat them, budget-wise, by acquiring their ten pitchers for a total of .18.  Not only at one time did chicks dig the long ball – apparently so did the original owners of the CFCL.  Wait until you see the rosters tomorrow.  You will crack up.  At least you’ll crack up if you find any of this amusing so far.
The rest of the day is murky at best.  I remember being excited, unsure of the future and not sure what to do at that moment – kind of like my first date.
The ensuing posts of the next year will span the 30 years with video clips, memories from former and current owners, and a whole bunch of fun stuff.  I hope you stay tuned.

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