Bob Oldis


A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of reading a biography of Bob Oldis, who was a some-tme backup catcher and long-time baseball scout who happened to live in Iowa City.  His daughter happened to be a classmate of mine, and I recall him occassionally reffing a basketball game in the high school gym, or dropping by the baseball field to watch a game.  He wasn’t much of a player in the sense of being relevant to a Strat-O-Matic league — never as many as 100 ABs in a season — but in his own way had an extraordinary life both in and out of baseball.  You can read a bit about him here.

In 1961, Oldis was 33 and just another “computer-only” guy on the Strat roster for the Pirates.  He was close to a "Moonlight Graham" that year, going just 0-for-5 on the season and appearing in just four games.  34-yo Smoky Burgess (.303/12/52) was the primary backstop on the defending champions that year, and he forms the strong half of what should be a nice left/right platoon for the Little Cyclones with Gus Triandos (.244/17/63).  I like to think that Mr. Oldis is out there in the bullpen, warming up the relievers and keeping everyone loose with his endless funny stories.

Best player on this team is Jim Gentile (.302/46/141 and 96 walks), about as good a player as you will find at first in the entire league.  The team has another slugger at the position, Dick Stuart (.301/35/117), but his ‘5’ glove makes him ill-suited for anything besides DH duty.  The other infield corner features a future hall-of-famer in 24-yo Brooks Robinson (.287/7/61), but this was a pretty awful year with the bat for him so Don Hoak (.298/12/61 and 73 walks) will be out there much of the time.  An interesting bit of trivia: Hoak is the oldest hitter on this roster (but 33 isn’t all that old).

Defense is the team’s calling card, and with youngsters working the middle infield — 24-yo perennial gold-glover Bill Mazeroski (.265/13/59) and 23-yo Ron Hansen (.248/12/51 and 66 walks) — the pitchers should have lots of help when working through a jam.  The backups are also solid: 24-yo Jerry Adair (.264.9/37 at second and Dick Groat (.275/6/55) at short.

As we turn toward the outfield, the thing that stands out is that there are 1’s at all three positions: Roberto Clemente (.351/23/89) in right, Bill Virdon (.260/9/58) in center, and Jackie Brandt (.297/16/72 and 62 walks) in left.  The bench could use another slugger, but Whitey Herzog (.291/5/35), 24-yo Earl Robinson (.266/8/30), Russ Snyder (.292/1/13), and Bob Skinner (.268/3/42 and 51 walks) are all solid.   

CA (2): 720 ABs, 4R balance, and WAR of 3.6
1B (2): 1018 ABs, 3R balance, and WAR of 11.8
2B (2): 944 ABs, E balance, and WAR of 4.2
3B (2): 1171 ABs, 1L balance, and WAR of 8.8
SS (2): 1129 ABs, E balance, and WAR of 2.8
LF (2): 693 ABs, 9R balance, and WAR of 2.4
CF (2): 1115 ABs, 1R balance, and WAR of 7.6
RF (3): 1117 ABs, 1R balance, and WAR of 12.2

The historical park factors, as you can see below, really hurt the power numbers on both clubs that were combined to form the Little Cyclones.  It will be fun to see how sluggers like Gentile and Stuart respond to the somewhat friendlier ballpark.

Ballpark Effect     Baltimore   Pittsburgh
Lefty Singles         13           12  
Righty Singles         6           12
Lefty Homers           2            2
Righty Homers          2            2

I don’t think there will be quite enough pitching to make this team a contender, but you never know.  We’re getting close to a quarter of the games played, and for now it’s just a .500 club.  The ace of the staff is 23-yo Steve Barber (18-12, 3.33, 248 IP), and he’s followed in the rotation by 22-yo Milt Pappas (13-9, 3.04, 178 IP), Joe Gibbon (13-10, 3.32, 195 IP), 36-yo Hal Brown (10-6, 3.19, 167 IP), and 23-yo Chuck Estrada (13-9, 3.04, 178 IP).  The swing-man is Bob Friend (14-19, 3.85, 236 IP), and he’ll be called upon a fair amount given the relatively low inning counts.

The bullpen is another team strength, but I don’t think the computer does a great job of leveraging that for wins so it might not really matter much.  The big men are lefty Billy Hoeft (2.02 with 138 IP) and the ageless righty Hoyt Wilhelm (2.30 with 110 IP and 18 saves), already 38 but will pitch into the next decade!  For mop-up the team has Dick Hall (3.09 and 122 IP), Tom Sturdivant (2.84 and 86 IP), 35-yo Bobby Shantz (3.32 and 89 IP), Wes Stock (3.01 and 72 IP), and 34-yo Clem Labine (3.69 with 93 IP and 8 saves).

RELIEF (3): 275 IPs, 8L balance, and WAR of 4.8
RELIEF/STARTER (4): 671 IPs, 8R balance, and WAR of 15.1
STARTER (5): 1000 IPs, 2L balance, and WAR of 22.4

Below is a link to the Strat-O-Matic league file after five weeks, followed by the current standings.  Sioux City, Davenport, and Council Bluffs have been hot, all winning 7 of their last ten.  The cold club has been Waterloo, in a 1-9 tailspin after starting the year an ok 11-10.  


5/14/61 Iowa Baseball Confederacy        Won   Lost    Pct     GB
Council Bluffs Falcons (A’s-Giants)      17     11    .607     — 
Cedar Rapids Saints (Twins-Dodgers)      18     12    .600     —  
Davenport Knights (Tigers-Cards)         19     14    .576     .5 
Sioux City Crusaders (Indians-Reds)      17     13    .567    1.0 
Des Moines Scarlets (Yankees-Cubs)       17     16    .515    2.5 
West Metro Maroons (Angels)              15     15    .500    3.0 
Ames Little Cyclones (Orioles-Pirates)   16     17    .485    3.5 
Iowa City Regals (Red Sox-Phillies)      12     18    .400    6.0 
Waterloo Sailors (White Sox-Braves)      12     19    .387    6.5 
Dubuque Golden Eagles (Senators)         13     21    .382    7.0 

That’s all for this week. 

© John Kisner 2019