It was a fine chair, as chairs go. It served its purpose for nearly 30 years and it was the only chair I used when rolling games in every APBA replay I did at home.
But like all things do, it had to come to an end and last week we bade farewell to the APBA chair in a ceremony unfitting to the royalty it proclaimed.
It was an office chair, a spindle set on rollers with a navy blue seat and back. I had gotten it when we furnished a weekly newspaper my wife and I owned back in the early 1990s. We had an industrial carpeted office area and I could roll around easily. I’m sure in moments of levity at that newspaper employees used the other roller desk chairs and had races with each other. But my chair also served during serious times as well. I wrote scores of stories about poor city management, the local police union battling for higher wages, all of our weekly police reports, my weekly column and other tales in that chair. I also wrote stories about the original trial for two of the three charged in the slayings of three West Memphis, Ark., eight-year-olds that was later referred internationally as the West Memphis 3 case. And I began my freelancing careers with the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette while sitting in that chair. The Democrat-Gazette gig resulted in a full-time job of nearly 20 years.
When we sold the newspaper and I left the job, I took the chair with me and placed it in my home office and what Holly now calls the “baseball room.” It’s where I began rolling the 1998 APBA baseball, my first replay. And it’s where I rolled nine subsequent full replays, half of the 1925 season and now about 60 percent of the 1947 season I’m currently doing.
By its end, the chair was in pretty rough shape. Both arms were slanted away from the chair; the seat itself was sagging, too. Holding up my fat ass for 30 years took its toll. One set of wheels didn’t work right and the seat had some stains – probably from the Pepsis I guzzle during games and, at one point after my wife passed away in 2006 of kidney failure, the Jim Beam bourbon and Dewars scotch I drank to escape for a bit.
APBA players all have their gaming places. I’ve seen some photographs on the APBA Facebook page and I’ve been pretty impressed. Many decorate the walls behind the game site with baseball and other sports photographs, hats and assorted memorabilia. There’s the necessary light, table space for the game and writing stats and the computer if the person plays the PC version of the game. But there’s always the chair in the photograph. It’s the throne of the APBA kingdom.
I had decided to get rid of the chair a few years ago and even placed it in the garage in preparation for hauling it to the curb on trash day. But after a moment of guilt and nostalgia, I rolled it back in and realized that it was a lot harder parting with the chair than I thought. I accepted the flayed arms and the small back “support” that was always off-center. When I tried rolling away from the desk after a game, it was like pushing a block.
Holly, my Illinois sweetie, got a chair from a local store when she moved here four years ago with the purpose of using it herself. But she liked a different chair instead and this one sat in a corner for a while.
Finally, last Thursday – trash night in the subdivision where we live – I took the chair back to the garage and placed it by the garbage can where I’d put it in after we filled it with the weekly refuse. Seconds later, and I’m not making this up, one of two feral cats who hang out at our home sauntered into the garage, sniffed the wheels and spindle and promptly raised his tail and doused it all with cat pee. Holly said he was “marking the chair" and making it his. I said other choice words and added that I took ownership of the chair for almost three decades and not once- that I recall- did I pee on it.
But it was a sign. The chair would not return to the baseball room now. I hefted it into the trash can and rolled it out to the curb. Its wobbly back support stuck jauntily out of the can’s top.
I was sitting in the new chair the next day when the trash truck rolled through and I watched as the truck’s mechanical arm raised the can and dumped its contents into the back. The chair was gone.
My new chair will take adjusting to. It’s smaller and the arms are a bit confining. Sometimes when I lean to the right, the arm presses on the car keys in my pocket and pushes the alarm button. I hear the car bleating in the garage and I have to stand up to turn it off with the keys.
But it rolls well and the back is comfortable and there’s no cat pee on it. Maybe it’ll be the new APBA chair for the next 30 years.