Monday, March 19, 2012

The APBA Closet

I have a walk-in closet that was once home to a bundle of clothes and scores of shoes. It was like every closet. It did what it was supposed to do.

But now, in my sports-obsessed world, the closet instead serves as a portal to the future of my sports replay games I play constantly, and to the past of those same games I played as a child.

When my wife passed away in 2006, I gradually moved out her clothing and took her shoes from a shelf built inside the closet. I hung my own clothes in it, but because I’m a guy, I don’t own that many. And shoes? I have one pair of sneakers that I’ve worn daily for the past four years. I think I’ve almost broken them in now. The shoe shelf was empty. Totally empty.

The idea hit me to consolidate my APBA sports games and store them in that closet.

I found the boxes that hold the cards of the various seasons of baseball, football, basketball and hockey I own and placed them in the shelf. I also shelved notebooks used for the previous seasons, instruction books for the games and the seasons' statistics I’ve kept over the years.

Above, on another shelf, I store game boxes. I still have the box that my first APBA game — a 1976 NFL season — came in.

It may seem childish, or even obsessive-compulsive, to do this, especially at my age.

But it provides a focus for me when things may get bleak.

Each morning, I enter the closet to get clothes for the day and I see those boxes of cards. And each day, I think of the seasons I still have to play. There’s the 1942 baseball season that’s up next as soon as I finish the 1981 baseball season I’m currently enmeshed with. There’s 1991 beckoning and 1954 with Willie Mays. I have 1901 and 1906, the early era of baseball I need to learn about while playing.

And then, there’s the 1993-94 NHL season I want to complete some time.

There’s also the 1977-78 NBA card set, still in the same box sent to my parents’ address when I was 18 years old.

So, the room is both a reminder of my past and a glimpse into the future of what I have left to do. On really dark, depressive days, I go into the closet and think, “I can’t leave yet. I have so many more seasons to complete.”

It’s a good thing, this closet. And it’s a room where I know I’ll have at least 15-20 more years ahead of me just playing the games.

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