Tuesday, July 31, 2012

35 Years of Stats

I can’t find a shovel that I know was in my backyard shed and I’ve lost clothing, a vacuum cleaner and even furniture in moves.

But for some reason unbeknown to the realm of rational thought, I’ve managed to maintain notebooks full of the statistics I kept as a child when playing my dice replay games.

I found today the stats for the very first APBA game I ever played. For Christmas in 1977, my parents bought me the 1976 NFL season to replay. It was a complex game and it took a long time to learn how to play it, let alone complete a game. 

Yet, I persevered and trudged on, rolling football games in my small bedroom of the house where I planned my life’s future as a teenager.

The first game I played was Washington at the New York Giants.  The Giants won, 40-24, despite a 97-yard kickoff return by the Redskins’ Bob Brunett. Larry Csonka scored on a 3-yard plunge and Joe Danelo kicked four field goals.

The very first play I ever rolled as an APBA player was a 13-yard run by Washington’s running back Larry Brown.

I know all this because I kept the game recaps in a red three-ring binder my father gave me. Written in black magic marker on the inside cover is “BSI-360,” a code he wrote for his classes for when he taught at Bemidji State University in northern Minnesota. The notebook sits on a shelf in a closet in my home now.

The second NFL game I rolled was, fittingly, Minnesota’s game against Dallas. I was still stinging from the actual, real-life game of  Dec. 28, 1975, when the Vikings’ lost to Dallas,17-14 in the playoffs. Roger Staubach threw a 50-yard heave to Drew Pearson as time ran out, sending the Cowboys to victory and me to a history of disappointments in sports.

In my APBA game, the Vikings won 23-16 on Chuck Foreman’s 1-yard touchdown run late in the game. Revenge is good, even if it’s not real.

And football stats are not all that I’ve saved over the years. I have the first APBA basketball game I’ve ever played. The 1978-79 San Diego Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 113-112 in my game. Sidney Wicks hit the first three-point FG I’ve ever rolled.

It stumps me that I have these things. I’ve saved the record of the first APBA game I’ve ever played 35 years ago, but I've let so many other things go. 

I’ve moved a few times in my life, always tossing unwanted things during the transfers and losing other items. I’ve lost more family pictures than APBA notes.

Maybe it’s an unconscious grasp of the past and a reminder of a time when things were easier. Then, all I worried about was if I could get a game completed  on a school night before I had to go to sleep.

By no means am I a hoarder, but I have a 35-year collection of the games kept in my tiny printed handwriting. I have hundreds of pages of the stuff. 

Now, if I could find my shovel, I could scoop that collection back up and into the closet.


  1. About 20 years ago I decided that I was no longer a child and that the things of a child must go. So out went all of my notebooks.

    Oh what a mistake. In 1986 I played a 8-team solitaire draft league with the 1980 set. Yanks, O's, Expos, and Phillies in the East, A's, Astros, Royals, and either Dodgers or Reds* in the West. About half the rosters were stock, the other half drafted from the other clubs. 80-game schedule, all teams playing 48 intra- and 32 inter-division games. 1 wild card. Oakland won the West at 44-35-1, Philly the East at 45-34-1 (a game between the two ended in a tie & that swung who got the 1st-round bye), 1/2 game ahead of 45-35 wild-card New York. A's had to play the 1st round & lost to the Yankees, who then beat the Phils in the championship series. Carlton and Soto led the league in whiffs, Schmidt had 31 homers in 80 games, Rickey and LeFlore both stole over 50 bases, and the RBI champ was, weirdly enough, Mike "the Hit Man" Easler, who had a heckuva card that year. I remember the numbers because for a long while after that I would peruse the notebooks like a literary professor would thumb through a well-loved text.

    And here I sit, a 43-year-old man with a loving family, a thriving career, other card sets, other replays, other hobbies, nostalgifying about a pretend baseball league of a quarter of a century ago and featured mostly players who haven't been active in the major leagues since the Bush 1 administration. This game, it gets a hold of you and doesn't let go.

    *I don't remember whether it was LA or Cincy. I know I took the top two teams from each division, and that would have meant the Dodgers, but I have it in my head that the Reds were in that league, maybe on some honorary "birthplace of professional baseball" exemption. This is why you don't throw away your notebooks.

  2. Would love to see a photo or two of your notebooks.