That happened Friday when I thought I could get three quick games in the 1981 APBA baseball replay I’m engaged in before I headed to work. I was approaching the 1700th game of the season and APBA players love to reach those landmarks in a long season.
It makes those late-season, meaningless games like Cleveland at Seattle or San Diego hosting Atlanta go a bit more easier.
So, I began rolling the dice, minding the clock. I knew I had a busy day. I had to rewrite a story on the state’s drought for our newspaper and, since it was Friday, I knew there’d be breaking news. There always is. (I wasn’t wrong: I ended up writing two stories about house fires that killed five people and another fire in a school).
The first game I played that day pitted Philadelphia at Houston. The game went 11 innings before Joe Pittman hit a triple for the Astros and then scored on a pinch hit sacrifice fly by Craig Reynolds. I was behind schedule already.
The second game, Oakland at Boston, did me in. The contest lasted 16 innings before Tony Perez singled in Dave Stapleton for the Red Sox 1-0 victory.
So, after two games, I had already played 27 innings — the equivalent of the three games I had originally hoped for.
Instead of quitting and being conscientious of my job, though, I soldiered on and began the third game of the morning. Texas took a quick 2-0 lead in the third inning against Milwaukee, but the Brewers scored four in the fourth inning on a double, a walk and four consecutive singles.
In the seventh inning, though, the Rangers scored again, making it 4-3 and making me nervous that I’d see yet another extra-inning. The clock hands sped up, racing to the time I needed to leave to make it to my job on time. I briefly debated about stopping and finishing the game when I came home that night, but I hate leaving in the middle of a contest.
In the bottom of the eight, Milwaukee loaded the bases and Cecil Cooper came to bat with two outs. By then Steve Comer came in to relieve Fergie Jenkins. I rolled the two dice and two sixes tumbled up. The infamous “66” that APBA players love to see. The “66” resulted on Cooper’s card as a home run. A grand slam. Milwaukee led, 8-3, and Mike Caldwell mowed down the Rangers in the ninth to seal the win.
I put the game away, scrambled to the shower and made it to work.
Life is full of priorities. We have to make it to work on time and, as fun as it may be, we can’t shun responsibilities for games. Laundry, groceries, cleaning and other chores take up the mundane. The replay should be secondary; I need to crank up the freelance writing jobs again to make a few bucks and that should take some priority, too.
But the replay is always there on my conscious. I reached Game No. 1,700 and it gave me a boost to keep playing on. And after the 1981 season is complete, I have 1942 next, and then 1991 and then the 1919 season I just bought and...
Lots of games ahead, lots of juggling the other responsibilities that plague us. I just hope when the clock is my enemy and I’m running out of time, Cecil Cooper will always step up to the plate.