Friday, April 26, 2013

How I Start a Season

Maybe it’s an obsessive-compulsive thing, but when I prepare a baseball season for replay, I get pretty detailed. It’s akin to doing my taxes and it gets to the point, during my preparation, that if anyone else was around me during this time, they’d probably commit me or at least order outpatient counseling.

It takes a while to prep a season to play.

For the uninitiated, I play APBA, a baseball game that uses player cards. Rather than pictures on their cards, numbers are featured. Game players roll dice, match the numbers to the player’s cards and then to corresponding numbers on play charts. It’s statistically based and gamers can replay any season the APBA game company produces.

I began playing the 1942 season, my first time delving in any season in the 1940s.

But before the dice is tossed, the game player has to set up the season, and that’s where it gets focused, at least for me. I don’t know how others do it; I’ve never actually spoken to another APBA player ever. I should post my phone number here sometime and urge gamers to call, but that’s for another day.

Here’s how I start: First, I set up team schedules. I go to, a baseball website that lists every season and every game, and get the games played. But, because I want each team to play its full schedule, I find I have to often reschedule rainouts or forfeited games at times. For 1942, I found how many times each team played another team. Back then, teams played the seven other clubs in their league 22 times — 11 games at home and 11 on the road — for a full 154-game season. So, I meticulously find which games were not played and then squeeze them into the schedule.

I am old-school, so I handwrite everything in small block print. It goes back to second grade when my teacher held me from library privileges because I couldn’t do cursive writing well. Mastering the Q in cursive — the unexplained method of doing some curly ‘2’ for the letter — really threw me, and, as a result of banned from going to the library, I rebelled by printing ever since then. Some people throw up their arms in revolt. I print. Yes, I am a nerd.

Each team has a notebook page of its 154 games written in blue capital letters and snapped into a three-ring binder.

Then, I have team pages that list every player so I can track home runs and won-lost records.

I also set up pitching rotations, again found by using, and write them down on index cards.

Finally, I write the games to be played on pages in a spiral bound steno pad and fill in lineups for several games in advance.

It takes three or four days to do all this and there are times when I almost stop and think, ‘I’m an adult here. If I put this much energy to, say, making money, I’d be in better shape.”

Then I shake the idea off and continue writing schedules, players and pitching rotations.

It’s something I’ve done with the baseball seasons since I began playing in 1998 and with APBA’s other games since 1977. It’s always worked for me, and it’s a hard habit to break. 

And, if I ever were to be committed into a mental facility for my obsessiveness, I’d at least have more time to play the games.


  1. Ken--saw your post on the APBA board and clicked on the link. For me, the setup is at least 50% (probably more) of the fun playing APBA. Stats? Have to do them the old school way: pencil and paper in a binder. I'm currently doing a '74 replay because, to me, baseball in the 70's and early 80's was the best! (born in '65) The player names, the teams, they will always take me back to my parents' basement in St. Louis: Hot, humid days playing Khoury league ball; hot, humid nights--nice cool basement, a big table, APBA baseball, a can of Shasta grape soda and a radio tuned to KMOX listening to Jack Buck and Mike Shannon. I would pay a fortune to go back to that for just one night...maybe that's why I do it "old school"; there's just something about the 'ol pencil and paper. It's how I started with APBA and it's how I will end with APBA. Technology is great but so is tradition.
    I remember that strike in '81. KMOX covered baseball fans' yearn for the game by re-playing old Cardinals' broadcasts. If it did anything, it gave me an appreciation for the Cardinals (growing up in St. Louis during the 70's? The Cards pretty much stunk) and their history. I was at Pantera's Pizza in Maryland Heights with my high school buddies from Parkway North, still a year away from graduation, when they won game 7 vs. the Brewers. The memory of that night remains crystal clear: the cheering, the horns honking and just an overall great feeling!
    I now live in Colorado Springs and well, baseball is pretty much an afterthought for folks around here unless you want to go to a Skysox game. Here's where technology works great: I can listen to Cardinals games on the internet (if only I could order an Imo's pizza!) and re-live some of my youth.
    Sorry for the long post but your "set-up" topic really struck a chord with me.

  2. Great memories! I remember listening to Jack Buck and Mike Shannon on the radio back in those days, lounging on the deck of my friend's ratty mobile home and developing an addiction for Pepsi and Mountain Dew (friend's parents owned a small country store and sent cases of pop with him back to school weekly). Sadly, I've never had an Imo's pizza, but have eaten at a few places on the Hill in St. Louis.

    Yes, technology is a bane. I've done stats three different times with computers and each time, my computer crashed and I lost everything. This time, with the 1942 replay I'm doing, I'm tempting fate by keeping full stats for Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Stan Musial. I hope the computer doesn't crash.

    Thanks for the thoughts, and keep the old school pencil and paper going!

  3. Best. Post. Ever. I too am an old school APBA Baseball enthusiast. I started playing as a young boy in the mid 70s. I'm now 45. I've decided to start playing again as I want to teach my two youngest boys 11 & 8 how to play. I found the same set of boards I had back in the day online and purchased them today. I can't wait until they get here so we can get the dice shakers going. I always use to take regular paper and create the score sheet with a pen and ruler but this time I will likely use a spreadsheet for stats instead of my trusty spiral notebook. I want to be able to sort them. I love stats! Anyhow, if you read this post please respond and keep posting. I'll bring out some of my old APBA stories. They are priceless.

    Frank S.
    Chardon, Ohio

    1. Frank, Thanks for the message. It's great you got back into the game, and you're getting your kiddos into it, too. I used to keep stats on paper, using those three-ring binders and writing meticulously the names and numbers. I graduated to computers, but I just haven't gotten into doing it... especially with the 1950 I'm on now. I'm about 200 games behind logging them in. And I'm debating about starting all over and doing it by hand like the olden days. Blaspheme! The computer players shriek, but so be it. Share any of your APBA stories here or to my email!