Friday, October 4, 2013

The Replay Impetus

I think I was about 8 years old when I first understood the concept of doing a replay of sorts. Since then, it's become the staple of my only hobby as I roll games daily in my APBA baseball replay.

I've done replays of numerous seasons since then with the football, basketball, hockey and baseball games that APBA has created. I once tried to figure out how many games I've played with the APBA game since I started rolling the dice as a 17-year-old. It has to be nearing 50,000 or so by now.

But the spark for all of this really began when I was that 8-year-old kid.

My parents bought me an electric football game for Christmas and I spent my days setting up the players in the offensive and defensive formations suggested in the game's instructions and clicked the switch to make them vibrate on the field. I'd play a game between the two teams that came with the set — Minnesota and Cleveland — and then, when the contest was over, I'd do it again. Aimless, repetitive, single games.

Since I lived in Minnesota at the time, I'd notice if the Vikings beat Cleveland more times than the Browns beat them, but it didn't really mean anything. I didn't compile won-lost records or even think about the head-to-head clashes much …

… until early that spring when my parents went to some event at the college where my dad taught and they brought in a babysitter to watch over me. The babysitter, a high school student who played the cello, taught me the ramifications of thinking bigger when playing the electric football game.

It almost didn't happen if not for a piece of Christmas tinsel and my curiosity. I may have been able to avoid that whole babysitting thing as a child, but I lost my parents' trust during the Christmas of 1968. They left me at home once when they made a quick dash to the college to pick something up. During their absence, I saw a television advertisement for aspirin. The announcer said the pain reliever helped during the holidays when things happened, including when tinsel fell into a Christmas light socket.

Well, I wondered, what really would happen if tinsel fell into the socket? I decided to try.

And I quickly found out what occurred. I got shocked and the breaker box in the basement blew the main fuse. When my parents returned home, they found me in total darkness, huddled next to a heater vent shivering and crying.

The babysitter concept was a natural response to that and the next time they went out, he was summoned.

I don't even remember the guy's name. I do know that later he stabbed a large hunting knife into a wooden dock. His hand was wet and it slipped down the handle and across the blade, severing the tendons in his fingers. He couldn't play the cello after that.

But one time before that accident when he babysat me, he saw the electric football game and played it with me. And he showed me how to set up a tournament. He drew brackets and seeded eight teams and we played the games. I was fascinated by it and I repeatedly played those tournaments. I'd use a ruler and carefully draw the brackets and, in my best 8-year-old printing, write in the teams.

It was the impetus for what I do now, 45 years later. The replay games are a big part of my recreational life; my hobby, my sanity-keeper. And to think, it all may never have been in my world had it not been for a piece of tinsel, electricity and my curiosity.

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