Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I Never Rolled For Honus Wagner

The nostalgia I have for the APBA baseball game replays is still here, perhaps brought on by the geese of last week (See:  Love, Life APBA - The Geese Overhead, Sept. 22, 2014), but perpetuated by Derek Jeter's recent retirement from the Yankees.

I am a Yankees fan somewhat, but the hoopla surrounding his pending quitting was akin to the Royal wedding, any presidential election, the end of the world. It was unavoidable if you turned on ESPN. Or any network channel. Or probably even Lifetime Network or C-SPAN for cryin' out loud! Those tear-jerky Gatorade commercials drove home the point as well.

So, as Jeter stepped away from the field, hanging his cleats and drifting off into immortality similar to that of Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, et al, I thought of how I only played one replay season that included him. It was 1998, the first year I got into the APBA baseball replay game and Jeter's fourth year in the league.

For those not initiated into the game, APBA is a brilliant game that uses dice and player cards that replicate a professional sports season. Gamers roll the dice, match the result to numbers printed on the players' cards and read the outcome on printed boards to determine the action. The game company makes the cards each season and players can replay whatever season they have, game-by-game if they chose.

I've been doing the baseball game for 16 years now, and have replayed nine full season. Yes, I am aware. I don't have much of a social life. But I love the game that I began with when I first played the football game in 1977 and as I've said so many times before, it is the only consistent thing I've had in my life. 

I've covered a lot of baseball history. But I've only rolled the dice for Jeter's 1998 season.

It made me think. Who have I yet to roll for? Who are the big names, the draws of baseball, that I have yet to recreate a season?

The obvious player, for me, is Ty Cobb. I played part of 1925 before I burned out years ago and quit that season, rolling instead the hockey game for a while. I never resumed 1925 and the Ty Cobb card remains in the envelope it came in, not knowing if it would bat .378 like he did that year in real life.

I never rolled a game for Honus Wagner, the Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop. Nor have I tossed the dice for pitchers Cy Young and Christy Mathewson. Nap Lajoie has never batted in a game for me, either.

Although I'm currently replaying 1950, I tend to like the 1970s era of baseball. It's probably because that's when I grew up watching the game. I'm sure other APBA players do the same thing — recreate the years that mean something to them to capture those childhood memories again.

I don't have any season past 2000, so I've never had Albert Pujols swing a bat in a game. I did have Mark McGwire in 1987 and 1998. His steroid-induced card in the latter year provided 70 home runs in my replay.

On the inverse, I've played four seasons each with Joe Morgan and Pete Rose (64, 74, 77 and 81) and Gary Carter, Reggie Jackson and Mike Schmidt (74, 77, 81, 87).

I generally take on a season to learn of that particular era and for certain players. I'm doing 1950 now because I had never rolled a game for Pittsburgh outfield Ralph Kiner before. I've done three seasons with my favorite players, Henry Aaron and Harmon Killebrew (both 57, 64 and 74). When I complete 1950, I'll also have three seasons for Stan Musial. I've also done games with him in 1942 and 1957.

I intend to do 1991 next. It takes a year or so to do a season and, with 1942 the last season I completed and now about 35 percent through 1950, I can't go too long without playing games for the Minnesota Twins, who didn't come into existence until 1961 (They were the Washington Senators prior).

But those earlier seasons also beckon. I have 1919 with Ty Cobb and I should do 1925 to get that Babe Ruth experience (although that was the year he was limited to 90-some games because of, depending upon which tale you prefer: A. Appendicitis, B. Food poisoning, C. Alcohol addiction, D. Gonorrhea. And, just writing this makes me want to buy 1927, his signature year with the Yankees, from APBA soon.

So, the nostalgia returns. Geese and Jeter, what a combination to bring that on.

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