The first year was spent with my in-laws. A year later, I ate at a Burger King in West Memphis, Ark. I was adopted by a few friends in the ensuing years and I even cooked a turkey once for my cat and me. Once, mind you. I worked one holiday at the newspaper where I write and last year I walked 11 miles around a city park after eating lunch with a friend.
Being an orphan has its drawbacks come holiday time. I feel I burden other families who take me in, much as an adoptive family may take in a stray dog on a trial basis.
But, as the season suggests, I am thankful for all the generosity shown over the years and the fact that others want to share their lives with me during a time most families gather.
I am thankful that despite the differences each year I've gone through, it seems at the end of every Thanksgiving Day, while stuffed with food from wherever I managed to find a meal, I play the APBA game that I write about here all the time.
It's become the theme of Love, Life and APBA, but the game is the one constant in the changing life I have.
And for that I am thankful as well.
So, I thought I'd list my Thanksgiving thanks for things of the game we all play.
Obviously, I am thankful that Richard Seitz invented the APBA baseball board game in 1951 so that now, 63 years later, I toss a few games and escape into the 1950 replay I've been working on since March. He invented the game that uses player cards and dice when he was a youngster in Lancaster, Pa., and took it with him when he went to war in the 1940s. Thanks to the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies “Whiz Kids” run to the World Series, interest in baseball in the Lancaster area skyrocketed and Seitz decided to share his game. The APBA company has thrived since.
I am thankful that the game has the staying power to keep me playing since 1977 when I first rolled the football replay game and then turned to the basketball game. Most APBA fans hated the basketball game. I loved it. I know, I am weird. The game has to have some magical hold in order to maintain my interest over all these years. I have changed and my circumstances have changed in the past 38 years. The game has stayed the same.
I am thankful for the APBA community that has been created. There's a Facebook page for the baseball game where nearly 1,400 people have joined. It's a great place to share ideas, information about games and replays and other things. It's like a social gathering or bar where the like-minded hang out. I've only talked to two APBA players on the phone in my life and I've never met another player in person, but I know I am not alone in my obsession of the game when I visit the Facebook page.
I am thankful for the mathematical upbringing I had with my parents. While I don't do APBA game statistics like I should, I can figure averages and ERAs quickly because my mother was a math teacher and my dad was just really smart. Genetics, I hope, are passed on. It is from them, I believe, I can set up a replay quickly with schedules, team pages, pitching rotations and quicky stats for home runs and pitching records.
I am thankful for the “7” on some players' baseball cards when their team is tied in the eighth or ninth inning and they are facing an A relief pitcher. That “7” has driven in a few runs and avoided an extra inning game, and when you play 1,230 games to do a complete season, there are times when playing — say a meaningless Washington Senators vs. St. Louis Browns game late in the year — extra innings are more of a bane.
I am thankful for the childhood glee we all get when we buy a new set of cards and then we wait for them to arrive in the mail. Seeing the box by my garage door when I come home from a stressful day at the newspaper makes things better. I am an adult (some would differ) for the most part, but I become a kid when I open the box and delve into the cards.
Finally, I am thankful for the spirit of the game. It's more than just rolling dice and looking at numbers. The game lives and it keeps an innocence. Fans often replay seasons of ago that were their favorite ones, recalling memories, perhaps, of better times. It's also a diversion to real life when we really need one.
Tonight, while the country digests its turkey and stuffing and most are watching football or the onslaught of Christmas commercials that will plague television, I'll be back rolling a few APBA games. Despite all the different places I've been to during the day since my wife's passing, I know I'll return to familiar territory by day's end.