A friend of mine had just been released from the hospital after tests for some ailment. Another friend's mother fell and spent the holiday in the same hospital.
It was a depressing time and I had to shake the onslaught of approaching blues. I did what millions of others did. I went shopping on Black Friday.
But, before those who actually know me are shocked, understand that I did it online. Friends realize I steer clear of any crowds when shopping. I used to go to Wal-Mart at 2 a.m. just to avoid the throngs of other shoppers. I prefer the tumbleweed-like emptiness of a vacant store aisle in the wee hours to the tumble of hustling patrons shoving shopping carts during the peak times.
So, during a break at work Friday, I called up the APBA company in Georgia and ordered another set of baseball game cards. I don't need them; I have plenty of seasons to replay that will last me well into the next decade if not longer. No, instead I took on the mentality that so many other shoppers use as a mantra. “It was on sale.”
The company offered a 25 percent discount on all game merchandise. I couldn't pass that up, and I didn't have to camp in a tent outside a store with strangers for eight hours to get that deal. I ordered the 1972 baseball season mainly because it was one of the years I really focused in on baseball. I was 11 that summer and worshipped the Minnesota Twins.
In fact, a childhood memory I have of one of the few fights my parents had came that summer over a Twins game. My mother wanted to go to our summer cabin near Turtle River, Minn. My dad and I wanted to stay home to see the Twins play Baltimore (I actually remember this more than 40 years later). I looked it up on Retrosheet.org and found the teams played on June 16, 17 and 18. It was probably then when this happened because I recall it was soon after I was out of grade school that year. Anyway, my mother was upset that we'd rather watch baseball than go to our lake cabin. I think we stayed and watched the first game and then went to the cabin the day after.
There's no rush to get these cards, but there is that childhood anticipation us APBA game players get waiting for them to arrive, no matter our age. There's very few things better as an adult than driving home and finding the box o' cards sitting on the door step.
Along with bringing back a memory, purchasing the 1972 season did another thing: It helped amp up the process of my current baseball replay. I'm almost exactly halfway done with my 1950 season replay and I've bogged down a bit. I began it in March and now, eight months later I've hit the midway point. I'm enjoying it, but there's always that thought of yet another season to embark on and that's what motivates us to play on. I hit the game with a renewed fervor this past weekend.
The concept of time is diffused with the game. I think nothing of devoting a year and a half or two years to a single season replay, and I play more games each day than some. I have a closet full of seasons that, if I play them all, will take me well into retirement. If I add the hockey and basketball seasons (and two football seasons), I'd be playing until my passing. If there's an afterlife, I hope they have dice there.
A year or more to play — that's a testament to the strength of this game. Think of any other game you'd roll dice for more than a year. My aunt used to give the game Monopoly her own name because it took forever to play. She bestowed it as “Monotony” and vowed to never play again after we once played a 30-minute marathon game.
So, on Black Friday, while others beat each other down to get their deals at Best Buy, camped out at Target and spent thousands to save a few bucks, I made a simple phone call. I got a new season, brought back memories, beat the blues of the post holiday season and ensured I'd be rolling dice for years to come.