Tuesday, March 24, 2015


I crested a hill and saw the long straightaway on a highway in north central Arkansas this past weekend when I realized the last time I was on the road, nearly 40 years ago, I was going 105 mph.

I turned around, drove back up the hill, turned around again and revved the engine.

I topped the triple digits on the speedometer in 1976 when I had a junker Oldsmobile Omega with a V-8 and a four-barrel carburetor. The car fell apart and was literally held together by wire and clothespins. On one of my first vehicle dates with that car, the fan shelter fell and I had to stop to clip it back on before picking up my date. It was raining that day and I had to lay under the car to secure the fan. I showed up looking a bit askew.

But the car went fast.

And I hit the 105 while driving with a friend on that stretch in the summer of 1976. The straight section was only about two miles long, ending at another curve. The challenge was to decide when to slow down. Go too fast and you plow into a house at the curve. Chicken out too soon and you may not reach 100.

It was stupid, childish folly. Had I had a blow out, or a deer — which frequented that area — crossed in front of me, the paramedics would be picking us up with a sponge.

I didn't think about that then. Speed. That's all that mattered then.

So, I wanted to return to that feeling last weekend when I made the U-turn on the lonely highway, aimed at the bottom of the hill and took off.

But as I picked up speed, I wasn't thinking like a 16-year-old kid. I was an adult now and adult things flooded my thoughts. What if I crashed? Would my car insurance costs go up? Would the shabby health insurance I have cover any medical care? Would the engine blow up? I was in a Honda Pilot, not a speedy car.

I reached 80 mph and slowed down. The curve was still far enough ahead that I could have tried for 100 mph, but I didn't. Maturity, for once in my life, overruled impulse. Sense over instinct, and all that.

So, you say, what does this have to do with APBA baseball replays?

Well, speeding down that roadway is like doing a season replay. It's a way to stop time briefly, in a sense. I was hurtling down the same road I was on 39 years ago and it was a point of reference in life. Yet I had aged.

When we do replays, we return to a time that's long gone. In my case now, I'm doing the 1950 season; I wasn't born then, but I know my father probably followed his Yankees on the radio that year and he may have even gone to games that season. Here, 65 years later, I was going back a point of reference of time for him.

I did do the 1977 season a few years ago and when that season actually happened, I was a lovestruck kid who had just topped 105 mph the summer before. When I replayed the season — the same season I watched on television and followed closely — everything was different. I lost that innocence of being a kid and the hopes that youth brings and instead viewed that same time with a different attitude.

Back when the season was real, I probably worried about if my girlfriend still liked me, if I had enough money to go to a movie and if I could pass the latest English test at high school. When I replayed the season, I worried about my mortgage, health, work issues and my mortality.

So, all that rambling to try to explain that we do these replays, in part, to hang on to something that we've long lost. I'm never going to go 105 mph again, but a brief moment last weekend as my car picked up speed, I felt that time again. I'll never go back to 1976 or 1977 or any time before, but I can have a sense of that time, albeit with a different perspective, by replaying the baseball season with APBA.

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