Sunday, July 31, 2022

Buzz

The only thing that covered up the incessant whine of 500 mosquitoes in our car at 3:30 a.m. at the Walnut Ridge, Ark., Amtrak station was the roar of the freight trains that blasted through.

We drove to the depot so my wife could catch the train to see her aunt in northern Illinois. We’ve done that several times and, in earning the name “Damntrack,” the train was late, as usual. It’s supposed to roll into the quiet northeastern Arkansas town around 1:40 a.m., horn a-blastin’, bells a-clangin.’ This time it was more than two hours late.

Generally, the departure is a sad thing. Holly steps into the train, I stand on the platform and watch as the train glides away, whisking away my wife for a week or two. The train horn bleats its forlorn sound as it heads out and eventually, the silence of the rural area returns and I slink back the car and make the trip home alone.

This time, it was a bit different.

When we pulled into the station’s parking lot, we noticed it was lit much better than before. The city sprung for more lights after complaints that the darkened station looked more like a spot to buy illegal drugs or to be murdered.

The lighting was a nice touch until Holly got out of the car and left the door open. A mass of mosquitoes already attracted by the brightness outside swarmed into the car. I guess they saw my fat ass as a buffet.

We still had a while before the train arrived. The Amtrak phone app indicated it would roll in at 4:14 a.m. We could either sit in the depot, which was also covered with the winged bloodsuckers or remain in the car. We chose the car and I started it, put the air conditioner on high and drove out of the station and down the road with the windows open, hoping to blow the ‘skeeters out.

We returned to the station, got Holly’s bags and waited in the depot for the train. Holly, of course, looked dainty brushing an errant bug from her. I looked like a deranged person trying to dance and keep time with the driving beat of Beck’s song “E-Pro” while swatting at the mosquitoes. Look the song up. You’ll get the image.

The train finally rolled in, Holly got on it and left. I was at the station alone and in the stillness of the night I could hear the steady ‘buzz’ of the mosquitoes. There must have been more than a million doing circles under the sodium vapor lights. Others sat on the white windowsills and doors, attracted by the light colors, and waited for any living thing to move so they could feast. It was a smaller version of the scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s move “The Birds.” All I needed was an old phone booth to be trapped in and nearby children frantically running from a playground to complete the movie scene.

I returned to the car, already missing my wife, and prepared for the lonely trip home.

I thought the earlier drive would have blown the bugs out. Instead, it hurled them to the rear window bay where they waited for me to return. When I got back into the car, they formed a giant cartoon arrow and headed for me. Again, I rolled the windows down and drove fast.

And here’s a note I forgot to mention. City workers were replacing sewer lines on the east side of town; as we drove in, we could smell the rank scent of sewer gas and whatever is in the lines – a handful of Taco Bell burritos, perhaps? I took a different way back, but still drove into the work zone, this time with the windows open.

At 4:30 a.m., half-tired and battling mosquitoes, I didn’t appreciate the stench. It smelled like someone set an outhouse on fire and then tried to douse the blazes by pouring a vat of skunk diarrhea on them. It had the ambience of the Number 3 restroom stall at the Love’s Truck Stop off the I-57 Exit 308  in Kanakee, Ill. Six hundred miles of hard driving, coffee and pork rinds can replicate that smell.

So, how does this tie in with APBA? Well, with Holly gone, I had planned to roll quite a few games this weekend on the 1972 baseball season replay I just began. It was going to rain, so I couldn’t mow the yard and I didn’t have any pressing deadlines for stories I write for my magazines. I had all the time to play the game.

Instead, I was groggy from lack of sleep Saturday, the day after our train station adventure. And that afternoon, I had to go to the store to get cat food. It was pouring rain and as I sat in the store parking lot for the rain to abate, I heard that horrific sound: The stirrings of mosquitoes waking and buzzing. I bolted out of the car and into the rain storm deeming that getting soaked was better than getting malaria. Later, I spent more time trying to get the critters out of the car.

They’re still in the car, I know. I also know that when I get into the car to drive somewhere to pirate wi-fi to file this blog, the mosquitoes will be with me, wings whining in unison as they prepare to feast on me yet again.


Sunday, July 24, 2022

1972

Even for an old guy like me, it’s hard to grasp that 1972 was 50 years ago.

It was a busy year in news and culture then and as a child destined for a career in journalism, I paid attention closely to those events.

The war in Vietnam raged on. Astronauts stepped on the moon two more times as Apollos 16 and 17 landed on the lunar surface and it coincided nicely with the release of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”  The Watergate break-ins occurred in Washington, D.C., that summer, creating a lasting distrust of all politicians, and in September, 11 Israeli athletes were killed by terrorists during the Olympics in Munich, Germany.

The first “Godfather” movie was screened and possibly one of the worst songs ever recorded, America’s “Horse With No Name,” hit the radio. But one of the better ballads of all time also graced the airwaves that year when Eric Clapton serenaded us with “Layla.”

Nineteen seventy-two was also a transitional year for me, an 11-year-old kid living in northern Minnesota when the baseball season began that year. I was wrapping up sixth grade, about to leave my lab elementary school on the campus of Bemidji State University for the big time of junior high.

That year was a pivotal year, going from the peace and serenity of childhood to the stress of living a more regulated life.

Baseball, I found, was a great help during that changing year. I had a hard time adjusting to the bustle of junior high. I was a very nerdy, shy kid who fit in with my elementary school and suddenly, in September 1972, I was thrust into the big time. My first class was held in the adjoining high school building and as a scared nerd that was a daunting adventure.  The only common thing I had left from my more peaceful earlier years was watching the Twins on television. I clung to that baseball season like a shipwrecked passenger clutches a life preserver.

And now, half a century later, I’m replaying the 1972 baseball season with the APBA baseball cards and dice game. For those uninitiated with it, the game uses cards for each player who played in the 1972 season. Rather than the pictured cards that were popular in gum packs back then, these cards have numbers on them that replicate their actual production at the plate. If a player hit plenty of home runs, his card would reflect that with the iconic “1” on the card, indicating a homer. If he struck out often, as did Reggie Jackson or Bobby Darwin on my Twins’ team did, he’d get plenty of dreaded “13s,” reflecting whiffs. Players roll dice and they correspond the results with the numbers on the cards to play the game.

I realize the actual 1972 season was delayed by a strike. I’m going to ignore the strike for my replay and play out the full season as originally scheduled. Like I’ve said before in APBA replays, there are no strikes and no rainouts in my APBA replays.

To further this, the other day I was digging in a closet in search of some old books and came across the paperback Major League Baseball 1972 published by Pocket Books that I bought years ago. It was a preview book of the season, complete with rosters, lineups, schedules and predictions. It had to be a sign I was about to replay the right season. The book predicted Baltimore would face Oakland for the American League title and Pittsburgh and Los Angeles would clash for the National League. It also contains an advertisement offering I could buy a year of Sports Illustrated for $7.90.

So, this replay will be a journey of memories. Readers, be warned I’ll probably ramble on about the old days in upcoming blogs, of remembering some of the stars like Harmon Killebrew and Willie Stargell –who’s batting hitch we all imitated when playing backyard Whiffle ball – and of moments with friends and life back then. I guess that’s what we do when we get older.

Back then, I was playing “replays” of sorts, clanking the magnetic ball on the metal electric baseball game I had, creating batting orders for all American League teams (remember, I lived in Twinsland and didn’t follow the National League) and keeping the standings that I had become obsessed over. I’d read closely the standings in the Minneapolis Tribune (before the merger with the Star) and watch as the Twins took an early lead in the American League West Division before finishing third.

I guess that’s what most of us APBA players do when replaying a season we were alive for. We look back and remember those days. Nineteen seventy-two began with me walking the three blocks from Bixby Avenue to my grade school and ended with me dreading returning to junior high school where they picked on the nerds with little mercy.

Thank goodness for baseball that year. 

Now , if I can only get that stinkin’ “Horse With No Name” song out of my head.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

1965 APBA Replay World Series

Over the years, I’ve purchased each of the Minnesota Twins’ World Series APBA card seasons in hopes of replicating the real feat and guiding my favorite team to the championship.

The first one I rolled was 1987. It was an emotional season for me. My father passed away in March 1987 about the time the Twins opened their spring training. I watched as the season progressed and when the Twins beat St. Louis in seven games to win the Series, I had hoped my father was somehow watching.

I wanted to replicate that feeling with the APBA game. Instead, in my replay, Kansas City ran away with the American League West division.

Later, I replayed the 1991 season, again hoping for a Twins win. I started that season in August 2015, about a month before I met Holly –who would become my wife. She lived near Chicago, so I spent a lot of weekends making the 547-mile trip to see her. The 1991 season became secondary and, as a result, took nearly four years to complete.

This time, the Twins made it to the Series, but lost to Pittsburgh in seven games.

So, when I began 1965, I realized it was my last chance to see if the Twins could repeat the real season.

The Twins began the season slowly, but then took off and won the American League pennant by six games over Detroit. They were going to my 1965 replay World Series against Cincinnati, who beat Pittsburgh in a three-game playoff for the National League flag.

Here are the results of that World Series.

Game 1 Minnesota 13 Cincinnati 6

Zolio Versalles hit two home runs for the Twins and Jim Kaat went eight innings before giving up a three-run homer to Deron Johnson, forcing a nervous manager Sam Mele to summon Bill Pleis to get the final three outs. Bob Allison and Jimmy Hall also hit dingers for the Twins.

Game 2 Minnesota 10 Cincinnati 7

The bats came out again at the Met in Bloomington, Minn. But they didn’t arrive until Cincinnati took a 7-1 lead in the fifth inning. Versalles hit his third home run of the Series and the Twins scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth.

 Despite leading the National League with 21 saves, Reds’ reliever Billy McCool couldn’t pick up the save and Cincinnati left Minnesota with a two-game deficit.

Game 3 Cincinnati 8 Minnesota 2

Tommy Harper drove in five runs with a home run and a double and Pete Rose added two RBIs and the Reds’ starter Jim Maloney, fresh from a no-hitter in the National League playoffs, struck out 14 Twins.

Game 4 Cincinnati 8 Minnesota 7

In a seesaw battle, the Reds led after the first, 3-0, but then the Twin scored four in the second and two more in the third when Rich Rollins hit a home run. But Camilo Pascual gave up four runs in Cincinnati’s sixth inning.

The Reds scored a needed insurance run in the eighth when Harper hit a double, stole third and then scored on a groundout.  Catcher Earl Battey hit a double in the top of the ninth and Mele sent in Joe Nossek as a pinch runner for the catcher. He scored when pinch hitter Andy Kosco blooped a single, but then Versalles, who had already gone hitless in four previous at-bats, popped to end the game.

The two were tied, two games apiece.

Game 5 Minnesota 8 Cincinnati 0

Versalles hit two more home runs, his fourth and fifth in the Series and Harmon Killebrew and Allison added their own clouts in the rout. Reds ace Sammy Ellis lasted 4.3 innings before Dick Sisler swallowed a handful of Rolaids and motioned to the bullpen. Jim Kaat gave up only three hits in the complete game win.

In a first for me, Versalles hit into a triple play in the eighth inning. I’ve now done 13 season replays. I guess Lucky 13 meant it was time for the TP. Twins now lead three games to two and are heading back to Minnesota.

Game 6 Minnesota 7 Cincinnati 5

The teams were tied 2-2 after two before Allison hit a two-run single, giving the Twins a 5-2 lead after three innings.  Cincinnati added a run on a Vada Pinson home run in the fifth, but Minnesota scored twice more in the seventh when Battey drove in Tony Oliva with a single and Maloney balked in Killebrew on third. The Twins led 7-3 in the top of the ninth.

Harper led the ninth off with a home run off Twins’ reliever Johnny Klippstein and Rose walked. Pinson popped up, but Frank Robinson hit a single and Tony Perez gained a walk, loading the bases. Johnson hit a sacrifice fly to cut the Twins’ lead to 7-5.  Then, with two outs, catcher Johnny Edwards grounded to Versalles who threw it to Killebrew on first and the Twins won, four games to two.

Allison won the Series MVP, batting an astonishing .571 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. Versalles had five homers and 10 RBIs as well, batting .310. As a team, the Twins batted .303.

Robinson continued his woeful ways for the Reds batting only .120 for the Series.

After three tries, I was able to see a Twins’ World Series victory.

There’s always that odd feeling after completing a season replay. I put the 1965 season cards in a box and stuck them in an old record cabinet of my dad’s that I use for my APBA card collection. There’s that sense of sense of sadness, in a way. You spend a year and a half with the cards, rolling at night and on weekend and thinking of the games while at work sometimes. Then it’s done.

But, then I took out the APBA box of the 1972 season, wrote down schedules and team pages and set up pitching lineups for the next season’s replay.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

1965 NL Playoff Series : Reds vs. Pirates

I’ve learned to expect the unexpected while doing my APBA replay of the 1965 baseball season and I wasn’t disappointed in the three-game playoff for the National League pennant that resulted when Pittsburgh and Cincinnati tied at season’s end.

It’s really been that kind of season. It was only fitting that one playoff game featured a no-hitter and another that lasted 15 innings before a home run by one the premier stars of the game helped end it.

The Reds and Pirates each compiled 97-65 regular season records, forcing the playoff series. The San Francisco Giants finished two games back and St. Louis, which led the league for much of the season, ended three games behind. Pittsburgh won its last five games of the season and the Reds took three out of four games in San Francisco to create the tie. (I plan to do a season recap blog in a few days with team records and some statistics and observations.)

Here are the results of the playoff series. The winner would travel to Bloomington, Minn., to face the Twins in the World Series.

Game 1- Cincinnati 5 Pittsburgh 0

Reds pitcher Jim Maloney tossed a no-hitter in Pittsburgh, walking two and striking out 11.  Catcher Johnny Edwards and shortstop Leo Cardenas, the seventh and eighth batters in the Cincinnati lineup each hit home runs for the win. Frank Robinson, the MVP in the National League in my replay, went a dismal o for 4, a foreshadowing of things to come.

Maloney had a perfect game through six and a third innings before walking Manny Mota and then Willie Stargell in the seventh. He then struck out five of the last seven batters to end the game.

Game 2 – Pittsburgh 11 Cincinnati 9, 15 innings

This was the opposite of Game 1. The teams combined for 29 hits and 20 runs. There were four home runs, including two by reserve Reds’ catcher Don Pavelitch. Gordon Coleman and Willie Stargell also hit homers.

The Pirates scored three in the top of the first against Reds hurler Joe Nuxhall. But Cincinnati responded with six runs in the bottom of the inning and the hit parade was on. Both teams scored single runs in the second inning and by the sixth inning, Cincinnati led, 8-5. Pittsburgh tied it in the seventh with hits by pinch hitter Jerry Lynch, Roberto Clemente, Stargell and Donn Clendenon.

The Reds regained the lead on a sacrifice fly by Robinson in the bottom of the seventh, one of the few things he did in the series. But in the top of the ninth, Stargell hit a sacrifice fly with one out to drive in Bill Virdon and Pirates reliever Al McBean mowed down the Reds in the ninth to preserve the tie. Six innings later, Stargell hit his homerun off Reds’ fifth reliever Jim Duffalo and Gene Alley drove in Clendenon for the second run. Don Schwall gave up a double to Robinson in the bottom of the 15th, Robinson’s only hit in seven plate appearances for the game, but then got the next three Reds for the save and to give Pittsburgh a 1-1 tie in the series.

Game 3 Cincinnati 7 Pittsburgh 4

Pittsburgh opened the first with Virdon’s double, Clemente’s triple and Stargell’s single to take a 2-0 lead and stun the Cincinnati crowd at Crosley Field.

But the Reds roared back, plating four on four hits and a sacrifice fly. Vern Law lasted six innings before manager Harry “The Hat” Walker pulled him and brought in a young Wilbur Wood in relief. Meanwhile, Joey Jay went seven innings, before being relieved with a 7-3 lead. Pittsburgh scored once more in the top of the eighth, but Bob Bailey grounded into a double play in the top of the ninth and Virdon struck out to give the Reds the pennant.

Despite his team winning, Robinson had an anemic bat, hitting .154 for the series. Vada Pinson batted .429 and drove in five runs and shared the playoff MVP honors with Maloney.

Stargell went six for 12 for a .500 batting average  and drove in four RBIs for the Bucs in the losing cause.

The Reds will travel to Minnesota for the first two games of the 1965 World Series. Will Robinson come out of his slump? Will Minnesota capitalize on the Twins’ long-ball hitters? Which pitching unit will fare better?

Stay tuned. The Series recap is next.


Monday, July 4, 2022

October Games

Going into the last three days of the 1965 baseball season I am replaying with APBA, there was a chance for a four-way tie for first place in the National League.  Cincinnati led with a 95-64 record on Sept. 30 and Pittsburgh and San Francisco were each a game behind with records of 94-65. St. Louis, which had led the league for much of the season, but faltered late, was in fourth place with a 93-66 record.

Minnesota had already clinched the American League and ended up beating out Detroit by six games, so the focus at the end of this season was strictly on the National League.

It came down to the last game of the season.

Here’s a rundown of the games of October.

Oct. 1

Pittsburgh 7 Chicago 2 – The Pirates hit four home runs, including Willie Stargell’s 39th, and Bucs pitcher Bob Veale picked up the win with 10 strikeouts.

St. Louis 4 Houston 3- Tim McCarver hit a leadoff home run in the ninth inning to give the Cardinals a needed win. Bob Gibson went the distance on the mound for St. Louis, giving up only 5 hits. Two, though were home runs to Rusty Staub, his 23rd, and Joe Morgan, his 16th.

San Francisco 14 Cincinnati 4 – The Giants took a 10-0 lead by the sixth inning and pitcher Juan Marichal was perfect through the first five innings. Backup outfielder Ken Henderson hit a home run and drove in four for San Francisco.

After the day’s games, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and San Francisco all shared 95-65 records. St. Louis was a game behind at 94-66.

Oct. 2

Houston 1 St. Louis 0 – The Astros knocked the Cardinals out of the race when Walt Bond blooped a single in the sixth, scoring Morgan, for the game's only run.

Pittsburgh 7 Chicago 0 – Vern Law gave up only four hits and Stargell drove in four runs in the Buc’s victory.

Cincinnati 3 San Francisco 2 –Tony Perez hit a seventh-inning home run to give the Reds their 3-2 lead. Reliever Billy McCool picked up his 21st save, despite having Giants runners on third in the eighth and ninth innings.

Cincinnati and Pittsburgh were tied with 96-65 records and San Francisco was a game behind at 95-66.

Oct. 3

The last day of the season.  If Cincinnati beat the Giants and the hapless Cubs defeated Pittsburgh, the Reds would claim the National League crown. If San Francisco won and the Pirates lost, there’d be a three-way tie. And if Pittsburgh won and the Giants won, Pittsburgh would take the pennant.

Cincinnati 5 San Francisco 0 – Frank Robinson hit his 43rd home run of the season and Sammy Ellis earned his 24th win. Willie Mays, who ended the season with a league-leading 49 homers and Willie McCovey, who had 44 home runs, went a combined 0-7 in the game.

Pittsburgh 6 Chicago 0 – Donn Clendenon hit two home runs and drove in four runs and the Pirates ended up tied with the Reds with 97-65 records.

I’ll have a three-game playoff next with the opening game in Pittsburgh and the next two in Cincinnati.

I always say this during a replay season, but this one has to be the best one I’ve done in my 24 years of APBA baseball. My favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, won the American League, there was great pitching (Sam McDowell of Cleveland led the majors with 355 strikeouts and  Vern Law of Pittsburgh and Marcelino Lopez of California each had two no-hitters) and great hitting (Leon “Daddy Wags” Wagner of Cleveland led the American League with 46 home runs. It seemed Wagner caught on fire at the end of the season, bashing 12 in September and October.)

Next up is the National League playoff with the winner facing the Twins in the 1965 World Series.

 

 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Chance for a four-way tie?

As I near the end of the 1965 APBA baseball replay, rolling games for the last five days of the season, there’s a chance there could be a four-way tie for the National League.

Break out the rule books for settling this kind of situation; in the words of my wife when she comes across anything out of the ordinary, “I’ve never seen such a thing.”

It could happen. Right now, with three games remaining to play for the slate of contests for Sept. 29, 1965, here are the standings:

                        W        L    GB

Cincinnati     94       64    --

San Fran        94        64    --

Pittsburgh     93        65    1

St. Louis        92        66    2

Los Angeles, the actual National League winner in the real season, never scored enough runs during the season to dominate and are 86-72, eight games out and guaranteed a fifth-place finish.

The American League was settled on Sept. 26 when Minnesota beat Washington and Detroit lost the second game of a doubleheader to Cleveland, 1-0.

Pittsburgh plays the New York Mets at Shea Stadium for the last game I’ve got scheduled for Sept. 29, and then they host the Cubs for three games to wrap up the Pirates’ season.

St. Louis travels to Houston for four games.

And the big series: Cincinnati is at San Francisco for their last four games.

Here’s how it could end up with a four-way tie.  If Cincinnati and San Francisco split their series, each winning two games, they’ll have identical 96-66 records. If Pittsburgh takes two out of three against Chicago, they’ll end up with a 96-66 record and if the Cardinals sweep the four-game set in Houston, they’ll also have a 96-66 record.

The best chance to avoid the logjam is if the Reds or the Giants take three out of four. But then, if the Pirates sweep the Cubs, there’ll still be a two-way tie for first.

Of course, if San Francisco or Cincinnati sweeps the four games, any talk of any ties is over.

So, it’s been that kind of season all year long. St. Louis led the National League for much of the season. On June 30, they were one game ahead of San Francisco, 5.5 games ahead of the Reds and 8.5 in front of Pittsburgh. But the Cards fell out of first in August, going 14-16, while Cincinnati went 19-9.

San Francisco took the lead in September with an 18-11 mark for the month, fueled by ace pitcher Juan Marichal, who has gone 10-1 in his last 12 starts, and outfielder Willie Mays, who leads the majors with 49 home runs. Willie McCovey also has 43 homers for the Giants.

I still have 34 games to play in the regular season. One of the deals my wife and I have is that she gets to roll the last inning of a season. She did it when I finished 1991 and, because she’s a sports fan and gets the lure of APBA, she’ll roll again to finish 1965. The problem, though, is she’s visiting her aunt in northern Illinois and won’t be back until the end of the week. Obviously, rolling 34 games in five days would be a chore with my job and the freelance writing I do. But there’s a part of me that wants to stay up late tossin’ the games to see how they come out.

And, we really haven’t determined if Holly’s end-of-season roll is for the end of the regular season or the World Series. Because she’s supportive of my obsessive APBA hobby, I’ll do my due diligence and wait for her return to roll that last Giants-Reds game.

I’ll have to figure out how we’ll roll the games if there’s a four-way tie.


Sunday, June 12, 2022

My Dad

It would have been my father’s birthday last week had he been alive. But even though he’s been gone more than half my life, I still think of him and his influences on me.

And now with Father’s Day approaching, that hollowed, empty holiday for those with no parents, it’s time to reflect yet again.

I’ve written about my dad here before, but as I roll the games in my APBA replays – especially the 1965 season I’m doing because we were both alive in 1965 – I wish more and more that he was still here so he could give me perspectives on the seasons.

I felt that also when I replayed the 1947 season. By that year, my father was as sports obsessed as I am now. He grew up in New Jersey and was a huge New York Yankees fan. There was a chance that he could have even heard the last years few of Babe Ruth’s career on the radio at times.  I knew he saw Yogi Berra at games at Yankee Stadium and his favorite player was Joe DiMaggio.

It was my dad who got me into APBA, actually. 

I had been doing the evolution of sports games that we all did. This will age me, but I had a set of baseball, football, basketball and bowling games put out by Pop Tarts. The game, inserted in the box between the pastries, used a deck of cards. The player turned over the cards, using the results printed on the game sheet to play. It was the precursor to APBA, I guess.

Like so many others, I then gravitated to electric baseball and football when I was 7 or 8. My parents got me an electric baseball set for Christmas 1969 and I began doing season “replays” then. The baseball game utilized a magnetic ball and a plastic spring-loaded bat. There was also a spring “arm” mounted atop the centerfield bleachers you could use to throw to bases. The game consisted of loud whacking noises of the bat hitting the metal ball, the arm throwing the ball and the whirring of the game when you turned it on, sending runners vibrating around the basepaths.

That game alone probably was the catalyst for APBA. The noise had to have driven my dad bonkers at night.

So, in 1977, he got me the APBA football game for Christmas. And away I went. I’d toss the dice by hand rather than with the yellow dice shakers that came with the game to spare the clacking noise late at night when I played games.

My dad would come into my room and ask how the games were going. A year later, I got the basketball game and he’d do the same.

Of course, everyone thinks their father was a genius, but I think mine really was. He was a music teacher at Bemidji State University in Minnesota, and he could pick up any instrument, figure it out and begin playing it shortly after. He wrote two books about music theory and history and he loved learning new things. He was an avid reader of classic science fiction and I remember a time when he tried to explain various dimensions to me. I sat blankly as he tried to define what a fourth dimension was.

But despite his vast intelligence, he also laughed at farts and that, I felt, rounded him out totally.

Unfortunately, the only genetic hand-me-down I got from my dad was the affinity for fart jokes.

He died in 1987 after battling Parkinson’s. It was in March, around the time the Minnesota Twins opened spring training of their first World Series winning season. I wrote about dealing with my father’s passing and how that season helped me with the grief for the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2017 for the 30th anniversary of the Series victory. I received a lot of messages from the newspaper’s readers who worked with my dad, confirming my thoughts that he was pretty special.

Now, as I near the end of the 1965 replay I’ve been doing, I miss my father even more after 35 years of him being gone. It’d be nice to talk to him about how Mickey Mantle and Harmon Killebrew are doing in my replay and how he remembered them in his days.

As I get older, I am becoming more a fan of the history of baseball. I’ll check out most of the library’s books on baseball to read. My dad, I realize, was a library of his own of the older days of sports.

A lot of APBA players probably got their start with their fathers. And now, as Father’s Day is next week, you should take time to talk with your dad about baseball if he’s still alive (demographically, many APBA players are older themselves and their parents may have passed on as well). Roll a game with him.

You’ll be glad you did.