Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Radio Days

The other day while at work in Arkansas, I listened to the Minnesota Twins play the Detroit Tigers by tuning into an online feed of the Crookston, Minn., radio station and watching the Gameday feature on MLB.com.

I had instant season stats, albeit early in the baseball year, available and with a click of the mouse, I could see a player’s career totals. The Gameday feature showed where each pitch was located and included the ball’s speed – both at the release and when it crossed the plate. It provided a nice backdrop for a busy day.

I then realized how far it’s come in the realm of following a baseball team. I was in Arkansas, listening to a game played in Detroit. Later, I found an Illinois station and heard part of the Chicago Cubs’ game against Pittsburgh. Had I wanted to, I could have tuned in to games with Atlanta, New York, Boston and Oakland that day, too.

It was a vast difference half a century ago when I was a kid listening to Twins’ games on the static-filled AM radio I kept on a stand by my bed. I had no access to stats then, relying instead on my handy Official Major League Baseball Record Book published by Fawcett for $1.25. I had the 1972 edition that featured statistics for the 1971 season, team rosters for the 1972 season and all-time records. It was my sports Bible, my go-to source for any information.

I remember being the clich├ęd kid of that era, listening to late night games on that radio and using an earphone with a braided wire snuck under the covers so my parents wouldn’t know I was awake. Often, when Harmon Killebrew hit a long fly ball or when Wayne Granger was about to strike someone out to end the game and earn the save, the signal would fade into static. I’d have to wait, hoping the station would come back and I’d see how the play turned out.

The only updated stats we had were found in the Sunday newspapers, unless we wanted to clip box scores from the daily papers and calculate the batting averages and earned run averages ourselves. And I did that, keeping a three-ring notebook with box scores taped on pages corresponding with the days the games were played. It was tedious keeping up with them all, but the payoff was knowing that Twins’ third baseman Eric Soderholm was batting a woeful .180 during most of the season.

Now, we have instant access to all of that with the internet. I can immediately find out a batter’s average against right-handed and left-handed pitchers and during day and night games. OPS? OMG, it’s right there. The Gameday even shows a picture from the catcher’s point of view complete with the actual stadium, day or night skies, and any buildings and landmarks past the outfield walls. It leaves little for the imagination, eliminating my own thoughts of what stadiums looked like when I listened to Twins’ games on my little radio 50 years ago.

Is it a good thing, the advances in technology? Well, sure, knowledge is good anytime. It allows me to listen to my favorite team, despite sitting in a northeast Arkansas office building some 775 miles from Target Field. I can see how teams are doing any time of the day by checking sports websites and I can get updated immediate standings, rather than waiting for the next day’s paper to arrive with incomplete standings. (Remember the letter ‘n’ next to the west coast games indicating they were played too late to make press time?)

But I’m finding as I get older, I often look back in nostalgic ways. This isn’t some grumpy creed from an old-timer saying “We had it tough in those days, having to wait overnight for scores.” Instead, it’s just a thought of how things differ.

The Twins will play several upcoming day games. I’m sure I’ll find the Crookston radio station at work, click on MLB.com and “watch” the game. But part of me would rather be huddled under my covers as a youngster with the world still ahead of me, my braided earphone cord snaking beneath the sheets and bring the world of sports to me.


Monday, April 5, 2021

The Pepsi Kid

As much as I drink Pepsi while rolling APBA games, I should do an advertisement for the syrupy, caramel, burp-inducing pop.

I’ll generally buy a 1.2-liter bottle of the elixir under the guise of needing to quench the writing muse when I have magazine stories I need to crank out on deadline. But, I find myself drinking the Pepsi quite a bit during the games I play. There are a lot of, shall we say, brief “rain delays” by the seventh inning stretches during games when I’m hitting the bottle hard.

The advertisement would fit well while I’m playing the 1965 APBA baseball season.

VIDEO: APBA card of New York Mets’ outfielder Joe Christopher. A red and white dice lie next to it with a “4” and “1” roll. The corresponding number on Christopher’s card is a “24,” the roll for a double play.

ANNOUNCER: When playing New York Mets games, nothing makes their tasteless season a bit more palatable than a nice, cold Pepsi. When manager Casey Stengel reaches for the bullpen phone to summon a relief pitcher yet again in the sixth inning, I reach for my bottle of the refreshing soft drink

VIDEO: Shot of Washington Senator’s outfield Frank Howard’s card in the background with a glass of Pepsi in the foreground. The two APBA dice show “66,” the universal roll for a home run.

ANNOUNCER: You’ll be rolling 66s every time you open a bottle of Pepsi.

I actually remember the first Pepsi I ever had. My family was traveling from our northern Minnesota home to western Arkansas on a vacation when I was about 10. We stopped in Joplin, Mo., for the day, partly because my father had been stationed there while in the Army and wanted to see the area and partly because he had heard of the mysterious “Joplin lights” legend that had people believing in flying saucers.

We went inside a roadside dinner next to the motel and ordered food. I was craving a pop and asked for a “RC Cola,” the staple of soft drinks in northern Minnesota. The waiter looked at me like I was a Joplin light.

“What about a Canada Dry ginger ale?” I asked.

Again, the look.

He picked up on my northern accent. His name was “Tom,” based on the nametag on his shirt. How I remember that after 50 years, I have no idea. I can’t remember to tie my shoes half the time and there are days when I get in the car to go to work and realize I forgot my keys. Maybe it was because I had a friend named “Tom” who lived next door to me back then.

“Son,” Tom said in a southern drawl. “We’re in the south. We don’t have any of those Yankee drinks. How ‘bout a Pepsi?”

And so it began.

I got a second one and Tom called me the “Pepsi Kid.”

“Pretty good stuff, isn’t it?” he said. And I agreed.

Now, half a century later my kidneys probably look like some decrepit sponge under the kitchen cabinet and my liver may have the consistency of a brick, but I keep chugging Pepsi. Thanks, Tom.

I once quit drinking it for a year in 1997  just to see what would happen. I lost about 30 pounds during that time, but I missed the flavor. I used to travel with my first wife to craft shows before she passed away 15 years ago. She’d sell women’s hair wrap things we made and I’d spend long hours sitting in convention centers or booths or under tents at shows.  (Once I sat in a mule pen at the Nashville, Tenn., fairgrounds where they held a craft show.)

We were in Jackson, Tenn., one hot afternoon and I put my book down, got up from my chair and asked for change. It had been a year since I had a drink and the craving, the addiction, became unbearable. I walked to a pop machine in a near trance, fed the change slot and pushed the button for “Pepsi.” Somewhere, a chorus of angels sang.

It was one of the best Pepsis ever.

I wrote about my addiction to the drink and the Jackson, Tenn., experience in a column I had at a weekly newspaper. I equated to falling off the wagon like an alcoholic and waking up in an alley, covered in syrup and goo, bottle caps strewn around me.

It wasn’t that flattering of a column, but the local Pepsi bottling plant loved it. They sent me coupons for several crates of Pepsi and a nice tee-shirt. Sadly, the shirt was too small for me – probably because I had quaffed so many Pepsis. It was a Medium. I wanted to call the plant and ask them if they had one in a size Circus Tent, but I was a bit embarrassed. Instead, I just drank away my sorrows with more Pepsi.

I’ve now turned my wife, Holly, into a Pepsi fan. She’ll pour some of the drink from my 1.25-liter bottle into a coffee cup and then put a sandwich bag over it to save it. She may take a drink and then place it into the refrigerator, returning to it later. Later? I’d drink a coffee cup-worth of the stuff in one gulp.

There’s a window ledge by the desk where I write my articles and roll the APBA games. I keep the bottles of pop on the ledge within easy grasp. But as I look now, there’s only an empty bottle.

The two saddest things in life are an empty prescription bottle of Tramadol for pain and an empty bottle of Pepsi.

Looks like I’ll have to make a run to the grocery store to get another round of drinks.

It’ll make the 1965 NY Mets games I play a bit more tasteful.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

A Lack of Vision

Looking at baseball cards issued for the 1965 season, I noticed a lot of players wore glasses and while most of the spectacled looked like accountants from a large 1950s firm, at least they could see.

My baseball career was cut short because I wouldn’t wear my glasses at an early age for fear of ridicule. I didn’t realize then that my lack of corrected vision was actually more grounds for poking fun at me than the way I looked had I been wearing the glasses. If I had paid attention to those baseball stars who wore them, I’d probably not have shunned them and done better on the diamond.

There were some good four-eyed players who are in my 1965 APBA replay now. Perhaps the best was Dick Allen, the slugging third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies. Denny McLain, the Detroit Tigers pitcher who, three years later won 30 games, had glasses.  Frank Howard, another home run fiend, sported glasses while playing with the Washington Senators. Two Sens’ pitchers that year, Howie Koplitz and Frank Kreutzer, also wore them. Two of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bill Virdon and Bob Veale, also had corrective lenses. And the Twins saw 1965 American League MVP Zolio Versalles wear them, along with third baseman Rich Rollins.

I knew my vision was bad while in first grade at my northern Minnesota elementary school. The school was on the campus of a college where my father taught; it was called the “lab school” and college students often used us grade schoolers in various tests involving education and then some. (I remember once a bizarre class tested us to see if anyone had Extra Sensory Perception. They held up cards and we had to “feel” what symbol was on each card.)

Once, in the early fall of my first grade year, college students lined us up for eye exams. The testers held a large wooden block with the letter “E” on it. They would turn it and we were to tell them which way the “E” was pointing. I knew I was in trouble when I squinted and said “What block?”

I got glasses soon after, but I was embarrassed to wear them. I was pretty much a nerd anyway. Glasses just made it worse, I thought. Looking back now and realizing just how bad my vision was then, it’s a wonder I could play the waffle ball games and shoot baskets with my friend, let alone finding my way back home later.  I did okay, but still, there were the embarrassing moments when I should have just put the glasses on. Once, while at the lake home of a girl I liked from Grand Rapids, Minn., I thought I saw a ball on the floor. I picked it up with the intent of tossing it to her. Rather than a ball, though, I discovered upon closer inspection that it was a chunk of red meat they had given to their dog. It was coated in dog drool and when I quickly dropped it in shock, the girl and her parents laughed at me. They went back to Grand Rapids at the end of that summer and I never saw her again – both figuratively in a relationship sense and in reality in a really poor vision sense.

I tried out for Little League baseball without the glasses when I was 10 or so. During batting practice, the coach lobbed easy pitches to check our swings. When it was my turn, I hefted the bat, swinging it like a seasoned pro. I stepped up, dug in and waited for the pitch.

"Son, you’re facing the wrong way,” the coach said. I turned around to face the pitcher’s mound and began flailing at pitches I thought were near me.

“He swings at all the bad pitches and lets the good ones go by,” another kid said of me. Others made fun of me, criticizing my swing and general appearance. I wanted to tell them that only my vision was affected. My hearing was perfect.

I played in one Little League game before my lack of vision got the best of me. I was stationed in the outfield where the coach presumed no one would hit a ball. Unfortunately, some kid laid into one and sent the ball my way. I looked skyward, hoping to see the ball. I couldn’t spot it and when it made the sickening landing “thud” some 10 feet behind me, I knew I was doomed. The coach screamed at me and took me off the field. I ducked my head in embarrassment and then snuck off the field and went home. Despite the others having good vision, no one seemed to notice me leave.

I wear contact lenses now; I got rid of the glasses in 1976 while in high school. But I’m sure I still can’t hit a baseball. Learning to swing blindly during my formative years didn’t help.

When I roll games in my 1965 APBA replay now, I think of those players who wore glasses and probably had the last laugh at any of the kids who may have made fun of them. Frank Howard must be seeing the ball very well; he has 17 home runs in 45 games in my replay and is on pace for 61 home runs. Rollins, while not known for his slugging, hit one out for the Twins the other day in my replay to keep Minnesota in first place in the American League.

So, the lesson here is: wear your glasses. Don’t worry about how you look. Even if you don’t end up playing baseball in the big leagues, wearing glasses will keep you from picking up dog drool-infested food.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Who Cleans the Confetti and Other Sports Questions

My wife is quite the sports fan, knowing teams and players and understanding the nuances of the games, but there are some limitations and that’s what makes watching them with her an interesting venture.

For example, when we watched the Chicago Cubs dispatch the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016 National League Championship series, Holly noticed Dodger third baseman wearing a large blue protective glove while waiting to bat. “Why is he wearing that oven mitt?” she asked.

Then when some of the batters swung weighted bats while on deck in the same series, she thought the weights looked like erasers. Perhaps they were. The Cubs may have used them to erase Los Angeles’ 2 games to 1 lead and take the next three games to make it to the World Series.

And, as we watched football games on television, on first glimpse, Holly considered if the padded down markers were actually large vacuum cleaners used to clean up confetti after Super Bowls and National Championship games. She wondered who would clean the celebratory mess after the games were over and thought big vacuum cleaners could do the trick. (Just this season, she amended that and thought people should drive large leaf-cleaning Zamboni-type machines to clear the field. Maybe they do.)

She’s questioned why extra points in football contests are worth only one point while field goals, some kicked only a few yards longer than an extra point, are worthy of three points. She’ll root for teams with prettier uniforms and more appealing and nicer names. It’s much more esthetic, say, to root for a Washington Husky than a USC Trojan or a Kentucky Wildcat.

But despite that, sports have been part of our lives since we first got together. Within two weeks of us first talking by telephone in the summer of 2015, I called her to give her the play-by-play of Cubs’ pitcher Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter against the Dodgers. She couldn’t get the game on her television and heard about Arrieta’s feat.

And there’s more: The following season, we watched the Cubs embark on their 2016 World Series run, catching their first home game of the season on a television set in a Waukegan, Ill., laundromat while we washed large quilts.  She’d ask me how the Cubs were doing during the season and when the playoffs began she was a fixture in front of the television whenever Chicago played.

When we made the long drives from Arkansas to north Chicago, to pass the time, I’d say cities and she’d offer team names. I was stunned when she knew Ottawa’s hockey team is called the Senators. She even knew San Jose’s hockey team.

Still, there are those moments. We missed much of the first half of the 2016 Super Bowl because we were in a Gurnee, Ill., convenience store looking for fingernail polish rather than parked in front of a television set. And I didn’t watch the 2021 NBA All-Star game – although, I had no interest in watching it anyway – because Oprah was interviewing the royal Harry and Meghan and that was must-see TV at our home that night.

The sports thoughts carry over to APBA as well when Holly would roll some games for the Cubs in my replays. Chicago was pretty bad in that replay. Once, she helped roll a Cubs game in which they were getting pounded. By the seventh inning, she thought the APBA-carded Cubs players should quit the game, go back in their envelopes and “call it a day.” She also questioned why I’d pull pitchers and bring in relievers during APBA games.

“Because their arms are tired,” I said.

“They’re not real players,” she said. “These are virtual arms. They can’t really get tired.”

So, it is an adventure watching sports with her. We’ll fill out the brackets for the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament and chances are she’ll beat me like she has in the past. If there was a team named the “Chipmunks” she’d probably root for them to make it to the finals based only on the cuteness of the name. Meanwhile, I analyze stats and trends and try to figure out point spreads only to have my bracket destroyed by the Sweet 16 round.

And when the 2021 basketball champion is crowned and the stadium dumps the confetti on the court, I will wonder who cleans up the mess.

 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Getting Older

I don’t like interleague play in baseball and I’m not a big fan of the designated hitter.  I still consider Henry Aaron the home run king and I liked the era when relief pitchers went two or three innings for the save, rather than facing only one or batters now as “specialists.”

 Whenever I heard the song, “We Are Family,” I immediately think of the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and I know who Gene Tenace, Tom House and Roland Office were and the teams they played for.

I wouldn’t have known who the singer “Bad Bunny” was if he bit me and stole my carrot until I watched Saturday Night Live the other week. In fact, I’ve not really liked Saturday Night Live since John Belushi left the show.

I feel all this because I am old. I know this for a fact because I was reminded of it the other day while standing in line at the pharmacy. The cashier asks customers for their birthdates before giving them their medicine as a way of identifying them. A woman in front of me said she was born in 1995. 1995! By that year, I had lived in six states, earned a master’ degree in communication, held 11 jobs and was well versed in the concept that life isn’t all fun and games and it doesn’t turn out like you had hoped.

The pharmacy cashier noticed my look and asked me about it, and when I told her I was old, being born in 1960, she laughed and said I wasn’t that old.

“I’ll tell you how old I am,” said, “I’m getting this medication.” I pointed to the bottle she was bagging of generic Flomax, the pill that helps guy’s have, well, a max in their flow when going to the bathroom.

“It’s not just for older people,” she said. “It’s for kidney stones and other things.”

I’ll give her that. I’ve had a kidney infection issue since 2016 that’s not really age-related. But my age surfaced when I realized I was excited about getting the medication and couldn’t wait until I could refill my Tramadol for the insistent pain I always have.

I know I’m not that old. Yet. There are always others out there who, when hearing my age, say, “Oh, you’re still young.” Those who say that are way older than I am. Eventually, I’ll be the one saying that to 60-year-olds.

Age is a state of mind for the most part. Sure, there are the aches and pains that come with aging. When I get up off the floor from playing with the cat, my knees sing two arias from Puccini’s opera “La Boheme.” But I’m still young at heart, as they say, and I have a hard time believing I am as old as I am, at least mentally.

But age and the experiences that come with being this old have a large part in defining who I am now. I listen to music popular when I was a kid – Fleetwood Mac, U2, Joe Cocker – and I have no idea who today’s musicians and entertainers are. I’ve found myself watching the old television program “Columbo” on MeTV on Sundays because it brings back memories of living in youthful times.

And that’s why, I think, we all play the APBA games. I’m really enjoying replaying the 1965 baseball season, more so than other replays of seasons when I wasn’t alive. I was barely conscious of baseball in 1965, but I do remember Henry Aaron and Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle when I was a lad of 5 years old that year.

It’s a way to grasp on our youth by doing these seasons. And the interesting thing about APBA is that most of us began playing it when we were kids. We’ve all done replays of seasons we lived through. I’ve got 1972 on tap to play which was one of the most pivotal and important seasons that made me a huge baseball fan. I remember as a kid growing up in northern Minnesota watching the Twins on television with the names of Tony Oliva, Harmon Killebrew, Rich Rollins and Jim Kaat becoming part of our normal vocabulary.

I can name the starting lineup of the 1965 San Francisco Giants, but I can’t name three players on the 2021 Giants’ team.  Part of that is because the pandemic we’re enduring took the heart out of baseball and all sports. The other part is that 1965 was more a part of my learning years than now.

The APBA game is a way to keep us more young at heart and a way, I venture, to deal with our own mortality. In 50 years, when I’m gone, hopefully there’ll be someone my age rolling games for the 2021 season and fondly remembering his or her youth.

Friday, February 19, 2021

1965 Replay Update: May 9, 1965

(Note: I wrote this a week ago, but we had freezing rain and two snow "events" that kept me housebound and unable to drive to the nearby Marriott parking lot to use their wi-fi to send this. So, I've played a lot more games in the replay since writing, but at least readers can get an idea of how the season is going)

I haven’t done an update for the 1965 APBA baseball replay I’ve been involved in with the past two months, so now, as I reach games for May 10, 1965, it’s time for one.

A couple of surprises that jumped out early were that both the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the two teams that made it to the World Series that year, aren’t faring that well so far. The Twins began well, beating the less-than-stellar New York Yankees and Cleveland  in two-game series each. But then they were swept in a three-game set at Detroit and swept in four games in Chicago. Unless something major happens, I don’t see the Twins winning 102 games like they did in the real season.

The Dodgers are also questionable. There’s not much batting in Los Angeles. Wes Parker leads the team with four home runs. The pitching’s not so hot either. Despite his league-leading 67 strikeouts and A(XY) rating, Sandy Koufax is only 2-2 on the mound, and Don Drysdale, the number two starter, is 1-4. Of the 11 games the Dodgers have lost so far, the most runs the team scored in those games was four, in a 5-4 loss to San Francisco.

Another oddity is the Chicago Cubs. They opened the season with a 2-10 record and looked like they’d compete with the New York Mets as the worst team. But then, the Cubs reeled off eight wins in a row, then lost one and won four more game in a row until Houston bested them, 5-0, in the second game of a May 9 doubleheader.

Cub’s outfielder Billy Williams is a candidate for the National League MVP over the first month, batting .390 with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs. Ernie Banks is batting .327 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs. Catcher Ed Bailey has six homers for the Cubs; in the real season, Bailey had five home runs. (Note: as is my custom, I’m not keeping full stats and instead just compiled these by hand to see how the Cubs’ stars compared,)

Frank Howard leads baseball with 12 home runs and, in another over-producing effort, Royal’s first baseman Ken Harrelson already has nine dingers.

Here are the standings as of games played through May 9, 1965:

American League

Chicago           16        7          --

Detroit            16        8          0.5

Minnesota      13         10        3

Washington    14        13         4

Boston              11         11         4.5

Kansas City    11         13         5.5

Cleveland       10        12         5.5

Baltimore       10        14        6.5

California        9         15         7.5

New York        9         16        8

National League

 St. Louis         18        6          --

Pittsburgh       15         10        3.5

Philadelphia   14        9          3.5

Chicago           14        12         5.5

Los Angeles    12         11         5.5

Cincinnati       12         12         6

San Francisco  11         13         7

Milwaukee      10        13         7.5

Houston          11         14        7.5

New York        4          21         14.5

 

Things are bound to change in May. The Twins will play their next 14 games against California and Kansas City, splitting home-and-home series before heading to Boston, Washington and Baltimore to end the month. Minnesota ought to pick up some ground playing those weaker teams.

The Dodgers will host Houston, Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Cincinnati  with a six-game road trip to Houston and Chicago in between the home stands.

I’m on a four-game-a-day pace, which is pretty decent for me.  The games of 1965 seem quicker than my previous replay of 1947. There are fewer hits and more strikeouts, which hasten the game. Scores come on big hits at opportune times –look at Washington’s won-loss record with Howard swinging the bat.

There are always things to watch for in a replay. In this case, will the Twins and Dodgers improve? Will the Cubs continue to play streaky? Will Howard hit 61 or more home runs? Will Koufax get runs needed to better his won-loss record?

We roll the games to see how these things turn out.

 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

The APBA Cat

I didn’t know I had a real APBA cat until my wife found the red game dice I thought I lost a week earlier in a pretty peculiar place.

There were some hints before that our cat was an APBA cat– a pen was missing from the desk where I play the game, cards seemed a bit scattered if I left a game momentarily and the chair I sit in was swiveled in a different direction a few times than I left it. But our cat, Squeaky, a two-year-old knucklehead, didn’t seem all that interested in the game and only came in when I played to seek food.

I had an APBA cat before. May, a small torbe cat who died in 2015, often sat on the desk where I rolled the games and watched. Once, a red dice was missing. I thought May knocked it off the desk, but I never found it. For the most part, she just watched the games. In her honor, I use her as my picture on the Goodreads book rating website; she’s posing by an APBA baseball card of Milt May that I’m holding in front of her. She doesn’t look like she’s a big fan of her namesake, though.

Holly and I got Squeaky from the local PetSmart store. We had two other cats and a dog when we got together, but sadly, they passed away within a year of each other. I was leery of getting another pet. The loss hurt each time and I didn’t want to go through that again.

But then, in June 2019, there we were in PetSmart, looking in the kennels at several cats. We almost got an orange one, but we spotted Squeaky looking sad and lonely in a small kennel by himself. He seemed shy and reserved and quiet. We were wrong in our assessment of the cat.

He had another name at the store, but we changed it to “Squeaky” when we heard him meow. At times it’s a high-pitched squeak. When I pick him up he often squeaks like someone is letting air out of a balloon. Fortunately, the noise is coming from his front end. I fear cat emissions. Once, May dropped a Friskies fart while sitting on a stand where my CPAP breathing machine is located. The scent entered the machine and I woke up thinking either the house was on fire or the sewer plant exploded upwind.

There’s never been any cat gastrophies with Squeaky, but he is an attention-seeker when he wants something. He will get on a windowsill and try to reach and swat things off the nearby fireplace mantle. Or he’ll jump on the ledge of the television cabinet and paw at either the sides or the television. Either way, it drives me nuts and I have to get up and make him get down.

He either wants more food, cat treats, to play with his bird toy or to go outside on his leash and visit the feral c at who lives in the garage. He wants one of those things often. I didn’t know he’d resort to dice-stealing to get his way.

 I usually close the door leading to the spare bedroom where the APBA game is played. But on occasion, I’ll leave it open if I’m trekking to the kitchen for a drink or to momentarily catch something on television.

One of those times must have been when he made off with the dice.

The APBA game uses two dice – a tiny white dice and a slightly larger red dice. Players roll them and use the results to find various actions on players’ cards. All APBA players have scores of the dice around. I’ve got three sets on a lamp by the game table and for some reason, there’s a pair on the bedroom dresser.

When I looked for the red dice, left on a mouse pad I use to roll, it
was gone. I searched on the table and under the desk. Sometimes when I roll, one of the dice tumbles off the mat and desk and hides under things like the laptop computer, APBA notebooks and the other games I keep there.

This time, I couldn’t find it and after a futile hunt, I gave up and used another pair of dice.

It wasn’t until a Thursday, the Litter Box Cleaning Day because our trash runs on Fridays, when Holly found the dice. The larger red dice was under a small white rug leading to the covered cat’s litter box.

Somehow, in the short time I was away from the opened room, Squeaky knocked it off the table and either carried it or batted it down a hallway and to his box. The rug wasn’t tussled, either. It as if Squeaky folded the rug back, placed his find under it and then smoothed it out. Holly picked up the rug only to shake any extra cat litter Squeaky dragged out of the box. And there it was.

 There were hints of his ways. Holly found a tube of lip gloss and some fingernail polish that was left atop the living room coffee table inside Squeaky’s box of toys. He’s also taken a couple of her stuffed animal toys left on shelves and carried them to his hiding spot under the dining room table.

There are scores of APBA players who do have APBA cats. Once, after May passed away, I posted about my loss on the APBA group’s Facebook page. Within minutes, people began posting their pictures of cats sitting beside APBA game.

Now if I leave the APBA room, I’ll either shut the door or place the dice where I know he won’t them. It’s part of what you do when you have an APBA cat.