As a kid growing up in rural Middle Georgia in the 70s, I somehow became a huge baseball fan. The odds were stacked against me, I had amazing parents (I still do!), but at the time, they really weren’t that much into baseball, I lived almost two hours from Atlanta and the Braves, which was a lot further back then that is seems now and there were virtually no games on TV. But somehow, I started reading the box scores when I was around seven and began to teach myself how to keep score soon after from Braves radio. Baseball cards soon followed, but in 1978, I found the solution that forever cemented by love for the game.
While reading a baseball preview magazine in 1977, I saw an advertisement for a simulated baseball game called APBA. The process was unbelievable long, I sent off for an information packet, which in turn had the form to purchase. While $32 doesn’t seem like much now, it felt like $1,000 in today’s economy. I convinced my mom it would be life changing for me and she wrote the check and we sent if off. Two days later, I would wait for my dad to show up with the mail to see if it had arrived (I guess I was already expecting Amazon Prime service 40 years ahead of its time.)
Days turned to weeks and my mom explained that often vendors would hold the check for several weeks before filling the order to make sure the funds cleared properly. It was all too much for a 12 year old to take in. Then one day, my dad pulled into our driveway, and I watched him intently from the back door and saw him reach across the seat of his truck and retrieve a long, flat cardboard box from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, ARRIVAL!
The feeling of opening that box was special, just so much to take in. It was the complete 1978 set and I ripped open the Braves envelope to see Jeff Burroughs, Garry Matthews and Phil Neikro, those guys were actually in my house to play a game (figuratively of course). I taught myself how to play and immediately started to try the 1978 season. Without a database to track stats, I used carbon paper to mass produce a stat sheet for each player.
Unfortunately, my attention span was not as diligent and I never got past more than a week, but I tried several combinations. I played one team for about 40 games (I always picked the Yankees for some reason), made my own team (they always went 162-0) and started buying old teams from APBA offers that would come in the mail. They knew I was addicted and they were stringing me along with sales collateral at just the right time.
Soon, I learned all of the boards and most of the combinations. Injuries, the dreaded column #53 from the player card that always seemed to bring calamity, the rain out scenario which really confused me, etc. As I grew older, the games got lost or cards strewn throughout the house and later trashed. But that feeling was always there.
As an adult, I bought one a few years ago off eBay, the day it arrived, I had that same feeling from 1978, and it was amazing. I taught my sons to play and they enjoyed and had fun, but it was never as special them as it was to me. It has been a long time since I rolled those dice, but you never know when I might go down to the basement and dust off the box. It will take me right back to my childhood, it feels just like rolling a 66 with Greg Luzinski’s 1978 card up, a long enjoyable homerun.