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Doug Wolter: A swing down memory lane

I put away my APBA cards decades ago, but last week I brought them out again.

No, I am not lapsing into my second childhood. For one thing, my wife says I have never really left the first one.

I understand that many of you don’t know the difference between APBA and the ASPCA, so here’s a little background: APBA baseball is a detailed baseball simulation that deals in cards and dice and printed readouts geared to making this “game” as realistic as humanly possible. Each player has his own card with his own unique information so that the dice rolls correspond to what the batter (or pitcher, or defender) might produce in real-life situations.

You can play whole seasons with this kind of set-up, and each year the APBA company brings out a new line of player cards based on the seasons that the players had in real life.

Now, there are two kinds of baseball fans in the world — those who create their fantasy teams generated by in-season real-life player performances; or those who prefer creating their own seasons based on the dice and the cards.

I prefer the latter, myself. Many years ago, in fact, a friend and I used to while away whole summers playing 162-game schedules with the cards. We drafted our own players, made trades, set our lineups, our pitching staffs, and rolled red and white dice to record the individual at-bats, etc. We kept all their statistics, too — updated every player stat after every game.

Nerdy? I won’t argue with you. But I would assert it’s no less nerdy than playing fantasy baseball the other way.

So why should I dust off the old cards again after all these years? Well, it’s because one day last week I accidentally came across (on the Internet, of course) APBA cards of some of the all-time greats, in their greatest seasons. There in front of my eyes were “monster” cards of Ted Williams in his prime, of Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Rogers Hornsby, and others.

I had never seen cards like these before. So I printed the cards. And what is a person to do with cards like these other than to drool over them and wonder what it would be like to play games with them?

Play games, of course. I think what I’ll do is graft them onto teams using the 1980s cards I still have in a big cardboard box in the corner of our basement. I think I’ll have Cobb batting lead-off and Williams batting third on one of those teams, and I’ll send them against a team with Wagner and Aaron on it.

I’m not sure the real-life 2014 baseball season will end well for me. This will be my fall-back.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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