Someday I’ll tell you why the blog is called “One for Five.” In the meantime, this is a brief synopsis of my long history with tabletop sports games.
I invented my first baseball board game at the age of 7. I really don’t remember any of the details except that it had a spinner on the pitcher’s mound. I won 3rd place in my school invention contest in the games division. One of the judges was a representative from Mattel.
This is the spot when the whole thing starts to sound a little like the backstory of a labcoat-wearing evil genius:
It was about two years later when I saw a suspiciously similar game on the shelf at a toy store. I vowed then and there that someday I’d make The Greatest Baseball Board Game of All Time(tm)! And nobody would ever steal it from me! In the spring of 1986, at the age of 10, I invented a baseball game that relied on a deck of playing cards to come up with results. It was a simple game, and a nice diversion for me. While playing I could be engaged with and immersed in a world that was far removed from the turmoil in which I lived. I played thousands of games with My League. Literally. I was on Season 30 when I gave up My League (as I called it) on the day I left for college. I ceremoniously threw away the notebooks and stats I’d kept from My League on the day I graduated college, too. Today, I wish I would’ve kept some of them, at least.
I first heard about Strat-o-Matic from the Street & Smith’s baseball preview magazine ad they ran in the late 80′s and early 90’s. I wished for the game, because I imagined it had to be just like My League, only better, but my family didn’t have money to spend on stuff like baseball games. I got my first Strat set in 1997, while in college. I played a few games, had fun with it, but put it away within a couple weeks. I didn’t have time for it, plus, at that time in my life it was important to me, for some reason, to put childhood behind me.
In 2000, I moved into my fiancee’s mother’s house, while we worked and saved up for a move out on our own to the Big City. I tried to quit drinking that year, too, and was successful for about 13 months or so. I needed a diversion in the evenings, so I pulled out the old Strat-o-Matic game. I don’t know why I kept this game when I threw out all my old My League notebooks, but I’m glad I did. I soon found a Strat play-by-mail league and was involved in that for about 5 years, until the PBM league started to feel like a chore and life overwhelmed me again. My last year in the league was 2005. I didn’t pick up strat – or any sports sims – again for 5 more years.
2010 was a year of upheaval and transition for my family. By this time my – now – wife and I had a couple of little girls, ages 2 1/2 and 1. My industry and consequently my career had been spiraling downward since the August 2008 market crash. In March 2010, the wife and I each unexpectedly lost our jobs (again) and suddenly found ourselves faced with the prospect of moving back to her mother’s house, 3000 miles away. Which we did. I didn’t take the stress of the move or the family upheaval or the loss of job or any of it well this time, though, and my drinking wasn’t helping matters.
Back in my mother-in-law’s house, again. Unemployed, again. Depressed, drunk most of the time, again I decided I needed a diversion. I broke out my old Strat game, this time with the 42 Old Timer’s teams and started up a new league. I called it the PUB League. The name stood for “Paul’s Unemployed Baseball League” though it was also a double-entendre in that I could say “I’m going to have a beer at the PUB” and mean I’m going to play Strat and drink a beer (or six). I played a lot of Strat and drank a lot of beer in the 6 months of my unemployment.
On October 17th, 2010, I drank my last beer. At the advice of a very good friend, I found myself in Alcoholics Anonymous three days later. As I write this (November 2nd, 2011), it’s been over a year now, and I am still in the program without relapse. I have a great job (that I love!), and I am closer to my family and God than ever.
I am more into Strat-o-Matic (and, recently, APBA Soccer) than ever, too, but this time it’s proved to be a wonderful diversion in the right ways for the right reasons. As I am no longer dulling and muting my emotions with alcohol, and since I do work hard now to grow in my relationships with my loved ones and in my spiritual relationship with God, I can enjoy these games in a healthy manner, like a normal human enjoys a normal hobby. That feels great. I feel great. Life is good. God is good.
This is a lot of writing to say, essentially, this one thing: Here is my blog. It is about Strat-o-Matic Baseball and APBA Soccer (and maybe a few other games, too). It’s also about my life. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
– Paul (aka catnotmouse)