Play card baseball
Posted by keithosaunders on March 19, 2011
Back in 1945 my Dad served in the army during WW Deuce — the big one. He was on a transport ship going overseas to Japan when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The war was over and he ended up serving in the occupation.
On his way back to the States somebody in his platoon came down with hepatitis and the entire company had to be quarantined for a week before being allowed into the general populace. Dad had a lot of time to kill, and he ended up inventing a card football game. It was a pretty cool game, not only for its simplicity, but for its proximity to a real football game. He had it all figured out — passes, running, interceptions, fumbles, and kickoff returns.
A few years later he showed the game to my uncle, who was friends with the publisher of Esquire magazine, and the game ended up being written about in one of the issues. It was impossible to copyright the game because anybody could play it — all you needed was a deck of cards and some free time.
He subsequently invented card baseball and card basketball. He even invented a card boxing game but that one was a little silly. All you needed was four cards of the same color to come up in a row and it was a knockout. That was the entire game! Still, we would make him play and announce match after match, and his faux-boxing announcing had us in hysterics.
When I was around 12 years old he showed all of the games to me and I was instantly hooked. I would spend a day or two scheduling an entire football season. I followed the same system as the NFL — 14 game seasons (at that time) and you play the teams in your division twice. I made a schedule for each team in the NFL and I would play every single game, plus the playoffs and Super Bowl. The games took about 20 minutes to play so I could knock off the entire week’s worth of games over the span of three or four days.
With baseball and basketball there were too many games to play every team, so I would pick a team — the Dodgers with baseball, and the Lakers for basketball — and I would make a schedule for them. These were also patterned on the real life NBA or MLB schedules.
I’d be in my room by myself, flipping those cards, announcing the game out loud in the style of Vin Scully or Chick Hearn. I was out of my mind, but I had a ball. It became part of my routine and I kept playing year after year.
I played those card sports games well into my adulthood, finally giving them up around the time I moved back to Manhattan from Brooklyn in 1987. I don’t remember making a conscious decision to stop — I gradually petered out. I suppose I finally became an adult, or at least a semblance of one.
Last week I downloaded an iphone app called 9 inning Pro Baseball. The game allows you to pitch, field, and hit, and the app enables you to play entire seasons. Ironically I seem to be stuck with the Yankees as my team since I am unable to figure out how to switch to another team. Otherwise I would be the Mets.
It’s a fun game, but right now I’m terrible at it. I can pitch OK, but I can’t hit worth a lick. My team must lead the league in strikeouts and men left on base. Hopefully there is a learning curve and I will improve enough to make the season interesting, but right now I’m floundering at 2-7. On the bright side, at least the Yankees will not make the playoffs. Hopefully life will imitate fantasy this season.