A defining moment for a generation of kids

Posted in Commentary, Dad Life with tags , , , , , on March 19, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

For weeks we’d been hearing about the developing “Coronavirus” and how it’s been impacting persons around the world.  We’ve been urging folks to wash their hands more frequently and for people to stay home if they are sick.

It was real, we knew that was the case. But the time at which things become real for each of us is different. That time for me came on March 11, 2020, when the sports world came to a screeching halt.

Before I get to much further I will say that this piece is my personal perspective and my view of things through my experiences. You can dismiss it as me being naive; me being petty; me being selfish, etc. But this isn’t meant to be an all encompassing piece. This is the account of the my experience in this time.

Just over a week ago the world looked much different. We had sports to distract us from the trials and tribulation of life; they brought strangers together every day.  And on that Wednesday,  a day after the NHL had postponed its operation, we still had an evening of NBA basketball to distract us. 

I had my kids that day and we spend part of the afternoon running errands and watching my nephew play some Little League baseball.  As we headed home from the field, I received a text from my brother in law telling me that the NBA season had been postponed due to the threat of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.

I relayed this information to my 9-year-old son, who has become a big fan of the sport in recent years. And who can blame him, he’s growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area which has seen a great amount success with the Golden State Warriors’ five straight Finals appearances.

He asked a lot of questions during the drive, but took solace in the fact that there was still one game being played — the Mavericks game — and there was still one more on the schedule, which featured Zion Williamson playing in Sacramento.

We sat down that night in front of the television watching Luka Doncic dominate during the final quarter of the game, but that Breaking News banner kept flashing on the bottom of the screen — a reminder that this would be one of the final games for the foreseeable future.

As the network switched to the Kings-Pelicans game, they kept talking about the seriousness of the virus; about Rudy Gobert testing positive, and how asinine if felt that the next game would tip off.  And as we know now, that game featuring the NBA’s biggest rookie never would begin.

The players started warming up and then they left the court. We learned that one of the referees scheduled to work the game had worked a game recently that involved Gobert and ultimately the game was postponed.

The networks showed fans perplexed; fans booing; fans leaving. And then there was the “money shot” showing a young girl crying, seemingly upset the game was being canceled.  I looked at my son and he was quiet; no emotion on his face.

I asked if he was OK and he just stared at me, looking at me with his brown eyes, silently seeking answers, none of which I had. I opened my arms and told him to come to me and then he let out all of his emotion. It was at that moment that all of this became real to me because … it had become real to him. The side effects of this pandemic were impacting my kids.

That was a Wednesday night. He was a wreck for a while and wound up sleeping in my bed because he was scared. And when morning came, he woke afraid because he had a nightmare related to all of this. He hugged me almost tighter that morning that he ever had before.

He stayed home from school that day, but my 11-year-old daughter went to school also having questions: Her main inquiry was whether her fifth grade science camp — for which recently purchased supplies — would be canceled. 

As it turns out, that may in fact be their last school day for the year. School was formally postponed on Friday; the science camp was obviously nixed out of precaution — a bummer for my daughter who has been talking about this trip since the third grade. There’s also a real chance that my daughter may not get to experience her promotional ceremony as she starts middle school next year. Its unfortunate, but we get it.

This Coronavirus has been around for months, mostly being spoke of as impacting those in other countries. But it is now here impacting us on a personal level, and this is a moment that will define their generation.

As I think about what it must feel like to be a child during these times — full of uncertainly and having lots of questions — I am reminded that there are some parallels to my own life.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and my world was changed when the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck on Oct. 17, 1989. I had some family drama (parents separated) I had dealt with before that, but the earthquake brought everything to a halt, including the World Series that year which featured our two local teams, the San Francsico Giants and Oakland Athletics.

I remember being home with my younger sister and a friend when the quake hit; I remember us ducking under a table immediately as we had been taught in school, and once we realized we were physically OK, there was concern for others, including our mother who was on the way home from work,

The streets were dark that evening as power had been out due to structural damage; and the only news we had immediately was that buildings had collapsed and persons had been injured and killed as a result of the temblor. School was postponed for about a week if memory serves me right, but that natural disaster was a moment that defined my childhood — there was a clear loss of innocence for myself at that time and while I had many questions my mother could not answer, I remember her being there for all of it, being strong and making sure we were safe and fed.

Its too early to say how the Coronavirus will impact the kids of this generation.  At present my family is doing its best to keep the spirits up for the kids — we’re trying a semi-structured home schooling effort coupled with walks around the block and some free time.  But it if you ask me, this certainly will be a time they will never forget, and it is our duty as parents and adults to make sure that the kids who turn to us feel as taken care of just as our parents did for us during our times of crisis.

Collecting Kershaw: Near-Rainbow of 2006 Bowman Originals

Posted in Collecting Kershaw, Misc. with tags , , , , , on March 12, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

A week and a half ago I secured a deal for a blue border 2006 Bowman Originals Clayton Kershaw Card serial numbered /249. It was what I thought was the final card I needed for the “rainbow” of one of Kershaw’s earliest cards.

Of course what I failed to recognize is that there is a red parallel limited to just one copy.

I don’t anticipate ever acquiring that card, let alone seeing it, so I’ll just roll with the punches and not diminish this feat.

Here are the base, black /99 and blue /249 border versions of the Kershaw Bowman Originals Card.

For those not familiar, these cards were released in an odd pick out. Topps created this product which essentially contained a two buy-back Bowman autos that were inside a snap case case (like Magnetics for the time), then surrounded it by a handful of unprotected cards. The product was expensive for the time and really isn’t much different than Archives Signature that we see today.

The saving grace, as it turns out, we’re these prospect cards. The auto checklist was littered with mediocre signatures and there was concern about forgeries being placed inside the cases.

In 2006 I attended my first show after a two-year hiatus and the hobby had changed so much during that time frame. I spent two hours wandering the showroom floor looking for something to buy. I wound up grabbing a pack of Bowman Originals and it contained signatures of Fausto Carmona and Brandon Phillips … but had a blue border Evan Longoria, which was a great card for the time.

The Kershaws to me were somewhat elusive, mostly because I felt they were too expensive. The prices have come down a bit in recent years and now I’m proud to say I own these three

Card show bargain bin find brings back a fond memory

Posted in Memory Lane with tags , , , , , on March 10, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

Last week I managed to make it to the first night of the annual GT Sports Marketing show in Santa Clara, California. One of my favorite things to do it dig through the bargain boxes while everyone else is clamoring over the newest, shiny cards in the show cases.

As I dug through one dealer’s dollar box, I stopped dead in my tracks when I came to a stack of Frank Thomas cards because there in my hands was a copy of a card that I honestly called the second best card — second only to my my 1993 Elite Eddie Murray — I had ever pulled to that point in my life.

In 1994, I was a freshman in high school and my parents had been separated for about five years. My father was living with his girlfriend in a city about 15 miles away and on the weekends I would go to his house and spent time fishing and just hanging out. In that small town there was a card shop run by a gentleman who smoked cigars while customers browsed the shelves and showcase.

That year 1994 Score caught my attention because for the first time the brand had created parallel cards (Gold Rush) that were seeded one per pack and at the time that was a big deal. I bought a fair amount of Series One and completed a base set and had a partial set, so when Series Two was released I was excited.

I had no money, but my cousin — who is a year younger than I — had $10 and said I could borrow it if I promised to pay her back. You know I was down for that deal, and so she gave it to me and I plunked the cash down on the counter and asked for nine packs of 1994 Score Series Two — it would have been 10 packs if not for taxes.

I ripped pack after pack and somewhere in the middle of the session came out a 1994 Score “The Cycle” Frank Thomas card. It was one of 20 cards on the checklist, and the cards were seeded 1:72 packs, which was a common ratio for rare inserts of the time. And Frank Thomas was no slouch — his popularity in the hobby was on par with Ken Griffey Jr. at the time; they often traded top positions as the top player on the Beckett Baseball’s monthly hot player list.

When the cards were priced in Beckett, that Thomas — and the Griffey — were listed at $75. The Thomas I owned went right into a four-screw, 1/4-inch screw case for maximum protection — sans penny sleeve of course.

That Thomas stoked a great passion of mine to chase that entire set. I spent much of the fall trading various football rookies — Heath Shuler and Trent Dilfer to be specific — for various cards on the checklist, mostly the lower end guys. Dealers were more than happy to take the hot quarterback rookies for these inserts.

I never did finish the set as a kid, but it is something I have half completed at present time and intend to finish at some point.

Although I already owned a copy of this Frank Thomas card — it’s not available even for $75 — I could not pass on the chance to obtain another at such a low price. It’s not that I needed the card for my collection, but I needed it for my collecting soul and so that I could revisit that story and share it with you.

Introducing “Collecting Bumgarner” – a new PC

Posted in CollectingBumgarner, Misc. with tags , , on March 1, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

There’s something about pitchers that make me revere their skills above most others.

From the time I was young I always admired the way pitchers can dominate – Roger Clemens, Bret Saberhagen, and Dave Stewart were three of my favorites when I was a kid.

Of course I went on to collect Clemens — I kept his 1985 Topps rookie in a Card Saver taped to the inside of my school binder in 1990 and 1991.

And in the late 2000s I became enamored with Clayton Kershaw and that knee-buckling curve ball. Of course it only seemed to make sense to collect him when unearthed his Bowman Chrome Draft Refractor auto in 2006.

Officially speaking, Clemens and Kershaw have been my PC guys for several years. I’ve often toyed with adding a third pitcher, one whom I had the pleasure of watching in person locally for years.

Over the years I’ve amassed quite a bit of Madison Bumgarner cards. In 2008 I actually pulled his Bowman Chrome Draft Blue Refractor auto — a card I later sold to acquire a base auto and a few other items for my rookie collection.

But I recently made an acquisition from a friend of mine. Tom in Las Vegas is a guy with whom known for about 20 years. A few weeks ago he bought into a Nation Treasures baseball break and wound up with a sweet One of One Bumgarner pitch card that I instantly recognized as the “S” from the “World Series Champions” patch the Giants wore in 2015. I expressed interest; he cut me a good deal and we both won.

So now that the card is in my possession, I’ll formally announce that Bumgarner is a PC guy. Now I’ve got to catalog those and get them into a binder.

Collecting Kershaw: Of course this happened… and that’s why we don’t make definitive statements

Posted in Collecting Kershaw with tags , , , , on February 29, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

About a week and a half ago I sent out a tweet mentioning that I planned to write a piece about how I generally no longer chase autographs of the guys I personally collect. In my case that’s Roger Clemens and Clayton Kershaw.

No less than 24 hours I sent the tweet, and much before I sat down to write anything, I received a message from my Good Friend Tom out of Las Vegas.

Of course he hit area of my Kershaw collection I had failed to cover: a 2005 Team USA autograph.

The price tag said $75, and before I could even really respond, Tom said he’d already worked the shop down to $60.

Of course I had to own it at that price.

I would have preferred a single-signed Team USA Kershaw autograph but for the price It was good — and it doesn’t exactly hurt that the other player on the card is an all-star, Yankees reliever Dellin Betances.

I’ve still not written my autograph piece, and I will cover all of my philosophical thoughts here, but even though I feel somewhat hypocritical based on my tweet, I’m happy to have added this one to my collection — and really happiness is all that matters.

It’s now one of three Kershaw autos that I consider to be head and shoulders above the rest.

The others?

The 2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Refractor /500 that I personally pulled from a blaster at WalMart that year, and the 2016 Stadium Club because the moment depicted in that autograph card is one I experienced in person — I was there the night Kershaw tossed a 1-hitter in San Francisco in 2015 to clinch the National League West title.

TSC and A&G Chrome?! Did we need this? Who cares, bring them to us!

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on February 25, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

Topps announced today that during this calendar year we will see two new baseball products on the market, Allen & Ginter Chrome and a new version of Stadium Club Chrome.

Do we need them? No. Did anyone ask for them? Maybe. Will they be awesome and heavily opened? Absolutely.

Allen & Ginter Chrome has been sort of a running joke among some for years, especially those who know that the Ginter brand has kind of run its course and know that Topps has a history of adding Chrome to products to attract the crowd that simply loves flashy stuff. It’s going to be scrutinized as a waste of a product but it’ll have its market. Player and team collectors will enjoy chasing the cards, even more so if the cards are etched like old school Chrome, and not the phony Chrome that Topps been releasing in Bowman products over the last decade.

The Stadium Club Chrome hit me right in the feels since I’m such a nut for Stadium Club. I got a text from a friend advising me this was a thing before I saw it published anywhere and my immediate thought was “Take my money.” That said, we have been here before. Stadium Club Chrome was a thing as a standalone product in 2000. Also during that time we had lots of competing interests, and that product did not include autographs or relics, just Chrome base and refractor parallels, and various inserts. So it was one and done at the time. Of course Topps has brought back Stadium Club Chrome as an insert in recent years and while the secondary market does not suggest those were a hit, they certainly look damn good — especially the refractor versions. The twist to 2020 Stadium Club Chrome seems to be that it’ll be updated with 100 additional cards, likely to incorporate rookies and veterans who did not make it into the base TSC set. I’m a fan of this idea.

These new Chrome versions may not be your cup of tea and you may be inclined to crap all over the effort immediately. Your opinions are yours and they are not wrong. I mean surely they will certainly cost you more money if you’re chasing every version of a certain player or team. But nothing says you have to buy any of this, not immediately or ever. You have a choice.

But isn’t this what we wanted? Didn’t we want more product from which to chose instead of constantly opening Series 1 or 2, or Heritage, or turning to Panini products to scratch an itch halfway through the season?

The time has come yet again for you as a collector to draw a line in the sand and decide what you want. And if that decision does not include these products, that doesn’t mean this was a bad idea. It just means you go about your business and keep doing what you’re doing. Personally I’ll be chasing my PC guys in Ginter Chrome and I may eventually work on a TSC Chrome set — but probably not right away unless of course the price is right.

Valentine’s Day and the cards that allowed boys to show some emotion

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on February 14, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

In the 1980s and 1990s, the World was changing, becoming a more softer, gentler place. However, it was still common to reinforce the notion that boys cannot show any real emotion aside from anger and rage.

You only said “I Love You” to your mom or your girlfriend, and aside from a high five or a punch to the arm, boys were to express no positive emotion toward each other.

At least that’s how I perceived the world when I was entering adolescence.

So when it came to Valentine’s Day in elementary school, we selected the most boy-thing ever:

Sports Valentine’s Day Cards.

The messages were very Bro-tastic; what we deemed to be an acceptable way of telling other boys that “we’re cool,” “we good,” “you’re my boy” — or simply, we are friends and I care about you.

As a card collector from a young age I always kept these cards when I got them because … I was a collector.

Over the years I’ve lost a few, but I still manage to have these two, ones of Michael Jordan (I’ll upload a better image later) and Barry Sanders, and I believe I have a third one somewhere of Ken Griffey Jr., which I could not locate for this post.

Anyway, it is Valentine’s Day, and if these still existed and we were still in school I’d write my name on the back of them and place them in each of your poorly decorated Valentine’s bags at the edge of your desks.

Don’t just invest your efforts and money today in chasing down Optic basketball, get flowers and a card for the person in your life — because THAT is an investment worth making.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.