Archive for Boston Red Sox

My first Topps Now card of 2019… and it’s a Walk Off Winner from my birthday

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , on May 22, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

When I was a kid, my parents always asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. I was never a party kind of person. All I needed was family and baseball, so in my teens I started asking my mother and father if we could go to an A’s game.

We didn’t go every year, but one of my favorite baseball birthday memories was when I was about to turn 19. My father took me and two friends to a May 1, 1999, contest between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland A’s. As it turned out, Pedro Martinez was on the mound for the BoSox and he wound up dominating Oakland to the tune of 13 strikeouts over just 7 innings en route to his career 89th career victory. Needless to say I, being a Red Sox fan, was happy. And in the context of baseball history, that dominating start really summed up 1999 Pedro, damn near untouchable.

I’ve gone to many other games around my birthday, and as it turned out, this year, my 39th birthday, wound up probably being my second favorite, even eclipsing that one from a half a lifetime ago. (My top favorite is still this trip to Fenway in 2010.)

This year my son’s Little League participated in three different “Youth Sports League” days/night in the area. The league participated in San Francisco Giants and San Jose Giants events, as well as one of the several hosted by the Oakland A’s. This year, the League chose the night that happened to be Friday Fireworks Night, which just so happened to be my birthday.

We tailgated with the League President and other families. The kids played Wiffle Ball, I played catch with my kids, and I tweeted out a picture of my son wearing my personal Mark McGwire jersey, the one I wore during my high school days.

The tweet received a lot of attention, including an epic comment from the Oakland A’s organization itself. The response from the team was a gif of McGwire bashing elbows at home plate following a walk-off home run in Game 3 of the 1988 World Series — the gif really hit home because I remember staying up late to watch that game with my mom, who lovingly bashed elbows with be after the homer.

As for this day, my kids, their mother, and I sat in the left field bleachers, which is not a typical spot for me. I sat here on this day because I didn’t want the sun to be in anyone’s face. As it turned out, it was fate.

My daughter wore a Matt Chapman jersey I got as a stadium giveaway last year, just as she has done every time we’ve gone to a game since I acquired the garment. And every time he comes to the plate or makes a play in the field, I point him out so that she and my son can draw a connection to Chapman, who is the face of the franchise.

On this night we watched Chapman smash a single into left field past shortstop Francisco Lindor’s glove, and later make it to second base on a following play. This turned out to be significant for me because I managed to purchase the ball that Chapman struck for the single, and later photo-matched it thanks to a bobble by Jose Ramirez, which was captured by a photograph. In the photo you can see the mud that exists on the ball which was authenticated and sold by the ball club.

And then several innings and hours later, as fans who were there for fireworks grew restless, sat Chapman in the 12th inning slugged his first career walk-off homerun, which happened to land in the general area where we were sitting. If you look closely at the television broadcast you can see my family just a few rows away,

The walk-off homer wound of being chronicled by Topps the very next day on a Topps Now card, which of course I had to purchase. And that card of course just arrived this week to act as a keepsake for what has to be one of my top best baseball-related birthday memories I have had to date.

The Title Defense Starts Today (Opening Day)

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Chris Sale peered in at the catcher, gripping the baseball within his glove. He agreed to the pitch selection and began his windup.

The weight transfer. The release. The swing and miss by Manny Machado.

The Boston Red Sox were again the World Series Champions.

I remember the scene clear as day as I viewed it from the auxiliary press box at Dodger Stadium that night, five months ago today.

I had tears in my eyes. I had witnessed something that few have been able to lay claim — watching their favorite team clinch their sports title.

The memories will last a lifetime. That title will forever be linked to that team.

But today starts a new. A new journey for the Red Sox as the team begins its title defense. And for every other team, today also marks the beginning of their quest to unseat the champions to earn the right to start next year at the top of the hill.

Opening Day is upon us. So full of hope and joy. This day is indeed a holiday for some of us. As a kid as would favor illness so that so could stay home and watch the Triple Header on ESPN. As an adult I have selected vacation day(s) based on the seasons first pitch. And for more than a decade I have celebrated this day with packs of baseball cards.

This morning I began this years ritual with my kids as they each opened two packs of Topps Opening Day. And this afternoon I will carry on that tradition with my girlfriend, with whom I will be attending Opening Day festivities in Oakland — this will be our second straight Opener together.

I would have preferred to be in Seattle today to see the Red Sox kick off their title defense against the Mariners, but I have to say being able to see generational player Mike Trout kick off the next chapter of his career after signing the largest contract in the game’s history isn’t a bad consolation.

This will be my third straight year seeing Trout and the Angels open their season against Oakland. And I know that while I understand how lucky this opportunity is, it has not fully sunken in yet how special it has been to see Trout in his prime on Opening Day given that I do not live in the Angels geographic market.

Additionally, it’s also special to be able to see the budding Athletics, especially star third baseman Matt Chapman, whose defense is second to none, something I appreciate since his position is my favorite on the diamond, and slugger Khris Davis who has hit a home run on each of the last two Opening Day games on Oakland.

Writing these words now is getting me pumped up. I can’t wait for the pageantry to begin in less than two hours.

Baseball is back.

Play freakin’ Ball!

The Name On My back: Authentic Red Sox Clemens Jersey Finds New Home — Mine

Posted in Collcting Clemens with tags , , , on March 3, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

When you’re a kid, certain things seem to be magnified — you’re attention to detail of your favorite baseball card; the batting stance or pitching motion of your favorite player; the details of the uniform of your favorite team, etc.

This pretty much describes much of my fandom when it came to Roger Clemens. I’m now a man pushing 40 years old, but I remember all of those things. The 1991 Topps Clemens card is my favorite, I can still mimic Clemens’ delivery, and his gray road jersey — the one with his name stitched onto a name plate — is one I always wanted.

As a kid I always dreamed of owning a jersey with the name “Clemens” emblazoned on the back, and unlike today, such items weren’t readily available. Yes, they existed, but my family could not afford them, and I really didn’t even know where to find them.

So I did the next best thing … I made my own. I used washable markers and various T-Shirts to create my own “jersey” which I wore while I played ball outside. It’s kind of silly to admit this many years later, but this was what I did to feel like I was closer to the game.

I followed Clemens as a he went from my favorite team to Toronto and through his first stint in New York. Hell, I was there in Oakland on Opening Day 1999 when The Rocket took the mound for the first time as a Yankee — it was bitter sweet seeing him as a Yankee, but it was still special. During that time I still didn’t own a Clemens jersey or even a shirsey.

But in 2004, after Clemens signed in Houston, I was able to afford my own jersey, an authentic stitched jersey purchased via MLB.com. It was expensive, but the jersey was the first one I owned with his name on it — and it was authentic, not a knock-off sold on eBay by a mass seller.

While that jersey was and is still awesome, it didn’t quite scratch the itch from my childhood. I still wanted a Red Sox jersey. In the years since my youth, there have been many real and fake Clemens jerseys for sale, but many of them were the 1986 version that featured just his number, or the home white jersey which also was just a jersey number on back. What I wanted was that gray road jersey with his name on a name plate stitched onto the back. And while I have seen one or two offered for sale in the past, one of them was clearly a newer fake with wrong materials, and the other was not my size … and it sold for crazy money.

But that all changed last week when I found an antiques dealer on eBay based out of Massachusetts who had for sale the jersey of my dreams … and it was in my size. Needless to say I won the jersey at auction — for way less than I expected to pay — and it has since arrived. And let me tell you it is glorious, better than I could have ever imagined. The jersey is authentic, and on top of that, it is an original Russell Athletic Diamond Collection jersey, not a recent knock-off or remake. I cannot express how happy this garment makes me right now.

2019 Heritage Sox “World Series Champs” card image released and it’s a beauty

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on February 21, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

News was released this week about the 2019 Topps Heritage set, including the checklist which revealed the Boston Red Sox would grace the No. 1 slot on the new series.

On Thursday, the image of said card was released to Blowout Buzz and that card is exciting for Sox fans, especially this one.

I wrote about this card yesterday, noting that it was a nod to the 1970 Topps set which featured a team photo of the 1969 World Series Champion New York Mets. I was curious what photo the Topps would use for the 2019 card — would they stick with tradition and use a posed team photo, or go with something more exciting. Clearly they chose the latter.

I cannot stress enough how much it excites me to see the World Champs on the first card in the set. It would have made me happy regardless of the team — because I feel the World Champions should be Card No. 1 in flagship ever year — but the fact that it’s my team in a moment of celebration in which I was present takes this to a whole new level. I may just have to hoard-collect this card. I cannot get enough visual reminder of the magical evening I was able to experience in person.

I have a thing for collecting cards using images from games I was able to attend. One of the other cards I collect numerous copies of is the 2016 Stadium Club Clayton Kershaw, showing him and catcher AJ Ellis celebrating after clinching the NL West title in San Francisco on Sept. 29. I was there that night too and caught the same moment from a different angle. Kershaw was masterful in a duel against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner; the Dodger lefty had 13 strikeouts that night while only giving up one hit in the victory.

Thank you, Topps! Red Sox to grace the first card in Heritage

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , on February 20, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Finally, the “World Champions” card has returned to the No. 1 card position.

I Caught wind late last night that the Boston Red Sox will grace card #1 in the 2019 Topps Heritage set and when I learned of the news, I smiled and did a little fist pump as I felt I had been somewhat vindicated.

The decision to place the World Series Champions on the first card of the set is a nod to years past as Topps did this in the 1970s. And in staying in tradition, we’ll probably see World Series champions grace the number one position in the sets in 2020 and 2021 Topps Heritage as well.

In recent years, Topps has made a spectacle of choosing and unveiling the first card in its flagship each year, even opening the vote up to the general public.  Personally, I’ve been advocating for almost a decade for the first card in the flagship set to be a photo of the champs hoisting the World Series trophy as I love the tradition that Topps started in the 1970s.

While Topps has turned more toward showcasing young talent in the No. 1 position of the flagship set, I am thrilled to see the company stick to the formula of the 1970 set and honor the champs. Of course, it only makes it sweeter for me as the Red Sox are my team, and I was there the night they clinched the championship on Los Angeles.

 

 

That moment when you buy a blaster … and instantly feel shame

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Commentary with tags , , , , , on February 1, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

I made a Target run this morning for a few grocery items and while there I found a blaster of 2019 Topps. I’ve already bought a hobby box and a few extra packs on the side. But the newness of the product has triggered my addictive state so I “had” to buy the blaster.

As soon as I cracked the seal on the blaster I instantly felt shame. I knew I should not have made the purchase.

It wasn’t a bad blaster. I Got a Max Scherzer patch relic (1/blaster) Shohei 150th parallel (1:8 packs retail) and the allotted inserts.

The cards bring me shorterm pleasure, but the shame in knowing that I didn’t “need” these cards is tough to deal with sometimes.

The one saving grace mentally is that the blaster did have 17 of the 19 cards I needed for the set. So I suppose I could “justify” the purchase, but that is a slippery slope.

The struggle is real. Gotta do better tomorrow. I’ve got to stay the hell away from retail.

2019 Topps release and the World Series relics

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Today sparks the beginning of the new card collecting year as 2019 Topps is released in most hobby shops and online. And like every year for the last 10-plus years the set will feature an insert set honoring the World Series champions complete with relics and autographs

There should be some excitement for Boston Red Sox fans as once again they have championship cards to collect. But in some ways, the relics in the new Topps release feel second-rate based on what was offered months ago directly from Topps.

The reason I say this is because while the 2019 cards themselves commemorate the champions, the relics within the cards are not from the World Series. Hell, they even say as such on the front of the card.

Now, this is NOT breaking news. Over the last decade, Topps has refrained from identifying the year in which the items was used, and sometimes even don’t identify the fabric embedded in the card. And my point of this post is not to complain, or to poke fun at Topps. Rather, this post is to highlight the greatness of the Topps Now program.

Because if you as a Red Sox collector wanted a legitimate piece of the World Series, there were pieces available directly from Topps a day after the Red Sox claimed the title at Dodger Stadium. Topps made available a team celebration card that featured a small chunk of a base from Game 5. It was limited, but it does in fact feature a piece of baseball history.

The 2019 Topps World Series champions cards do indeed look nice, and I’ll reiterate that this post is not to disparage them. Heck, if I can get a few of them at a decent price at some point I will probably pounce on them. But for me, the smarter money was spent in October after the title when I secured my piece of the game. And to my surprise, the card arrived in relatively quick fashion.

My specific card is the Purple version, serial numbered 10/25. It features a white base swatch bearing hologram number JC698628  the authentication certificate via MLB then refers to the original hologram for the entire base
JC334202 which indicates the base used in this relic card was second base used during innings 5 through 7 of Game Five of the 2018 World Series, which means the base was actually stepped on by League MVP Mookie Betts and JD Martinez, who both homered in that game, in innings 6 and 7, respectively.

Of course, this relic from Topps Now is a bit more special to me than most. I managed to attend Game Five and see my favorite team of more than three decades hoist the World Series Championship Trophy before my very eyes.