Archive for childhood

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.

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.

I had the talk with my boy …

Posted in Dad Life with tags , , , , , , on February 9, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

There comes a time in every man’s life when he sits his boy down to talk about important things in life. That time came last weekend.

I asked him if we could talk, and he looked concerned. He looked nervous and I told him that he’s growing … and so is his collection.

The Birds and Bees talk has already been broached in a age-appropriate way with my 9-year-old, but THE TALK I had with him recently was about choosing a collecting focus.

He had cards on the table and cards on the book case, and cards in sorting boxes, which ultimately are set to make it into binders. It was time for him to think seriously about WHAT he wanted to collect and not just quantity. I told him there was no rush, but I wanted him to start thinking about it. I left it in his hands.

The morning after I mentioned this, he woke up and asked when we could talk — he wanted to discuss some possible focus for his collection.

I told him that he didn’t need to have unbreakable rules for his collection, but he should think about what type of cards excite him, and what players’ or teams’ cards he likes to see.

While his focus is not like that of a laser, he has come to this conclusion: He wants to collect these three players: Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and Matt Chapman. He likes other players, but he is actively collecting these guys.

Eventually I want to get him to a point where he basically has items that he wants to keep, and others that he is open to moving. And when he has that determination, I hope to help him find some trading partners to move some of his excess for items that he enjoys.

A slice of my childhood just arrived

Posted in Collcting Clemens with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

A few days ago I wrote about a recent purchase I made from the Topps Web site. In that piece I wrote about how I longed for the days of the Topps school folders designed to look like the cards of the year. I wrote about how I own(ed) a 1989 Topps Mark McGwire and a 1990 Topps Dave Stewart.

While writing that piece it dawned on me how cool it would have been to own a Roger Clemens from that era. Heck, I wasn’t even sure if one existed. The best I had in school was a generic folder I decorated with pictures of Roger Clemens action photos and other images I clipped from a magazine. (Fun note: One of the pictures is of Roger with his three kids, all of whom now have their own baseball cards.

I digress, when I finished that piece the other day, I decided to check eBay and lo and behold there was a 1988 Topps folder posted for sale. Three clicks later and the item was mine. The folder arrived today and it came with all the feels I thought it would These measures about 12×9 and have two pockets inside to hold loose pieces of paper.

In 1988 I would have used this for school, then used it during the summer to keep the notebook paper with which i wrote my stats from playing “Baseball” on Nintendo.

Rhys Hoskins should be the guy whom my son and I collect

Posted in Collecting Hoskins with tags , , , , , , , on March 14, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

How one goes about choosing their favorite player, or at least the ones they decide to collect, is completely arbitrary. Some choose a top draft pick and go to town on that guy for however long it seems sustainable. Others choose a player from their favorite team and remain loyal to them until there is reason not to be.

In some ways I have done both in my collecting career. I chose Roger Clemens as my guy in the late 1980s because he was the face of my favorite team. And I lucked my way into Clayton Kershaw after I fell in love with a YouTube video of his knee-buckling curve ball and then pulled his 2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Refractors Autograph from a blaster at WalMart.

But it looks like there is a new player whom I should be courting in this hobby, and one whom my son and I should be together building a personal collection of — that player is Rhys Hoskins.

I’d been thinking for a while that he and I should be finding a guy whom we should collect together. He likes Steph Curry, but I didn’t own much basketball before my son really expressed an interest. And while I’ve been pounding the drum of how great Mike Trout is … we’re a tad late to that game. (Side note: I did sell his 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Auto BGS 9 about 18 months ago when I really needed money, but that’s topic for another post.)

As it turns out, I think we stumbled upon our player rather organically last year without us really noticing. Here’s the story:

In July 2018, Topps released “Big League.” I loved the product and the hype that came with it after I saw people buying and ripping. One day after it hit retail shelves my kids and I went to Walmart and they have two packs of Big League. I tossed them in the cart and later opened then in the car. To my surprise, the packs were great. I pulled a Jose Altuve auto from the first pack, and the second pack had something shiny in the middle. It was a silver holofoil parallel of Rhys Hoskins, serial numbered 076/100. I showed it to my kids and both smiled to appease me and went back to their video games.

About a month later when 2018 Topps Stadium Club hit shelves I told my kids how much I loved TSC because of the photos. They have come to know me as not only a card collector, but also an amateur photographer, especially as it pertains to sunsets and baseball. So it was rather normal for them to understand my attraction to TSC as it is largely built around great photography. I bought a hobby box of TSC and allowed by kids to partake in the break, knowing that they’d be looking at the photos but also looking forward to the two autographs per box. My daughter ripped her six packs and pulled a Garrett Cooper auto; I opened my six packs and didn’t get any ink; and then my son got about half way through his packs when he nailed a Rhys Hoskins auto.

I thought it was an excellent pull and great addition to my collection. But I also made a mental note that the Hoskins was a card I would not sell or trade because it was a good rookie auto pulled by my son. So even though I paid for the cards and at the time he was not actually collecting, I sort of saw this Hoskins TSC as HIS card.

A few more months pass and I am in a phase in which I am buying into random number group breaks of Panini America Immaculate cases through breaker MojoBreak.com, which is headquartered not too far from where I live. The idea with this style break is you pay a set amount and are given a random number 1-99 (because nothing in Immaculate is numbered to more than 99) and whatever card comes out of the boxes with your assigned serial number is yours. During one session I paid like $15 for a random spot and lucked into the coveted Number One spot. So anything numbered 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, etc. was mine. It also meant that any 1/1 was also mine. Welp, guess whose name popped up again? That’s right, Rhys Hoskins.

Conrad at MojoBreak did his whole “One of One of One” chant and revealed this Immaculate RPA featuring Player-Used (so from a photo shoot) striped jersey with a patch and an on-card auto. I was ecstatic, but also a bit perplexed as this was yet another Hoskins hit rearing its head.

I’ve managed to cull the rest of the 2018 products I had sitting around and as it turns out, I have some 50 Hoskins rookie-year cards, which is a lot considering I don’t buy a bunch of everything.

And then the other day while digging through some old prospect boxes, look what else popped up: a 2014 Bowman Draft Paper Blue Hoskins First Bowman serial numbered 212/399.

If you don’t call that a sign, I don’t know what to make of this. So while I will not chase Hoskins with the fervor that I do Clemens and Kershaw, it’s definitely the guy whom I shall pitch to my son as the player whom we watch and collect together going forward.