Archive for Matt Chapman

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!