Archive for Oakland A’s

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.

In Memoriam: Dave Henderson (July 21, 1958- Dec. 27, 2015) 

Posted in In Memoriam with tags , , , , , on December 27, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

I loved watching this guy play.  I also went to school with his twin nieces. This saddens me tremendously.  This is his 1982 Topps rookie card. 


Icon-O-Clasm: Six Swatches of Separation — Rickey Henderson game-used cards

Posted in Icon-O-Clasm with tags , , , , , , , on November 17, 2015 by Cardboard Icons


I recently paid $8 for a Barry Zito rookie card and it wasn’t autographed …

Posted in Rookie Card Showcase with tags , , , , , , , on August 18, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

I must be crazy, right?  Who pays $8 for a Barry Zito rookie card, especially one that doesn’t bear his signature?

Well, when the serial number on the card matches his jersey number, sometimes collectors do funny things.


Barry Zito used to be a big deal.  He was a big-time pitcher for the Oakland A’s in the early part of the 2000s — even winning a Cy Young Award in 2002 — and then signed a massive contract with the San Francisco Giants who play just across the San Francisco Bay (or estuary for you science types) from the A’s.  He sucked for the most part, constantly ripped on sports talk radio and even relegated to a spectator in 2010 when the Giants won their first World Series.  And then he came back in 2011 and 2012, even becoming a key contributor for the Giants down the stretch as they won their second title in three years.

Alas Zito played again in 2013 and finished his mammoth contract with the Giants by posting the second-highest ERA of his career.  He hasn’t played in 2014 and it appears that his career may in fact be over.

Zito hasn’t been relevant in the hobby in almost a decade and prices on his cards plummeted over the years.  His key rookie is still the 200o SPX set, a card that features a serial number and autograph. His second best?  Quite possibly this 2000 SP Authentic, which is limited to 1,700 copies.  Believe me, this was a big deal in 2000. I located this one — in it’s glorious PRO graded case — at a local card shop in a bargain graded card bin.  Every card priced $8 each, all of them were graded by either PSA or BGS, except for this one.  This company — which has zero traction in the hobby — graded this card at 9.8 “N-Gem,” which I’ll have to believe means Near Gem Mint.  I’m not aware of any company who uses that lingo.  Go figure. I’ll leave it in here for now, but might send it eventually to BGS for continuity purposes.



Thrift Treasures 63: Topps Sticker Packs!!!

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2014 by Cardboard Icons

IMG_5120One of the first sections I hit in most thrift stores is the toy section.  Why? Because many times I find little baggies containing baseball cards … or in this case stickers. Unopened packs of stickers to be exact.ThriftTreasuresLogo

In 2012 Topps brought back an oldie but goodie in the sticker album collection.  The album cost roughly $2.99 if memory serves me right and each pack containing eight stickers cost 99 cents.  I bought an album.  I bought some packs and let me kids get after it.  But I always felt like I never got my fill.   Topps brought the set back again in 2013, but I never really got into it. That is until this  this nice little baggie.

As you can see from this picture, this baggie cost $2.99.  And a quick count from the outside of the package revealed that there were 16 unopened packs of Topps Stickers within. At roughly 18 cents a pack, it was a no-brainer purchase.

So, without further adieu, here’s what the packs contained:


IMG_5127IMG_5128 IMG_5129 IMG_5130 IMG_5131 IMG_5132 IMG_5134 IMG_5135 IMG_5136 IMG_5137 IMG_5138 IMG_5139 IMG_5140 IMG_5141 IMG_5142 IMG_5143

To see more Thrift Treasures posts, click HERE

I Survived the ’89 Earthquake

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

1989quake1Today marks the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, an event that much of the world remembers as being the reason for the delay of Game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. For me, it hits home because not only did this stop one of the most anticipated World Series of my lifetime, but it was an event that I lived through. I was 9 at the time and home with my younger sister and a friend when the 7.1 quake struck. When these things happen to you, you tend to remember every detail. I’ve re-written my account of the incident a few times over the years, and if you care to read the latest one, you can see it HERE, and a more detailed one HERE. (Yes, that is a picture of me, 8 years younger and 50 pounds heavier.)

1989quake2I wrote about this very card last year on Oct. 17, but given that Saturday marks the 20th anniversary, I figured I’d drag out one of the favorite cards I own: the 1990 Score “Lights Out: Candlestick” card. If you lived in the Bay Area and collected baseball cards in the late 1980s and early 1990s, you know all about this card. For  good while, this black and white card rivaled the iconic Bo Jackson football/baseball Nike pose card that also appears in this 1990 Score set.

By looking at the stats for this blog, I can tell that I am not the only one who remembers this card. Every couple of days I get a few hits from people who appear to be looking for this very card. Well, here it is again, and this time I’ve included a scan of the back so that you can read all about what happened that day. The text on this card does not do the event justice, but I figure if you really wanted to know more about that day, you’ll be looking elsewhere, not at for a history lesson.

Thrift Treasures Part XIII: Sons of My Native Land

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

I was born in San Francisco, but grew up primarily in the city of Santa Clara, California, the home of Major League Baseball’s Troy Tulowitzki. He’s a pretty big deal ’round these parts, even if he does play for the Rockies, a division foe of the San Francisco Giants. I actually saw someone — had to be a family member — riding around in a pickup recently with a license plate that read something to the effect of “TuloFn1.”

But my post today is not about Tulo. Actually, it’s about a pair of other local talents — Carney Lansford and Jeremy Giambi — whose cards I stumbled upon at a flea market on Saturday.

Now usually my thrift treasures posts actually contain what some believe to be treasures — or bargains –but here I’m only talking about three cards, 1979 Topps Carney Lansford rookie, 1982 Topps Carney Lansford (Red Sox), and a 1999 Bowman Chrome International Refractor of Jeremy Giambi. Yes, the OTHER Giambi.

I knew Carney grew up in the area. Hell, I played in the same Little League that Carney did — there is a picture of him as a kid in a Red Sox Briarwood-El Camino Little League uniform hanging in the snack shack — and the baseball field at the high school I attended is named after Lansford. And as a kid in the 1980s, Carney was big deal to us locals because he played for the A’s, who always seemed to be in the world series.

But now as an adult, and a Boston Red Sox team collector, I’ve been passively 1982ToppsCarneyLansfordlooking for a Carney Red Sox card to add to my collection. I knew he played two seasons for Boston in the early 1980s. Well, I finally uncovered the treasure at the flea market on Saturday for a whopping 50 cents. The card clearly came from a guy who was praying on locals who knew nothing about the current state of the card market, but might be intrigued enough to buy some of his common Raider or 49ers cards. You know, the same retired collectors who you might hear chatting up your local card shop operator to figure out what his 10 1991 Fleer baseball factory sets are worth. And then that pseudo collector tells the tallest of tales when upon learning his sets are worthless, he shoots back with an asinine statement about how he also has a handful of Michael Jordan rookies.

I digress. I typically despise these sellers because they often lie through their freakin’ teeth to get someone to spend a few bucks at their booth. But here, I can honestly say I am glad he was there.

After landing the Carney Red Sox card, my wife, daughter, and my brother-in-law continued our search down the flea market aisles. 1979ToppsCarneyLansfordAbout 20 minutes later I found another guy selling cards. Most of his stuff was crap piled atop of crap, but among his stack of cards on sale for $1 was this 1979 Topps Carney Lansford rookie.  I’ve always loved and admired this card, primarily because it was considered vintage and impossible to obtain when I was younger. The card shop never had them for sale, and the only time I saw one in person was at my friend’s home — his dad had one in his collection. Despite being valued at only at $1.50, this card has remained elusive to me, but alas it has found a home in my box of rookie cards. It should be noted that this image was shot at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, home of the A’s, which also adds some intrigue to the card since he wound up spending most of his career playing at this ball park.

1999BowmanChromeGiambiRefAfter walking around for about two hours we decided to head home. But right before we left, I spotted a former collector who had nothing but baseball cards for sale at his booth. He had a few 5,000 boxes packed to the brim with cards for which he was charging a buck each. I quickly flipped through his baseball box and unearthed this 1999 Bowman Chrome International Refractor of Jeremy Giambi,  serial numbered to just 100 copies. I didn’t have a buck, but offered the guy 50 cents and he took it. The card isn’t that valuable, but I know that some of these “early” serial numbered parallels can be quick useful either in trades or on eBay as there are a handful of people still building this International Refractor set. Suffice it to say I can easily turn the 50 cents for a small profit, at least enough to say that I got my Lansford cards for free. As a bonus, I learned yesterday by reading the back of the card that Giambi was born in San Jose, California, just a few minutes from where I live.