Archive for Oakland Athletics

Boooooo! Give it to the kid!

Posted in Commentary, Misc. with tags , , , , , on June 18, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

He sits in his seat, left hand in his fielding glove, eyes transfixed on the field before him.

Like many other kids his age, his dream is to catch a ball. Game-used, player-thrown or -hit, whatever … it doesn’t matter. A ball is a ball, and it was the object of his desire.

This was me as a youth. Hell, it was you, and your friend. It was your dad, your brother, your cousin, your nephew.

It is my son.

My boy in recent months has taken a liking to the game, more so than I ever images he would at his age. I mean, like many baseball-loving dads, I hoped my son would be the kid who would be crushing Whiffle balls with a pacifier in his mouth, or throwing darts from right field to third base before the third grade. But that hasn’t always been the case. Even though he had been exposed to the game since birth, my son until recently hadn’t shown love for the sport.

But then it happened. He wanted to know about cards; about the game; about the rules.

And recently, when attending games, he started bringing his glove. And just a week and a half ago — on June 7, 2019 — while at the Dodgers-Giants game he asked if he (and his sister and cousin) could go to the front two of the bleachers during batting practice to see if he could snag a ball.

They didn’t get close to catching one, but watching their faces being among the crowd of folks with the same childhood dream — was priceless.

At one point a ball had gotten tossed into the stands and a scrum ensued and my nephew managed to get a finger tip on it, before a group of guys crashed into each other and a young girl walked away with it in her hands. No one was upset; hell, I was proud of my nephew for the effort. And found great comedy in watching a group of boys (and men) picking themselves up as the pre-teen girl held it up and flashed a giant smile.

Fast forward to Monday, June 17, a day after Father’s Day. My kids were with me for a few days and I sought out cheap entertainment. Of course my mind instantly went to baseball. I managed to find some bleacher seats for the Orioles at Athletics game and asked the kids if they wanted to go. Without hesitation, both my son and daughter agreed. And as we headed out the door, my son grabbed his glove.

By the time we got to the stadium, the first row on the left-field bleachers was full — which is to be expected in Oakland. They have some die-hard fans in left and right field bleachers, the type that bang on drums and cow bells, wave flags and have hand coordinated gestures.

But, we got there early enough to pick the seats we wanted. And sure enough, as we say down my son had his left hand in his glove, seemingly ready for anything that came his way.

For the first two innings, my son jumped out of his seat for anything that got hit toward left field. He wasn’t the only one. But his instincts were making me proud. Then in the third inning — after the A’s scored two runs — outfielder Ramon Laureano hit a flyball to left field for the third out.

Orioles left field Anthony Santander gloves it and began running toward the infield, and he threw it to Second baseball Hanser Alberto (who at this point was standing between second base and left field) and Alberto threw it into the left field bleachers. The ball clanked off a seat in section 136 and rolled down to section 135, row 29 — right behind my son. My son reached back and hand two fingers on it when an older kid — maybe late teens early 20s — comes flying over from 136 and aggressively grabs the ball, then turns around with his treasure.

Almost immediately, the crowd laid him.

“Booooooo! Give it to the kid!”

I asked my son if he was OK, and he said he was. He explained he had two fingers on it when it got snatched away by the other person in a blue shirt. I put my hand on his head and told him it was OK. I can’t say I was upset because I didn’t see how much control my son actually had of the ball. Also … I don’t know that older guy’s story. Hell, it’s not like the guy appeared to be in his 30s or anything.

Nonetheless, after a few moments, the guy in the blue shirt comes over and hands the ball to my son, apologizes and walks away halfway through my head nod to acknowledge his actions.

It was a great gesture, one I wish I could have thanked him more for at the time — but I froze. I was concerned about my son being embarrassed — also I wanted to make sure he actually held the ball and didn’t let it roll away.

To the guy in the blue shirt, thank you. I wish I could have shaken your hand before you disappeared. It’s not something you had to do, even if the others around you put pressure on you to give it up.

Having said that, what IS the protocol for older kids, young adults or older folks chasing a ball when clearly it’s in the grasp of a kid? Is this something I should have been upset about? Is this a scenario for which I should even be thanking the guy in the blue shirt?

As for the ball … I went aback and watched the replay of the final moments of the third inning. It appears this ball was initially used in a Khris Davis groundout to Hanser Alberto, who threw it to third base on a fielder’s choice — that’s where they tagged out a Matt Olson for the second out. Then on the next pitch Laureano pops out to left and eventually the ball ends up in the stands.

It was of apropos that Laureano was the guy who last hit it. He has been a golden thread weaved through my baseball story over the last year or so. My kids and I were there for his first career homer; I was there in April when he gunned down Xander Bogaerts at home, and again in May when he threw out another player from deep centerfield. And of course now this flyout which my son now owns.

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!

Rookie Card Upgrade: 1976 Topps/OPC Dennis Eckersley

Posted in Rookie Card Upgrade with tags , , , , , , , on December 19, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

I’ve owned quite a few Dennis Eckersley rookie cards over the years, all of which are not as good as this raw copy. Kind of sad.

 
Well, thanks to the Internet and a certain card site, I was able to upgrade to a clean PSA 8 O-Pee-Chee rookie. This will also get converted into a BGS/BVG slab at some point.

  

Thrift Treasures 96: Vintage Gaylord and ‘Blue Moon’

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , , , on September 20, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

I love me some thrift store baggie’s full of cards.  I love it even more when at least one of the cards is already in some sort of protector.

Such was the case earlier this week when I saw this:

 I immediate saw this and snatched it off the leg hook. I recognized that as a 1965 Topps Gaylord Perry. Sure, I could buy the single almost anywhere for less than the $2.99 price tag on this bag, but this all goes back to the theme of the last “Thrift Treasures” post — principle. This is a third year card of a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, it should have never been in this situation. 

Once I opened the package I could see that the Gaylord was in pretty good condition other than the centering. 

  
At this point, everything else in the package was a bonus. Let’s have a look at what else was within.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Some names still strike a cord with people out here. The aforementioned Perry is one. Another is Oakland A’s legend John “Blue Moon” Odom, a top pitcher for the club as Oakland won three consecutive World Series Titles from 1972 to 1974.

  
The Perry and Odom were the only true vintage cards, but there also were these early 1980s cards.

  
And nice 1985 Topps card commemorating Tony Perez’s grand slam in 1984,  which made him the oldest player to hit one.

   
A few other HOFers on some 1980s cards that aren’t as highly regarded.

  
And finally a few inserts. I LOVE the Topps Rookies glossy set, which were available only on rack packs. And anytime I locate an early Kevin Maas oddball card I usually buy it because of this story I wrote seven years ago.

 
Total cost of these Treasures: $2.99

You can read more Thrift Treasures posts here.

Thrift Treasures 88: Return of the Bash Brothers 

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , on July 16, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

Given my geographic location it’s pretty common that during my thrift store hunting I come across Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants items.

While nothing moving forward likely won’t ever match a find from five years ago (Thrift Treasures 27) in which I acquired multiple autographs from the Bash Brothers years, I still get excited when I see A’s collections from that era.

Case in point my find from this week.

  
Sitting on top of the showcase at a local thrift store was a bag full of Oakland A’s Stadium Giveaway card sets and some misc. other cards.  

The giveaway sets ranged from 1986-2010, most of then were Mother’s Cookies sets which appeared to be mostly complete.  Well, the thrift store was selling the cards 20 for $1.

I managed to get into to store 20 minutes before they closed so I was able to search feverishly through the sets and other cards and managed to find 30 cards that cost me $1.50.

We’ll start with the “big” one here. This is a 1986 Mother’s Cookies Jose Canseco rookie-year release.

  
This was a relatively tough card to find in the Bay Area during Canseco’s hay day and it has always been one that I  wanted to acquire. Needless to say it was a steal at a nickel.

Speaking of Canseco, I pulled all of his cards, and those featuring fellow Bash Brother Mark McGwire, and Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson from the sets. I love these Mother’s Cookies releases.

  
  
Here are a few more A’s from 1997-2000, and some mid 2000s releases.  I like the Disabled Veterans Barry Zito releases; neat considering the work Zito did fot Strikeout For Troops 

A few Nick Swisher SGA cards for Chris Olds at Beckett.

  
Giants Reliever Santiago Casilla, an integral role player for the 2014 World Series Champions, started his career on Oakland under the name of “Jairo Garcia.” Here’s a 2004 release under that assumed name, and then a 2008 release under his real name. Interesting to note the vitals on the rear of the cards. 

  
  
So, growing up in the Bay Area, I was around for the years in which Kevin Mitchell was the man for the Giants.  I totally forgot he played about 50 games for Oakland in 1998 during his final tour on the Major Leagues.  This just doesn’t look right.

  
A pair of 1988 Nestle cards featuring former Giants star Will Clark and current Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti.

  
That find from five years ago had lots of autos. This find had just one, a rookie-year 1999 Just Mark Mulder. The numbered insert was a bonus.  

 
And the last two cards were giveaways during a game in Sept. 3, 2001, during Cal Ripken Jr.’s final tour through Oakland.  As ugly as they might be, these aren’t easy to find.  I actually sold one a year or so ago for $30.

  
Total cost of these treasures: $1.50 (a nickel per card)

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here

Ball signed by Rickey Henderson circa 1982 gifted to me by co-worker

Posted in Misc., Newspaperman with tags , , , on July 11, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

I work with some awesome people. Their generosity is off the charts sometimes.

One of my co-workers, who collects game-used San Francisco 49ers equipment, often brings items to me to look at and help photo match. 

Well, the other day he showed up and left a baseball on my desk.  The ball was signed by players of the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals. The first signature I could read was an obvious one, Rickey Henderson.

The co-worker then told me the ball was for me, a gift, but he wanted to know who had signed the ball.  He acquired it himself in the early 1980s but had forgotten exactly who signed it.

Well, I pinned the ball down to 1982, when my co-worker was 15. Here are the signatures.

  
  
  
  

Newest Hall of Fame autograph has arrived (Thanks, Topps!)

Posted in New Addition with tags , , , , , , on September 7, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

RickeyIt pretty much goes without saying … WE ALL DISLIKE REDEMPTION CARDS.

Notice I didn’t say Hate.  It’s too strong of a word.  I think dislike is more apt because I think deep down there is some joy that some of us get from these cards.

While we’d all like to have the card fresh in-hand from the pack, redemption cards do present a great opportunity to those who are willing to wait out the redemption process.

On Saturday I received my 2012 Topps Five Star Rickey Henderson autograph card, which was the result of a redemption card I purchased on eBay about a month ago.  The good news was when I bought the redemption card, there was already word that the cards were already live, so I figured I wouldn’t have to wait that long.  From start to finish, it took about three weeks to turn the redemption card into the live card, which is shown here.  In the end, I saved roughly $35 and received a gorgeous card.  Thank you, Topps.