Archive for parenthood

How long have you been writing this?!

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , , on January 3, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Funny story. Yesterday I wrote a blog post on my laptop while sitting at the kitchen table and my son saunters over after I am done and asks what I’ve been doing.

He recently showed interest in the hobby, so he notices when I am looking at cards, or reading about them. So he wanted to take a look at what I had just done. I let him sit in my chair and have a look. He starts paging down, looking occasionally at the words, but focusing mostly on the pictures of cards.

I explain that this is my blog/web site.

“How long have you been doing this?” he asks as he scans over the fourth page of posts, pointing out some cool images I have posted.

I reply: “Ten years … but I haven’t been writing much in recent years.”

Astonished, he says, “Ten years?!”

And it was at that moment that it really hit me that I have owned this domain and used it for longer than both he and his sister have been alive. I actually started this blog some two months after my ex-wife and I learned that we were having our first child. And next week, that oldest child turns 10.

People often call music the soundtrack to their lives. For me, baseball cards are essentially my timeline.

My kid has shown an interest in cards!

Posted in Dad Life with tags , , , , , , , on November 11, 2018 by Cardboard Icons

“Dad, it’s like real cardboard …”

For a parent card collector these words coming from the mouth of your offspring are priceless, especially when you’ve just introduced them to their first true vintage addition to their fledgling card collection.

I’ve been a baseball card guy for more than three decades, having begun my card adventure when I was just seven years old, shortly after moving to the suburbs from the Big City. And I now have two children, the oldest pushing 10 years, and the other having just turned 8.

I always envisioned that one day my card collecting habits would one day rub off on my children, and up to this point there has been very little interest. Kids these days don’t know what it’s like to not be able to get information or entertainment at the blink of an eye or the touch of a screen. Collectors from my generation and those before know the struggle all too well, having to buy and handle newsprint, and in some cases using baseball cards as our method of learning and remember statistics and even historic events.

I introduced my kids to cards many years ago. They’ve both opened packs; attended shows and shops with me, and often see me rummaging through my boxes and piles. But until recently, there had been very little real interest. I’ve given my kids packs, especially my son, who in many ways is my Mini Me. But he hasn’t truly enjoyed then; he’s busy, swiping and button mashing.

And then just a few days ago, without my prompting, he walked over to the bookshelf, took out his binder of cards – many of which are 2016 Topps Bunt, the last product that he and I really broke together, and he started flipping through his pages.

Like many starting to collect, my son had placed every card he owns into 9-pocket sheets and in a binder with no regard for organization. His baseball cards were next to his football ones, and even some random basketball and Olympics cards sprinkled in.

I watched him from a distance and then he comes over to me and says, “Dad, I’m going to sort these by sport.” The later he brings the binder to me and says, “Can you tell me if any of these are good.”

The question as to whether or not a card is good is very subjective. I know for a fact that none of his cards at the time carried any sort of premium, or really any desire outside of his own. But I am not in the business of crushing budding collector’s souls with a statement like that. And so we flipped through, page by page, and I called out every All Star, every Hall of Famer and every Red Sox, Athletics or Giants card we saw. I wanted him to appreciate what he has, not be so concerned with what the cards are worth.

My son continued to look at his cards for a bit; and I even gave him a larger Collector D-Ring binder, all while teaching him the importance of moving the entire stack of sheets to the flat side of the D-Ring before closing the cover.

My son and daughter went to stay with their mother for a few days and when they returned, I told my son that I had a new card for him, one that I had picked up from a Local Card Shop, one that I never owned as a kid collector. It was a 1995 Pinnacle Ken Griffey Jr., an iconic card showing The Kid being a kid, blowing a massive bubble with his gun. It was my generation’s version of the iconic 1976 Kurt Bevacqua card. I got the card for $1.

I presented the card to my kid and his response was “What the heck?! He and his sister giggled about the large bubble Ken blew in the image. I had succeeded; they cared about the card.

And so I began thinking about items I could gift to my son, cards that he could add to his collection, items that had some sort of meeting, and not just run-of-the-mill commons I had sitting around. I looked through stacks on my desk and found two cards that I thought would be nice additions. The first was a Lonzo Ball Hoops rookie card. Both of my kids know who Ball is because he made an appearance on Fuller House on Netflix, a show the kids watch and re-watch just like I used to watch re-runs of The Wonder Years. They laughed when I showed it to them.

The second card? The aforementioned vintage card, a 1972 Topps World Series Game 4 Highlights card of Roberto Clemente. But before I showed them the card, I told them the story of Clemente, about his baseball skill and his true heroism, his fatal humanitarian effort in Nicaragua.

The kids were astonished by the story. And then I presented the Clemente to my son so he could put it in his binder. The card isn’t worth a ton of money, but it was the kind of card that served as a teaching point, one that I hope he’ll remember forever.

I handed him the card in a penny sleeve and top loader, and he surveyed it and then removed it – By the way, I taught him how to smack the palms of his hands together to insert and remove cards from Top Loaders – so he could place it in his binder next to the aforementioned Griffey card. His words were priceless.

“Dad, it’s like real cardboard…”

I then told him that’s how baseball cards used to be. I pointed to the showcase on the wall and explained that that’s how cards used to made, and every single one of the cards in the case were made the same way, only they were now living inside a plastic Beckett Grading Services slab inside the showcase.

I don’t know if my son will end up loving cards in a week, in a year, in a decade, or if he cares that the cards I’ve accumulated will end up being the possessions of him and his sister at some point. But these last few weeks have been promising; perhaps one day he will understand completely my passion for this hobby, even if it drags me down at times.

Lifetime of memories made during National Baseball Card Day 2016

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

I decided to take my kids to the National Baseball Card Day event at South Bay Sports Cards (Sunnyvale, Calif.), where the shop — like many others across the country — was giving out packs to customers on this special day. What wound up happening was something that will never be forgotten.


This story doesn’t end with some card worth a small fortune. But it does end with smiles.

I told the kids about the day and how they were giving away packs at the shop to promote the hobby, a fantastic move by the way. Topps is the company with the exclusive Major League Baseball license so they are the makers of the cards given away on this day. Such events have been around for at least a decade, and have over the years included cards from other companies, including Fleer, which is now an Upper Deck brand.

My son’s comment: “I LOVE opening packs!”

For the record, neither of my kids have been completely bitten by the  card collecting bug.  I actually didn’t start collecting until I was 7, almost three decades ago, so it’s still early.  My daughter collects American Girl dolls and Shopkins. My son has learned the joy of opening packs from sharing in the ripping of my packs when I buy them, and his own Skylanders Battle Cast cards. Gotta start somewhere, I suppose.

So we went and along the way we started talking about baseball cards, and even some Olympic cards, which I had recently purchased from Target. I told them that we might buy some more at the store, it just depends on how much they were.

Personally, I didn’t “need” anything. But I’m always down to see my buddy at the card shop — for the record he wasn’t there today, which I didn’t know until we got there — and I wanted the kids to get their free packs. That was what this trip was really all about.

I checked out the stuff at the shop and decided on three baseball packs and then opted for a “blaster” box of Topps Olympics cards. These “blaster” boxes are the same as those sold at Target and Walmart, 8 packs for $19.99. I figured let’s have a little fun. The kids were talking about Gabby Douglas in the car anyway.

So I made the purchase and the guy at the shop — whom I do not know on any level other than being a repeat customer — grabs three random packs from his stash of Topps National Baseball Card Day packs, and then grabs three of the Kris Bryant cards — which appears to be the last card in the set — and puts the Bryant cards into magnetic holders for us, all free of charge.

Outside the shop I snap a quick selfie of the three of us in front of the store with our free packs. I wanted to tweet at Topps and subsequently enter the MLBPA Twitter contest for additional stuff.

My daughter grabbed a pack with Nolan Arenado on top, my son snatched up the one with Joe Mauer on top, which left me with Clayton Kershaw, which was the one i was hoping the kids would leave me. Kershaw is my favorite active player; he’s No. 2 all-time behind Roger Clemens on my list of favorites.

My son ripped his:


His cards: Joe Mauer, Ichiro, Sonny Gray, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Joe Abreu


My daughter then ripped hers and immediately says, “Oooh, Daddy!”


You see, during our conversation about Olympic cards in the car I was telling them about game-used cards — those containing pieces of shirts, uniforms, caps, etc., worn or used by players and athletes.  I also told them about autograph cards.

Out of the middle of her stack of six cards was one with ink. She spotted it instantly.


That’s injured Yankee Greg Bird’s autograph, serial numbered 062/165. The rest of her cards: Bryce Harper, David Price, Yadier Molina, Luis Severino and Nolan Arenado.


She was so pumped that I was super happy for her. It really didn’t really matter who the autograph was, but she was so surprised that she actually pulled an autograph.

“It’s like everything we talk about comes true,” she said.

My day was already made. The Kershaw card already made my pack a winner, but now I was curious if more ink would be found. There was none in mine, but it was a solid pack: Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke, Salvador Perez, Andrew McCutchen and Francisco Lindor.


I purchased three loose Topps Chrome baseball packs in addition to the blaster.  Shiny, yet fairly uneventful.  I did pull the Kent Maeda rookie, which is a plus.

We decided to open the Olympics blaster box at home.  There was some discussion about doing a video, and we agreed to do it for fun but my phone ran out of memory. As we got through the first six packs, there was nothing of significance. We pulled three Aly Raisman cards — which my daughter liked — but still no Gabby Douglas.  And then it happened.

In pack seven, a base card of Gabby Douglas.


About two minutes before we got to Pack 8 I told the kids about the memorabilia cards in this product and how they were worn by the athletes and then cut and placed into the cards. I also explained how the cards were a little thicker than the others.

My son opens Pack 8, the last one in the box and says, “Dadddddddy!”


Ryan Lochte memorabilia card.


“Oh my god, Daddy, it really is like everything we talk about comes true,” my daughter said again.

I realize these cards aren’t worth a fortune in terms of money, but the memories of how they were acquired are priceless. And before you start asking, neither the Bird autograph or Lochte memorabilia card are for trade. They belong to the kids.

This card adventure ranks right up there with the memory of my daughter’s first baseball game, which I wrote about here almost five years ago.

A proud father moment: kids hold a century-old Honus Wagner

Posted in Hall of Famers with tags , , , on February 29, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

In my last post I discussed my alternative to THE Honus Wagner card and described why I think the 1909-11 Colgan’s Chips card/disc is a fair replacement in a collection that likely will never see the Million Dollar Card

Well, lastnight I cracked the Wagner from its SGC case so that I could submit it to Beckett Grading, my preferred grading company.

While breaking it out I explained to my kids the big deal with the t206 Wagner and tought them a bit about cards. When we were done talking, I let each hold the Wagner I recently acquired. It was a proud moment.
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Treasures From Mom’s House

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , on February 24, 2013 by Cardboard Icons

I Made a trip to my mom’s house last night and while we were talking, the subject of my old toys came up. I have a small amount of stuff still at her house. I’m in my 30s now, so I had gotten most of my childhood items cleared out of mom’s house a while ago. But, among the items I re-discovered on Saturday were my old Little League hats. I played four years of Little League, and all of my hats were present except for the first hat. But the most interesting is the powder blue one, which I wore as a member of the Phillies.

That was my second-year hat and the coach nicknamed me “Flash.” Not sure why, but at the time I was thrilled because prospect Tom Gordon was also named Flash.

While that is mildly of interest to you, check out the sweet autograph that’s on the inside of the bill – Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda.

I remember acquiring this autograph at a free signing at a Pizza Hut! You just don’t see that anymore.


“Daddy … what’s that?”

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , on August 5, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

So this afternoon I sat down to sort some Allen & Ginter minis before placing them in binder pages and my 19-month-old daughter asks, “Daddy … what’s that?”

She hesitated for a second and exclaimed, “Ah … cards!”

Yes, baby. Cards.

The girl is not even 2 years old, but she knows what cards are. She’s seen me fumbling with these things for almost all of her life, and she has some flash cards in her room that she has nearly torn to shreds. My wife and I taught her the word “cards” a few months ago and now she knows what they are.

But this interaction led to another just a few seconds later.

She was curious as heck to see what was in the binder so I sat her on my lap and started showing her some cards from the UD Goodwin Champions mini set.

The first was Smarty Jones, which I explained is a championship race horse.

Second was Albert Pujols, who I described as one of the greatest players the game of baseball has ever seen.

By the time I got to the third card, that of Derek Jeter, her attention was diverted to the stack of empty pages that were stuffed in the front storage pocket. She wanted to play with them all, and thus ended the sorting session.

I guess it’s too early to teach her about my cards. Maybe we’ll just stick to hers and episodes of Little Einsteins for now.

Cardboard Icons Returns! Sorta …

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , on June 2, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

BenAlexaYes, I am still alive.

For much of the last three months, there has not been a bunch of new content here. No pithy comments about drama in The Hobby, not many “Card of the Day” posts, and surely no product reviews.

And as I write this today, I have no plans to bring all of that back in a flash. I’d love to sit here and proclaim that Newspaperman is back, and that Cardboard Icons will be bigger, better than ever. But the simple fact is that I’m not “back,” and this blog is what it is — a blog that you either read or you don’t. If you enjoy what I’ve written thus far — and what I may contribute in the future —  then I’m happy to have impacted your life for even a moment. If you’ve stopped reading, I can’t blame you — I’ve stopped caring to an extent.

Part of my desire for this blog left after Mario at Wax Heaven removed my link from his Heavenly Seven. And as I write this I have no ill will toward Mario for doing so. I didn’t deserve to be there any longer; there were (are) dozens of other bloggers whose product reviews and smart comments were (are) worth reading. Hell, even before that, I kind of already had one foot out the door — not because I lost the love of the hobby and writing, but because my life had changed.

In January I welcomed my first child into the world. And without getting all sappy and what not, I realized that there are certain priorities in my life (family is No. 1, hands down) and cards and blogging were not at the top of the list. And because of this I have spent less time sorting cards, and almost zero time writing about the cardboard that has been a part of my life for more than two decades.

Today, as I write this, I am still unsure what the future holds for me in this hobby. It’s expensive, time consuming, and requires an insane amount of patience and organization. But truth is I still love baseball cards.

Over the last three months I’ve attended a “major” card show, and purchased cards at garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores — the same activities I’d done before — but I have not taken the time to write about these adventures. In all of these cases I’ve wanted to sit down, scan some images and write, but I’ve been short on time. The kicker:  I’ll have even less time in the future.

But I think my mistake is believing that I HAD to write something every day, because that was what I expected of myself. In my line of everyday work — I’m a journalist at a daily newspaper — it’s in my blood to write something everyday, sometimes multiple pieces within just a few hours. But the difference between my day job and this blog (which I consider to be part of my hobby) is that one of them pays the bills and the other merely sucks time away from my family. I’m sure this struggle for time is a common issue among married men, particularly those with young children.

Just before my wife and I headed to the hospital, I wrote about it here. That was one of the greatest weekends in the history of this blog. I had nearly 1,000 hits over a series of three days, beginning with a post that basically announced that we were heading to the hospital. (Big props to Mario for the extra plug that day.)

In the weeks after my daughter’s birth, I continued to blog and proudly stated that I’d basically continue as I had in the previous months. I also said that this blog would not turn into a journal about fatherhood. But I think that was a mistake because my experience in the hobby, especially now as a new parent, is valid to share with others.

Having said that, I’m going to do what I can to write what I can, when I can — without pressure. If you decide to read it or not, that’s out of my control. If you do, I thank you and I hope you learn something or find this entertaining. If not, thank you for at least taking the time to read this entry.

When I started this blog last year, it was not about page views — it was about writing about a hobby loved. And as I look forward, I hope to return to my roots, all the while injecting a new element: parenthood.

This blog won’t be about fatherhood per se, but it will be about a card collector and father who is trying to maintain a hobby while being the best father and husband he can be.

Got questions or comments, feel free to leave them below of e-mail me at