Archive for Red Sox

A Belated Congrats from Night Owl

Posted in Mail Day with tags , , , , , on January 10, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Way back in October, when it was determined the Boston Red Sox would face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, I reached out to Greg, AKA Night Owl (link), and proposed that we should make a small wager.

You see, Greg is a Dodgers fan, and I am a Red Sox fan. I’ve been communicating with Greg for about 10 years through our blogs and Twitter. It seemed like a fun idea at the time. So we agreed to make a small wager, with non-specific cardboard of course.

Then things started to develop in the Series. The Sox took Games One and Two in Boston, and with the Series headed back to the West Coast I turned my attention away from the wager, and focused on the fact that the Sox were heading toward another title, and because of my geographic location, I may actually have a chance to see it live if the series extended to a fifth game.

The Dodgers took Game three in legendary extra innings fashion, and then Boston won Game Four, securing the opportunity of a lifetime for me — I had tickets to Game Five to potentially see my team win a World Series title before my very eyes.

I’ve written about that experience (here) but I couldn’t help but think about Greg while I was there at Dodger Stadium that night. I wished he also had a chance to experience such a view; but I also though about our silly wager — even as Game Five wore on, I thought it would be nice to send him something instead of expecting him to pay me for his end of the wager.

I checked the merchandise stands for something that might make for a nice souvenir to send him, but sadly a lot of what they had was generic World Series stuff and it was overpriced.

But what I did end up doing was send him something that I confirmed he didn’t have — a 2018 Topps Living Set card of Game Five starter, Clayton Kershaw. You see, on Oct. 17, when Kershsaw’s card was released I ordered five of the cards because Kershaw is my favorite player. Those cards arrived within a week and a half of the Sox victory so I packaged one up and sent it on over the Greg, who acknowledged the card in a post that I actually missed at the time.

I wasn’t expecting anything in return — but this week I got a small package from Greg. He was holding up his side of the wager with a handful of Red Sox cards, and 10 Kershaw cards, three of which I did not already have.

Thanks for holding up your end, Greg. The cards are glorious.

Serial numbers matter … sometimes.

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

As a player collector there comes a time when you ask yourself: How much is that serial number on that insert or parallel worth? More specifically, how much of a premium do you place on a serial number that matches the player’s jersey number.

Personally, it matters to me … but only to a point. I won’t pay a significant premium for such things, but I will pay more than ai would for every other serial number.

And it’s really an inconsistent thing, truthfully. Like for inserts or parallels that I really enjoy, I’ll definitely pay a bigger premium. But for sets like Topps Moments and Milestones, I may not even care.

The topic came to kind again today as I received my latest Roger Clemens serial numbered parallel : a 2007 Bowman Heritage Black Border serial numbered 22/52.

Clemens is a tricky one, he wore three jersey numbers over the course of his career. He wore 21 with the Red Sox and Blue Jays, and then initially 12 with the Yankees, before moving to 22, which he wore in For the remainder of his New York career and his time in Houston.

David Ortiz’s last trip through Oakland a must see; ends with purchase of historic item

Posted in Baseball Games, Game-Used Items with tags , , , , , , on September 6, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

bag1I am a Red Sox fan. I have been one for nearly three decades. My fandom started with admiring Roger Clemens (as a player), continued with the dominance of Pedro Martinez and youthful impact of Nomar Garciaparra, and was taken to another level when Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz combined to become an offensive powerhouse that would eventually lead to the franchise’s first championship in 86 years.

I watched Ramirez and Ortiz dominate in person for years when the Red Sox would travel to the west coast and play against the Oakland A’s. Some of my fondest baseball memories are watching those two characters do their thing against the Athletics. I was there when Manny hit a towering shot to left field and stood at the plate with his hands in the air as the ball approached the seats, only it never got there and Manny was met with a rousing round of heckling boos. I also recall sitting behind the third base dugout and watching Ortiz from a profile drill a pair of homers over the wall in right-center, two of several I’d seen Ortiz hit in Oakland, and then slowly trot around the bases in only the way Big Papi does.

ortiz

David Ortiz warms up before an at-bat on Sept. 9, 2016.                         Photo: Ben Aguirre Jr./Cardboard Icons

And when it comes to specifically Ortiz, who says he is retiring at the end of the season, I have been able to see him play in five different stadiums. Not only in Oakland, but I saw  him in San Francisco at AT&T Park a few years ago; in Seattle on back to back nights at Safeco Field  in 2003, in New York at the new Yankee Stadium in May 2010 and two days later in Boston at Fenway Park. Ortiz’s presence on the field has brought a smile to my face on numerous occasions so I felt obligated to see him one last time during the Red Sox most recent trip through Oakland.

 

Because of my work schedule I was only able to make it to one game, Sept. 3, and I decided to go to the game alone. I usually get decent tickets for the games I attend but on this occasion since I was going alone and I decided to look for the best seat possible. And as luck would have it, the best seat available for me was behind the plate. Hey, it was a special occasion for me and my premium ticket was still less than I had paid for tickets to a few Giants games. (side note: By comparison, tickets to games in Oakland are sometimes almost half the price as one in San Francisco – the trade-off of having a losing team and a dilapidated venue.)

And so I worked all day and then took the train to the stadium. My intention was to enjoy the game, take some pictures and ultimately buy a game-used ball at the stadium, one of the newer traditions I’ve started to do.

THE GAME

I arrived just before the game started, so I was able to soak in the National Anthem, watch the ceremonial first pitch thrown by Oakland A’s legend Jose Canseco, who was one of the guys I really enjoyed watching as a kid. Remember, I grew up in the Bay Area – true, I was a Red Sox fan, but the A’s were still the best game in town for my taste. I still remember rushing home on Wednesdays after school and turning on 560 AM KSFO and listening to announcer Bill King read off the lineups and call homeruns from Canseco and Mark McGwire during those getaway days early afternoon games. I digress.

4

David Ortiz rips a double to left center during the first inning.                Photo:Ben Aguirre Jr. / Cardboard Icons

Everything about this night felt special to a baseball fan. And the way the game started just continued that notion. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia led off with a single, and two batters later Ortiz came to the plate with much fanfare and then ripped a double into left-center. And then a batter later MVP candidate outfielder Mookie Betts stepped to the plate and doubled to left-center which drove home Pedroia and Ortiz, giving the Red Sox a 2-0 lead before their starting pitcher Rick Porcello even took the mound.

10mark2

Red Sox rookie third baseman Yoan Moncada at the plate just before his first Major League hit.                                                                                           Photo: Ben Aguirre Jr. / Cardboard Icons

 

The score remained 2-0 into the third inning where A’s pitcher Daniel Mengden — he of the atrocious ERA but legendary handlebar mustache and knee-high striped socks — faced Ortiz and Betts again and got them both to ground out, making way for what seemingly was going to be a smooth inning for he and the A’s.  But as you know by now, things didn’t go so well for Oakland. First baseman Hanley Ramirez drilled a solo homerun to left-center, and then catcher Sandy Leon doubled and outfielder Chris Yound walked.  Super-rookie Yoan Moncada, the Cuban third baseman who had made his MLB debut the night before, then came up and notched his first major league hit, a double down the left field line. As is tradition, the ball hit during the play was taken out of play and put away as a souvenir for Moncada. I would not be surprised if MLB immediately stuck one of their authentication stickers on the ball, something the league has been doing for more than half a decade now, to ensure the authenticity of game-used items.

 

The Red Sox wound up batting around in the third inning, which included another Pedroia single and a second Ortiz double, this time just inches away from being a homerun to center field. In all, the Red Sox added another seven runs in the inning to make it 9-0 before the final three hitters of Oakland’s lineup even had a chance to step the plate for the first time. In fact, Boston’s Porcello held a perfect game through the first 16 hitters (5 1/3 innings) until Oakland outfielder Jake Smolinski doubled to left field to end the run at history.

By the time the fifth inning had rolled around, I had gotten my fill of taking pictures of Ortiz so I decided to video record his fourth at-bat of the night, which resulted in a broken-bat single up the middle. It wound up being his final at-bat of the game as he was relieved for a pinch hitter when his turn came up in the eighth inning.

I have a basic philosophy when I go to games by myself: Once I sit down for the beginning of the game, I will not leave my seat or row until the game is over unless certain circumstances merit my leaving. So by the time the bottom of the ninth inning rolled around the Red Sox had a 11-2 lead and I decided that if I was going to purchase a game-used baseball from this game then I should go and get it before others decide to do the same.

GAME-USED

soxas base

Based used on 9/2/16; photo by friend J.R.

Behind section 120 at the Oakland Coliseum (or whatever corporate name they have on the place at the time you actually read this) there is a stand where they sell game-used items – jerseys, bats, balls, etc. On this night I inquired about balls and they didn’t have any. The lady told me they didn’t receive the usual stash because Porcello had a perfect game going and when significant events like that are unfolding all items from that game are held back. If Porcello had completed the perfect game odds are all game-used items from the game which typically would have been offered for sale by the A’s likely would have wound up in the hands of Major League Baseball, which then would have sold the items at a premium via their auctions. I digress.

With no balls from this game available – by the way I was quoted $40 for a random ball, which isn’t bad but I prefer the ones in San Francisco that are priced based on what play the ball was involved in – I asked if there was anything from the current game that was for sale. The clerk then directs me t the show case where there are two bases sitting there, one from the present game (9/3/16) and one from the previous night’s game (9/2/16.)

I looked at the two bases and they were priced significantly different. Both were much more than I intended to spend but base was priced more than three times as much as the other.

For those unaware, bases are used for three innings at a time and then switched out. So a base is used for innings 1 through 3 and then removed from play and then replaced with one used for innings 4 through 6, and then finally with another for innings 7 through 9. And there are three bases that are switched out. So in all there are nine used bases per game, three for each location on the diamond. And in case you’re wondering, home plate does not get removed.

The base from the 9/2/16 game was listed as being the base used at first base for innings 4 through 6. And along with the base was a card that read six plays in which the base was used, including two Ortiz at-bats. Regardless of the plays shown, I didn’t want that base – it wasn’t from the game I had just watch. So I focused on the other, cheaper one.

bag2mark

This sticker indicates that this base was used as first base for innings 1 through 3 during the Sept. 3, 2016 game against the Boston Red Sox.                                      Photo: Ben Aguirre Jr. / Cardboard Icons

This base, which was from the game I watched, didn’t have a list of plays.  It only had a price tag and small details that read (1B, 1-3, 9/3/16). This means it is first base used for innings 1 through 3 on 9/3/16.

 

I looked at the base and thought about the game I’d just seen. I knew that I had seen David Ortiz double twice, Dustin Pedroia single twice, Hanley Ramirez smash a home run AND that rookie Yoan Moncada notched his first major league hit – all before the end of the end of the third inning.  And if this were the base actually used as described then this is the one that all of these players – and others – stepped on during the moist active part of the game.

I looked at the price tag and asked the clerk to physically hand the base to me to I could inspect it.  When she handed it to me I inspected the price tag for a hidden zero as surely this base was not just more important to me, but more historically significant than the other that was priced much higher. I looked and looked and looked.  There was no hidden zero. I knew at that moment that the item I was holding was going home with me.

So I reached for my wallet and refused to hand the base back to the clerk before the transaction was completed. I feared that at any moment some manager would come over and realize that they hadn’t appropriately priced this item. Heck, it was probably an item that shouldn’t have even been made available to the public in my mind. Moncada is the top prospect in baseball — which is a big deal — and to have an item that was used when he collected his first hit is something that shouldn’t have happened. As noted earlier, this item probably should have ended up with Major League Baseball, or at the very least be priced much higher than any other items used in recent games.

All my anguish was for not.  The transaction went smoothly until I asked for something to wrap the base in and they had nothing for me. At that point I knew my trek home would be an interesting one.

I’M HEADED HOME

As mentioned earlier I took public transportation to the game and carrying the dirty cumbersome base – which is still mounted to its metal post and weighs close to 10 pounds – was going to present a challenge. I weaved my way through the concourse traffic and headed for the ramp to the BART train and avoided any and all contact with anyone. During the 10-minute speed walk from stand to the train platform I had heard several people mumbling stuff about my new treasure but I managed to duck all inquiries. That is until I got to the platform.  I found a decent place to stand so as to keep the base mostly covered but two guys saw me before I found my spot. One of the men asked me how I got the base, and then asked how much it cost me.  I responded with a lie out of fear that I was going to get robbed – remember, I was in Oakland and I was carrying not only this base, but also my DSLR camera. People have been robbed of lesser valued things.

Moments later a gentleman in his 80s and his adult daughter inquired about the base. This time they wanted to touch it – they had never seen or touched a real base before. I allowed them to do so, but tried to keep the actions fairly concealed because I didn’t want to start this trend.

Luckily for me my train arrived just minutes later and I found a seat by myself and was able keep the base out of view from more onlookers. And aside from a 10-minute delay in the middle of the tracks for some relatively minor repair, the trip back to the station where I parked my car was pretty uneventful.

A short while later I had arrived at home and the reaction when I walked through the door was priceless “What the (expletive)? Is that a base from tonight’s game?”

Yes. Yes it is.

THE BASE

Bases have come a long way since the game started. In the early 19o0s the bases resembled square sacks filled with what looked like flour or other soft material. Now they are rubber molded over a meal frame. And for almost a decade now they have been putting special badges on the side of the bases to signify what series or game the base was being used – likely just a marketing plot to help in the sale of such equipment.

Sometimes when bases are offered for sale they have already been cleaned off completely, or sometimes only partially cleaned off, and for the most part the bases are removed from the post which helps affix the base to a peg that is buried on the field of play to keep the base in place.

But the base I purchased was literally fresh off to field – mud still smeared in places on the bottom and on the peg, and lots of dirt and cleat marks still on top.

bag3mark

SIGNIFICANCE

As noted earlier, this base isn’t just like all the others used on the field during this game on Sept. 3, 2016. There is probably only one 0ther base from this game that has more significance – second base used during the first three innings. That base would be more significant because both of Ortiz’s hits were doubles and Yoan Moncada’s first MLB hit was in fact a double. However, that base was not available for sale when I visited the stand and I do not know if it was even made available to the public.

What I do know is that the base used at first base for those first three innings was available and now it is in my collection. And by my account, this base was involved in the following plays:

*Yoan Moncada’s first Major League hit.

*David Ortiz career hits 2,445 and 2,446 (which were also his 627th and 628th career doubles)

*Dustin Pedroia’s career hits 1,651 and 1,652; also his 566th career walk

*Hanley Ramirez’s 230th career homerun

*Mookie Betts 410th career hit

Xander Bogaerts’ 503rd career hit

*Jackie Bradley Jr’s 278th and 279th career hit

*Sandy Leon’s 104th career hit

*Also of note, no Athletics safely reached first base at the time this base was on the field; a perfect game was in effect into the sixth inning.

VALUE

The value of such items are volatile as they are rare and are really only worth what a person is willing to pay for them. And demand for bases is not what it would be for used balls, bats or other pieces of equipment. That said, the value to me is priceless because of the fact that it is from a game I attended and involved a Red Sox legend. However, the long-term value could be significantly higher if Moncada turns out to be a legitimate star. At this point he is still considered a highly touted rookie/prospect who has yet to prove his worth at the major league level. And in most cases top prospects rarely turn into the stars to which they are compared. But for collectors the market for items used in events deemed significant to a star player’s career can fetch lots of money.

NOW WHAT

So what does one do with a full base. Well, display it of course. But therein lays an issue that collectors always face: how does one display their items, specifically a base? I’ve seen people mount them on walls, but that’s with bases that are no longer attached to a metal post. At this point I’ll have to put it on a book shelf, but long term I am thinking of getting a vertical display case to not only show off this item, but also other stuff such including a pair of authenticated game-used baseballs thrown by Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner during his one-hitter on July 10, 2016, against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Reach me via e-mail at cardboardicons@yahoo.com; on Twitter at @cardboardicons, and LIKE the new Cardboard Icons FACEBOOK page

Thrift Treasures 102: Nomo Mojo for $5

Posted in Thrift Treasures with tags , , , , , on March 17, 2016 by Cardboard Icons

Surely you’ve heard of “weekend warriors,” a phrase that has been given to many groups of people including those who run around to various garage sales and flea markets looking for treasures. 

Well, have this week I was a Wednesday Warrior.

I went to visit a friend who recently had surgery and during this trip I also visited a mid-week flea market that has turned up some treasures for others.  The pickings were slim got a sports guy like me, but I did find a single binder that for $5 was too good to pass up.

It’s crazy to think this, but it’s been twenty years since the baseball world went crazy for Japanese star Hideo Nomo. His stuff was blazing hot, and among his most sought after cards was his primary Japanese 1991 BBM release. 
 photo 836447D8-50D7-4376-A400-C71D6EC135A0_zpsledhpp69.jpg

Well, this binder just so happened to have the basic Japanese rookie card, as well as four other subsets from that same set.  Additionally, it had more than 30 total Nomo cards, most of which were from 1995, his MLB rookie year. photo 836447D8-50D7-4376-A400-C71D6EC135A0_zpsfbrpzx8b.jpg
 photo B9C22128-8468-4D52-9719-026E98CCD7AB_zpsm2qxwbpc.jpg
 photo 0F8F6B84-4659-4EF7-8DC5-43A816BE2F1E_zps1guizbdv.jpg
<img src="http://i606.photobucket.com/albums/tt143/cardboardicons/227977FF-AE6A-4738-A8EE-5510C8BE06AD_zpsinuld43t.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo 227977FF-AE6A-4738-A8EE-5510C8BE06AD_zpsinuld43t<a href=" http:="" s606.photobucket.com="" user="" cardboardicons="" media="" 0bfcd45c-871e-4297-8153-4a66ae4fa796_zpscoou2o0h.jpg.html"=""

As a bonus, the binder also had this sweet 2010 Topps National Chicle Tim Wakefield which I’d always wanted.
 photo 0BFCD45C-871E-4297-8153-4A66AE4FA796_zpscoou2o0h.jpg

Also two autographs, including one with a “John 3:16” inscription. 
 photo 5469CBBF-933F-4341-B42E-9F79019594D2_zpsxqzb3ig5.jpg

Total cost of these treasures: $5

You can see more Thrift Treasures posts Here.

You don’t go to the post office at 6 a.m. for just any card 

Posted in Hall of Fame Rookie Cards, Hall of Famers, Mail Day with tags , , , , on October 14, 2015 by Cardboard Icons

Yesterday I posted about my 1933 Goudey Jim Bottomley card that arrived in the mail.  There should have been a second card as part of that mail day, but no one was home to sign for it.

So the postman left a note saying so could pick up the item anytime after 6 a.m. the next day.

I was there 15 minutes early.

Behold, perhaps the best looking low grade t206 you may ever see, the newest addition to my collection, a 1909-11 t206 Tris Speaker.

  
One look at this card and you may wonder why it graded a 1.5. The front is drop-dead gorgeous. Fantastic centering and bright colors. Decent corners for a century-old card.

The back is why it graded so low.  But even with the paperloss, the back isn’t that bad and when this thing is in my showcase, no one will be looking at the back.

  

Horrible Card of the Dat Part VI: 1990 Upper Deck Bill Buckner

Posted in Horrible Card Of The Day with tags , , , , , , on May 1, 2012 by Cardboard Icons

Infamous for the ball through the legs in the 1986 World Series, Bill Buckner need not have another reminder of the play.  Alas, just four years after that cringing moment, Upper Deck created this card which subtly reminds everyone that this everyday solid player made a giant goof on the game’s biggest stage.

There had to be dozens, if not hundreds, of photos of Buckner, yet Upper Deck chose the photographer’s photo that depicts a giant tarp tube in the background.  Surely the photographer knew he had something when he peered through his view finder and saw that the hollow portion of the tube was placed so perfectly between Buckner’s legs that it made it look like the black pit in which a ball would disappear forever.

While I think the photo in and of itself it pretty amusing.  Shame on Upper Deck for choosing THIS image.

Ugh … this card is just horrible.

“Horrible Card of the Day” is a series showcasing some of the hobby’s hidden gems. To see additional segments, check out the pull down menu on the right side of the home page … or click here.

A Dream Come True: My Visit to Fenway

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , on June 23, 2010 by Cardboard Icons
It was a dream come true.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always dreamed about visiting Fenway Park.

And for a long time I figured it would never happened.

For starters, when I was a kid there was no chance that my mother was going to take me and my sister across country to see a baseball game. I also never wanted to fly because I was scared to death.

In fact, one summer — 1992 — the three of us took a trip to Missouri to visit relatives and instead of flying, we took the Greyhound bus. Yeah, my mom had a lot of patience with us.

I digress. So, in May, my dream came true as my wife and I made the trip to the East Coast — yes, we flew — and everything turned out perfectly … but there is a good story to all of this.

We spent a week visiting New York City and Boston. And I am lucky enough to have a wife who supports my zest for all things baseball — over our seven days away from home, and our 1-year-old daughter, we attended two games, ones sat Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park.

The visit to Yankee Stadium was a special one. Sure, it would have been nice to visit the old Yankee Stadium, the one with all the history, but this was special nonetheless because this was a Red Sox-Yankee game at Yankee Stadium.

Before heading to the game, I decided that I was going there as a baseball fan only. This meant I was not going to don any Red Sox gear, partly because I didn’t want to be involved in any crossfire between fans of the two teams.

I learned this tactic worked out just fine as on the way home from the game — which included a Red Sox comeback that was spoiled in the ninth by a Alex Rodriguez game-tying homer and a Marcus Thames walk-off — we took the subway and witnessed one of the toughest crowds ever.

In fact, the main person doing to chiding of a Red Sox fan was a woman who continued to yell, “suck my ovaries.”

Speechless. Welcome to New York, I guess.

While the New York experience was awesome — even though the Red Sox lost, it was a hell of a game — I knew that things would get even more intense for me at Fenway just two days later.

On the night before the game, the heavens opened up and rain poured all throughout the Boston area. I feared that the one chance I had to see the Red Sox at home — against the Twins and reigning American League MVP Joe Mauer, no less — was going to get washed out.

As it would turn out, those rains actually set the tone for a majestic night at Fenway.

The grounds were wet and there was a crispness in the air. My wife and I arrived at the ball park about 90 minutes before game time so as to allow us time to get something to eat and get all touristy and stuff.

The sight of the pale Fenway green and red brick structure set against a gray sky backdrop is something I’ll never forget.

Once inside the ball park, things began to feel even more surreal. Not only was I looking at the Green Monster, Pesky’s Pole, the press box and suites behind home plate, but I was standing only feet away.

After soaking in the scenery, we headed to our seats which were in the grandstand area behind home plate that still uses authentic wooden seats that were installed nearly a century ago. And while the tickets were clearly marked “obstructed view,” there was no way of knowing exactly what that meant until we got there.

Well, when we got closer, I knew things were about to take a turn for the worse.

True, we were sitting maybe 30 rows from home plate, but between us and the field was a giant, steel pillar that was directly in front of our face.

I let out a sarcastic chuckle and my wife’s jaw dropped for this pole is what we would be fighting for the next three hours to catch a glimpse of Red Sox baseball.

Alas the baseball gods had one more gift up their sleeve: two empty seats to our left. And they were numbered 8 and 9, the same numbers that Carl Yastrzemski and Ted Williams wore.

Before we could sit down in our assigned seats, an older gentleman named Tim from three seats down motioned for us to slide on over. He advised us that the two seats next to him belonged to a pair of season ticket holders from New Hampshire who said they might not make it to the game … because of the weather.

For a few innings, my wife and I sat with one eye on the game and the other on the people walking up and down the aisle. We were certain that the ticket holders were going to arrive.

But by the fourth inning it was clear that fate was on our side — the rain that had threatened the game was enough to keep the season ticket holders away for this night.

The game lasted for about three hours, but it wasn’t long enough. And by the time it was over, I didn’t want to leave. In fact, before we exited the stadium, for what I believed would have been the last time, my eyes began to well up with tears.

As we walked away from Fenway, I looked back a few times to take in the scene: The Citgo sign towering over the area, the multiple banners hanging off the side of the building and the Cask n Flagon beyond the Green Monster.

Two days later, just hours before we were to board our flight back to California, we got lost driving in Boston and ended up again at Fenway Park.

While we intended only to take a few pictures of the ballpark, we also ended up taking spur-of-the-moment guided tour of the legendary structure. What a fitting way to say goodbye.

View from the press box.

In the days after our visit to Boston, I intended to write this blog to share my experience, but due to extenuating circumstances I did not. In fact, had it not been for a pair of Father’s Day gifts from my wife, I might not have ever written this piece. Her gifts: a 3-feet long canvas of a panoramic picture she took from “our” seats, and a serial numbered ceramic collectible of Fenway Park, a gift she purchased at the stadium while I was in the restroom collecting emotions in the minutes before we left.