30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Getting Back Into the Game

Happy SundayAre you ready for some sports card posts?

I am fully aware that I haven't been very active in the blogosphere lately.  In fact, this year saw a significant drop in the number of posts I published on this blog.  But I'm hoping to bounce back in 2024.  Cold starts have never worked for me, so if I have any hopes of getting back into a regular blogging routine, I'd better start now.

With blogger care packages, flea market finds, and even a few card show purchases piling up in my office... I was wondering where the heck I should begin.  Then Ryan texted me over the weekend about Godzilla Minus One, which is the latest movie in the franchise.  Not sure if I've ever seen any of the Godzilla movies in the theaters, but I'm hoping to change that this holiday season.

2006 Topps Topps Stars #TS-HM

His text reminded me of a stack of cards sitting on my desk with this Godzilla right on top.  It was part of a care package that Dennis over at Too Many Verlanders sent me last December.  Nope.  That's not a typo.  One year ago.

Since then he's sent me two additional packages and today... in honor of Godzilla being out in theaters (and the Ohtani signing yesterday with the Dodgers)... I'm going to show off the Japanese baseball players (and a few other items) he sent my way.

2021 Topps A&G #23

Dennis has a way of picking cards for my collection.  My Ichiro cards are sorted by year in a binder and this is the first and only 2021 card in it.

He also sent me these three hits I didn't have: 

2021 Chrome Update Autographs #CUSA-KA
Arihara only spent a couple of seasons over here and wasn't exactly a household name.

2010 Topps National Chicle Relics #NCR-KF

On the other hand, I feel like the majority of baseball fans around in the late 2000's remember Fukudome.  He had one heck of a MLB debut and his first month in the Bigs was stellar.  There was even a controversial t-shirt he was depicted on that made national news.

2018 Topps Player's Weekend Patch #PWP-MA

Tanaka was a two-time all-star and spent his entire seven season MLB career with the New York Yankees, so he should be a household name among baseball fansAnyone else remember him going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 2013 for the Rakuten Golden Eagles?

I'll round out the huge lot of Japanese baseball players with these two Hideo Nomo cards:

1995 Flair Wave of the Future #10

Nomo opened the door for guys like Matsui, Ichiro, Tanaka, and Ohtani and is still the MLB career leader in wins among Japanese born pitchers.  And up until August, he was the career leader in strikeoutsYu Darvish passed him up and ironically... Nomo (who works for the Padres) was at the game.

Anyways... getting back the card... at the height of Nomomania, this card was probably selling for $20 to $30.  Probably more in LA.

1996 Topps BIG Topps #NNO

What you're looking at is a really cool insert from the 90's.  C'mon... you know I like oversized cards.  These postcard sized cards were inserted (like box toppers) into specially marked team sets that were sold at Walmart.  I had never owned one of these until Dennis sent me this one.

In an effort to tie in some other items he sent me, here are some new Jake Cronenworth cards for my San Diego Padres PC:

One shiny card really stood out from the bunch:

2022 Topps Chrome Future Stars #FS-9

Those of you who are familiar with Dennis... know that he's a huge Michigan Wolverines fan/collectorCronenworth was born and raised in Michigan and played three seasons with the Wolverines before entering the MLB Draft.

I'm super excited for Dennis as his #1 ranked Wolverines are headed to Southern California to play #4 Alabama in the CFP semifinals.  I will totally be rooting for them as well as the Washington Huskies in the other CFP semifinal game.

I'll also be pulling for San Jose State University as they're bowl bound too.  They play Coastal Carolina in the 2023 Hawaii Bowl on December 23rd.  Let's go Spartans!

Here are a pair of Tyler Ervin autographs that Dennis added to my SJSU PC:

2016 Panini Classics Significant Signatures #233

2016 Panini Prime Signatures #212

Ervin was an absolute stud for the Spartans his senior year when he rushed for over 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns.  Although his NFL career was less than stellar, he did end up playing five seasons with three teams.

David Fales was another Spartan who shined in San Jose:

2014 SP Authentic Canvas Collection #C-30

He was a teammate of Ervin at SJSU from 2012 to 2013 and finished with over 8,000 passing yards during his two seasons there before entering the 2014 NFL Draft.

The Chicago Bears selected him in the 6th Round and his facial expression pretty much sums up his NFL career.

Dennis sent me a bunch of other things, but I'm already over three hours into this post and I'm guessing most of you have already checked out.  But for those of you who stuck around, in honor of the Los Angeles Lakers becoming the first NBA In-Season Tournament Champions, here's one more Michigan native Dennis sent me:

1990-91 Star Slam #1-9

Haven't been a big NBA fan for the past decade or so, but when I was... the Lakers were my team.  I started rooting for them during the Showtime Era and Magic Johnson played a huge part in my fanfare.

Magic attended college in Michigan... but wasn't a Wolverine.  He was a Michigan State Spartan.  I've got no love for them... or the baseball team he has an ownership stake in.  However I will casually root for the Lakers and of course Shohei Ohtani.

Well that's it for now.  I'm going to try to write at least one post a week until the holidays... then fingers crossed... get back into the two to three posts per week routine in 2024.

By the way... thank you to those who left thoughtful comments on my Papa Fuji and buddy Mike posts.  They lifted my spirits during that rough patch and were much appreciated.  I'm very fortunate to be a part of this card blogging community.

Happy Sunday and sayonara! 


Almost forgot... if you're a college football fan, head over to Cards on Cards and enter Kerry's College Bowl Pick'em contest.  The rules are simple and there are multiple prizes.  Don't believe me, click here and see for yourself.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

One Helluva Friend

1998 was a pretty memorable year.

1999 Finest Split Screen Dual Refractor #SS1

There was the McGwire and Sosa home run chase.

2002 Upper Deck World Series Heroes #57

And even more importantly (to me)... the San Diego Padres went to the World Series (but lost to the New York Yankees).

That's also the year I got hired in my district... and started working at the local card shop located right across the street from the elementary school I taught at.

Mike & Fedor Emelianenko

That's where I met my buddy Mike.

Me, Dodger Dog, Tony, & Mike on 8/9/19

I've written about him numerous times on this blog.  We've went on road trips, set up and walked around flea markets, gone 'graphing, attended tons of sporting events, and hung out at toy and card shows.  And over the years... he's become one of my closest friends.

Fast forward twenty-five years to 2023 and this year has been pretty memorable too.  Unfortunately... I've gotta say... the past few months hasn't been positive.

2023 Topps Heritage 1974 Stamps #74BS 25-28

Let's see... the Padres and their $255M payroll failed to make the playoffs.  The A's had the worst record in baseball... and MLB owners just approved their relocation to Las Vegas.

Steve Caballero & Mike

Last month, Papa Fuji passed away.  Sadly... exactly one month later, Mike did too.  He was only fifty-one years old.

Frank, Me, & Mike

The majority of those years were spent collecting and selling cards, autographed memorabilia, and toys.  His generosity, kindness, and humor constantly drew other vendors and shoppers around him.  I was always amazed at how many people he knew... but it makes sense, because he was one of the good guys and one helluva friend (even if you're a Yankees and 49ers fan).

Rest in peace homie!  I miss ya.  Until we meet again...

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Fever, Chills, Loss of Smell, and a Mysterious Pin

Packages are piled up in my office.  Some of them are online purchases.  Others are care packages fellow bloggers and friends have sent my way.  Hopefully none of these people are offended that I haven't opened up their generous gifts.

As many of you know... lately... I've been a little distracted with the recent passing of my father.  My immune system must have been low, because a few days later I had my first run-in with Covid.  Holy cow... this virus completely knocked me out for four days.  Fever, chills, headaches, stuffy head, an earache, loss of smell and taste, body aches, and a really nasty cough pretty much summarizes my personal experience with the infectious disease.

Thankfully... every day since Saturday has been a little better.  As I laid in bed this morning, I decided to read all of the thoughtful comments people left on my previous post.  They brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.  Thank you for those very kind words.

Getting back to those packages... I'd love to sit down, rip open, and organize all of the cards awaiting me in those boxes, bubble mailers, and PWE's.  I have the time (that's something you probably won't read on this blog again anytime soon), but not the energy.  My district says I can't go back into my classroom until Thursday, but I might be out the whole week.  I'm still very fatigued and pretty sure my students and colleagues wouldn't appreciate my obnoxious cough.

I did open up one package before climbing back into bed.  It wasn't chosen by random.  It was something I purchased the morning my father passed awayPapa Fuji wasn't a huge baseball fan.  He didn't really watch the sport growing up on the pineapple fields and by the time he came to the mainland... it just wasn't his thing.

However after doing some research a while back, I discovered a hall of fame catcher for the Athletics hit a home run on the day he was born.  I immediately checked online to see if he had any cards issued from my father's birth year.  Outside of a single and seemingly rare Exhibit card, I came up empty-handed.  I did find a pin depicting him produced by a gum company and ironically... there was an auction ending the same morning he passed away.

Here's the latest addition to my A's PC and an item that will forever be linked to my father:

1932 Orbit Gum Pins #28

Sadly there isn't a lot of information out there on these pinsDoes anyone know the story behind these?  How they were distributed?

By the way... I'm gonna start working on another blog post to address the state of the blog.  Hopefully I'll publish it this week.  We'll see how things play out with my health, work, and family stuff.

Until then... thanks again for all of the considerate and kind comments everyone wrote on my last post.  Just one more reason I'm grateful for this card community, the hobby, and this blog.

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!

Saturday, October 21, 2023

The Final Field Trip

The past few months have been quite the whirlwind... so much that I had to access my family's Google calendar to wrap my head around when and where things took place.

Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

Earlier in the year, my father started having some health issues and as much as he enjoyed his independence... he accepted the reality that living in Las Vegas by himself was no longer a viable option.  

As a family, we decided to move him to the Bay Area where he'd be surrounded by his three boys and his favorite daughter-in-law.

Hukilau in SJ Japantown

It was nice seeing him on a regular basis... and having the opportunity to help him after a lifetime of him always being there for us.  Each of his children are very different, so when he hung out with us individually, he experienced different things.

Marion Panaretos Rose Garden in San Mateo

My thing was getting him out of the house and taking him on short expeditions.  We'd often walk around San Jose's Japantown and grab lunch or check out a local park, take a stroll, and smell the flowers.  He also enjoyed sitting down at Barnes and Noble with a copy of Calder Walden's Spies in front of him.

Marvel Cake in Campbell

About a month ago, his health started to decline... and the field trips evolved into short drivesTwo weekends ago... we hopped in my car and drove over to my best friend's house.  She has been taking care of her mom and hadn't had the chance to see my father in a few weeks, so we visited her.  Sadly, it was his final field trip.

Papa Fuji passed away last Sunday.  Although my siblings and I are sad to see him go, we are happy that he's finally reunited with Mama FujiRest in peace Dad.  You deserve it.

Happy Saturday and sayonara!