30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I Wanna Go Back

One of the perks of card collecting is that it provides a nice timeline.  Since most sports cards have a year attached to it, you're able to go back, compare, and reminisce on your own personal experiences.

Next week is my final week of summer school and a few weeks after that I'll turn around and head right back into the classroom.  I cannot believe it'll be my eighteenth year of teaching.

Now that I've entered my forties, a lot of those years have started to blend together, so I decided to sit down with my yearbooks and document what, where, and when I taught since I entered this career path.

My rookie year was in 1998.  I had originally interviewed for a second grade position, but my principal felt I was better suited for fifth grade.  He was right.  I taught fifth grade for the next four years under his command.

2003 Prestige Connections #46

That fall Eric Chavez made his MLB debut and later that November, Ben Grieve was announced the American League Rookie of the Year.

At the end of my fourth year, I approached my principal and asked if I could loop with my 5th graders. I had developed a strong bond with that class and was looking for a new challenge.  After the principal had given me the green light, I asked the students (and their parents) if they would be interested in having me as their sixth grade teacher.  Twenty-four of the twenty-six students agreed and in the Fall of 2002, I taught 6th for the very first time.

2004 Upper Deck Headliners Jersey #HL-MT

In 2002 the Oakland A's had the 2nd best record in baseball and were in the midst of four consecutive trips to the playoffs.  They were lead by Barry Zito's league leading 23 wins and the American League MVP... Miguel Tejada.

Speaking of being MVP... at the end of that school year, I was honored by my principal and colleagues when I won the Teacher of the Year Award.

It's one of my greatest professional accomplishments and is currently hanging up behind my desk in the classroom.

After that class graduated and moved onto middle school, I looped one more time.  I was on the verge of looping again, but one of my former assistant principals was promoted to principal and asked me to teach at his site.  I was scared, because it was a different type of student population and I had finally found my rhythm and confidence.  But after talking to a few other colleagues and administrators, they all encouraged me to take the next step in my career, so I transferred.  I made the move in the Fall of 2006.

By then, Jason Giambi was wrapping up his fifth season as a New York Yankee.  Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson had both packed their bags and were playing in St. Louis and Atlanta respectively.

2005 Reflections Fabric Patch #RH

And with Barry Zito about to jump ship too... Rich Harden was being groomed to become the A's next ace.  Surprisingly... with most of their home grown talent now playing in larger markets, the Athletics still found a way to win the West, but were eventually bounced by the Detroit Tigers in the playoffs.

Two years later, the principal that recruited me got promoted again to one of the larger schools in our district.  At around the same time, I had been asked by one of the middle school principals to come and work for him.

He had just created a new elective that was based on character education, study skills, and life skills.  I have always been passionate about all three of these things and they had been the foundation of my classroom curriculum and teaching philosophy for years.  Plus it gave me the opportunity to take my sixth grade class up to middle school.

I was a little nervous about making the switch from elementary to middle school, but the pro's outweighed the con's.

That was back in 2008... the same year I decided to jump head first back into the hobby I love.  It was also Kurt Suzuki's first full year behind the plate for the Athletics.  The team struggled and failed to reach the .500 mark for the second consecutive season, but Suzuki had one of the best years at the plate and instantly became my favorite Oakland Athletic.

Last fall, I continued to teach three periods of my elective class, but in addition to that class I also taught two periods of English Language Development (ELD).  One of those periods was History, which I absolutely loved and the other was Science, which I managed to survive.  Bottom line... I enjoyed the students, which made my job easier and more enjoyable.

Just as I was starting to adjust to teaching three subjects, Tim Hudson and the San Francisco Giants beat the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.  It took Hudson sixteen seasons, but he finally got himself a ring.

2005 Upper Deck Origins Jersey #OR-TH

It's hard to believe that I've been teaching longer than Hudson has been playing in the MLB.  Since then... a lot of things have changed in terms of the Oakland Athletics and the way I collect.  But my love for the men in green and gold, our hobby, and my profession hasn't changed a bit.

And I owe it all to my family, friends, colleagues, administrators, and students for making my job enjoyable and supporting me through the years.  There's just something truly awesome about loving what you do for a living.  And that goes for this hobby too.

A huge thank you goes out to all of the you out there who have taken the time to support my blog and/or help me with my collection in one way or another.  The best thing about running this blog is the interaction I have with all of you.

A special thank you goes out to Matt over at Bob Walk the Plank.  All of the cards featured in this post were part of a generous care package he shipped out earlier in the summer.  Thanks Matt!  I have a stack of Pirates with your name on it that I'll be shipping out in the next couple of weeks.

Happy Thursday and sayonara!


  1. Awesome cards and awesome timeline. I wonder how much'll change when I have my first full time job and when I'm fired a few months later.

  2. Great stuff. And way to go Matt for such an amazing package!

  3. What a great timeline to go with a great trade package!

  4. You sound like an awesome teacher - I'm glad to know you! I'm going into year 4, but it feels like year 2 after my first two years. So pumped...but also so excited for the remainder of the summer!

  5. Cool stuff, Fuji! I just finished my 25th year coaching/teaching at my school. Kids keep you young, don't they?

  6. Congrats on all your career accomplishments! Thanks for using those cards to tell such a great story.

  7. Quite an accomplished career. I believe teaching should be the most respected profession.

  8. Zippy - C'mon buddy. You gotta think positive. Maybe they'll allow you to resign instead.

    Sports Card Collectors & Tony - Thanks!

    Spastik - Lol... I guess that would depend on which student you ask. I believe in being strict, but fair and have a tendency to bug my lazy students, because I used to be one of them.

    Commish - Congratulations! They really do. Enjoy the remainder of your summer break.

    Mr. Scott - Thanks for that awesome package of cards and for giving me the opportunity to go back and reflect on my teaching career. Only two days left of summer school... get ready to add some Pirates to your PC.

    Mark - Thanks. It's definitely a very rewarding career. It's not always cupcakes and rainbows... but there are few cooler things in life than to have a former student come back, listen to their success story, and hear those two magical words.