30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Monday, March 28, 2011

Priceless Gift From Student = Huge PC Addition

I've been a teacher for quite some time now... and if you asked my students one thing about my interests... the majority of them would say "sports".

I use a variety of ways to bond with my students, but at the middle school level... I've found that sports and music are two of the easiest ways to make a connection. So... when the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV this past February... I went to work with a huge smile on my face and most of them knew why.

Just around that time, one of my students asked me who my favorite player was... so I told him "James Jones"... because he's a local guy and a fellow San Jose State University alumnus.

The fact is SJSU doesn't produce too many big name athletes, but when they do... I'm usually a huge fan of theirs. As a bonus... Jones was drafted in 2007 by one of my favorite teams... the Green Bay Packers. It was almost as if the stars were aligned.

Anyways... back to the story. As I was talking to the student, another student joined our conversation and told me that his uncle was a close friend of Jones and that he had met him on numerous occasions. He seemed to know a lot about him... like the fact that his uncle and Jones both went to Gunderson, which is one of our local high schools. At the end of our conversation, he said that he'd get me a autograph to hang on our classroom wall.

In my time as a teacher... I've heard hundreds... maybe thousands of promises... and from those promises, I've learned not to get my hopes up. It's not because I don't believe my students... it's just that kids are human beings and sometimes forget... just like adults do.

Well... he didn't. A couple of weeks ago... he brought in a signed copy of a James Jones lithograph... with the inscription: "To Fujimoto... James Jones NTAF Super Bowl Champs"

In short... I was speechless, excited, and thankful all at once.

Every gift that I've received from my students has been appreciated... but only a handful have the potential to become a family heirloom. Everything about this gift is special: my student, the thought behind it, the player on the lithograph, his autograph, and of course his inscription.

After standing there speechless for a few seconds... and after I said "thank you" about ten times... I asked JN what NTAF stood for. He told me that James told him, but that he had forgotten.

Later... I researched it on the internet and found his website, which promotes his non-profit organization and the local youth football camp that he runs every Summer. There... I learned that NTAF stands for "Never Think About Failure", which is something I preach to my students on what seems to be a daily basis. Which is why this it's now hanging up in my classroom for all of my students to see.

I've already thanked him a bunch of times... but JN if you're reading this... domo arigato. This gift will be treasured as long as I'm in the classroom... and as long as I'm a fan of sports... which probably means until the day I die. It's truly a priceless present... and like the MasterCard commercials say... There are some things money can't buy.

Now it's your turn to share...

Do you have any sports memorabilia that you consider to be priceless?

In other words, you wouldn't sell it for any amount of money. If so... what is it? Why is it special?

It's unlikely that anyone would give me anything for my treasured item, since it's personalized to me. However... if someone offered... I wouldn't sell it for anything.

Well... only four more days until the weekend... enjoy the rest of your week! Sayonara!


  1. That is truly awesome,it really restores my faith in young people.

  2. pretty awesome, Fuj.


    I wonder what Greg Jennings means when he writes "FM". Fanmail? That's what he wrote on my photo when I got it back.

  3. Great story. Thanks for sharing it.

    To me, any of the autographed items that I've obtained in person are priceless. A lot of them are of players that only diehard Red Sox fans would remember, but they still mea a lot to me. I can still remember the card show or event where I got all of them.

    I love the items in my collection that have special stories attached to them. For example, the Jorge Garcia autograph that I got through the mail led to him reading and commenting on my blog which was very cool and added a bit of an interaction to a mail request.

    The majority of my collection is more about cards that are special to me and that have memories attached to them than "value." A good example of that is the Pujols rookies that I just sold off on eBay in order to add new stuff to my collection.

  4. Hairylemon - It's all in the eye of the beholder... there are times I get frustrated with some of my students... but for the most part... I see them as beautiful minds who in a few years will be running our country.

    Schwang17 - Thanks... The only Jennings autos I have are cards from packs... so none of mine have an FM inscription. You've stirred my curiosity too.

    Offy - That's awesome... it took me over 25 years to figure out that "value" isn't everything. It's been a while since I've gone out and gotten an in-person autograph... but your story makes me want to go out and get some.

  5. Living in Boston, it can be easy to just stumble onto an autograph signing at times. I was lucky enough to get Bill Russell when he was promoting his last book for just $27 for the book. I just recently met Chris Jericho at a book signing.

    Back in high school when I went to card shows every weekend, many of them would have Red Sox prospects signing for free with admission. One show in particular would bring in top prospects every month which is where I got autographs of guys like Aaron Sele, Jason Bere and Kirk Reutter.

    These days, the fees for autographs are generally too rich for my tastes. I'm going to a big card show this weekend with a 1968-69 Celtics reunion, but the prices are ridiculous especially since most places rush you through the line so they can get as many items signed as possible. I'll stick to buying cards from the Panini Hall of Fame set and pick up a Hall of Fame autograph for $5 instead of paying $30.

  6. Offy - Bill Russell autograph for $27? That's is an amazing steal!

    I'm totally with you when it comes to paying crazy prices for in-person autos. The TriStar show is coming up and I'd love to get a few of the players autographs. But why should I when for a 1/5 of the price I can grab a certified autographed card off of Ebay.

    I'm all for the experience of meeting the player... but on my budget, I just can't afford it.

  7. Sometimes it's worth it, but that's a rarity for me. I've paid to get Dwight Evans' autograph twice now, but he's my favorite player and both times I've been able to chat with him. It was also $10 and $25 the two different times. I'd have no problem spending that kind of money any day of the week to get autographs