30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Monday, July 2, 2018

All About Perspective

Sports cards play a huge role in my life.  They allow me to support my favorite athletes and sports teams.  Socially they help me reach out to other collectors who share a similar interest.  Sorting and organizing cards provide an outlet for my OCD issues.  And as crazy as this may sound... collecting helps put time and dates of personal events into perspective.

I've never really been good with dates.  Years seem to blend together faster than ever.  But sports cards help remind me of certain events on my personal timeline and today I'll be documenting one of them.

A few weeks ago, my district gave me a certificate recognizing my 20 years of service.  I started reminiscing and thinking about my rookie year as a teacher and just how far I've grown professionally.  Eventually my mind wandered and I started thinking about athletes who made their professional debuts the same year as me.

Obviously hundreds of professional athletes made their debuts in 1998, so to keep things reasonable, I'm going to focus on three popular athletes who are still active in their careers.

According to Baseball Reference, 208 different players made their MLB debuts in 1998.  Twenty-six of them were MLB all-stars.  Three have a shot at Cooperstown.  But only one guy is still playing.

That guy is...

1997 Bowman Chrome #182

Beltre kicked off his MLB career about two months before I began my public school teaching career.  On June 24th, 1998...  he started at third base in front of over 40,000 people at Dodger Stadium.  That evening he ripped a double off of Angel's ace Chuck Finley during the bottom of the 2nd inning and drove in Paul Konerko in his first MLB at-bat.

Now in his 21st season, he's still entertaining fans and driving in teammates.

Out of all of the NFL and NHL players I found who made their professional debut in 1998, none are still actively playing in either league.  However... there might be some undrafted kicker or punter in the NFL that I don't know about.

This shouldn't be too big of a surprise.  Both of these sports tend to be more physical than baseball and basketball, which presumably wears down the body faster.

Speaking of basketball... there are only two NBA players who debuted during the 1998 season and are planning to return this fall to play in their 21st seasons.

1998/99 SPx Finite #219
1998/99 Topps Chrome #199

The 1998 NBA Lockout delayed their debuts, but eventually both of these guys took the court on February 5th, 1999.

Dirk scored two points and dished out four assists against the Seattle SuperSonics, while VC's light burned slightly brighter against the Boston Celtics scoring sixteen points against fellow rookie Paul Pierce.

I haven't followed basketball in years, but after checking out their career statistics on Basketball Reference, both guys will probably become hall of famers.

Well that's it for now.  In terms of sheer longevity, I still have a ways to go to catch some all-time greats like Nolan Ryan who played an astounding twenty-seven seasons in the MLB or Gordie Howe who played twenty-six seasons in the NHL and six additional seasons in the WHA.  But as long as I stay healthy, I don't think it should be a problem.

Most of these guys got paid to do what they love.  I'm lucky enough to be able to say the same thing.

Happy Monday and sayonara!


  1. Congrats on the milestone. Wow, that's a young looking Dirk!

  2. Congrats Fuji. Think of all the lives you've touched in 20 years. I miss my kids but not enough to come out of retirement. ;-)

  3. Congrats on 20 years of molding young minds! I graduated high school the same year you started teaching so the sports class of '98-99 stands out to me as well. I was going to say the same thing about baby-faced Dirk that Hackenbush said. And I thought Joe Thornton made his NHL debut in '98..but it was actually '97!

  4. Congratulations on 20 years! That's quite a milestone.

    There's no "might" about Dirk and Vince...they will both be first ballot Hall-of-Famers. Dirk will set the all-time NBA record for most seasons with one team the first time he steps on the court in 2018-19 and I'm not totally convinced it will be the last season for either of them!

  5. Congratulations on 20 years! Is a second generation Fuji student the next milestone? :-)

  6. Congrats on your 20 years of service!

  7. Congratulations on your 20th year of teaching.

  8. Two decades! Well done, good sir! Hope you're enjoying your summer break as much as I am mine.
    I found it odd that Beltre drove in Konerko for his first RBI. Not sure how long Konerko was with the Dodgers, but I know it wasn't for too long.

  9. Love looking back like this and seeing the players who have come and gone! Congrats on the milestone!

  10. Thank you for the kind words! More than halfway towards retirement.

    Commishbob - I don't blame you. Hope you're enjoying it.

    Chris - Patrick Marleau too!

    Billy Kingsley - I always take the conservative route ;)

    The Shlabotnik Report - Several of my former students have children who are closing in on middle school. Although, I'm not sure if they're slated to attend my school. Gotta admit... it'd be kinda cool and depressing at the same time.

    P-town Tom - I'm in week 3 of summer school. 4 more weeks to go after this week... then I get to enjoy my summer break. As for Konerko... the Dodgers called him up in September of 1997. Btw... he was traded to the Reds less than 2 weeks after Beltre drove him in.

  11. Congrats on 20 years. I have always been a fan of that carter chrome
    Pulled a refractor back then

  12. Congrats on 20 years teaching. I graduated in 99 and cant believe my 20 year reunion is coming up soon.

  13. sport card collectors - dang... a carter refractor? now that's a sweet pull.

    collecting cutch - lol. my 30 year reunion is coming up ;)

  14. Congrats on your 20 years of teaching!

    1. thanks! it's been an entertaining ride. here's to 15 to 20 more years!