30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Student of the Game

Not sure about you, but I'm constantly being reminded about my age.  No... I'm not surrounded by annoying people saying "you're old".  It's life events that make me reflect on my life and look back on all of the years that have passed.

Last weekend, my niece graduated from Texas Christian University with summa cum laude honors.  The entire family is so proud of her, because she's worked so hard the past seventeen years.  And even though I'm more than twice her age, she's my role model and someone I look up to.

A few weeks earlier, my nephew announced that he'll be attending UC Berkeley.  As many of you know... I actively root for all of the Bay Area colleges.  Up until now, we've only had family members graduate from San Jose State and Santa Clara University.  I'm looking forward to seeing my nephew add Berkeley to that list.

Congratulations Lauren and Kobe!  I'm so proud of both of you!  I wish both of you the best as you both begin the next chapter in this story we call Life.

In honor of my niece and nephew, I figured I'd show off a pair of Gwynns I recently added to my collection:

1992 Topps Micro Gold #270
1993 Topps Micro #5

Tony Gwynn was known for being a student of the game.  

When I thought about writing a post for my niece and nephew, I knew I wanted to include a baseball player who was known for being someone who worked hard and always looked for new ways to improve his gameTony Gwynn was obviously the first person who popped into my head.

It has been well documented that he would record his own at-bats and study the footage... as well as watch tape of opposing pictures well before it became the standard.

By the way... if these two images seem grainy, it's because they are much, much smaller than your standard sized card.  See for yourself.  Here's side by side comparison:

For those of you who aren't familiar with these Topps Micro cards, they were released as complete sets back in 1991, 1992, and 1993.  At the time... I was still in college and under the legal drinking age.

Both of these Micros were sent to me by reader of the blogXavier.  In addition to these two Gwynns, he sent me a huge box filled with a variety of cards.

As many of you know, I not the biggest fan of scanning... so I will need to break up his care package into more manageable posts.

Let's continue with some cool additions to my Prime Number PC:

2016 Panini Elite Extra Edition Status Emerald #6 (#'d 01/49)

Just as Lauren was the first of my nieces and nephews to graduate from college, this card was the first card serial numbered in the run.  A's fan are both excited and worried about A.J. Puk.  He's been a top prospect for the Athletics since 2016, but the past few years he's been plagued by injuries.

2019 Topps Pro Debut #68 (#'d 01/99)

On the other hand, Ramos has been hitting well on the other side of the country for the Richmond Flying Squirrels.  He's currently the San Francisco Giants #3 prospect and I remember him playing for the San Jose Giants back in 2019.  It'll be interesting to see how his career pans out.

By the way... a quick look at Ramos reveals that he was born in September of 1999.  At that point I was already starting my second year of teaching.

2002-03 UD Premier Collection #1 (#'d 001/399)

Paul Kariya wrapped up his NHL career in 2010.  It's hard to believe that was over a decade ago.  At the time I was in my 30's and feeling like I was in my primeKariya might have been past his prime back then, but he managed to retire as a multi-millionaire at the youthful age of 35.

I'll be happy if I can retire in twelve years... but unless I win the lottery or the hobby continues to soar through the roof... I don't ever anticipate being a millionaire.

2020 Donruss Optic Teal Velocity #34 (#'d 35/35)

The last of the Prime #'s I received from Xavier is the Jesus Luzardo which was the last card printed in this serial numbered runLuzardo was also featured a few days ago on the blog, because of his "video game" injury.

And rounding out today's post are the Kobe Bryant cards that were part of Xavier's care package:

1998-99 Upper Deck AeroDynamics #A14

This card was released during my first year of teaching.  It's hard to believe that in less than a month, I'll be wrapping up my 23rd year in my districtDamn.  I feel old.

Anyways... like Kariya... Bryant will be a hall of famer by the time you most of you read this post.

2017-18 Panini Status Quo #3

Like Gwynn... Bryant was a student of the game.

And like my nephew... Bryant has a cool first name.

Mr. Bryant... congratulations to you, your family, and your fans!  And thank you for providing so many great memories during an age when I was still a fan of basketball.  Your dedication to the sport was truly worthy of admiration and your legacy will live on.

Congratulations to my niece and nephew on entering new phases of your life.  Like I tell each of my graduating students... work hard, make good choices, be kind to others, and learn from your mistakes.  The force is strong with both of you and the sky's the limit.  I love you guys!

And thank you Xavier for this very generous care package.  I've only touched the tip of the iceberg.  You along with John (Johnny's Trading Spot), Greg (The Collective Mind), and Reader James have given me several more posts worth of blog content... which is much appreciated.

It's been awhile... but here's a question of the day for you to ponder:

What athletes come to mind when you hear the term "student of the game"?

Happy Saturday and sayonara!


  1. Congrats to your niece and nephew! What an accomplishment 💪💪 Carlos Delgado comes to mind. He would sit in that Mets dugout reading through scouting reports from what I want to say was a composition book? It could have also been a table of some sort. Either way, the guy did his homework.

  2. congratulations to you niece and nephew - exciting times for them!

    the first name that came to my mind is orel hershiser. that's because there was a segment from the dodgers' 1988 championship video where the pitchers were out to dinner prior to the nlcs and he started talking about gregg jefferies and his tendencies. sure i was a lot younger, but it had never occurred to me how much studying pitchers and catchers did even back then.

  3. Congratulations to your niece and nephew!

    Don Mattingly was always watching video and tinkering with his stance. Wade Boggs too.

  4. Congrats to your niece and nephew!

    Right now, "student of the game" for me = Gerrit Cole. He's super meticulous and very bright, and is always studying/learning. I constantly see him in the dugout going over pitch sequences, etc. He seems to not only have more talent than most pitchers, but will also outwork them.

  5. Congratulations to your niece and nephew. When I think of student of the game, I naturally think Tony Gwynn. As a minor league baseball guy, I think that there are so many names that could go with here. I think about how many high end players have come through Durham, both on the Bulls and other teams, who get by on natural talent alone. Most recently I would go with Jake Cronenworth, but you've also got Jake Arrieta, Corey Kluber, and Josh Harrison who spent a lot of time in the Minors and ended up being really good Major Leaguers.

  6. johnnys trading spot - based on his career numbers, i can see that.

    big tone - not sure when the first tablets were invented, but it would be pretty cool to figure out which mlb players were the first to use them to help their game. maybe delgado is our guy.

    gcrl - talk about showing jefferies some respect. hope he's had the opportunity to see that clip of orel. that's something you could show your grandkids.

    bo - i totally could see mattingly and boggs watching video. those two and gwynn were the elite hitters of that era

    the lost collector - cole is the man. the guy's numbers since getting out of pittsburgh have been insane. and he's one of the few yankees i actually check box scores for.

    the snorting bull - i'd imagine that in this day and age, most teams are asking players to watch film and monitor opponent's tendencies. i'd be interested in finding out what this era's students of the game are doing extra that the average player doesn't do. maybe dedicating more time to studying than the average guy.

  7. Kudos to your niece and nephew. Very cool.
    Tony Gwynn is the example I use with my high school players when talking about work ethic and fine tuning their craft. He's the first one that came to my mind also when you first referenced "student of the game." I would also add Kyle Hendricks to that list, who is an Ivy League grad. He's one of the softest tossers in MLB and I've read he's very meticulous when it comes to game planning for an opposing team's lineup.

  8. I know what you mean about inadvertently feeling old. That happens to me a lot.

  9. Maybe Greg Maddux. And Nuke Laloosh!!

  10. Paul Kariya...what a magnificent hockey player.

    Congrats to the Niece & Nephew.

    Ty Cobb said he had success against Walter Johnson because the Big Train was afraid he'd seriously hurt someone if he hit him with his fastball so Cobb stood as close to the plate as possible.

    Good Job.

  11. Congrats to your family on their accomplishments!

    Among current players, J.D. Martinez springs to mind as someone who spends a lot of time in the video room studying his at-bats.

  12. I appreciate all of the kind words for my niece and nephew. Both have made me to be a very proud uncle.

    p-town tom - that's awesome that you use gwynn as an example for your students. i don't think i've used him before, but i have used kobe as an example

    jongudmund - lol. i'm constantly being reminded. but i'm okay with it. with each passing day... it's one day closer to retirement.

    the diamond king - the professor! of course. good call.

    john sharp - yeah, kariya would torch the sharks. but i instantly became a fan when i met him at one of the duck's casino nights. he was a really cool guy. you're the second person to mention cobb and that's pretty smart of him (or crazy) to take that approach against walter johnson.

    sg488 - great call. i've heard nothing but great things about williams and the way he approached the game

    matt - that doesn't surprise me about martinez. he's been one of baseball's best hitters over the past six or seven years.

  13. I am just glad to see some new posts from you

    1. matt - thanks. it's nice to be behind the keyboard again.

  14. Good to see your back posting

  15. Congrats to your niece and nephew.

    Jason Varitek...maybe not so much from an offensive standpoint but definitely in calling a game.

  16. Your Free Content is thanks enough Fuji!
    I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on Seinfeld.
    Chad Pennington is a Student of the Game and Ranks 3rd all time in Completion Percentage. Had his shoulder remained in good health he would have been an all timer.

  17. friend11 - i haven't quite reached the three to four posts a week, but hope to write three to four posts a month. hopefully i'll write even more this summer.

    swing and a pop-up - i feel like all catchers are students of the game. i remember my local radio talking about how important to the game they are.

    xavier higgins - thanks again xavier for the awesome package. so much variety. absolutely love it. just like i love watching seinfeld back in the day. one of these days i'll go back and watch all of the episodes on hulu. good call on pennington. my friend is a big jets fan, so i was pretty up to date on him back in the day.