Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Favorite Player Collection Part 7: 1998 Topps Jason Johnson

Jason Johnson pitched in MLB from 1997-2008. He only received cards from Topps in the 2003-2005 sets. They could've at least put him in the '98 set since most of the players selected in the '97 Expansion Draft were included (I mean come on! Yamil freaking Benitez was in the '98 set and nobody outside of his family probably knew about him in 1998). This would've been one of Jason's first Topps cards.

Jason is in my Favorite Player Collection because he was one of the first players I knew of who is a Type 1 Diabetic, and so am I. Diabetes is a disease that basically affects the body's ability to convert food into energy. The pancreas normally produces insulin which converts food into energy. Food will raise the body's blood sugar levels (especially with more sugary foods). A normal range is about 75-140. The insulin will lower the blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetics have a pancreas that makes basically no insulin, and Type 2 diabetics have a pancreas that makes more insulin but still needs the help of pills to lower blood sugar levels. If my blood sugar is too high I normally get headaches, still muscles, upset stomach, and if too high for too long, complications can develop (short term and long term) and there is also a risk of seizures and even death. If it is too low, however, I get tired, weak, sweaty, and generally confused and irritable. There are also the risks of complications with a low sugar as well. Food will correct a low blood sugar, and insulin as well as exercise will correct a high one. I'll have to monitor my blood sugar levels the rest of my life and give insulin injections and always watch what I eat, but it could always be worse. Back to Jason Johnson, I was diagnosed with the disease in the 3rd grade at age 10 in 1993.  When the Rays came to Tampa in 1998, I learned of Jason and his diabetes. I went to a sports camp for diabetics that summer and me and my fellow campers got to go to a Rays game. It would've been the perfect story if we got to meet Jason, but whoever was in charge of planning the activities totally dropped the ball on that one. Later in 2004 and 2005 during Spring Training, I went to Tigertown in Lakeland, Florida where I lived to catch some games and practices. I got to meet Jason a few times and told him I was a diabetic and we discussed the disease a little bit. Unfortunately, this was a few years before sites like COMC became well known, and wouldn't you know it, I didn't get any cards of Jason until after Spring Training that year, and by next year, he was in Cleveland, and I missed out on seeing him during the one time I went up to Winter Haven to catch the Indians. I moved to Alabama shortly after Spring Training in 2006, and by the time I moved back to Lakeland in 2009, Jason was out of the game. I have a few more cards of him now, but would still love to meet him and get them signed.

It's kind of funny.  I was researching new insulin pumps yesterday because I need to get a new one that will be compatible with a new type of continuous glucose monitoring sensors that I am getting, and while on Medtronic's website, there was a few pictures of Jason with him saying how he liked the Medtronic pump design and features. I'm glad he was in the 2015 Pride and Perserverance set by Topps and hopefully it will shed some light on the disease and raise awareness. I hope Topps continues the set in this years update set. It's one of the few good things they could give us after this years set so far.

I also made a 1999 card of Jason that I will be highlighting in another post. I hate how Topps used dark gold foil in '98 and '99 because when it is up against a dark background, you can't read it.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and learned a little about Jason, myself, and hopefully about diabetes. Thanks for checking out my latest post. 

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