Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Spring Training is upon us

Spring Training is officially here, and with that, it means that the new 2019 baseball season is just upon us. I was lucky enough to live in Lakeland, Florida for close to 20 years, ever since we moved there in 1990 when I was 7. The Detroit Tigers trained there in Lakeland, and I went to probably 50 Spring Training games there during that time. We were also 30 minutes away from Winter Haven, where the Cleveland Indians used to be, and 30 minutes from Baseball City, where the Kansas City Royals used to train.

I figured I would post some customs I have made with photos that I (or my dad) have taken at Spring Training games. 

 This first one comes from Spring Training in 1992. The Tigers were playing the Pittsburgh Pirates, and my dad snapped this photo of Kirk Gibson and Sparky Anderson talking before the game. I'm not sure who is in the back with them. Maybe Gene Lamont? This was my first Spring Training game ever, and I remember a little about it. I had brought along a softball (which I actually played with before and after the game), and got it signed by a few people at the game (Kevin Ritz of the Tigers, and I believe Gary Redus of the Pirates). There was a Pirates fan who was kind of obnoxious, and I kept shouting "Go Tigers!" whenever he would get too loud. He gave me 2 quarters to shout "Go Pirates!", and me, being the little kid I was, accepted. Lastly, even though I don't remember seeing any at-bats, I got to see Barry Bonds play in person. After the game, he came out of the locker room, and me and a group of people were waiting in line to get autographs after the game. I had his 1989 Topps card, and Bonds just ran past the crowd. There was a kid with a Bonds poster, and he chased after him, and emerged from wherever he went with a Bonds autograph. If only I knew the future, I would've chased him too.

These next 4 come from 1996. I went to 4 games that preseason, 2 against the Kansas City Royals, and 2 against the New York Mets. During one of the Mets games, I took my dad's camera, and took a few pictures, mainly of the Mets bullpen and some of the guys. I got some good shots of Mets starter Reid Cornelius warming up for the game, along with catcher Alberto Castillo. I was able to make a coach card out of the bullpen group photo. If only we had iphones back then so we could have better quality photos I could've done a lot more.  I don't generally take photos at games too often, but I'm glad I took these Spring Training ones and that I could make some customs out of them.

I finished the 1984 Topps set the other day, and am now at work on the '93 Topps set. The biggest hangup in that set is (again) having to cut around photos, but thankfully, that is only for the coach and all-star cards. I am working through the NL coaches, currently on the last Philadelphia Phillies one. Maybe in 2-3 weeks, all of the coaches will be done, and it will be on to making player cards. Those should be a breeze.

Thanks for checking out my latest post.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Completed 1984 Topps set

I start this post off with a note of sadness today. Back in 2002 or 2003, I used to go to Spring Training games in Lakeland, Florida, trying to get autographs from whomever I could. It was there that I met a kid named Zach, who was only 7 years younger than me. He lived in Michigan, and would come down every spring with his mom to go to games and get autographs. I saw Zach just about every year, and we had tons of fun getting signatures every year. Zach was always kind, once trading me an '02 Upper Deck 40-Man card of Steve Colyer so I could get it signed since I didn't have one. Another time, we were at some practice fields, and Matt Anderson gave him a bat and a ball, and Zach was nice enough to let me have the ball since I didn't quite get to Matt before he was finished giving things away. My favorite memory of Zach, though, was seeing the joy on his face when I gave him a '95 Topps card. We were talking about players with funny names, and I mentioned how I had a card of Bucky Buckles (a guy who I actually collect). He thought I was crazy, and I promised him I had a card of Bucky, and I looked through a box of duplicates I had, which I thought would have an extra Bucky card, and sure enough, it did. I came to a Tigers practice the next day with a Bucky Buckles '95 Topps card for Zach, and he started cracking up.
So while getting on SportsCollectors.net today, I came across a post stating that Zach had passed away due to a car crash a few days ago. I will always remember all of the fun we had graphing, but most of all, your kindness, Zach. RIP.
Here is a photo his mother took of us one spring.

I finally finished the '84 Topps set, and if I never have to do another custom with 2 photos on the same card, it will be too soon. '84 was the biggest pain in the butt set I have ever done, but it is now finished. I hope to get back to the '93 set pretty soon, and that should be easy as pie compared to '84.
With the '84 set now finished, I have completed the 1983 Topps, 1983 Topps Traded, 1984 Topps, 1984 Topps Traded, 1992 Topps, 1994 Topps, and 1998 Topps sets. The links to the completed sets are at the right side of my blog if you want to look at them (as well as the checklists of other in-progress sets). Many thanks to Marc Weiss, who helped with many of these, and to anyone else who helped add cards to the set for me. Without further delay, the 1984 Topps and 1984 Topps Traded sets: