Friday, May 24, 2024

Fun filled day of driving

 Today was my off day with nobody in the house besides myself, and I did a lot of driving for me. Karen works out in Port Orange, which is a good 30-45 minutes from our house in DeLand, depending on traffic. I had it all planned out to go to Karen's work and visit her around lunchtime, drive 15 minutes to Daytona to meet with a Robert, a guy I've swapped card boxes with before, drive 15 minutes to Ormond Beach to KnT Sportscards, and then make the 45 minute trip home. It all worked out, but not without some kinks in the process. 

I met up with Karen and had some hot dogs at her work, as they were celebrating the upcoming holiday. She kind of kicked me out around 1 so she could get some work done. At this point, I didn't have the address of where I was meeting Robert. I met Robert on a FB junk wax group. He lives in Daytona, and I met up with him previously, and I swapped about 7 random sized boxes of doubles for about a monster box full of cards he had. This time, I was supposed to meet him at his work, but we had been FB messaging, and I didn't have the address yet. I had a plan. I drove to the Wal-Mart near Karen's work, got on their wifi, and sent Robert a message that I had the 2 boxes of doubles and asked where we were going to meet. Problem was that the message wasn't sending. I considered going straight to KnT's when Karen texted wanting to know how far away I was. An employee of hers had her sons baseball stuff in her car and forgot to leave it at home in DeLand, and Karen was wondering if I could go back and drop it off. I was planning on staying at KnT's for a few hours, so I asked when the stuff needed to be back in DeLand. She said 6, so I came back, got the baseball gear, was able to send Robert a message on the wifi at Karen's work, and was back on the road to Daytona. 

I got to Robert's work, a nice mini golf place in Daytona Beach called Congo River. If it wasn't 97 degrees out, I would've stayed and played a few holes. The course has many holes where you can hit the ball in the water or a hazard, but it will direct it to the hole. I met Robert, and loaded my 2 boxes into his trunk, which had a few 1,000 count boxes already in it. I figured those were for me, but he put the trunk down and said 'Well, I got to be going back to work'. I didn't know what to think. He seemed a little odd when I messaged him the first time we traded boxes, but I figured he collects cards. All people that collect cards are a little off'. Some things just didn't add up. I don't know if he's selling them, adding them to his collection, donating some to foster kids (which he told me the first time we met), or a little bit of everything, but I kind of feel like I got screwed today. It was just 2 boxes of doubles, but I asked him yesterday if he had anything for me, and he said yes. I got a 2005 Bowman Verlander rookie from the box he swapped me the first time, so it wasn't a box of junk, but I just don't know if I'm going to trade with him again. He seems like he just takes and takes and takes, and I'm either going to not trade with him or be very cautious. 

On the drive to KnT's, I could look out to the right and practically see the beach. It was almost a shame that I was that close to it, but I didn't have a swimsuit, it was mid '90's outside with a heat index over 100, so maybe I'll have to go another time. I'm sure Kyler would love it. 

I made it to KnT's maybe 2ish, and got to work on the dime boxes. Let me tell you, there were a ton of non-baseball cards mixed in, but they had some good stuff. 
Not many Topps cards for my set quests, but I found a few, and at 10 cents each, I'm happy to pay that. If only the '80's Topps cards at my DeLand LCS were that price. A Javy Lopez rookie was in there. That was a big card in the late '90's. I found a Jose Caballero Chrome rookie, which I hope to get signed at the Rays game on June 13. Don't know how the '24 Bowman Paul Skenes got in the dime box, but I grabbed it. Figured it might be 50 cents, but TCDB say it's a 5 dollar card. Dang. 
While I didn't add many Topps set cards to my inventory, the favorite players, Tigers, and Rays abounded. I found a few cards of DeLand native Nick Fortes for a buck, as I searched the dollar team bins later. I found a 2020 Heritage Minors and 2021 Opening Day Casey Mize card. I thought something looked off with the Opening Day card, and it turns out not only was it an SP, but so was the Heritage. There were a ton of Bowman and Bowman Draft cards, so I picked up some of Tigers I haven't really heard of. 
There was a 2020 Topps Chrome Update Randy Arozarena in the dollar box. A Randy rookie??!!!  For a dollar?!!!  Hell yeah!!!!!  I believe that completed the 2020 Topps Chrome Update Rays team set. the Xavier Edwards Heritage was also an SP. I'm stoked about the 2022 Bowman Chrome Black Wave refractor. Yeah, I know I got 2 Wander Franco's. The Black Gold card looked cool, and I had been wanting to pull the Chrome card since it came out. And all you Dodger fans still get Urias and Bauer cards. Heck, any Yankee collector would be hard pressed not to get a Domingo German, Chuck Knoblauch, Chad Curtis, Mel Hall, John Wetteland, Steve Howe, Luis Polonia, or Jim Leyritz card in a trade. Should Wander get convicted, well, I might accept cards in trades, but not seek them out. The Shane Baz 2022 LogoFractor is my first one. For a buck!!!  The 2023 Bowman Aranda Fuschia card was a buck. 
More Bowman rookies, as well as some 2023 Elite Extra Edition cards. There were 2023 Topps Chrome Blue, Green Sonar, regular, and Sepia refractors in the dollar box, and you can see what I found. I'm going to have stuff for these guys to sign that is just going to be dripping in refractor technology. 
I picked up the Randy 2024 Topps just because it's such a cool pose. I know I'll get the complete set in a month or 2, but maybe I can give it to a kid at the game or something. The League Leader cards can always find a home with another team, and I've wanted the Diaz AVG leaders card since he won the first Rays batting title on the last day of the season. I picked up a rainbow version of the Randy card, and if not for some sweet rookies of his, I think I would get that one signed at the game. I picked up the Ramirez Heritage, thinking it would just be a good card to get signed, no foil or anything, then when I looked at the back when I got home, it was an SP. In a 10 cent bin. I just can't believe some of the deals I got!  Getting to basically complete a Randy Arozarena rookie collection with an Update Chrome card for a buck, getting a logofractor and a black wave refractor for another 2 bucks, and pulling a few SPs and some Topps set needs for 10 cents just made my day. 

I left KnT's around 5, and dropped of the baseball gear around 5:35, and was home a little before 6. I have a splitting headache from mowing the lawn yesterday afternoon and from driving in the hot sun, but man, that trip to KnT's and getting to sort the cards when I got home almost made it go away. Thanks to John from Johnny's Trading Spot for letting me know about the shop. I'll have to go out there another time and find some more deals. 

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

New cards and a package from Too Many Verlanders

 It’s been a pretty demanding week at work and I was really wanting to check out Target on Saturday for some new wax to take the edge off. Despite getting out pretty late, I made a quick trip to Target and went straight towards the card aisle. 
I was hoping for some 2024 Bowman, but they didn’t have any, so I got a blaster of 2024 Heritage, a hanging pack of 2024 Big League, and a hanging pack of 2023 Chronicles. I thought Chronicles must’ve been new, but once I opened the pack, it jogged my memory, as 75% of the pack was the same as one I must’ve opened last year (except for the De La Cruz rookie I pulled last year, of course). 

The packs were pretty good, as I got a few Rays, a few Tigers, and some guys I collect. Also got some stuff for other collectors (are you still going to work on the ‘23 Chronicles set, John?
That ‘75 Fred Lynn card never looked weird to me when I saw the regular version. It never looked weird when I saw the ‘01 Topps Archives version when it was just him and zoomed in a lot more. Now, when it is on the MVP subset in ‘24 Heritage, it just looks like it was a bad photoshop job and they just used a gob of white paint and spread it over a minor league jersey. The Lynn insert looks really cool. Sometimes it’s nice to see players in something other than a uniform. Is that Jim Rice next to him?

I think I’m only 1 or 2 World Series subset cards from having every playoff highlight card. I went on a Basabe spree, pulling him in both Topps brands. The Yandy card is an SP. I doubt I’ll ever complete a Big League Rays team set in the current format, but I have 1 SP down at least. What a shame that the morons at Fanatics get a team name wrong with the Basabe Heritage cards. The jerseys aren’t even that similar. 
The Diaz batting title card is cool. I’ve really been wanting to pull it from flagship, but I’ll have it soon enough when I purchase the complete set. The Torkelson die cut card is cool. That whole inset set is neat, I’d be happy to pull one even if it was a Yankee. I pulled a number of Oriole rookies. I hope they forget how to hit and pitch and can let the Rays win the AL. That Abner Uribe card is mocking me as he was one of those punk Brewers pitchers who were throwing first punches at Rays hitters and intentionally throwing at them. I hope Uribe is hit like Sidney Ponson, Alec Manoah, and Esteban Yan, and is relegated to the minors for the rest of his short career. The Goldschmidt bat was a nice surprise. The last 2 cards were the other Big League SPs. 

And for all of those people wondering which Heritage SPs I got, they were

They are set aside for Night Owl. (Late edit, I ended up getting another blaster on Wednesday and pulled 2 more SP needs, so N.O., you can also mark off #2 Freddie Freeman Highlight and #97 Luis Patino from the SPs)

I came home from work on Monday after another demanding day, and lo and behold in the mailbox was a package from Dennis of Too Many Verlanders. I have a few cards set in a pile to send him, but to be honest, I just haven’t really made it to any shows or many shops lately. I’m hoping to rectify that during summer vacation, and Dennis will be one of the first ones on my list of people to look for cards for. 

So many parallels and cards from sets that I don’t get to dabble in that much!  The Co-Signers Gold is the first gold parallel I’ve seen from the set. The Heritage Archer is an SP.  I’ve never opened a pack of ‘20 Bowman Heritage, ‘20 Diamond Kings, or ‘20 Prism, so it’s nice to pick up cards from sets I’ve never had the chance to see. The ‘20 Diamond Kings Arozarena is a rookie, and one I didn’t have.  
More parallels, including rainbows, refractors, pink refractors, and royal blues. I thought I may have had the Yarbrough, but I don’t, so that is going in the player collection. I believe the first 2 ‘20 Chrome cards finished the Rays team set. The last one adds to the Chrome Update set. Love the McClanahan Archives rookie. That got me 1 card away from finishing the Rays team set. Can’t wait to see the Rays ‘25 rotation if everyone stays healthy. The Martin Bowman refractor is a nice one for me, as surprisingly for me, I don’t own cards of every Rays prospect. Any time I can get Bowman Rays, I will take them because you never know who will make it to the Majors, and I love to get autographs on cards at games. The Martin is the first card of him in my collection. I might actually have to place a quick eBay order as I have a feeling I’m a few cards short of a Rays and Cubs 40-man roster for the game I’m going to next month. Thanks to Dennis for the nice Rays additions!  I’m working on a pile to send back to Ann Arbor. 

I actually have a pretty decent next few days coming up. Memorial Day is usually a pain for me at work, as is every holiday, but while it will still be a pain, I am off Friday and Sunday, so I won’t get too much of the brunt of it. Friday I also got out of a recital that one of our nieces is having, so work had my back there. Karen, Kyler, and Karens mom will be headed to Melbourne Friday afternoon to see Karens brothers family and go to the recital and will be coming home Saturday. That means I get the house to myself, so I might head out to Port Orange to have lunch with her, and then the day has 2 options. A guy who I’ve swapped cards with before has some cards for me in Daytona, and I have a box or two of doubles for him, so if he’s available, I might meet up with him and swap cards. I also might go to Ormond and visit Kyle’s shop that John from Johnny’s Trading Spot goes to sometimes. John told me that half of his store is 2022-2024 cards, so it might be a better option to just not go to the shop. I might still stop by and try to find some pre-1980 Topps cards that I need. Either way, I’ll probably be heading home with some new cards. Hopefully I’ll find some cards to put in trade piles as it has been a while since I’ve been to a shop or a show with much selection. I hope everyone else has a nice holiday weekend as I plan to do.

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Thursday, May 16, 2024

2001 Royal Rookies memories

 I was close to my collecting peak in 2002. I was 19, didn’t have a girlfriend, had a 20-25 hour per week job, and still lived at home. While I didn’t realize it at the time, I should’ve taken advantage of it. 

I was just starting to get autographs of players at games and with the job, I blew just about all of my money on packs. With that, and the reasons mentioned in the last paragraph, it led to the perfect storm of finding use for an odd baseball card set. I’m talking about 2001 Royal Rookies. 

I’m not sure if anyone remembers them. I know I vaguely remember the cards. They issued a set in 2000, and I guess had enough people buy their stuff to make them want to issue another one in 2001. I’m not sure if they made a set past that year or not. A Pack to be named Later actually did a post on a pack in 2009. I somehow ended up with a ton of cards from the set and many fond memories as well. 

They basically made cards of minor leaguers with no logos, trying to cash in on rookie hype. The problem was that they had to have only had a license for certain leagues or classes, because most of the guys in the 2001 set were nobodies. I would even venture to say that they only had a license for single-A ball, because in 2002 when I started getting autographs on cards, I only went to low-A Florida State League games, and I got a few Royal Rookies cards signed at those games, and when I went to some double-A games in 2003, I got more Royal Rookie cards signed. 

I don’t really remember opening any packs of the 2001 product, although when I did an eBay search, the pack looked familiar. I’m almost 100% positive that I never saw them in packs at Wal-Mart or Target. It’s kind of a mystery on how I obtained the cards, because the 2001 ‘Futures’ set which I remember the most, has 40 cards, and I believe I have all but 2 or 3 of them. The only way I think I probably got the cards are from repacks. I just don’t remember getting that many repacks in 2002 or 2003. Sure, I got a few of those ones that promised a jersey card or autograph, but those only had like 1 or 2 packs in them. I must’ve purchased a whole bunch more than I thought. I feel like the Royal Rookies cards are the Triple Play of todays repacks. The packs everyone gets a few of in a repack but that nobody wants. Not that they didn’t try to be a good product. They had parallels, inserts, and even autographs. It’s just that very few of the guys in the set turned out to even get to the majors, let alone become a household name. Miguel Cabrera was the only exception to the rule, but you can get lucky every once in a while. 

The parallel set was just a copy of the regular card with ‘Limited Edition’ stamped on it in a kind of foil like Topps would use on its Gold parallel borders from 2002-2014. The autographs were a little different, and you’ll see that a little later. 

However crappy the set may seem, I have some fond memories of getting autographs on cards in the set. 

Bryan Schmack was in spring training with Detroit in 2003, and he signed his card for me, and as he signed it, he mentioned the photo wasn’t him. 

Lee Gardner was another guy I got during spring training for the Tigers. He mentioned that he grew his goatee specifically for the card, which gives me the impression that the guys in the set knew they were going to be in it beforehand. 

Simons Pond is the one I remember most. He was playing low-A ball with the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2002. They played the Lakeland Tigers, and I attended a game in Lakeland. Normally, Lakeland would play in Joker Marchand Stadium, a Major League sized stadium, which was spring training home of the Detroit Tigers. In 2002, the park was going through some repairs, so they played their home games at Henley Field, home of the Lakeland High School baseball team. On normal games at Joker Marchant, the Lakeland Tigers would draw 200-400 people, if that. The noise would carry some, but you could still hear people heckling or whatever even with the big size of the ballpark. Henley Field was smaller, had bleacher seats, was mostly made from wood, and the sound carried there. I got Simon Pond to sign his Royal Rookies card before the game, and one inning, he was playing 3rd base, and a Tiger batter hit a line drive that Pond dove for and missed. Right after he missed the ball, Pond let out an F-bomb that the whole stadium heard. Some old guy, probably in his 70’s, shouts out ‘Hey #35!! Watch your mouth!!!’  It was just funny to hear Pond and then the old fart scolding him. 

The last one is off a guy who went to the same school as me, Sheldon Fulse. From 2nd through 5th grade, I went to Temple Christian School in Lakeland, Florida. I only have the yearbook from my 2nd grade year, but Sheldon has a photo in it. He was in 4th grade. 
Fortunately for you, I started attending Temple after the yearbook pictures were taken. Sheldon went to George Jenkins High School, and I went to their rival Lakeland High. Sheldon got drafted in 1999 by Seattle, and moved on to the Red Sox in 2003. That year, he played at low-A Sarasota, and I went to a series in Lakeland, but he was injured and didn’t make the trip, so I couldn’t get his Royal Rookies card signed. In 2004, he got a card in ‘04 Bowman, as well as ‘04 Bowman Chrome. While 2008 was his last year in pro ball, I would still get to meet him in 2010. That year, in the spring, former pro Rob Ducey had a brilliant idea, and held a pro free agent camp, designed for guys who were free agents to showcase their skills and hopefully get signed. It was an autograph haven for me, as I got autographs from ‘coaches’ helping with the event like Cecil Fielder, Heathcliff Slocumb, Pat Hentgen, and Ducey himself. I also got autographs of many of the free agents, including Tim Raines, Jr., Pete LaForest, and a guy I have a yearbook photo of, Sheldon Fulse. 
I wonder if the Boras 4 would’ve signed with a team quicker had Ducey had a camp now?  Hats off to Ducey for having the idea, and I will always remember how kind he was. He not only responded back within hours to an email I sent him regarding if I could try to get autographs at the event, but he also sought me out after the players and coaches had finished eating and offered for me to get in line and grab some of the bbq sandwiches they had for the players and coaches to eat for lunch. Just a stand up guy. 
Anyways, I don’t think Fulse remembered me from grade school, but he signed the Royal Rookies card. Later, I purchased a certified version, and you can see the difference between the two in the photo up top. Same back, but the autograph and serial number stuff on the front. Looks like after pro ball, Sheldon became a physical therapist and offers coaching clinics

That’s all I have as far as memories of the set. I darn near got half of the set autographed with all of the A and AA games I went to in 2002 and 2003. So any of you guys remember the set or if you’ve seen packs in the wild at Wal-Mart or Target?  Are there crappy sets like this that you can’t help but love because of fond memories?

Life has been different and challenging the last few weeks. Karens mom is officially living with us. I could bitch about that all day, but I’ll save that for my coworkers. Karen was in the hospital again with basically the same problems as last time. There was good news, as they got her hooked up with an infusion center who handles tough insurance circumstances, and Karen will now get her ivig infusions at the center and insurance will cover it. Hopefully this will help her not get knocked out so bad every time she gets a cold and hopefully help with the breathing. 

As far as cards, most of my cards are uploaded to TCDB. There are random highlights cards and non-baseball sets I didn’t add, but I’m ok with that right now. I have been working at putting all of my cards from monster boxes into binders now, and have finished Arizona and Atlanta, and am at 1996 with the Cubs. Interestingly, from what I’ve observed, I think I might have enough 9 pocket pages, but might run out of binders, and will probably have to figure out another storage system because I have a bunch of empty binders stacked on top of each other on a desk, but once they are filled with cards, it will be tough to find a binder that I need if they are stacked and the one I need is on the bottom. It is still loads of fun getting to put the cards into binders and made the TCDB project worth it. I’m just not as young as I was when I went to school with Sheldon or when I got most of my Royal Rookies cards, so my arms and hands get tired easier. It’s relaxing, though, so I’ll work through the pain. With the TCDB project done, I might go on there and try to make some trades. It might be a little disappointing to land a card from 1980 that will go in the front of a team binder that I finished updating, but that’s the process, and I’ll have plenty of empty monster boxes to fill with cards until they get full enough to call for an update, which might be a few years down the road. There are just a few more weeks of school left, and once Kyler is out, he should be going to day care and they stay open until 6 PM, so I might use a few days off during the week in the summer to swing over to Ocala and dig through trade boxes at Johnny’s Trading Spot’s HQ, and probably do some trading in DeLand with my friend Jim, another guy who probably has a ton of Royal Rookie cards autographed. I also have my birthday coming up, and I’m really looking forward to the Rays game and having the next day to take our time getting home. Maybe I’ll check out a card shop in Tampa or go to a nice steakhouse. I kind of want to make a sign for the game. Either ‘It’s my 41st birthday tomorrow and the only present I want is to meet Randy Arozarena’ or ‘The only thing worse than Rob Manfraud is Stuart $ternberg not spending money on the Rays!  I want a championship in my lifetime, not 20 Wild Card banners!’  I think the latter one will be nice as I don’t expect the Rays to be in the hunt for anything by then. Maybe in 2025 if no starting pitchers get injured and Arozarena isn’t traded. Anyways, June is going to be a nice month and really after all of the crap that’s went on during the first part of the year, I was honestly just hanging on for the summer. It’s going a little better now, so hopefully it’s a nice rest of the year. Series 2 Topps and 2024 Donruss should come out around then as well, so it could be a fun birthday trip. I’m hoping to get my hands on a blaster of Bowman the next time I’m at Wal-Mart or Target, but we’ll see how full the shelves are. I could probably go for another blaster of Heritage, but I’ll keep my paws off of Series 2 and wait for the complete set. 
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