Monday, November 12, 2018

RIP Stan Lee 1922-2018


I swear, I am not going to turn this blog into an obituary column, although by my recent posts, it sure seems that way. I guess that's because I am getting older, and the people I looked up to and followed when I was younger are starting to leave us in the physical plane, and their legacies go on to immortality in our hearts and minds.

Today, many who collect comics, watch movies, or are even remotely familiar with his name, mourn his passing. Stan Lee, the creator of many of the comic book characters that graced the pages of Marvel Comics, passed away today, at the age of 95. Many of the heroes he created at Marvel Comics were a total contrast to those from DC. All of them had their personal flaws, demons, angst, and readers really related to them. Maybe that's why Spider Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and the rest, struck a chord with America, and the rest of the world.

I'm not sure which of my parents was the comic book geek. They had quite a collection of both Marvel and DC comics when I was growing up. While my brother was a fan of DC, I was a fan of Marvel. In the Philippines, I remember playing the Marvel Super-Heroes card game, which was basically Old Maid with Marvel heroes and Doctor Doom as the "Old Maid."

Courtesy of Greg Turner of Back to the Past. I do have these cards. 

I also remember collecting bottlecaps that featured both Marvel heroes AND villains, that you could collect and play, of all things, checkers. I had a complete set of these bottle caps, but I can't remember if there were 24 or 36 caps for the set. No, most likely, you won't find them on eBay. But I remember opening a lot of bottles of pop (can't remember if it was a Pepsi, Coke, or other bottle company that had these either).

His bio is well known, and I am not going to copy what has already been said about the man on many other websites. My kids mostly recognize him as the guy who shows up in every Marvel movie, although he has been known to show up in a couple of DC properties (Teen Titans Go! to the Movies comes to mind). But for me, Stan will always, be THE MAN!

Thank you for entertaining us, comic book fans, for decades. Your legacy will forever live on screen, whether it be in the cartoons, on TV, or in the movies. But more importantly, they will forever live in the pages of Marvel Comics.

Excelsior!!!

Now, Mr. Lee was also a veteran, serving with the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II from 1942 to 1945. (something that I didn't know about the man until today). And although Veteran's Day was yesterday, today, it is observed.

I post this every year (or almost every year). And although I missed doing it yesterday, I think I will post it again tonight.

This was written eight years ago, but the sentiments remain the same.


November 11, 1919: President Wilson proclaims the first Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations." The original concept for the celebration was for the suspension of business for a two minute period beginning at 11 A.M., with the day also marked by parades and public meetings.

On June 1, 1954, President Eisenhower signs legislation changing the name of the legal holiday from Armistice Day to Veteran's Day. (from The History of Veterans Day)

To the Men and Women who serve in the US Armed Forces:

I will not pretend I know the infinite different reasons why you made the decision to join the US Military.

I can only imagine what your basic training was like (I'm not even sure the movies do any justice).

I will not pretend to know the feeling of being away from family, friends and all of the comforts of home, having been assigned to a foreign land, serving the interests of our country.

I will not say that I necessarily agree with ALL of the reasons why our country has gone to war.

I will not pretend to know what it is like out in the battlefields, not knowing if I was going to live to see another day.

But I will say this.

Thank you.

Thank you all for your service to our country.

Thank you for the sacrifices you made so that we can continue to live with the freedoms that we enjoy.

Your courage is nothing if not inspiring. Your stories become tales of legend that deserve to be told again and again.

For these, and countless other reasons, I give you my respect.

And I give you thanks.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Friday, November 2, 2018

As Today is November 2, 2018

November 2 is traditionally All Souls Day. It is the day where we celebrate the lives of family and friends who have passed away. Many will go to cemeteries and pray, some may even picnic on the grounds. It is not really a day of mourning, but a day of reflection. Remembering those who we strongly miss.

Before I begin my annual tribute post, I want to thank everyone on and off this humble, little blog for all of the condolences, words of encouragement, thoughts, prayers, and even emails when my dad passed away last month. It's been hard to focus on cards or anything Hobby related because my dad has been in my thoughts a lot since he died. But I know he will always be a part of me and is going to watch me and the rest of my family from above.

So I am going to start with honoring my dad, Leslie Filoteo Anama. I love you Dad. We miss you and will continue to honor your legacy from this day forward.

Personally, I would like to honor my grandparents, Felix Anama, Leonor Filoteo Anama, Gloria Y. Nichols, Ruben S. Menguito, Sgt. Clinton H. Nichols. As well as countless great aunts and uncles too numerous to list.

Today I want to remember the seven souls who died on January 8, 1993, at the Brown's Chicken in Palatine, Illinois: Michael C. Castro, Rico Solis, Thomas Mennes, Marcus Nellsen, Guadalupe Maldonado, Richard Ehlenfeldt, and Lynn Ehlenfeldt.

I would like to remember the people I've met over the years who left us too soon: Lynn Swoboda, Shannon McNamara, Linda Beyer, Gail Leff, Lois Winesburgh, Mary Jo Scanlan, Nancy Huber, Joseph Nasca, Antoinette Nasca, Dan Doles, Chris Stufflestreet, Thomas Scanlon, Darrin Steffey, Katie (Olin) Wood, Erin (Ryals) Semerad, Leonard "LJ" Marek, Rob Swanson, Steve Hanson.

On behalf of my wife, I would like to honor her grandparents, uncles, and especially, her mother (since I have not asked for my wife's permission to do so, I am not adding their names here).

Finally, I would like to take a moment to remember the families, the loved ones who were left behind.

Now that the personal side of the blog has been taken care of, I would also like to take time to remember 104 more people. Between 11/02/2017 and 11/01/2018, 100 people who can lay claim to playing major league baseball, 4 of whom had the honor of being a manager of a major league franchise (even for one game), passed away. Many lived long productive lives, even after their careers ended. Others, tragically, either passed away before their potential could be fully reached or before they could enjoy the fruits of their retirement.

Today, I take time out of my humble little baseball card blog to remember (please note that I had missed three names last year, players who died between 10/22/2017-10/31/2017, and am including them within the list below).

Darrell Osteen
10/22/2017
Al Richter
10/29/2017
Bob Talbot
10/31/2017
Gene Verble
11/4/2017
Rick Stelmaszek
11/6/2017
Roy Halladay
11/7/2017
Don Prince
11/8/2017
Rance Pless
11/11/2017
Bobby Doerr
11/13/2017
Jim Rivera
11/13/2017
Tommy Moore
11/16/2017
Bob Borkowski
11/18/2017
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
11/23/2017
Dick Gernert
11/30/2017
Ernie Fazio
12/1/2017
Tracy Stallard
12/6/2017
Manny Jimenez
12/11/2017
Frank Lary
12/13/2017
Doug Gallagher
12/17/2017
Angelo Dagres
12/23/2017
Jerry Kindall
12/24/2017
Al Luplow
12/28/2017
Rob Picciolo
1/3/2018
Dick Young
1/7/2018
Bob Bailey
1/9/2018
Rudy Arias
1/12/2018
Bob Barton
1/15/2018
Bill Johnson
1/20/2018
Moose Stubing, MGR
1/20/2018
Marcos Carvajal
1/24/2018
Julio Navarro
1/24/2018
Oscar Gamble
1/31/2018
Roy Dietzel
2/3/2018
Don Choate
2/4/2018
Laurin Pepper
2/4/2018
Ralph Lumenti
2/7/2018
Wally Moon
2/9/2018
Rudy Regalado
2/12/2018
Tito Francona
2/13/2018
Tom Brewer
2/15/2018
Jack Hamilton
2/22/2018
Sammy Stewart
3/2/2018
Curt Raydon
3/3/2018
Steve Stroughter
3/6/2018
Ed Charles
3/15/2018
Jerry Schoonmaker
3/18/2018
Dick LeMay
3/19/2018
Larry Miller
3/21/2018
Carl Scheib
3/24/2018
Jerry Moses
3/26/2018
Rusty Staub
3/29/2018
Ed Samcoff
3/29/2018
Len Okrie
4/12/2018
Ken Hottman
4/16/2018
John Hope
4/18/2018
John Duffie
4/19/2018
George Alusik
4/20/2018
Dave Nelson
4/22/2018
Marv Rackley
4/24/2018
Frank Ernaga
4/30/2018
Roy Wright
5/5/2018
Al Stanek
5/8/2018
Tom Fletcher
5/9/2018
Frank Quilici, MGR
5/14/2018
Dave Garcia, MGR
5/21/2018
Chuck Stevens
5/28/2018
Ray Barker
5/29/2018
Fred Van Dusen
6/1/2018
Bruce Kison
6/2/2018
Steve Kline
6/4/2018
Chuck Taylor
6/5/2018
Larry Owen
6/6/2018
Red Schoendienst, MGR
6/6/2018
Ed Roebuck
6/14/2018
Bill Connors
6/17/2018
Don Mason
6/19/2018
Tony Bartirome
6/22/2018
Mike Kilkenny
6/28/2018
Harvey Gentry
7/1/2018
Sammy Esposito
7/9/2018
Tony Cloninger
7/24/2018
Vaughn Eshelman
7/24/2018
Johnny Lewis
7/28/2018
Daryl Robertson
7/31/2018
Myron White
8/4/2018
John Kennedy
8/9/2018
Ozzie Van Brabant
8/18/2018
Joe Landrum
8/19/2018
Doc Edwards, MGR
8/20/2018
Dean Stone
8/21/2018
Dick Lane
9/5/2018
Paul Stuffel
9/9/2018
Billy O'Dell
9/12/2018
Phil Clark
9/14/2018
Lee Stange
9/21/2018
Marty Pattin
10/3/2018
Jose Santiago
10/9/2018
Don Eddy
10/10/2018
Joe Stanka
10/15/2018
Dave Hill
10/16/2018
Wayne Krenchicki
10/16/2018
Benny Valenzuela
10/24/2018
Bill Fischer
10/30/2018
Willie McCovey
10/31/2018






Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Friday, October 19, 2018

RIP Leslie Anama 1954-2018


When Stuart Scott accepted the Jimmy V award at the 2014 Espy Awards, he said this:

"When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live. So, live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you."

On February 13, 2017, I wrote a post about my dad, who was then beginning a fight to battle both colo-rectal and liver cancer.

I received a phone call from my mother, at 5:59 am. Fifteen minutes earlier, my dad passed away from complications that came after battling both. He was in pain since last Friday, and we were told that he might not make it through the week. As the week progressed, his body was starting to let go. Today, his spirit finally did.

I wrote this on Facebook on Monday regarding my dad. It took a lot of time to process what was going on, but I had finally put fingers to the keyboard. This is what I wrote:

It's been a rough few days. I haven't had much time to gather my thoughts together until tonight. This will be a long post. Just to warn you, it's going to look like random thoughts and musings, but that's my writing style, and my thoughts come out faster than my typing wpm (words per minute).

So I'm sure by now you've heard (at least if you're friends with me on FB, you've seen posts from my mother and siblings) that my dad, Leslie Filoteo Anama, is in what could be his final days left after a long, hard fought battle with colo-rectal and liver cancer, as well as all the illnesses that came along with it. It's never an easy comfort knowing that a parent, or someone of great influence in life, is preparing to leave this physical world. It was hard enough when my grandmother passed away ten years ago, but even harder now knowing it's my dad.

My family has asked for prayers. Many friends, old and new, have visited my sister's house to pay their respects to him. Although i have been with him three out of the past four nights, tonight was truly the night I was able to spend a few minutes alone with him.

The lyric from Mike and the Mechanics' "The Living Years" came to mind the other night:

"I wasn't there that morning, when my father passed away.
I didn't get to tell him all the things I had to say."

I wanted to make sure that tonight, if it was truly my final chance to be with him, that I did say my piece.

I told him that I regretted not being there for him, even when I had the opportunity to do so, to go with him to the hospital for any of his therapies. I figured that with my sisters or those who lived closer going with him that it wasn't necessary for me to join in. That was a mistake on my part, and that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I told him that I did not have the outgoing personalities of my four siblings, keeping quiet or to myself even at our weekly family dinners. I know he knows that. But when I go to work at Walgreens, and I have to talk to people, and am outside my comfort zone (which is almost every time I talk to people), I channel his energy. He was always the host/emcee of his alumni activities, and I realized that my mannerisms change (positive changes) when I interact with customers. I guess it helps that he worked for Walgreens for many years too, along with other customer-service oriented jobs.

I told him that I wished that I was half-the-father he was with me that I am with my children. I hoped that I made him proud as a dad to my kids because I tried to think what would he have done if he faced the situations I did with mine when they were younger. While I factored in what I "thought" he would do, in most cases, I had to make my own unique decisions. Did they always work? Let's say that while there are things I could have done better, I think my kids turned out all right.

I told him that his legacy will live on, not just with his five children, but his six grandchildren as well. Each of them have certain qualities inherited from their "Lolo." Lynn has his sense of humor, outgoing personality, and one dimple when she smiles. Taylor has his sense of self-discipline along with mathematical acuity.

I apologized for scaring him when I had my "blackout" moments. He knows what I mean, and I'm going to stop there.

I told him that I know that I wasn't the perfect son. I made my fair share of mistakes, and yes, I caught hell from him for it.
But no matter what, I am honored and am forever grateful to be his.

I told him I'm going to miss those daily 8:30 am phone calls. He wanted to try to call each of his kids every day (M-F). Even if it was just for a minute in between stops while he was working at Sonesta to say hi, or an hour at home being fascinated that I was talking to him through a smartwatch (Dick Tracy references were abundant that day), it was great to talk to him, even for a little bit.

I said thanks for welcoming Zebeda to our family. Thank you for being there for the births of Lynn and Taylor. Yes, I know that he was not actually there when it happened, but he came bringing pastries for the hospital staff that took care of Zeb and the kids. On behalf of my kids, I thanked him for coming to all of Lynn's dance shows, even if she was in one dance in the second act. I thanked him for coming to their band concerts, school activities and other random activities over the years. I thanked him for taking an active part in their lives.

Finally, because I was asked, yes, I'm ready to "let go." I've said my goodbye. But just because I did, it doesn't mean it is easy for me. Even when we were apart for those years in the mid-80's, I always knew he was there, working hard to get us all together again. And he succeeded in doing so. And even after 20 years of living with my own family, living a few towns away, I knew we'd still be able to visit on an almost regular basis (weekly or otherwise). Now, I have to face a reality that he isn't going to be around, and it truly hurts.

Yes, he will soon be leaving the physical world. But emotionally, spiritually, mentally, I know my dad will always be here. I said one final time that I love him, and always will. I thanked him for everything and said I'd make sure that we will continue on, sharing stories, jokes, and lessons that he imparted over the years.

If you've made it to the end of this rambling post, thank you very much for taking time out of your day to read this. If you've responded to my mom and sibling's posts with thoughts, prayers, or even made a visit to the house, on behalf of my family, thank you.

Dad, you fought like hell. Until the day that we see each other again...

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Two Thousand Nine Hundred Seventy-Four

It's almost an afterthought.

I say almost because for many, the memories are still fresh in their minds. They're haunting. And I can only imagine that some still do not look forward to this day on the calendar.

It's Tuesday. The same day it happened seventeen years ago. Most seniors in high school now weren't even born when it happened. For most of us, life has definitely moved on. We knew where we were when it happened. I was on my way to work, my wife and daughter were getting ready for another day at home...maybe going shopping. We had the news on as we normally did before switching to PBS kids when images of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center first appeared...then the second. Let's just say not much work was going to be done that day...and we were preparing for a food show.

But I think about today. My daughter, just over a year old when it happened, starts college next week. I am typing this up while on break from orientation now. My son, now a junior in high school, wasn't even born.

In school, they learn about the events of September 11, 2001. It's a history lesson for them. They learn about what happened based on what is written on a page, what they see on a video, what they read online. It is sad yes. The chain of events, the heightened awareness, security at the airport, the news, all of it, is normal to them.

But prior to what happened seventeen years ago, it wasn't.

We weren't always at war. We didn't need to take our shoes off at the airports. We didn't have to worry about our safety to that extreme.

I wrote the words below in 2011. For that article, and when I re-ran the story since, I used the total number of people I had heard to have died due to the events of that day, not including those who heinously perpetrated the attacks. That number was 2,974. Depending on where you read it, it could have been 2,977. Tallies since then have brought the number up to 2,980. But regardless of the number, that's too many lives lost.

Every year, I try to come back and honor the memories of the people for whom this country still mourns, and think how the events on that fateful day changed the course of American history, seventeen years since. By the time this posts goes live, it is nightfall...seventeen years after that the final plane crashed in a field somewhere in Pennsylvania.



Two thousand nine hundred seventy-four.

2,974.

That's the number of people who lost their lives when everything was finally taken into account. Countless lives were affected by this national tragedy. Even if you didn't know anybody on those planes, at the World Trade Center, or the Pentagon, you grieved along with those who did. You stood there in shock, in a daze, just glued to the television or radio.

Our lives have not been the same since. My daughter, now eleven, asks what we (her parents) were doing that morning. "We were just going about our lives," was my reply. "We watched the morning news, getting ready for work, and couldn't believe what we were seeing on the screen." She was just over a year old. She couldn't have understood what was going on then. But she will learn that what she sees as "normal" now, really wasn't before that Tuesday morning.

Two thousand nine hundred seventy-four. It is the number of reasons why we never forget what happened seventeen years ago today.

On this day, the seventeenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, my family and I send our prayers to those who lost loved ones that Tuesday morning. We pray, and will continue to pray for:

the children who lost their parents that day.

the children who would never meet their fathers because of the events of that day.

the firefighters and policemen and women who risk their lives doing their jobs, running into the face of dangers as many are running in the opposite direction.

those servicemen and women fighting for our freedoms away from home, whether or not we agree with the conflicts they battle.

for our leaders, regardless of their affiliation, that they make the right choices to keep the citizens of our country, and others, safe.

And finally, we pray for peace. Peace amongst ourselves as family, as a community, as a nation.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen, Introducing 2019 Topps Baseball

Coinciding to my return to semi-active card blogging, allow me to enjoy today's big news.

It's the middle of August. That means the preview of next year's Topps baseball cards should be coming out just...about...NOW!!!

The announcement just came out on Twitter. And as I'm listening to the big Chicago Bears football news, the Topps Company introduced its newest design for the eponymous set, the one that starts off the 2019 Baseball Card Season.

Are you ready?

Are you excited?

I know I am.

So what are we waiting for?

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the design for 2019 Topps Baseball:


Yes, it's another Yankee (remember, last year's mock-up was of Clint Frazier). But take a look at the design elements. Another borderless card, but there is some semblance of a border with what's underneath the "retro" curved, team-colored stripes (think 1982). Don't know if the last name is going to be in foil lettering compared to the first name within the stripe.

And look, for the first time in a while, we get two images, this one of Mookie Betts, showing what horizontally-oriented cards are going to look like.


On the Topps website, the article says, "Parallel colors will be noted on the outside areas, behind the border and in the white areas on the edge of the card. Somehow I get the feeling that these will look similar to the 1990 dot elements used for the borders. But hey, we can speculate.

This looks great on screen, and I can't wait to see how these look physically. Again, I wish they would show off the back of the cards too, but that would be wishful thinking. Besides, the company had to leave us in suspense somehow.

But what do you think? Do you like the design? Hate it? Thoughts?

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Monday, August 13, 2018

Souvenirs From the National Baseball Card Day Journey

Once again, thank you very much for following my journey on Saturday. I don't have much free time for myself now that I work two jobs and my weekends are spent at the pharmacy. Not complaining. The money is pretty good, just that the hours mean that I don't have much opportunities to do regular weekend things. So I really enjoyed myself, not just because of the trip, but because it allowed me time to see what goes on outside during the course of the day.

So you're probably wondering (if you're wondering), what cards did I get from National Trading Card Day. From each of the three stores that I went to that did the promotion, I received one 5-card pack and the bonus. You already know that I have two Aaron Judge and one Rhys Hoskins bonus card. What was inside each of the packs? Results are below.

Let's start with the pack from Chicagoland Sports in Buffalo Grove:


  • #21 Cody Bellinger, 1B, Dodgers
  • #18 Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs
  • #14 Joey Gallo, 1B, Rangers
  • #7 Salvador Perez, C, Royals
  • #27 Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres

Thoughts: For a second there, I thought all of the players on the checklist were going to be first basemen. Nothing wrong with that. I have the Cubs card (Rizzo), so I am extremely happy for that (did you see last night's game??!) The backs of each card provide a nice bio for each player.

The next pack was picked up at AU Sports in Niles:


  • #5 Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers
  • #19 Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds
  • #21 Cody Bellinger, 1B, Dodgers
  • #18 Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs
  • #14 Joey Gallo, 1B, Rangers

Thoughts: This pack had even more first basemen in it, and three of the cards I already have. Remember the days you'd open enough packs of cards that you'd be able to determine patterns and based on what cards were in there you knew you were guaranteed a specific card behind it? Yes, as soon as I saw Cody Bellinger in the middle of the pack, I knew Rizzo and Gallo weren't far behind.

Now the final pack, from Bleachers Sports Cards in Winnetka:


  • #26 Josh Harrison, OF, Pirates
  • #10 Didi Gregorius, SS, Yankees
  • #3 Jose Abreu, 1B, White Sox
  • #8 Shohei Ohtani, P/DH, Angels
  • #15 Marcus Stroman, P, Blue Jays

Thoughts: It's Showtime!!! My pack had Shohei Ohtani in it. My day is complete. Okay, so it's not autographed, but I never expect those with my luck. But he's the biggest name in the Hobby for the moment, so I'll call this a win.

Each pack also included a promo card advertising the Silver Pack promotion that will be launched on October 17 when Topps Update Series goes live (or at least around that time). A free pack of Chrome cards will be provided with a purchase of Update. The back of the card has an ad for the 2018 holiday season where on November 16, with a $10.00 purchase, collectors will get a free pack of Holiday cards (possibly with snowflakes?)

So of the 30 cards that comprise the set, I have a grand total of 12. Not a bad haul considering, and I haven't even opened any of the packs that I bought throughout the day.

This site is now in its 10th year of existence. I know that I haven't been as active as I used to be. And I know I keep on promising to be more active, only to find that I'm not writing anything for months. I feel bad. This should have been a celebration, but I'm lucky if I have any readers left after multiple hiatuses. So I won't make any promises that I'll come back on a regular basis. I won't make promises that I have a lot to write about, but just haven't had the time (that's no excuse, I should be MAKING time).

All I know is that this blog is not going to go away. It remains what I've always wanted it to be: a journal about my collection and my journey within the Hobby. If I have something worth writing about, I'll make sure to do so.

Again, thank you for the comments on Twitter about my journey. And if you're still reading this humble, little blog, thank you for sticking around.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama


Saturday, August 11, 2018

National Baseball Trading Card Day 2018 Is Here!!!

We interrupt the lack of activity on this humble little blog to announce that today is National Baseball Card Day.

I will be traveling to about four to five different card shops in the Chicagoland area, or at least that's the hope today, to get some of the free packs that the shops will be giving out as part of the big promotion between Topps and the Hobby shops. Yes, I will be spending some money, as it would be really unfair to the shop's owners if I and thousands of other collectors show up just for the free stuff.

I had fun doing this last year, and fortunately for me today, I have more time, a bit more money, and I am not working at the pharmacy today. I just finished looking at the list of stores in my area doing the promotion, there aren't that many doing it this year. I hope that it was just the store is missing the deadline to announce there taking part in this, and that they're not participating in it this time around.

The first store I'll be going to opens at 10 AM. I have my Gatorades, my phone, my tablet, enough chargers, and I am ready to go.

So join me as I go on my quest to visit as many card shops that I can throughout the day. Or, maybe go out and find some shops you haven't been to in a while, and take part in this Hobby holiday. Follow me on Twitter @bdj610 for pictures of what I find at each location.

Otherwise, have a great Baseball Card Day.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

UPDATE : 5:41 PM CST.

I've been home for a couple of hours now. Enjoying the air conditioning (it was in the mid-high 80's and when I was updating the blog, I was in the car most of the time...not the smartest move on my part), and just reflecting on the day.

I've been watching the feeds on Twitter and just happy to see many collectors out there frequenting the Hobby shops. Even better? Seeing pictures of kids in the stores. They're the future of this Hobby. And this was the point of National Baseball Card Day. Get out there, open a couple of packs of cards, and create interest. It may not be like it was in the past (the heyday of the junk wax era), but the future is looking bright.

So my final haul got me (total spent: $93.48, including the Beanie Baby):



  • Ten packs of cards from eight different products
  • Three packs of free cards from the Baseball Card Day giveaway
  • Both of the bonus Judge (2) and Hoskins cards
  • One Ernie Banks SP card
  • One box of sheets (really need them)
  • One Cubs World Series Beanie Baby
This was a great day. I now have content for pack break week, and probably some trade bait. 

I don't have as much free time as I used to because of work and family obligations. So being able to go off for the day doing something I enjoy is rare. This was fun for me. I thank you for following me on my Hobby journey today. At least I know that people still read this humble, little blog. It is the hope that today brings a bit more inspiration for me to continue the blog, on what is now it's tenth year being up and running. 

jba


UPDATE: 2:26 PM CST.

I decided to head north to Winnetka instead of into the city for my fourth stop of the tour. I have not been in this area for more than 10 years when we owned the bakery at the edge of the business district. Before we left Winnetka for good, the bakery, after a couple of moves, found its way next door to Bleachers Sports, a card shop that also doubled as a sports memorabilia framing shop. They've moved across the road 7 years ago, and are now going into their 25th year of operation.

They were busy today. They even ran out of Judge cards. So this is what I got from them:


I have a jumbo of Series 1 (to go with the series 2 pack from earlier), Topps Opening Day, and Big League Baseball. Pack Break Week should be fun.

No, I didn't get the Beanie Baby from them. I did buy it, but I will explain in a minute.

Because the store ran out of Judge cards, I was offered the Rhys Hoskins as a substitute. Now, the Hoskins card is supposed to be the giveaway for the next promotion that takes place 2 weeks from today. But what can you do when you run out of Judge cards? Worth the trip for $19.62.

After visiting the old place and taking pictures from the outside, I stopped the Village Toy Store that is up the street from the card shop. I heard they were closed. So imagine my surprise to find out that not only are they still open, but they've been around for 70 years. When my kids were little, and we would visit the bakery, we visited this place frequently. The Beanie Baby has the 2016 World Series logo. I had to buy it. At $6.50? Why not.

I think I am going to call it a day. I am tempted to go further north, or maybe head into one of the two shops in Chicago on the list. But I've seen the traffic on the highway on both sides and am thinking that I don't want to sit for that long. So I am homeward bound.

Results of the entire journey to come when I get home.

jba

UPDATE : 12:59 PM CST.

Just headed east to Morton Grove. Home of AU Sports. Love the place. One of the longest running shops in the Chicagoland area, they were not on the list of stores celebrating NBCD, but they do have the cards and are all out promoting. They said that they were having a steady stream of customers throughout the day, so they were happy. The guys in the shop were trying to stump each other with baseball trivia.

The question :

So Albert Pujols recently became the third player in MLB history to record 1000 hits in both the NL and AL for one team. Name the other 2? Not a hint, but the other two are in the HOF. Answer to come later, but I was able to come up with one of the player's names.


I did buy a jumbo pack of 2018 Topps Series 2 for $13.00 to get my free pack of cards and Judge bonus. Thinking should I head south into Chicago, or go north to Winnetka next. Decisions, decisions. I guess we will find out together.

jba

UPDATE: 11:59 AM CST.

Sports and Game Cards in Niles took part in National Baseball Card Day last year. This year, is a different story. The young girl behind the counter was friendly, but unenthused about work. (Going on an old-man-rant now). When I was her age, I would have loved it to work at a card store like this, even if it was inside a shopping mall

So even though there were no NBCD packs to be had, I did buy a box of sheet protectors and this:


One pack each of 2018 Topps Series 1, 2, and Pro Debut. I have all of the cards, of course, but these will be saved again for Pack Break Week (which will be held probably in the next couple of weeks...or whenever Update Series comes...still debating). Total spent: $27.90.

Taking a quick lunch break then it is back on the road, heading east to Morton Grove.

jba

UPDATE: 10:47 AM CST.

This explains why the Palatine shop was not on the list...the store is no longer here. That is the sad reality of the Hobby. There are less stores nowadays. There could be a plethora (just watched The Three Amigos movie a while back) of reasons why this store is gone. Wasn't here very long (at least 2-3 years at most).

So the journey continues.

jba

UPDATE: 10:19 AM CST.

I just left Chicagoland Sports Cards and Memorabilia in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. This was my first stop last year too. It was less crowded this time around than it was last year. I hope that this is not an ominous sign of things to come today. Maybe it's too early still and things will be busier here later.

After speaking to the gentleman behind the counter, this is what I bought from the store:


One pack each of Gypsy Queen, Allen & Ginter's, and Stadium Club, as well as a 2018 Topps Ernie Banks SP card. Not a bad haul for $25.30.

Next stop is to my home town of Palatine. The store was not on the list for the promotion, but I will take a shot here anyway to see what they have. Will update soon.

jba

P.S.: The answers to the trivia question are Dave Winfield and Vladimir Guerrero. I came up with Vlady.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Where Are You Now Sensen Lin?

You're not familiar with the name Sensen Lin?

Well, according to LinkedIn, Mr. Lin is the Vice President, Assistant General Council for GIC, an investment management company based in Singapore. He has been with GIC since 2015. Prior to that, he worked as an associate for Ropes & Gray LLC, a global law firm with headquarters all over the world. He was first based in New York, then the Jing'an District in China.

So you can pretty much believe he's done pretty well for himself.

But by now, you have to be asking yourself, why am I talking about Sensen Lin? He's not a baseball player. He's never played in MLB. You won't find baseball cards of Lin anywhere. Or can you??!

Yes, Sensen Lin does have one baseball card, and he's the subject of one of Topps' greatest practical jokes of all time...and it all happened 10 years ago.

Before Mr. Lin climbed the ladder as a lawyer, he was a student at New York University. And a friend of his at the Topps Company had a brilliant idea for a practical joke. As Lin explains:

"They (Topps) put me in all these funky poses. I don’t know that much about baseball so I didn’t exactly know what I was doing. Turns out, the guys at Topps added some things. I wasn’t wearing that necklace and the glove in the picture is different. They also photoshopped in the background."

The results became the focal point of one of greatest "gimmicks" ever inserted into packs of baseball cards:



I do plan on requesting a connection to Mr. Lin on LinkedIn.

So Happy April Fool's Day. Please keep the pranks to a minimum.

Also, Happy Easter. He Is Risen!!!

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Let the Games Begin!!! Yesterday...

After months of waiting...and waiting...and waiting...


It's Baseball Season!!!


Okay, so it happened yesterday. I had planned on writing this in the morning, but life happened.

Twenty-six teams played yesterday (two games were postponed due to weather. I have my master set (including the Bryant and Jeter Tribute sets...nine insert sets total) waiting to go into sheets and a binder (a 3-inch for now...I'm sure I'll have to order a 6 before the end of the year...again!!!)

The Cubs won (okay, it was against the Miami Starlin Castros and 24 other guys calling themselves Marlins...heck if Marlins Man Laurence Leavy has given up on them...) 8-4, with Ian Happ hitting the first pitch...first pitch (okay, so it was some guy whose only eponymous Topps card to date is from 2015...) of the season out of the yard.

Speaking of which, what better way to celebrate Opening Day than to review the insert set from 2018 Topps Series 1 called, appropriately, Opening Day. (Please note that this is not about the set called Opening Day, but the insert set called Opening Day).


I love how this set was designed. Pictures and graphics that look like they were projected onto tiles. Each team is represented here (well almost, Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen, and Evan Longoria grace the checklist...and you get the idea). The backs of the cards gives a brief synopsis of what each subject did during a past Opening Day, whether it be in the majors or if the player started in the minors the year prior.


Now you can only find these cards in packs sold at retail stores, not necessarily exclusive to either WalMart or Target.

As I finally finish this post, the Cubs lost to the Marlins in 17 innings (how's that speed-up-the-pace-of-play-thing going for you now @MLB?)

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Thank You Toys "R" Us! I Could Not Have Grown My Collection Without You!


Growing up, there was no place I loved going to more than Toys "R" Us! (No, I can't do the reverse R, so I'm not going to even try). For a kid, it was every theme park, museum, and wonderland rolled into one. I loved seeing toys, action figures, games and just wishing that one day I could buy them for me or any possible children I thought I'd have when I was older.

Fast forward about 14 years. My wife and I had spent hours at a Babies "R" Us! looking for items that we were going to need for our soon-to-arrive-child. We did not know what our baby was going to be (it wound up being a girl), so we asked for bottles, utensils, diapers, all of the fixings.

Fast forward about 5 years later. When I had time, I'd take my kids to the Toys "R" Us! They had their own interests in what kinds of toys they wanted, and when I had the money to do it, I was so happy because I fulfilled the wish I made for myself when I was much younger.

But that did not mean that there wasn't stuff I wanted to buy at TRU. Why? Because TRU sold baseball cards. And I think you know where this is going. But hold on.

The first real baseball card purchase I made at the world's greatest toy store was a wholly new baseball card product that happened to be called Topps Hot Button Baseball.

Remember this?


It was an electronic game, with lights on both sides that would flash in random order on both sides. The cards in this set were transparent, and the idea was that you would put a batter card on one side, and a pitcher card on the other, and depending on where the lights stop (you press the Hot Button to start the lights, and press it again to stop the lights from flashing) determines what the play was going to be in the game between the two "players."


I loved this game. You could play a game with the 20 cards that came with the device.


But it said that there were booster packs with more players.


And the hunt was on.

I eventually wiped out the local Target of booster packs. I went to other TRU's. I wound up with a complete 140 card set and played the game with my then 5-year-old daughter, and a lot on my own, playing both teams. I even created scorecards, and spreadsheets, and even slips of papers that had card numbers so that I could pick random teams. I was insane.

The original website is long gone, but thanks to the Wayback Machine, if you want to go on a nostalgia trip, click here.

For a number of years, player or team collectors seriously looking for colored parallel cards for their player rainbows (yes, it's a thing) had many places and packs to find whatever it is they were looking for. Target sold packs that had red parallel cards. Walmart had packs with blue parallel cards. Collectors could find orange parallel cards in factory sets. Yellow and green parallel cards could be found in retail packs or blister packs (depending on the year). Of course, you could find gold, pink, powder blue, camouflage, and other parallel cards in regular packs sold anywhere. But to get purple-bordered Topps parallel cards for their collections, one could only find them at TRU. That's right, you could only get the color at the end of the rainbow, purple at Toys "R" Us.

Now, I don't collect parallels, but I do collect retail-exclusive inserts. And while TRU was never given exclusive insert sets, blister packs of 2011 Topps included purple Diamond Anniversary cards.

Remember these?


There are ten cards in the Purple Diamond set that could only be found in two-pack blisters that were sold at TRU. I remember taking the kids to TRU one night in 2011. I let them run loose while I sat on the ground near the display, trying to peek through the back of the packs, just to see if I can figure out which card was included. I wound up being able to find all ten cards, buying 20 packs of 2011 Topps Series 1, all just to find these inserts. My then 11-year-old thought I was crazy, until I told her she could buy whatever she and her then 9-year-old brother wanted (within reason, of course). Two video games later, we left happy with our purchases.


Now that the kids are mid-to-late teenagers, we really haven't made many trips back since that night. Sure, when I was unemployed, to make myself feel better, I'd go to the store, just to see what was there. But to be a middle-aged guy by himself at a store like this, I'm sure employees were just watching me to make sure I'm not some kind of stalker/potential kidnapper.

When I heard that TRU was going into bankruptcy, I was sad. Sure, thanks to websites (cough...Amazon...cough) (cough...eBay...cough), brick and mortar stores were losing customers. Even places like Walmart and Target were taking a large bite out of TRU's market. Now, Toys "R" Us will be gone, and all that are left are memories. Memories of when I was younger. Memories of when the kids were little. Memories of the day I discovered Hot Button Baseball.

Thank you very much Toys "R" Us. My family and I will miss you dearly.

At least until KB Toys comes back later this year...

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Review of the Chicago Spring Spectacular. Éirinn go brách! Celebrating on the Road This Time!

After three years of spending St. Patrick's Day at home, enjoying corned beef with all of the fixings, and a nice glass of Irish Cream (or two...or more...), we're hitting the road, celebrating with family. But first, it's off to work I go, slinging prescriptions at the pharmacy.

Speaking of...

Yesterday, I went to the Chicago Sports Spectacular (that's what they're calling what used to be the Chicago Sun-Times Spring Sports Card Show). It's the first time ever that I would go on a Friday. If you followed me on Twitter (and if you aren't, feel free to do so, I am @bdj610), you may have read some of my experiences at the show.

If you haven't, here is the summary:

Fridays are a bit quieter, it seems. The place was not extremely crowded, but there were a lot of people (and kids...KIDS...for those who don't believe KIDS don't collect anymore). Most of the vendors were there, greeting customers and each other. For some, this is the first time they've seen each other since the National (or at least the Fall Chicago Sports Spectacular...or whatever it was called).

Lots of vintage, as always, at this show. The big names were there selling modern stuff. And, of course, the same guy that sold me a Gypsy Queen set a couple of years back had what I was mainly looking for, a 2018 Topps Series 1 Master Set. After asking to see if he could knock the price down on the set (which he did), I bought the main set plus 5 Hobby inserts. I offered one of the four 2017 Hank Aaron Award Winner cards I had in my possession to thank him for the discount, and he picked one (Mike Trout...I still have the Harper, Bryant, and Cabrera cards).



I also bought myself a box of plastic sheets (need to put the cards in a binder somehow).

But the highlight of the night, and what got most people's attention on Twitter was this:

A 1989 Topps Hobby Box. 36 packs of cards and gum.

They were offering $5.00 for this box...or were they offering to give me $5.00 for the box...I don't know exactly what the guy said. And after mulling it over (I had to sit down to think about it), I decided to pass. As much as I would have loved to do it (and many people on Twitter said I should buy it), I couldn't think of a single thing to do with the cards once I opened them. I might regret this decision later, but you know what? I'm okay with it, and maybe at another show I'll bite.

After paying for my ticket, the seller handed me an envelope, containing a ticket for a free autograph from one of the signers at this evening's show. Based on the schedule, choices included Tom Browning (he of the perfect game in 1988), Ron Jaworski (QB from the Eagles/ESPN analyst), or someone else who had nothing to do on a Friday night. Now, I'm not an autograph guy, but I thought, why not? My ticket was for:


My first thought was, "Who's this guy??!



So Stan Bahnsen was a pitcher, played in the majors from 1966 through 1982, played for six teams, including the White Sox for four seasons, and was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Team in 1968. Now, I had nothing for him to sign, so I thought, "Should I buy a baseball or look for a card? Maybe I should just have him sign the ticket."

But I never heard his name called the entire night I was at the show. I wondered why?


Oh, that's why. He rescheduled. But the policy was no returns, no exchanges. So now I have a dead ticket. So I have one request

Mr. Bahnsen (or someone who can pass this along to him), I'm sorry you couldn't make it out last night to the show. Have a great time today. I'll be at the Walgreens up the road from where you're going to be this today. After you're done signing, would you be able to make the trip north to my store? I'd like to meet you, and possibly redeem that autograph ticket.

On to other topics:


Today is St. Patrick's Day. It is the day that honors St. Patrick, who is the patron saint of Ireland. It also commemorates the arrival of Christianity to the Emerald Isle. In fact, it is said (thanks Wikipedia) that he used shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity.


If anybody says, "Top of the morning to you," to you today, make sure to respond in kind, "And the rest of the day to yourself."

Public Service Announcement (as my wife just said that she found the Bailey's): As you celebrate St. Patrick's Day, please remember to celebrate responsibly.



Finally, a quick toast to everyone, Irish or just-for-the-day:

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be at your back.
May the Maury Show always be on your television (sorry, saw that this morning).
May your cards collections grow to unmeasurable heights in both volume and value.
May the quest for new cards be swift.
May the journey of life treat you well today and always.
And may a certain North Side baseball team win it all this year.
If you catch my drift.

Sláinte!

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama