Tag Archives: Ken Griffey Jr.

Spring Fever

I live in Tucson.  As such I do not suffer from an affliction called spring fever.  I never wish an end to the winter, because an end to the winter means triple digit temperatures and a literal hell on earth.  I guess I suffer from the inverse, fall fever, where around November I wonder why it is still 90 degrees outside.  I do, however, look forward to spring, much like all baseball fans, because it means baseball season is starting.  Living in Arizona I usually intently follow spring training, reading team previews and going to at least a few games.  This year, however, I am pretty busy with work and I’m not able to keep up with the festivities like I have been in the past (a resurgent Arizona Wildcats basketball team is also competing for my time).  This is probably the first spring in a few years that baseball is not the dominant force for me.  I’m hoping that by the time mid-March rolls around I will be able to devote some time to baseball, if for no other reason to keep me cometitive in my fantasy league.  In the meantime Topps has reminded me that Spring Training has begun through their Spring Fever redemption program.

Topps inserted one Spring Fever redemption card in each hobby box.  The card is good for one pack of special Spring Fever cards redeemable at your local hobby shop (this is my local hobby shop).  The cards are only redeemable from February 20 – February 28, so get to your shop soon.  The packs contain five cards and autographs are randomly inserted.  Check out the checklist here.

Since I only bought one box of Topps, I only get one pack.  Here were my pulls.

2013 Topps Spring Fever Ken Griffey Jr.

2013 Topps Spring Fever Tommy Hanson

2013 Topps Spring Fever Dustin Pedroia

2013 Topps Spring Fever Anthony Rizzo

2013 Topps Spring Fever A.J. Ellis

As you can see no autograph and my only decent pull was the Griffey.  I won’t complain, though, because it is a free pack.  The design is highly stylized and shiny.  As far as shiny cards go these aren’t so bad.  They are more high gloss, with some foil, than they are chrome.  The spring training theme is evident with the palm tree design.  I do like the team color coordination.  Given the limited availability I anticipate they will have some decent ebay returns.

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Into the Future: 2013 Topps Archives Baseball

As a companion piece to my earlier post, here is link to a preview of 2013 Topps Archives Baseball and few comments.

Topps is bringing back the four design model for the base set, this time 1972, 1982, 1985, and 1990.  The first thing that strikes me is that there is no 1950s or 60s designs.  Usually Topps goes farther back in the vault for these products, so it’s a bit surprising that they pushed it up a little farther.  I will admit to being a little excited about the inclusion of the 1990 set.  That was around the time I started collecting, so as ugly as that set is, I’m feeling a little nostalgic.  I can’t wait to see some modern favorites with those hideous colored borders (1990 Topps is the pug of the card world: so ugly that it’s cute).

There are some new inserts like the 1969 4-in-1 stickers and a set based on the 1973 Topps Basketball design, not to mention a return of the ever-popular Fan Favorites autographs.  The autograph checklist looks far from complete, but as it stands I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on Matt Williams or Darren Daulton throwback autogaph.  Topps is also included some dual autos including a Giants fans wet dream, Matt Williams and Buster Posey.

     

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The Best: The Captain

Baseball began for me in the early nineties.  You can look at my previous post about 1991 Topps Baseball for more on that.  When I began caring about baseball my favorite players were already established, guys like Griffey, Strawberry, Nolan Ryan, and Frank Thomas were established and, for the most part, had already had most of their great moments.  Griffey’s meteoric rise had already happened.  Ryan had already pitched all of his no-hitters, and Strawberry’s glory days were behind him.  These weren’t guys I grew up with, these were guys who defined the game before I was even interested in it.  I still loved watching their highlights and, even more, I loved chasing their cards, but they weren’t “my” guys.

All my favorite baseball players from 1992 in one place.

Around 1995 I started rooting for the Yankees above all else.  I no longer identified Ken Griffey, Jr. as my favorite player because he was not a Yankee.  I was true fan.  This was the influence of my dad.  He was always a Yankee fan and he made sure I became one too.  That season was a defining season for me and it was for the modern Yankees.  Though I watched in despair as the Yankees lost to my former favorite player in the ALDS, I also caught a glimpse of the future in the form of Derek Jeter.  The future captain got called up that season to play 15 games.  He hit .250 and I had no idea what was about to happen.

The next season Jeter became a regular, the Yankees hired Joe Torre, and the Yankees won the first of four championships with a Jeter/Torre combination.  I became all to used to October/November baseball and I got to witness the beginning of a career for one of the all-time greatest Yankees and my favorite player.  Since that time my dad and I have collected all-things Jeter, cards, coins, Starting Lineups, and miscelleaneous memorabilia.  He is one of the modern greats, a player with no ties to steroids (unless you talk to the skeptics and the Yankee haters), who played hard day in and day out and did it with one team.  His exploits don’t need to be recounted here, we all know them (first Yankee with 3000 hits, a .313 career average, five rings, and lots of unforgettable playoff moments).  Jeter is more than a great player for me, he is the one truly great player that I’ve been able to follow for his whole career and he has represented the last 16 years of baseball for me.

I own quite a few Jeter cards, including his Topps, Upper Deck, and Bowman rookie cards.  No matter the product, good, bad, valuable or worthless, I save the Jeters.  I know it’s funner to hear about the guys who collect the underdogs or the kooks, but I’m a Jeter guy, like a lot of other collectors, and there’s not much I can do about it.  We share a name and he’s the best player of the last 16 years (disagree with me if you want, but I think the arguments are pretty strong for him), he plays for my favorite team, and he’s the first guy in 25 years with even a plausible shot of breaking Pete Rose’s record.  I’m a Jeter guy and I’m not ashamed of it.  When he retires I’ll miss his sweet swing, his (unnecessary) jumping throws at short, and his diplomatic approach.  He has his flaws (most definitely a liability at SS for a while, doesn’t walk enough), but he’ll be remembered as a great and he should be.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite Jeter card.  All of his rookie cards are solid choices (the Bowman is my favorite, but I’m a Bowman apologist), though the Topps card has always seemed a bit ugly to me (the background is plain stupid).  But if pressed I would have to pick the only Jeter autograph I own.  Let it be known that my Jeter autograph is the only card I’ve spent more than $100 on.  It is the only one I can imagine dropping that much coin on.  Also, let it be known that there is a Jeter autograph that I covet more than the one I own.  My most wanted card (in the world) is this:

1997 Bowman Autograph Derek Jeter. It’s so clean, the photo is perfect and the signature is immaculate. I will possess it someday.

This is the one that I own:

Forgive the dimness of the photo.

A 1997 Bowman’s Best Derek Jeter autograph.  Graded a 9 by BGS.  While I don’t love shiny cards, I love this one.  The autograph is perfect.  The photo is classic Jeter. And it is my most valuable card.  This will be my favorite card until I get the card mentioned above.

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The Best: The First

When I was 7 my grandfather died.  He lived with us at the time, but I was not really close to him.  He was old school, not a hands on grandparent like you see today, but this was the first time anyone I knew died.  My dad is from New York, as was my grandfather.  The funeral services were going to be held there so he could be buried with my grandmother.  My family, not having a lot of money at the time, couldn’t afford for all of use to travel out for the services so my dad went alone.  He was gone for a few days, I remember, and when he returned he brought back some gifts for for me and my sister.  I don’t recall what he brough my sister, but my dad brought me back a box of 1991 Topps Baseball.  Those were the first cards I ever opened.  That month in 1991 saw me lose my first family member but also saw me gain a hobby.

At the time that I got those cards I had no interest in sports.  I had gone to some minor league baseball games but was more interested in the snacks than the game.  I had no concept of football or basketball at the time.  GI Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Nintendo were the extent of my personal interests.  My family wasn’t really big sports fans either.  My grandfather, before he passed, was a Mets fan so I remember seeing Mets stuff around and believed at the time that they were my favorite team.  My dad was a Yankees fan, but was not as passionate at that time as he was as kid or as he is again (I can’t imagine anyone more nervous about the Yanks current slump than him).  Sports cards actually fostered my interests in sports.  At the time, however, I was only looking for Mets cards, specifically Darryl Strawberry because he was the only Met I knew by name.  The only other player I knew was Nolan Ryan.  From ages 7 – 9 these were my favorite players.  I’m now a Yankees fan.  As my interest in baseall grew, it became something that me and my dad bonded over, so I began to adopt his favorite team as my own, I was a full-fledged Yankees fan in time to witness the whole Derek Jeter era.  I also became a Yankees fan in time to wonder why people always get so nervous around playoff time when  their teams were in the hunt, as far as a I knew you’d win most of the time.

So I opened the box.  I methodically pored over each card.  I set aside the Mets cards and the Nolan Ryan cards.  The rest were stacked up neatly.  My dad gave me the run down about not bending them or ruining the corners before I opened the cards, so I was set from a young age on card handling skills.  I loved all the pictures and thought it was pretty cool to learn about all the players on the backs.  I didn’t have much of reference point regarding the design at the time, but looking at them now I love them.  I’m not sure if that is just because I have fond memories of my experience opening them, but I really do love the multicolor borders and the large pictures (things that I still love in card design).  The action shots from this set were really well done.  The set is expansive (792 cards) and I know I never completed it.  But I did end up with some cards that I love.   I’m featuring the Chipper Jones rookie card.  At the time I didn’t know what a “#1 Draft Pick was” nor did I know who this “Chipper” fellow was, but it stands as the best card from the set.  It is also a very cool card in hindsight: an 18 year old future hall of famer in his high school uniform.  Chipper is slated to retire this year and he has always been one of my favority non-Yankees.  He’s had the kind of solid career that any fan wishes their cornerstone player would have and he’s done it all for one team.  Chipper, Pack A Week salutes you.

.304/.401/.531 468 HR & more walks than strikeouts. Simply amazing.

Most of the cards I got from that box were recently sold with about 40000 other commons that were taking up too much space.  I did save the ones I loved like Bernie Williams, Don Mattingly, Cal Ripken Jr., Ken Griffey Jr., and Nolan Ryan.  I also saved my Darryl Strawberry card, but I gave it to my wife because the only baseball player she knew growing up was also Darryl Strawberry.

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