The Collector

Collecting means something different to a lot of people. It can involve multiple goals, many different techniques, countless motivating factors and it lives on a sliding scale of importance. Ultimately, we all have the same hobby but we just go about it differently from one another in most cases. More often than not, collecting is instilled in us at an early age and both our childhood and our environment play a major role in our development within the hobby as adults. There are a lot of reasons/factors that formed the way I collect today. Some are tangible and some are just second nature at this point; but they all have helped me evolve into who I am today.

Let’s start with this very important truth; There is no wrong way to collect (except searching)! Always collect what/who you want to collect and don’t give a second thought to what other people think about it. If you want to collect only basketball cards with players in blue jerseys that are in the motion of a jump shot; Knock yourself out! Who am I (or anyone else) to tell you that it is weird or somehow not the right way to go about collecting? Collecting is supposed to make you happy or help you step away from your daily struggles and if you don’t do it your way, you are wasting that opportunity.

Let me go over some of the factors that brought me here and tell you what collecting is to me. Again, some of these are tangible lessons learned while some are just experiences that I return to when I’m sorting. In any event, they are what make the hobby fun for me still today. And by definition, a hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” These are the things that molded me and brought me pleasure over my life, as it relates to the world of cardboard. Maybe by the end of this, you will recognize some of the things that have made you the collector you are today.

Collecting to me as a kid was sitting in my floor and making an all-star team out of the good players in the packs I ripped. Sometimes, the team wasn’t made up completely of real life all-stars. As a kid, I was lucky to squeeze 2-3 packs out of a trip to Wal-Mart with my parents. While that may have been all I got, I sincerely mean that I was lucky because those trips were priceless. My 3 packs of Donruss may have resulted in me having Jerry Browne or Albert Hall on those all-star teams I formed. I would read the stats on the back to help me finalize the team and home runs or average usually won the tie breakers. I laid the cards out in the baseball field layout and that would be my team. I decided to rip a couple packs of ’89 Donruss just for this piece so I could put together an all-star team to picture. What do you think of this team? The bad part is my infield is weak but I had to pick between Glenn Davis and Mark Grace at 1st!

As touched on above, collecting was reading card backs. That is how I learned about players who didn’t play for the Braves or Cubs. I was able to watch those two teams every day because of the national television stations they were on. When they played the Pirates or the Astros, I could usually look out for Glenn Davis or Andy Van Slyke because I had read up on their stats on card backs. I studied the cards front and back and I liked players because of what I learned about them. A great follow on Twitter is @sportcardbacks because he will share some of the more interesting card backs from the “old days”, which happen to be right in my childhood collecting days. Even now, in 2018, I just learned that Glenn Davis’ home was Columbus, Ga!

All-Star and MVP Cards used to mean something. In a world where relics and autographs were unheard of, we spent our time trying to chase down insert cards. While all sets varied with the exact insert sets they had to offer, almost all of them had some form of a “best of the best” subset. Donruss had MVP’s, Score had the All-Star sketches, Topps had the Bold All-Star Cards and so on. Collecting big names was how you filled your binder pages and loaded up on trade bait. Those cards are in dime boxes at card shows now. Back then, they were the cards in the glass cases!

I learned how to collect because of RBI Baseball and the time I spent playing against my uncle’s on that game. RBI 3 even allowed you to play with teams that won pennants during the 80’s. I could play with the 1985 Royals and it made me want to collect George Brett. Sometimes, I would be the ’84 Tigers and I would go searching for “Sweet” Lou Whitaker or “Never Fret” Chet Lemon. I learned about baseball players from two key sources; cards and RBI Baseball. And I took every opportunity to intertwine those two hobbies of mine. My love for Jose Canseco was actually born on RBI 3 and the fact that he was a hobby superstar only made it stronger.

Collecting was reading up on cards in the Beckett magazine. I had a unique way of opening packs in 1989 and 1990 that was totally dependent on me having a Beckett magazine handy. I bought the mag each month so that never was a big problem. I would open my packs with the backs of the cards facing up and would slide each card just enough to reveal only the card number for the next one. I would go to my Beckett and find the number in the price guide and my excitement would be dependent on whether it was listed or not. If it was listed, I knew it was going to be worth .15 or more and if it wasn’t, I knew it was a common. Excitement was really high when those cards turned out to be Jr. or Gary Sheffield or Ricky Jordan. Those were $1.00 plus cards and worth more than what the actual pack cost. If Beckett had published a History or Spanish book that I enjoyed as much as their price guide, I probably would have been valedictorian of my class!

Collecting was sitting in the lunch room of my high school before homeroom and comparing hits with my buddies. I hit a 1990 Donruss Diamond King Ken Griffey Jr and was the talk of the class one morning. You were somehow better than everyone else on the days you had the big hit. I remember the ’89 Bo Jackson baseball/football card, ’90 Score Frank Thomas, ’90 Upper Deck John Olerud and ’91 Stadium Club Phil Plantier as some of the bigger cards I showed off in that lunchroom. I never beat David and his Andre Dawson Elite but I had some pretty good pulls back in the day.

I enjoy going through a box of old cards, even if it’s loaded with Tommy Herr or Franklin Stubbs, because it takes me back to my youth. Even though it’s called “Junk Wax”, I have never considered those cards junk. I have a few boxes that I’ll go through every year and I already know what cards are there but I will sort them in a different way just to have an excuse to go through them again. I’ll do it with ’91 Fleer, ’85 Topps or ’89 Upper Deck; I don’t have any bias against cardboard. I may not like some of the designs, like ’90 Donruss, but that doesn’t mean I’m trashing those cards. I don’t trash cards at all to be honest. I pass them down or send them to other collectors if they aren’t going to stay in my collection. One reason is that you just never know when a particular card value may rebound. But more importantly, the cards just mean too much to me.

I enjoy autographs, patches, printing plates, serial numbers, graded cards, and just about any other modern day frill you can think of. But I’ll never forget my roots and I’ll never get too far from home. I’ll never choose a pack of 2017 Contenders over a pack of 1987 Fleer. I’m being 100% honest when I type that. For my enjoyment, I would rather have a Bo Jackson rookie than a DeShaun Watson rookie. I know that values are different and I could make more money on eBay and there is more demand for Watson; I get all of that. But that’s not why I’m in this game. Would I sell a Watson to make money? There’s no question about that. But do you know what I would do with at least a portion of that money? I’d go buy a box of 1987 Fleer! The cards I sell don’t make me rich and they won’t pay my bills, but they will help me buy more cards to support my Hobby. That’s my stance on buying and selling. I’m probably in the minority but I’d usually rather give the card to someone who would like it in their collection.

Now, if we’re talking about money cards, I have no problem flipping those to buy more cards. Again, everybody collects different and I don’t think any less of anyone who does it different from what I do. I’ve periodically sold on eBay and Twitter and have no problem with others that do so more often. That’s definitely an important sector of the community because I do buy from time to time. I just don’t see dollar signs when I open product anymore. I did when I was a kid but they were literally $1.00 signs. The tireless hunt for the 1:1’s or the star autographs can both drive you mad and break the bank. That’s part of why I still delve so much in the junk wax era. I pay a reasonable price for what I consider to be good cards and I’m not driven by money at any point during the transaction. It’s not a business to me. It can be, and is, to some; and there is zero wrong with that, but it isn’t me.

Finally, and this might be the most important aspect of collecting to me; it gives me a different purpose, tangible goals and an excuse. Let me explain. I have been married for 17 years, have 2 kids (Age 10 & 3) and have worked at the same job for 20 years. Every day I wake up, I know what my purpose is. I have built the life I have now because it is the life I wanted. I married my high school sweetheart, we have beautiful kids and I’m stable in my career. Isn’t that the American Dream? But as with most other people, it is hard sometimes to live a systematic life without sometimes feeling like a robot. That’s where this hobby comes in. I am constantly challenged by cards; whether it’s finding an old classic, reviewing a new product or trying to complete a project. “Every pack is different”, so to speak.

I am able to be the kid that never grew up when I’m sorting cards. I’m able to mentally sit in my old bedroom and watch the neon dance on the front of 1990 Topps just like I did when I was 13. And the key; there is no pressure. I have pressure in every other aspect of my life; the family, bills, the job. There is absolutely no weight that comes with ripping and sorting. It’s a freeing experience for me and is one of the few things in my life that can immediately lift weight off of my shoulders. And because it does that for me emotionally, it gives me the perfect excuse to be that kid that still wants it to be 1989.

Collecting cards truly means that much to me. It is as close to being a religious experience as you can get without actually having a religious experience. It touches me in a real, palpable sense but the hobby also has emotional, spiritual and therapeutic components to it. Cards are a complete sensory experience for me. I can obviously feel the cards but I can usually smell the card and tell you if it is Topps, Fleer, Donruss, etc. I can envision the setting I was in the first time I pulled a particular card. I can taste the horrible gum that still exists in residue form on my old cards. And the sound of a wax pack being opened is one of the sweetest sounds a 40 year old card addict can hear.

I know what you’re thinking right now. You can’t imagine that the act of collecting sports cards could ever be this important to a person’s life. I’m telling you unequivocally that it is. I love this hobby and I want to spread the feeling that I have to every collector I meet. I don’t care what you collect or how you collect; as long as you collect, you are part of the family!

J-Dub

Retro Review – All I’ve Got Is A Photograph

Music has always been a big part of my life. I never really panned out as a musician or singer, though I tried it one time. I had a lot of fun with a group of guys playing 90’s Alternative Covers from Smashing Pumpkins, EverClear, Tonic and others. I’ve written more than once about the Deftones and Mrs. Dub and I go to 4-5 concerts a year in Atlanta and Jacksonville. I am primarily a Rock guy (along with its many iterations) and I got my start at an early age. My dad tried to get me to be a country music guy and my mom listened to pop but Uncle Greg and my close friends pulled me in the right direction.

Rock carries a pretty wide definition and I like just about all of it. The thing about rock music is that it usually has some deep meaning to the band and listener and takes a little bit more thought to write. That’s just my opinion so don’t lose your mind over it. The musician’s are generally creating their own music in most cases as well instead of a computer generating the tune or beat. The music is mostly original with very little sampling from other songs. It’s original and unique to me and that’s why I’ve always been drawn to it. I will not quibble over the fact that I am a rock snob.

There are some instances where I prefer a heavy riff and some screaming. That’s usually when I’m about to play a basketball or softball game or otherwise need some sort of adrenaline boost. That is another thing about rock music for me; it’s visceral. A song can put me in a certain state of mind or cure the blues or even bring me down from being too amped up. I’m not extremely picky when it comes to rock music but there are certain pockets of the genre that hit me harder than others. One such pocket would be the illustrious Power Ballad of the 80’s.

I was right in the middle of the young teenage years in the late 80’s so rock music and girls were pretty high on my priority list. Dances were also pretty popular around that time so the Power Ballad was the perfect opportunity to snuggle up to a cute girl and enjoy the tunes. I remember a lot of birthday party dances that were at friends houses and all that was needed was a boom box and open floor. Well, you also needed some tight-roll, acid washed jeans and hair gel but that was with any type of party. We learned all the words to the Power Ballad and we imitated the glam rock singers because it was obviously what the chicks were into. It was a crazy time!

I have my go-to list of power ballads loaded up on iTunes that were a big part of my budding youth and I often listen to that playlist when I’m working up a blog post because the music is soothing to me. So I figured, why not write about the songs I’m listening to as I type? I could have possibly ranked these in numerical order but I had a real problem with the top 3 so I decided to just put them in relative order of good to best with some room for shifting around in the lineup. The last 3 are no doubt list toppers though and shouldn’t be confused with any of the others.

Before we get started, there are 5 that made Honorable Mention because I had to trim the list for space purposes. I didn’t want you to get bored halfway through. The songs that almost made it include:
• Mama, I’m Coming Home – Ozzy Osbourne
• The Flame – Cheap Trick
• Close My Eyes Forever – Lita Ford
• Wind of Change – Scorpions
• Patience – Guns N Roses

On to the songs that did make the cut! For your listening (and viewing) pleasure, I’ve linked the videos for these. Just click the song title!

Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone) – Cinderella
I was all about Cinderella for a short while. I really only had “Long Cold Winter” but it was a really good album from beginning to end. There were some heavy classics like “Gypsy Road” and “Last Mile” and it slowed the mood down with “Long Cold Winter” and “Coming Home”. But the best song on the entire album and still one that gets play on my iTunes regularly is “Don’t Know What You Got”. We went to see Poison in Atlanta around 2011 and Cinderella opened for them. I was super excited but the singer’s voice had blown up and he was singing everything in a lower tone so it was a bit of a disappointment.

November Rain – Guns N Roses
I was not a huge GNR fan except for “Appetite for Destruction” but I did love this one. It ran almost 9 minutes long so if you could keep your date’s attention, you could really get two slow dances out of it. It was also a very fun song to sing, as was most songs by Axel Rose. I was more a fan of their hard rock but “November Rain” is certainly on this top 10 list without hesitation!

Home Sweet Home – Motley Crue
This wasn’t exactly a love song but it was a Power Ballad in every sense of the word. You can argue that it might be sort of a love song but I don’t classify it as such. It started out with a piano and soft singing (for Vince Neal). Then the drums and guitars kick in and bring the power. It’s a classic but wasn’t one that we would always dance to. I was a bit of a Motley Crue guy thanks to Dr. Feelgood, Kickstart My Heart, Girls Girls Girls and Shout at the Devil.

18 & Life – Skid Row
While another power ballad that isn’t a love song, this has all the emotional punch you’ll ever need from a rock song. Sebastian Bach can wail and this song was a perfect display of the notes he could hit. I remember getting this cassette from my buddy, Jason Lee, for my birthday one year. I actually remember us watching the old “Rock and Roller Games” TV show when he gave it to me and another song on this list was being played at halftime. What a classic show! I think it was on Fox and was essentially roller skating + wrestling with the storylines and everything.

I Remember You – Skid Row
This was a bonus on the self titled album that I really only wanted because of “18 and Life”. This song was definitely a dance hit! I remember holding the hand of an older, hot chick named Melissa while skating to this song at the Pelham Skating Rink. But here’s the kicker, my cousin Corey was holding her other hand and she was just being nice to us younger guys and there was nothing romantic at all about it. I’m pretty sure she was dating my neighbor Bryan at the time but hey, I still remember it. I highly doubt she does but that is how most of the memories happen with girls that are considered unattainable. She was being nice while my 13 year old mind was thinking boyfriend/girlfriend. Those were the days!

Heaven – Warrant
This is the song that was playing at halftime of the “Rock and Roller Games” when Jason gave me that Skid Row cassette. I immediately considered this song as my next get because it was awesome. This was another that you could slow dance to and I remember hearing it a couple of times at a friend’s birthday dance at Plant Mitchell but I don’t really remember who I may have danced with that night. Believe it or not, your humble blogger came up snake eyes from time to time in the girl category. This may have been one of those times. I know, hard to believe.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison
This one just missed the top 3 and some of you may heavily disagree. I loved this song, don’t get me wrong. We even performed it with our 90’s Alternative Cover band. But the top 3 are my clear favorites from the Power Ballad era. This was another heavily danceable tune and I remember this being a staple at every dance party. Heck, I even dance to this one now with Mrs. Dub if it comes on where we are at. I also remember singing this song in my bedroom with my imaginary band on a regular basis. When we went to see Poison and Cinderella in Atlanta, Bret Michaels’ voice was just fine and this one was worth the trip!

I Won’t Forget You – Poison
This is the beginning of the top 3. These 3 could really be put in about any order but I think I have them right for the moment. I liked this song from Poison more than “Every Rose” because of the electric guitar. It had a better beat for dancing than “Every Rose” too. I remember a birthday dance at my house and dancing with Misty, who was actually my “girlfriend” at the time. I’m not sure how that happened though because she was way out of my league in 1990. She claims today that I’m the one that broke things off but that’s not how I remember it. I was only 14 so I can’t be certain that it wasn’t me but it just feels like it was the other way around.

Hysteria – Def Leppard
Here is the #2 Power Ballad for me; “Hysteria”! I loved this entire album! Along with this amazing song, there was also “Rocket”, “Animal”, “Love Bites”, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Armageddon It”! Come to think of it, “Love Bites” should be on this list too! I knew I would leave some good songs off. Mrs. Dub and I were fortunate enough to have seen Def Leppard in Atlanta and they were unbelievable. I was skeptical because of the way they sing. Remember, I was burned by Cinderella so I thought the Leppard might not be able to get to those high notes either. I was pleasantly surprised and I got legit chill bumps when they sang this song.

Photograph – Def Leppard
#1 is another Def Leppard classic; Photograph. This was a bit heavier than Hysteria but was still very melodic. It truly was a POWER ballad. I think it was about Marilyn Monroe but I always imagined it being about Kelly Kapowski. If I was good at videography stuff, I probably would have made a Kelly montage video for this song. These guys still had it in 2012 and I would go see them again today. I always liked Phil Collen (not the Genesis guy) and he put on a tremendous show in ATL. They also had one of my favorite “Behind the Music” episodes on VH1 back in the 90’s. Def Leppard is my #1 “hair band” and it’s not even that close. I loved Poison, Motley Crue, Skid Row and others back in the day but Def Leppard has held up better than all the others.

Speaking of holding up better than others, let’s talk about a football set that has stood the test of time. I am going to call it underrated because I had really forgotten about how good the product was until I recently went through one of my old school boxes looking for “random” hits from the past. I think that 1991 Upper Deck Football has some of the best photograph for a football set outside of some possible current releases and it deserves a comparison to Stadium Club Baseball in the fact that it was a huge step up from what the market was offering at the time. Even Fleer Ultra was pretty far behind what ’91 Upper Deck brought to the table. Let’s call 1991 Upper Deck the Def Leppard of Junk Wax Football. Most Junk Wax is really good but some just stand out more than others.

The box was fairly standard for 1991; 36 packs with 12 cards per pack. Upper Deck football did not have any filler in the packs like puzzle pieces or gum or even the hologram stickers like UD baseball. The packs were all cards. They were very similar to baseball in that they were foil and sealed on each end for that UD standard “tamper proof” feature. The only feature I question is “Limited Edition”. I’m not sure how limited any sets were in 1991.

One of the best features of 1991 Upper Deck football was the team checklist sketch Cards. Here is a Prime Time that was just awesome! You know I’m a sucker for sketch cards and these were nice. I have the full spread of what I pulled later in the post but this one deserved it’s own photo.

Photography was a highlight for 91 UD. I mentioned that in my last post and it’s what prompted me to rip this box. This was one of my favorite Cards from 1991. You may recall the similar Nolan Ryan triple exposure card in baseball. This was a great card in the early 90’s and set the bar for innovative photos in football sets.

As for other QB’s I pulled, here are some of the Stars. You may not be able to tell from this photo but the Marino was taken in the snow. There is another Dolphin shot later in the snow, which was ironic for Miami.

I pulled the usual early 90’s studs at running back with the exception of Bo but I did pull a cool team checklist sketch I’ll show off later. Ickey is doing the shuffle in his photo! You may remember Marcus Dupree from the great 30 For 30; “The Best That Never Was.”

More great photography can be found in the wide receiver selection. Flipper Anderson is making a one handed catch while Mark Jackson is about to take a big hit.

Tight End was slim but these were great ones! Looks like Novacek is the holder for a field goal. How many Tight Ends are asked to do that these days?

If you read my last post, you’ll know that this Reggie is one of my favorites. The Fridge even looks good in 91 UD. Collectors from my generation will remember Dennis Byrd. For those of you who don’t, do yourself a favor and look him up.

Look at this Matt Millen card! I was not a huge fan of Millen (especially as a GM) but this card just screams old school football! My man Percy Snow was included too so, cha-ching!

I’m still blown away by how clear these photos are! Felix is getting stretched out, Scott Case just laid Cleveland Gary out and Rod Woodson is in his Pro Bowl uni.

The headliner of the Star Rookie Class was Dan McGwire (Mark’s little brother). Todd Marinovich got a lot of hype too. But that first QB on row 3 wound up being the best of the bunch. Russell Maryland, Alvin Harper, Ricky Watters and Eric Turner all had solid careers while Browning Nagle and Aaron Craver fizzled.

Here are the great sketch Cards! These are just awesome! I love the ones with the names on them. Bo and Herschel are my favorites but I also like Flash 80 and LT. Once again, Warren Moon is pictured with an actual moon in the background just like ’90 Score Hot Guns.

The Team MVP’s didn’t have very many surprises but there were a couple. Greg Townsend got the Team MVP for the Raiders. That Raiders team had Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson and Tim Brown. Bobby Humphrey also got the honor for the Broncos over Elway. I won’t complain about André Rison for my Falcons!

The season leaders insert covered the major individual stat leaders. I remember Mark Carrier being a real ball hawk on Tecmo.

Aerial Threats showcased prolific QB and WR tandems. Here is the other Miami snow card. I’m a little surprised Steve DeBerg made it into this insert set.

As with baseball, UD focused on a legend for its “Football Heroes” insert. Joe Montana got the call in 1991 and I pulled 7 of the 9 Cards on the checklist.

I pulled one Game Breaker in the box and it was the great Barry Sanders. I may check this subset out and try to put it together. This is a striking card in person but maybe even more striking with my reflection in it!

This was a very easy set to score. The box cost me $14.95 so price is a plus. Photography is top notch and unrivaled for football at the time. One of the key rookies is Brett Favre. It’s loaded with stars and Hall of Famers. The design is clean and classy. It has great sketch cards littered throughout the checklist. This is about as perfect a set for the early 90’s as you will find. I would highly recommend you find a box and rip it just because the quality is so good for the “Junk Wax” era. This was an easy “5” on the Dub-O-Meter and may be the highest quality set I’ve reviewed for under $20 per box. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1.Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2.There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3.Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4.You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5.Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

The Power Of Random Memories

Sometimes life can come at you pretty fast. It’s easy to get bogged down in our day to day lives and take everything around us for granted. We constantly want time to go by too fast. We are ready for the work day to be over, we are ready to go to bed, we are ready for an event a week or month in the future, we are ready for our vacation, we are ready for Christmas! Being ready and anxious for things though means that we are certainly not living in the present like we should be. But life has a way of reminding you sometimes that you have to slow down and appreciate what is in front of you today rather than what the future might bring.

Focusing on the now helps me remember that while I am always ready for the work day to be over, I do have a job to be thankful for. I am fortunate that I have been coming to the same job for the last 20 years and I know my co-workers and I know my customers. I don’t have to learn a new trade and I don’t have to lie in bed at night wondering where my next meal will come from. For that, I am truly thankful. My job has given me the ability to enjoy life and have events to look forward to. Sure, sometimes I get bogged down and only think about having to be there and not being able to spend those moments doing something fun and exciting. But hey, it could always be worse.

When I get home from work, I find myself longing for sleep. I am tired and my mind is ready to shut off. But before I go to bed, I usually have supper to plan, laundry to navigate and kids to help with homework and give baths to. What I often forget when I have my eye on that late night crawl into my cool bed in my dark bedroom, are the people around me that I am doing these chores for. I focus too heavily on the work sometimes and not the reason for the work. My wife has been a part of my life for over 20 years and I never want to lose the desire to do anything for her. I never want to take her for granted. And while I look forward to growing old with her, I’m not ready to be old yet! Wishing away today just makes that happen sooner.

My kids are my life and even though it can be stressful, I don’t know where I would be today without them. While I wish there were some things they could do on their own, like getting a snack out of the refrigerator or turning the bath water on, I am not ready for them to grow up either. It’s easy to miss the moments when I am folding laundry and Georgia wants to help and folds clothes that I have to refold. It’s easy to miss the positives when I have to stop what I’m doing to try and remember 5th Grade math rules with Bailey. The positive is that she still needs my help and comes to me when she can’t do things on her own. That won’t always be the case. You have to take the hard work that comes with having the good times and sometimes that is difficult.

Wishing for my vacation time will fast forward my life 4 full months! I’ll miss Christmas, New Year’s, my birthday, Valentine’s Day, Easter and even Bailey’s birthday if all I can focus on are those 5 days of freedom from work where we might travel somewhere fun to enjoy ourselves. Wishing for Christmas Day makes me lose the fun of the weeks leading up to Christmas when we pick out a tree, wrap presents, navigate the world of Elf on the Shelf and watch all the fun holiday classics on TV. Everything you rush to in the future makes you lose time today. That’s just the bottom line. I don’t know how to deal with that just yet but I am going to figure it out.

One thing I have figured out is how to look back on yesterday and find the great times that I had and may have taken for granted at the time. I am a self proclaimed expert when it comes to living in the past and remembering the “good ole days.” I remember even the smallest of meaningless moments when I get my mind set on exploring old events. There are some major parts I may misremember or leave out but it’s the strange small details that I seem to remember that make some of these moments a blast to relive through my blog. I might even get a year wrong but I’m likely going to remember the shirt I was wearing or the music in the background. I guess I’m sort of random like that.

Remembering those good times makes me appreciate the life I have lived so far. I have been very fortunate to have great family and friends that have provided for great memories that have been building blocks over the years. I have made mistakes and I have memories of those as well. But all of the memories I carry with me every day of my life have helped me accept and appreciate that no matter what tomorrow brings, I have lived a great life up until today. I hope to say the same tomorrow.

Memories are what sustain me and I love it. I remember the time me and Coop stayed up all night playing Nintendo and in a fit of disappointment, he flailed his arms and brought down a shelf of photos and decor in my living room, waking my mother at 3 am. I can’t think of a time throughout middle and high school that didn’t include my cousins Coop, Trent, Corey or Jared either. I was blessed with some really cool cousins growing up. Me and Coop would play basketball at his house until one of us scored 100 points and we would start all over again. Coop’s family also had a place at Fort Gaines with us so we spent a lot of time together their too. We almost flipped a golf cart there and I did push him off the back of it once and he broke his wrist.

I spent time at Trent’s watching Arnold movies like Total Recall and Predator. My favorite movie was Aliens at one point and I remember watching it with him and my Aunt Nancy for the first time. I always got my scary movie fix at their house!

Corey, Jared and I would play sports in the yard during the day and on Nintendo at night. When it comes to random memories, I specifically remember staying up late one night and sorting baseball cards while Corey and I listened to “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor on a loop. We would talk about cards and girls while we listened to those cheesy popular songs of the 90’s. I also remember endless ping pong tournaments and RBI Baseball battles!

I remember going through a cheese biscuit phase when I was a kid. I’m not talking about something fancy like Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Red Lobster either. This was the canned Pillsbury biscuits I would bake and when they were just getting ready, I’d pop the top and throw a piece of American cheese on them and let it melt. I would eat the entire 10 biscuit can! That was nowhere near the weirdest food phase either. Does anyone remember gummy peaches? They were peach flavored gummies in a ring shape and they were delicious. Well, I would dip those in Frito Lay Jalapeno Dip from time to time. Yeah, peach gummy candy dipped in jalapeno cheese dip….mmmmmm.

What is fun about the gummy jalapeno memory is that it is always tied to some event that happened at my friend Michael’s (Munt) house where we were usually playing pool or wiffle ball or Shaq Fu on SNES. Munt was one of my best friends and he hung out with us at the Video Superstore and we always tried out the new releases before they hit the shelves. Shaq Fu was a classic; as was Lightning Jack and Little Big League. No matter what we had going on, we had a great time together. The only time I ever got crossways with Munt was that time he and Hickey played basketball against me and Brewer in my backyard. He had scored a few times and I stuck my leg out a little too far when he made a move around me one time and we had words. The game ended without really ending and that really is the only time I can ever remember he and I having words. Sorry about that one Munt.

Of course, Brewer and I were best friends too growing up and we have a lot of great memories. I’ve written before about the viewing of “Night of the Living Dead” (MY VERY FIRST POST) and the time we went to the cemetery and were told the story of Annabelle. But we also scared the pants off of unsuspecting trick or treaters several years by hiding in trees and bushes when they came up to his front porch to get candy. We stayed up all night at each others houses making stupid videos long before YouTube was invented. We even had a fake talk show in which I would mimic one of our teachers as the host and he would portray various people from school that I would interview. We recorded pranks we would play on our friends if they made the mistake of being the first person to fall asleep at these all-nighters. We actually could get ruthless with each other at times. But we had a great time!

There was my friendship with Josh in Middle School where we spent almost all of our time together! Whether it was watching free movies from the library at my house after school or riding his motorcycle and fishing at his house on the weekend. We spent time at the radio station that his stepdad worked at, I watched scary movies at his house that I wasn’t able to watch at my own and I even played “Bloody Mary” for the first time on a dark and scary night at his place. Josh and I went our separate ways at one point in High School and he left this earth far too soon but I think of him quite often.

Then there was my buddy David from high school and we have plenty of memories too. He had a 9-hole mini golf game that we would set up throughout his house and compete with each other for the title of greatest mini golfer. We were always competing! We played home run derby with ping pong balls and tennis rackets, tennis balls and wooden bats and any other combination we could think of. We were also competitive with sports cards. I remember him pulling the Elite Andre Dawson and wanting to be happy for him but really being as jealous as I had ever been about a baseball card. He was also a Minnesota guy so he had a lot of MN trinkets around his room that made me want that ’91 World Series more than anything. Just like the Dawson Elite, David won that competition as well. David is one of the friends from growing up that still collects and we text each other photos of our recent purchases from time to time. I guess we are still competing!

But thinking about all these friends and memories has gotten me feeling super nostalgic and I decided to pull out one of my old “memory card boxes” and sort through some of my old football favorites. I guess while I am being random, I can go through some random cards and try to remember what made me hang on to these otherwise cheap cards in 2017. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; value is in the eye of the collector and I wouldn’t trade these cards for the world today. They are very meaningful to me even now and during times like this when life has thrown its curveball and made me put things into perspective, there are no better reminders of the good times than these rustic and weathered pieces of cardboard.

I always liked Marcus Allen and thought he was underrated (if that’s possible) in my generation because of him being tied to Bo in the Raiders backfield. He is the first player by alphabet in my “don’t toss” pile.

Biscuit was another player that I thought was somewhat underrated. He was well known but he got lost sometimes on a team with Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Bruce Smith. This was always one of my favorites.

Another Raider, Tim Brown was one of my favorite wide receivers of the 80’s-90’s, which I’ve covered here many times before. When I think of Brown, this is the card that always comes to mind.

QB Eagles was the man! I remember sitting in my room all by myself and trying to rush for 500 yards in a game with him on TSB. This is the first of several ’91 Upper Deck entries.

You probably knew I would have to include a Pro Vision. This Irvin was always a trip to me. His shadow was the Lombardi Trophy and that horse in the background was a little over the top. But again, it was Pro Vision and they were really taking a turn in ’93 to the psychedelic side.

I don’t believe I have ever put a Bo card to the side when sorting for it to be put in the common box. I hold these in the highest regard whenever I pull them. And this ’91 Upper Deck was always a great photo to me.

1991 Score had some great art cards in both football and baseball. I’m going to rip some baseball soon to enjoy those but this Marino has been in my collection since the day I pulled it in ’91.

This may be my favorite football card of all time. This card takes me back to 1990 every time I see it and I have so many fond memories. I have to figure out a way to tell Mrs. Dub that I want to be buried with this card.

I didn’t know much about Okoye before TSB but when I found out about him, I went to my card box and started trying to find a card of him. This is the first card I found and it’s been in my keeper box ever since.

Sweetness was winding down his career by the time I really started collecting football cards. This was the first card I ever pulled of him and I always thought it was one of the more classy ProLine cards, which was par for the course for Payton.

This card was from the latter days of my childhood collecting but I loved Action Packed and Jerry Rice. I have a TON of Jerry Rice cards but this is one of my favorites.

Have I mentioned before that I loved Andre Rison when I was a kid? How strange that one of the cards I have in my “untouchable” box is a card that doesn’t even feature Rison on the card. Classic error card!

This was ’91 Pro Set and the set from the previous year is when I really fell in love with sketch cards. But this Barry Sanders has always been a highlight of my collection. It has so much detail from the jersey to the lines on his face. This is such a great card to me!

More love for ’91 Upper Deck. Deion was decked out in his gloves, towel, armbands earrings and bandana for this photo. I remember the “You Gotta Believe” slogan and this card is representative of my early passion of the Falcons.

This is a latter 90’s card but it’s one of my favorite sets from that timeframe. Fleer Metal Universe was awesome in 1998 because we had never seen anything like it. I bought a ton of this and they still look good to me.

More great photography from ’91 Upper Deck; this time of Derrick Thomas. Even though DT was a Bammer, I was a huge fan. I remember a clip from the early 90’s VHS classic, NFL Rocks, where Marty Schottenheimer has a heart to heart with him about keeping focus in an overtime game. What a great video. If you haven’t seen it, the whole thing is on YouTube HERE and I’d recommend giving it a look.

Thurman Thomas was such a great back. I really wish Buffalo had won at least one of those Super Bowls in the early 90’s because these guys deserved it. As for Wild Cards, they didn’t have as solid a run as the Bills but I have an unusually high amount of these cards sitting around from my early collecting days.

I just pulled one of these a few days ago in my ’89 box break but this particular card has been in my old school box for a long time as it was one of the first trade hauls from when I was a kid. I don’t remember what I Traded to get it but I really love this card.

I’ve mentioned Fred Washington on the blog before, I think from my ’90 Topps post. This card was always striking to me because of his jersey and the photo but when I found out he was killed in an automobile accident his rookie season, I held onto this card. It’s still in my old box some 27 years later and he is but a distant memory to most NFL fans.

Well, this card has convinced me that I need to pick up a box of ’91 Upper Deck for a Retro Review. I know that Stadium Club is known for photography and ’89 Upper Deck Baseball is the king in UD history but these cards look so great! This set is really good and I’m going to make a point of trying to build it in 2018.

We never know what tomorrow will bring us. We never know if we will even get tomorrow. But we always have yesterday to look back on and find the good times that sustained us. We are who we are because of these memories, for better or worse. Time doesn’t have to change who we are unless we want it to. I personally don’t. I want to always be that kid that admired Walter Payton and tried to be Barry Sanders in the front yard and ran for 3,000 yards with Bo on TSB. I’m sure that while the Bills players would tell you they’d love to have a Super Bowl ring, the early 90’s was still a great time to be a Bill. The early 90’s was a great time for me to be Dub too because of the friends, family and hobbies I had. Some of the friends have changed, my cousins have started their own families and we’ve grown apart but the hobbies will never change for me.

I mean this with all sincerity. As long as I’m able to collect cards, I’m going to do it. As long as 80’s and 90’s cards are available for public consumption (which may be a while based on production), I’m going to focus my efforts there. Junk Wax is only “junk” in name and every card has a story for me when I see it for the first time in years. Life can be challenging and unpredictable but we all have to find that one thing that makes it simple and painless. For me, that one thing is cardboard from my childhood. Looking through this box from when I was a kid is like watching a movie or reading a book about my life. The cardboard tells stories of laughter, fun and even sad times if you just slow down and listen. I know this is all a little deep for a blog post on football cards but when you come face to face with your fatal flaw (Thanks Ma for that one), you start to think in deeper terms and you try to find meaning in the experiences you’ve had. The meaning for me has come to light and I plan to immerse myself in those experiences as often as possible.

I appreciate you giving me a voice and taking an interest in these experiences. I’ve written for myself for years and finding out that there are those that enjoy reading is one of the great blessings I’ve received in 2017. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

J-Dub

Turkey, Dressing and High Fructose Gum!

Thanksgiving is a time to take a step away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and enjoy the friends and family we have in our lives. It’s also a time for football. My Thanksgiving schedule has been pretty set for the last several years with lunch at my aunt’s house with my mom’s side of the family and then dinner at my mother-in-law’s house with the wife’s family. We also have a breakfast with my dad’s side of the family but we don’t always make it home in time for those. I am not a punctual person and neither is my wife. We spend the day stuffing our faces with great homemade food, watching football, hanging out with family, watching football, eating again and then watching a little more football. It’s the main basic tenants of life if you think about it; food, family and football!

I also try to take the opportunity to really think about what it is I’m thankful for. That may be a cliché but that is what the day is about, right? I don’t normally make a big production out of it but it is a day where I take stock in where I am versus where I was a year before. Physically, that is in front of the TV watching football but mentally and spiritually, I look for ways I’ve grown over the past 365 days. Sometimes I am not very proud of the internal inventory I take but I can always learn from the time I spend reviewing the past. It’s the one day where we try not to take things for granted. It’s also as good a time as any for me to put the things I am most thankful for in writing. Did I mention that there was football as well?

The first one is easy; my family. Starting with my wife, she has loved me for over 20 years of our lives and has put up with more than any woman should have to. She entertains the hobbies I refuse to grow out of such as sports cards, video games and horror movies. She even acts like she’s a little interested from time to time but I know that it’s all just for my satisfaction. She goes to football games and hard rock concerts, watches the kids while I play softball, keeps everybody occupied while I’m screaming at the Dawgs on TV and lets me spend several nights a week staring into a laptop writing about cards. We have been through ups and downs but far more ups and our marriage only gets stronger as time passes.

I am thankful for my two beautiful daughters; Bailey and Georgia. Bailey is turning into a little lady that is more responsible than I was at 10. She cares about people, cares about her family and knows right from wrong. She listens about like I did at 10 but I guess she had to get some traits from her father, huh? She loves everything that I love and always wants to spend time with Daddy and that makes me feel like I’m doing something right. Georgia is a ball of fire at 3 but I have found myself including her in some of my favorite things lately and she is handling it all well. She likes Pearly’s for breakfast on the weekend, she likes going to the card shop (even if it’s to buy a toy) and when it’s time to go to bed, she wants to snuggle Daddy. I am blessed beyond measure with the girls in my life.

My mom and dad have always been supportive of me and they still work hard today to make sure their two boys have everything they need in their lives. They taught me how to make a marriage work, how to build a career and work hard and to believe in myself when I feel like the world is against me. My mom is one of the keys in me getting my blog started as she invested in me and my efforts to get everything in place. My dad taught me how to be a man and what was really important in life. I am thankful that I have wonderful parents that are still together 40+ years after they were married. I am even thankful that they had another son so I could have a brother to pick on early in life and reach out to later in life.

I can’t name all the friends and family that I am thankful for but I am deeply indebted to their support and friendship. I have friends that collect with me, that play softball and basketball with me, that live and die with the Dawgs with me, that go fishing with me, that drink a beer and laugh til we cry with me, and that would be there in my darkest hour for me, no matter the cost. I am extremely fortunate to have friends that I just met a couple of weeks ago while also having friends from elementary school that I haven’t physically seen in over 15 years. They are still my friends and we still share our lives with each other on social media and through occasional text messages. I am very fortunate to have avoided rubbing a lot of people the wrong way for the last 40 years. I have had very little personal conflict with others and that is a rarity today.

I am thankful for the people in my life that I have looked up to and also the few people in life that have looked up to me. The former list is longer than the latter but I take my role very seriously as a teammate, coach, blogger, co-worker, father, husband and friend. I have been fortunate to see life from many different perspectives over the years whether it be through the interactions with someone wanting to start a business, someone trying to save their business, someone starting a marriage, someone who’s marriage is falling apart, someone who has everything, someone who has lost it all, a 75 year old who has lived their life to the fullest, a 15 year old who hasn’t even begun to live and just about everything in between. I am truly blessed to have walked the path I have. That doesn’t make me any more special than anyone else but I am thankful to have the experiences I have.

I am thankful for you, the person reading this blog post. I wrote for myself for a long time and never thought people would be interested in reading it. Surprisingly, I have found that not to be the case. Somehow, someway, I have found an audience to entertain with my musings on sports cards, dumb movies, niche music and the inane events in my life when I was 13 years old. I am truly thankful for that. This has become such an important part of my life and the people I interact with here have become such important people. I have found that there is an entire group of people that share the same thoughts and experiences as I do but I would have never known about or been able to reach those people without the blog. The blog would not have been successful without you reading and sharing. I’m looking at you Kin Kinsley!

On a much lighter note, I am thankful for Taco Bell, Netflix, Harvest Moon, Miller Light, Diet Dr. Pepper (sometimes with Crown), Steak Biscuits, Chili, Fries, Reese’s, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Deftones, Starset, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Kirby Smart, Kelly Kapowski, Tecmo Super Bowl, Night of the Living Dead, my LCS, Junk Wax and Beckett. There is more but these are some of the things that help me make it through each day. And as long as Taco Bell continues to make new innovative foods like a chicken nugget quesadilla, they will have my support!

So let’s tie this in to sports cards…..and football. I mentioned above that I am thankful for junk wax. But there are so many individual sets I am thankful for under that umbrella. This is one such set. 1988 Topps Football means a lot to my collection. It is the home of the Bo Jackson and Brian Bosworth Super Rookies. It is the home of the Eric Dickerson and Joe Montana All-Pro’s. It has a clean, old school design that screams 1980’s but trendy at the same time. The set is colorful but not overdone. The wax pack designs are legendary in football. And there is gum; 30 year old high fructose gum!

Because this was a bit of a special occasion, I went directly to Baseball Card Exchange for this box. For those who don’t know, BBCE authenticates unopened boxes and you know you are getting something that is legit and not searched. It’s really the safest way to buy junk wax boxes but it does come at a little higher cost. I don’t use it for my ’89 Topps or ’90 Fleer boxes but if I am ripping something that is considered a little higher tier junk wax, I’ll pay a little extra. And yes, I consider ’88 Topps Football to be a little more premium than some others from that era. Hopefully, you will agree by the end of this rip.

First, the wrapper is a classic. I love the late 80’s line of Topps football wrappers as they all had pretty much the same design but they had different colors from year to year.

The design on the card was very Topps-like but ’88 felt a little more colorful than usual for me. The white border was accented by variations of the team colors around the photo. No better card to showcase that than this Steve Grogan, right Scott?

Each pack had a “glossy” 1,000 Yard Club Card that featured a running back or receiver that eclipsed 1,000 yards at some point in their career. There are a lot of stud names here but Eric Dickerson was the best on the ground and Jerry Rice the best through the air, in my opinion. I always liked Mike Quick too for some reason.

Before we move on from the 1,000 Yard Club, I thought some of you Error Collectors would appreciate this Curt Warner. Do you see it?

The Quarterbacks were some of the legendary players from the 80’s. We have Brady and Rodgers now but I think the talent was spread more evenly across the league back in the day. Steve Young was a backup at the time. Point out a backup right now that you think could have a Steve Young type career.

There were a couple of Hall of Fame running backs that were about to hit the NFL but weren’t quite ready for this set. Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith would be rookies in ’89 and ’90, making some of these guys forgotten men. But when you see these players in the context of ’88 Topps, you realize how good they really were. I’ve already mentioned Dickerson as one of the best but Roger Craig, Marcus Allen, Mike Rozier and Herschel Walker were no slouches. And Neal Anderson, Earnest Byner, Joe Morris and Keith Byars were all very good NFL running backs.

When you see the Wide Receivers, you should start to notice a trend. I am including the best players from ’88 in each section and so far the Redskins have been all over this piece. Doug Williams was in QB’s and George Rogers in RB’s. But they had the best trio of starting wide receivers in the NFL in 1987-88 with Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders. It’s really no wonder why the Redskins won Super Bowl XXII.

The Tight End section is slim like always but these guys were all studs. Aside from Todd Christiansen’s hair, what’s not to love here?

Defensive Linemen were pretty dadgum tough in the 80’s! Charles Mann represented the Super Bowl Champs but the Bears had a dominant front that included Mongo McMichael, The Fridge and Richard Dent. Bruce Smith and Howie Long were just hitting their stride.

If the Redskins dominated the WR category and the Bears ruled the defensive line, then the Saints were the team to beat at Linebacker. This group was really, really good with Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills and Pat Swilling. They just didn’t have quite enough offense to compete. Let’s not overlook “LT” in this set either!

These were my favorite defensive backs from the late 80’s. I have always loved Darrell Green cards and Ronnie Lott is a true legend. Joey Browner was an interception machine but could also drop the hammer on receivers as well. Fred Marion led the Pats in both tackles and interceptions in 1987.

This group of Super Rookies is missing a few studs that will be showcased in a moment but there are several players here that had very serviceable NFL careers. Ricky Nattiel was a good receiver for John Elway and Alonzo Highsmith carried the rock for Warren Moon, keeping defenses honest. Henry Thomas, Shane Conlan and Johnny Holland were all good defensive players and Jerome Brown was close to dominant in Philly with Reggie White. Brown lost his life at a very young age and didn’t get to rise to his full potential.

The Record Breakers in this set were Steve Largent, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Largent set the NFL record for receptions in a career with 752 by the end of 1987. Joe Montana set the mark for consecutive pass completions with 22 over a two game span against the Browns and Green Bay. Finally, Jerry Rice hauled in 18 touchdown passes in 1987, breaking the previous record held by Mark Clayton from 1984. He also had a TD catch in 13 straight games, another record.

Now we get to the good stuff! Not only was this set loaded with NFL Legends of the late 80’s and some key rookies; there is also a record breaker card for Walter Payton. He set a record for most rushing touchdowns in a career in 1987 with 110. He also held the mark for most career rushing yards at 16,779. Anytime I can add an original Walter Payton to my collection, I’m as happy as can be!

Let’s take a look at the best rookies from the 1988. The first is Vinny Testaverde, who had a very solid career over a staggering 21 seasons. He also won the Heisman Trophy in 1986.

Next we have Christian Okoye, “The Nigerian Nightmare”! Okoye punished defenders over 6 seasons, rushing for over 1,000 yards twice. He was the ultimate short yardage back but had enough speed to break off some big runs from time to time as well. Okoye is one of my all-time favorite players!

One of the really big rookies in 1988 was Brian “The Boz” Bosworth from Oklahoma. The Boz was bigger than life and was a superstar on and off the field. He was a ferocious defender who had amazing athletic talent. Unfortunately, once he got to the NFL, he met a man who was more ferocious than he was.

That man was Vincent Edward Jackson, better known as “Bo”. The former Heisman winner at Auburn was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but never signed due to a rift that started with the Bucs causing Bo to break an NCAA rule and be deemed ineligible for his senior baseball season. Bo has always alleged that it was some sort of sabotage on behalf of Tampa Bay to railroad his baseball career. In response, Bo refused to sign with the Bucs and went to Major League Baseball where he started an All-Star career in Kansas City. He did come back to the NFL as a 7th Round Pick by the Los Angeles Raiders and the rest is history.

This set is nearing 30 years old and I believe it still holds up amazingly well. I still really like the design. I like the “Super Rookie” moniker and the rookie class is very good. From the wax pack to the 1,000 Yard Club subset to the base cards of NFL legends, there is a lot to like about this set. Topps Football in the late 80’s is often overlooked by collectors of today but I really don’t understand why. There were some very good rookies from 1987-1990 that included Randall Cunningham, Bo, Okoye, Boz, Aikman, Deion, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith. Those are some legitimate names when it comes to NFL greats and their rookie cards are readily available at about $25 per box. I give 1988 Topps a “5” on the Dub-O-Meter because there are very few flaws that I can find. The checklist spans from Walter Payton to Bo Jackson and that covers a lot of NFL Stars. I get why people want autographs and serial numbered cards today but I am very thankful that junk wax is still accessible and I can explore cards of true NFL heroes from my youth for a relatively cheap price.

So there; among all of the other things I am thankful for today, I remain thankful for wax packs, high fructose gum, Bo Jackson, Christian Okoye, Mike Quick and even Steve Grogan. I will never allow trends or money dictate what I like about sports cards. I’ll buy new products and I’ll hope for big name autographs but I’ll always come back to my roots when I want to sit and enjoy the cardboard!

J-Dub

Retro Review – A Couple’s Skate with Bo Jackson

We all have a memory of some cool place we hung out at as kids. It was probably the first place our parents would drop us off and leave, other than school. We could go be with our friends, make our own rules (sort of) and pretend it was our world for a while. That place, for my daughter Bailey, is the horse barn where she takes lessons. She spent most of the summer there and probably had lessons 10% of the time she was there. But she had her place to get away from the dictators in her life and just have fun with her friends. Because there were adults there the entire time, and because we trust her, we felt like it was great for her.I was fortunate enough to have a couple of these places growing up. I’ve talked about the Legion Pool before in my post about My Hometown. But there is another hot spot I haven’t discussed before that holds a lot of great memories for me; Logue’s Skating Rink in Pelham, Ga. A skating rink in 1987 was quite different than a skating rink in 2017. At least I remember them differently then. Heck, they may be exactly the same but I sure don’t have as much fun at them now as I did when I was a kid. It’s one of those places that doesn’t age well with you. At the age of 40, I don’t need blacklights, cardboard pizza and top 40 hits to have a good time.  But I wouldn’t be the man I am today without those fast times as a kid.I celebrated birthdays, “slow skated” with chicks, watched music videos on the big screen and learned to play PacMan at the skating rink as a kid. Friday nights and Saturday mornings were the hot times to be there depending on our agenda. Friday nights were for trying to find girls to skate with and scheming to spend the night at friends houses to watch scary movies.  The night time always seemed more serious and “grown up.” We didnt have time for kids stuff while we were strutting around with our spiked hair, neon shirts and tight roll jeans. We were all business! I held a girls hand for the first time on a Friday night at Logue’s. That’s not the kind of thing you pulled off on a Saturday morning.Saturday mornings were for parties and video games; the less serious things in life. The big screen would show Saved By The Bell and other Saturday morning classics to entertain while you wheeled around in a circle for hours. Games like “Red Light, Green Light” and “Limbo” made us all laugh and enjoy ourselves. I was constantly juggling the battle for high scores in PacMan and Donkey Kong while trying to learn how to skate backwards.  That last part was always in vain. I eventually accepted that I was a forward skater only, so I tried to work on my speed and gave up on the dream of being some fancy reverse roller.But what I really remember about those days is the fact that we were left to our own devices.  Our parents dropped us off and that skating rink was easily a 25:1 adult/child ratio throughout those trips. We could’ve started some sort of revolution and taken over our town with the numbers we had. Of course, why do that when you can spend your time watching Belinda Carlisle sing “Heaven is a Place on Earth” on a tv screen the size of a pickup truck? I may have been 12 but I was still a guy and thought she was as close to heaven as you could get. She’s still probably in my top 10 childhood crushes. She’s not #1 like Kelly Kapowski but there will only ever be one of those hotties!

And yes, I even remember opening baseball cards at the skating rink. We would buy (or convince our parents to buy) some Donruss or Score and we would sit on the benches where you change your shoes and pull off trades. I specifically remember a Bo Jackson ‘87 Fleer that a friend was showing off that I really wanted back then but I didn’t pull enough from my packs to pull off a deal. I couldn’t even throw in a free snow cone to make it happen.  Dang, I remember a snow cone as major currency back then but it still wasn’t enough! Of course, cards were for Saturday mornings too as we didn’t like to mix our hobby with our romance. I think I grew up some at the skating rink. I learned how to talk to girls, rub elbows with some arcade champs and manage $3 throughout and entire night. And I even learned how to work the trade market in the card hobby. Those are all skills I learned back then that I’ve carried into adulthood.One thing I carried with me for a while was my longing for that Bo Jackson Fleer. I didn’t have a ton of opportunities to buy that card because (1) it wasn’t cheap, (2) we didn’t have a lot of Fleer in my area and (3) it was already 1989 so I was 2 years late already. So while I spent Friday nights trying to find a chick to skate with, I spent my Saturday mornings imagining I was skating with that beautiful ‘87 Fleer. Much like the ‘89 Griffey Upper Deck, I have owned a few of the Bo rookies but never pulled one pack fresh. Besides Bo, there are some other very solid rookies in the set; Will Clark, Barry Bonds and Barry Larkin, among others.So here we are again, some 30 years after production and I am chasing a well known rookie card. I picked up clean box from Steel City Collectibles for just under $40 and sat down at the sorting table to relive another part of my youth. The box configuration was typical of others from the era with 36 packs, 15 Cards and a Team Sticker. The wax pack was a bright blue with a baseball logo and orangeish highlights. I really love wax packs!The design of ‘87 Fleer is one of the better mid 80’s designs for me. There was a blue border that faded to a white border near the bottom of the card. The player name and position was at the top and the team logo in the bottom corner. The Fleer logo was at the bottom of the photo and the bottom border had various colors depending on the team.  The back of the card was like many other Fleer designs but had a bolder red, white and blue back as opposed to some of others. The top of the card had biographical info and the bottom had charts showing success rates of the player.

Let’s check out what was lurking in this box!

The stickers came in two variations; the big team logo and the dual smaller logos with team banner.
The hitters are solid in this set. You have all your major 80’s Stars like Ripken, Sandberg, Strawberry, Mattingly and Puckett. Of course, I love the Ozzie Smith, Eric Davis and Tim Raines as well. Hard to beat this veteran checklist!
The pitchers showcased a nice selection of young and old arms. Several Hall of Famers here too. My favorite back then was Dwight Gooden.
As usual with Fleer, they included some multiplayer inserts near the end of the checklist. Canseco and Wally Joyner were Rookie All-Stars, Gooden and Clemens were Dr. K and Super K and Mattingly and Strawberry were Sluggers from the left side. I always remembered the Horner 4 HR card as a Braves fan.
Another “end of the checklist” staple for 80’s Fleer were the prospect Cards.  I’ve mentioned before that there weren’t always big name players found here but there are some cool names.  Devon White, Kevin Seitzer and Marvin Freeman headline this year.
The All-Star insert set in ‘87 was a little odd looking in my opinion.  I do like Clemens and Bell but the cards didn’t really wow me.
Finally, the rookies!  I scored all the ones I wanted plus some.  The top row are the great ones and those on the second row were great players in the era.  I used to really collect Ruben Sierra hard!  And Kevin Mitchell was a player I liked a lot too.  Very pleased with the rookies I pulled from this box!

This box bottom was pretty awesome.  The inclusion of Brett and Puckett was great but I also love the inclusion of 80’s masher, Jesse Barfield!  Was in pretty decent shape too!
This was an awesome box to rip. I had a lot of 1987 Fleer in my collection but this is my first box rip of the product. I got lucky with a very nice box from SCC and always trust them with my wax boxes when I really want something unsearched. I like the ‘87 design, I like the packaging, I like the veteran checklist and I love the rookie class. You have to search for quality boxes sometimes but when you find one at a reasonable price, I’d encourage you to pick up some ‘87 Fleer. There isn’t much to dislike about this set.  What say you about ‘87 Fleer?

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.

2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Retro Review: The ’90 Fleer Graveyard

Fall is upon us! This is the beginning of my favorite time of year and October may be my favorite month. December is right there with it but October has a special place in my heart. I have always been a horror movie fan and enjoy “scary stories.” Scary movies and TV shows are a constant during October and this year, two of my current favorites return. First, The Walking Dead makes its return on October 22nd. Then, Season 2 of Stranger Things releases on NetFlix on October 27th. You can bet that Friday the 13th and Halloween marathons will precede those two releases here at Hustle Headquarters. Add the Georgia/Florida game and fantasy football to an already awesome month and you can see why October is near the top of my list of favorites.I don’t really know where my love for “being scared” came from but I have certain memories from when I was a kid that might play a part. When I was 3, I split my head open and had a near death experience because of it. I’ll talk a little more about that one day but the correlation to this post is what happened after the accident. For several months, I had horrible nightmares and night terrors either because of the event itself or the massive head trauma I experienced. My mom says that I would get up in the middle of the night and scream bloody murder. She would hold me to try and calm me down and I would stare at “something” behind her which totally creeped her out. I don’t remember any particular dreams but I can remember some of those nights.Then as I got a little older, I saw a couple of movies that I probably shouldn’t have seen. I’ve mentioned here in the past about seeing “The Shining” before any human being should have been subjected to it. I was under 10 years old. I also remember seeing the end of Friday the 13th at a very young age. I wasn’t supposed to be watching it and my parents had gone to bed. I remember we had a “channel box” on top of the TV and you had to press the channel down that you wanted to watch. I hit HBO or something like it and I saw this woman laying in a canoe in a small lake on a peaceful morning. I decided to hold for a moment and see what it was. It only took that moment to find out because if you’ve seen the movie, you know that the peaceful morning takes an abrupt turn as “Jason” leaps out of the water to pull the woman under. Also under 10 years of age.Around that time, I also remember being horrified by “The Incredible Hulk.” If you remember the original television show, David Banner’s transformation into the Hulk was quite horrifying to watch. He got really angry, turned green and ripped his shirt off in a fit of rage. It was not unlike the transformation into a werewolf in 80’s horror movies. I never latched on to the Hulk because of that. So even while I enjoyed scary movies and sought them out, I was still terrified from time to time and often regretted watching them. Another such instance was the first time I saw the movie “House.” Looking back, it has to be one of the corniest movies ever made but it scared the hell out of me the night I watched it. I remember vomiting from a nervous stomach ache and my dad pulling the plug on my horror movies for a while.

A couple of years later, my horror movie privileges returned and I hit the ground running. I started working at a Video Store and I checked out almost every horror movie on the shelf during that time. Me and my friends were drawn to corny movies more than serious “Exorcist” type films and we enjoyed quoting them and trying to come up with better endings. I’ve gone through my list of Favorite Horror Movies before so I won’t rehash that whole breakdown but you can believe that I will be watching those movies this month. It won’t be long before Bailey is watching them with me but she hasn’t quite reached the age I am comfortable with yet. She’s not ready for The Shining!

Besides movies, my friends and I always liked to try and scare each other often. I remember a specific incident when my friend, Brewer, and I were hanging out with an older friend and he took us to a graveyard in Pelham. It was late at night, dark and we were always a little on edge because we knew that there was usually something up this guy’s sleeve. When we rode around that graveyard, he told us a story of a girl who was buried there, named Annabelle. And the name is just a coincidence because this story is from the early 90’s and the movie just came out in the last couple of years.

Anyway, he told us this gruesome story about how she died unexpectedly and her soul was not at peace. She wandered the graveyard and looked for people to help her free herself, whatever that meant. The “legend” was that if you said her name three times out loud, she would visit you. I’m not sure what it is about saying someone’s name three times that evokes horror but Bloody Mary and Beetlejuice seem to have the same requirement. Candyman was even more of a badass as you had to say his name five times. Back to Annabelle (trust me, I know I’ve typed it twice), Brewer and I laughed it off in the moment but as we headed home, we were both silent. We were no doubt thinking the same thing because we watched all of those scary movies together.

When we got home, he walked to his house across the street and I went inside to try and get ready for bed. A few minutes later, my phone rang and he wanted to come back over and talk to me. You see, just like in the movies, we couldn’t talk about it with our parents because they wouldn’t believe us. Parents never believe their kids when they are being haunted! He came over and we stood in my front yard talking and we decided to just say her name three times and prove that it was just a story. We said it twice pretty quickly but it took about thirty minutes of arguing about who was going to say it that third time to complete the process. I really don’t remember who said it that third time but I can promise you that neither of us slept that entire night. I know because Brewer wound up spending the night with me so we could “protect” each other.

As if that weren’t enough to teach us a lesson, I found myself with this same group of friends on a dirt road late one night riding around and telling stories again. We are riding down this dark road when this big white building appears in the woods. I don’t mean it “appeared”; I just mean we had no idea that there was anything out in these woods. It was an old church that was clearly abandoned because the weeds were overgrown and windows were busted out. We walked around trying to scare each other and just checking things out when one of my friends said that the front door was halfway open. Any normal 16 year old would have said, “ok, that’s enough, we can go home now.” But we weren’t normal 16 year olds. We were more like “Stand By Me” type of teens.The three of us gathered at the front door with a flashlight and only wanted to peek inside to say we did it. We slowly opened the door and the first thing our light hit was one of those hard plastic decorations that usually are found in the yard as part of a nativity scene. This one was sitting in the front pew facing the pulpit and our minds just automatically registered it as a person sitting in the old abandoned church. We moved faster than I thought was humanly possible to get back in the car and get down the road. When we were far enough away, we agreed that we would never try that again. Then we started imagining things like, “what if the man turned around and looked at us?” I’m 40 years old and I can still vividly see that yard decoration sitting in that pew. I always get a little nervous when I see them in the yard at Christmas time too. I always feel like they are looking at me and “they know!”Around 17 years old, I bought a pretty realistic Michael Myers mask and incorporated that into my scare tactics. I scared more people with that mask than I can count. My aunt was deathly afraid of it and the mere mention of the mask would make her go get in her car. I liked to hide in the bushes and in people’s backseat with the mask on and wait for them to find me. I would wait upwards of 30 minutes sometimes and be in a full-on sweat, thanks to the costume. But it was always worth it. Just like the times we would hide under tables or in trees and scare trick or treaters in our neighborhood. Those were different times back then though. There’s no way I would try that today with the craziness in the world.

My best scare ever was not even set up by me. I still sort of regret how bad I scared this girl but it was her boyfriend’s idea and I’m sticking with that as my alibi all these years later. I went to visit a friend of mine over at Valdosta State University and we were at his girlfriend’s apartment. She wasn’t home from class yet and we were just watching TV. He asked me if I had the Myers mask even though he knew I had it with me at all times back in those days. I went out to my truck and grabbed it and hid in her food pantry. When she got home, he asked if she would make some popcorn and I heard her coming. I immediately started having internal regret but I was committed at that point. She opened that pantry door, saw me and ran into the refrigerator as she tried to get away. As I was pulling my mask off and laughing, she was treating him like a punching bag.

That Michael Myers mask was always good for a classic scare. I had it well into adulthood and was storing it in my closet. I had basically forgotten about it when I found it one night and realize that it had melted or disintegrated over time. That was a sad day as I had to throw out something that had been with me for many years, even if it was a dumb old plastic mask. In the mid 90’s, our eyes had become accustomed to bright, neon, fancy colors and designs and something about this plain, white, emotionless mask that I still liked. The same can be said about a baseball card set from 1990. You see what I did there?A year after having a gray striped border and a year before going off the rails with a mustard yellow border, 1990 Fleer was just a basic white border design like Topps had been for a few years. The plain border was accented by team colors around the photo and in the banner with the player name and position. The team logo was in the top right corner and “Fleer 90” was in the top left. The backs of the cards had a red and pink backdrop for the navy blue stats and biographical information. These cards were really pretty plain but there is something about them that I still like today.You may be wondering how 1990 Fleer and October tie in. If you’ve read my work before, you know by now that I am going to connect the dots. Back when I was a kid, I wanted cards for all occasions. I wanted the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus to all bring baseball cards. If I had a good report card (rare), I wanted cards as my reward. When Halloween rolled around, my grandmother would always come by our house to see our costume and bring some candy. However, in 1990, she brought me a few packs of 1990 Fleer and I was as happy as I had ever been on that great night. I sat in the living room floor opening my baseball cards while my brother ate his candy. That candy was about to be gone but my cards would go in my binder and stay with me forever!I don’t know why I remember this but one card I got that night was a Mark McGwire. When I think of McGwire, I always see this card. He is warming up and has a strained look on his face as he is throwing the ball. That card is burned in my mind and I finback to it whenever I think about trick or treating and getting cards. So when my buddy, Shane Salmonson, messaged me that his card shop had a ton of old junk wax boxes, and 1990 Fleer was included, I had to get a box. Not only did he get me a full box, it was a rack pack box and was HUGE! My goal with this box was to pull that Mark McGwire again. So even though I got this box a couple of months ago, I’ve waited until October so I could do it the right way.

Each rack pack has 45 cards and 3 stickers. With 24 packs, that’s a total of 1,080 cards so my odds are pretty good that I’ll pull the McGwire. But I can’t remember everything else the set has to offer so we’ll start at the beginning.Fleer was known for their sticker inserts during the junk wax era. The stickers in 1990 were both full card logos and cards with four mini logos. The backs of the stickers had trivia questions related to the teams on the front.

“League Standouts” were random inserts that included the league’s best players. The photo on the front had a 3D’esque type of design that simulated the players movement. The borders were a light yellow and should have been a sign of what was to come the following year.

“Players of the Decade” was another insert in ’90 Fleer that highlighted the best players over the previous 10 years. The 1990 Fleer set was their 10th Anniversary so this played well at the time. There were some big time players in this checklist.

As with previous years, Fleer included dual prospect cards at the end of the checklist. And as with previous years, there were a lot of swings and misses in the prospect set. However, the inclusion of Moises Alou, Delino DeShields and the GREAT Kevin Maas made a few of these cards collectible.

“Super Star Specials” was another returning insert in 1990 that was found in previous years. These cards depicted multiple players with something in common; Boston Igniters, Starter & Stopper, League’s Best Shortstops, you get the picture. My favorite was the “Human Dynamos” with Kirby Puckett and Bo Jackson.

The “Rookies” or first full year players were actually pretty strong in the set. Some of them fizzled but there are several here that had nice careers. Everybody wanted Jerome Walton, Ben McDonald, Eric Anthony and Todd Ziele back in the day. But Juan Gonzalez, Larry Walker, Omar Vizquel and Edgar Martinez had the best careers among these players. Of course, Sammy Sosa had an excellent career but it was a bit tainted by the end.

The “Young Guys” in the set are a “who’s who” of superstars. I had to include Gregg Jefferies for obvious reasons but there is also the inclusion of Bo Jackson, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio, Barry Larkin, Gary Sheffield, Tom Glavine and the incomparable Ron Gant. I know production was an issue in the 90’s but this is a damn good checklist!

The “Veterans” (from ’85 or earlier) stand out even more than the young guns. Jose Canseco, Rickey Henderson, George Brett, Tony Gwynn, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Ozzie Smith, Wade Boggs, Nolan Ryan and the list goes on and on and on. The league was really on fire during this time period.

And of course, the big card in the set (for me at least) is this beautiful Mark McGwire. I can remember sitting in that living room floor and just staring at this McGwire. I really don’t know why it caught my eye so much at the time other than I loved the A’s because of Canseco and RBI 3. It is just as I remember it and may be the only 1990 Fleer that I have in a toploader. Mission accomplished!Overall, 1990 Fleer is nothing special. It doesn’t have any glaring flaws either though like ’90 Donruss and ’91 Fleer. The plain design didn’t fit in well for the time but now as I look back on the cards, they have a classier feel to them than other designs from that year, aside from Leaf and Upper Deck. I would choose this design all day long over ’91 and ’92 Fleer but I understand that everyone doesn’t see cards the same way. Even with the design being one that I look back on fondly now, I can’t really give the set more than a “3” on the Dub-O-Meter. I like it and I pick up packs when I find them dirt cheap but I’m not scouring eBay regularly to find more hobby boxes to open. It’s one of those middle of the road sets for me that is kept alive mainly because of my memories from those packs on Halloween. What say you about 1990 Fleer?

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.
2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Retro Review: End of Summer Blues

Summer time is winding down, although you wouldn’t know it by the temperature here in South Georgia. The summer season runs from about March to October for us with the only real winter being January and February if we are lucky. But the “vibe” that is summer is certainly coming to a close. The kids are going back to school, the Friday Night Lights are turning on and soon, the Saturday afternoon tailgate and Sunday fantasy football frenzy will be an ever present part of my schedule. At my age now, I live for the football months ahead but as a kid, the excitement of football didn’t offset my sheer hatred for returning to the routine of the school year.

Photo Credit – Shaun Hall

Returning to school meant the end of a lot of fun activities. The Legion Pool, which I wrote about HERE, closed and my chances for picking up chicks in bathing suits dropped from about 8% to 0% just like that. The Legion provided a summer long list of fun events for us as kids. There was an awesome volleyball court where I learned how to play smash face. There were the two arcade games in the concession stand that taught me how electricity and water didn’t mix. As kids played the video games, there bathing suits would drip and form a huge puddle. The next person that stepped up would always get a little jolt when they put their quarter in. I specifically remember the games “1941” and “Centipede” but I think they rotated out from time to time.
Photo Credit – Shaun Hall

If volleyball wasn’t your game, you could slide over to the ping pong table and challenge some of the best in the city! I never lasted too long on the table back in those days. As for the pool itself, it was HUGE and was 12 feet deep in some places. It was spring fed with by a big pipe that was in the shallow end of the pool. You could climb on the pipe and make water shoot out at people until the lifeguard saw you. Once they saw you, they had their eye on you the rest of the day. There was an awesome spring board where I saw some of the most death defying jumps I’ve ever seen in my life. The high dive was a sweet 10 foot board that was right next to the spring board and you and your buddies could choreograph some nice combos from the two boards. There was a basic diving board and slide that never got any action.

Photo Credit – Shaun Hall

The main attraction at the Legion, besides the lifeguards and chicks in bathing suits, was the Super Slide! I really can’t tell you how tall the slide was because I don’t know but it had to be at least four of the high dives stacked on top of each other. At 13 years old, we would climb this ladder that went essentially straight up into the air and step up on to a 5 x 5 mesh metal platform to experience this crazy, dangerous thrill ride. We would normally gather up on the platform and hang out a few minutes while taking in all of the scenery around us. You could see all around the legion pool and into the neighborhoods from that height. I still don’t know how there was never a tragedy on that thing. It would NEVER pass the safety tests using 2017 standards. We would eventually go down the slide and the goal would turn into who could slide the farthest across the pool. Just under halfway was my best but some others could stretch it out to almost 3/4 the width of the pool.Besides the legion, the end of summer also meant that city league baseball was coming to a close. In 1989-90, we didn’t play year round sports like kids today. If you were good, you might be lucky enough to make an all-star team that played a one game finale against a neighboring county. But until I started playing high school baseball, we didn’t travel more than about 10 miles to play a baseball game. I made a lot of memories with my friends at the Centennial Park back then. I was usually on a team with Jason Lee, Corey and Jared (my cousins), David Shook and BJ Harris. My Uncle Speedy was usually our coach and we were as thick as thieves as a team. We truly were more of a family than a baseball team and we stood by each other more than people stand by each other in today’s world. We went to DQ together for the batting helmet sundae, spent the night at Corey and Jared’s, played baseball on Sunday’s with all of the equipment because Unc had it in his possession, played Tecmo Tourney’s and traded sports cards.

Jason was well known for the long bombs that he would hit into the O’San parking lot beyond the outfield fence. He would hit trucks and trailers and it was always a sight to see. He also had one of the hardest fastballs of all the kids our age. I was very fortunate he was on our team. The only time I ever had to hit against him was in practice in little league and high school. I was lucky for that. Jared was our catcher and was fearless. He had to be to catch Jason. He also found the O’San parking lot from time to time. Corey played 3rd Base and was great at everything except the occasional throw across the diamond. We nicknamed him Moon Ball because he had a habit of rifling the ball over our first baseman’s head and onto the next field. Our first baseman, David, was 6’7 so that was pretty hard to do. I played short and 2nd and was really a defensive cog on the team. My offense did not produce insurance claims at O’San like some of the other guys but if you hit the ball at me, chances were you were going to be out. BJ was an outfielder and was one of the fastest guys on the team.When we weren’t at the official field, we were playing ball somewhere. It gets discussed a lot but we truly lived in a time where you just didn’t stay inside if the sun was up. We played a ton of video games but they were at night and mostly during sleepovers. If it wasn’t raining, we were playing football, baseball or basketball in the yard. I would leave my house in the morning and my parents wouldn’t look for me until around 7:00. I would come back on my own and fire up a frozen pizza or hot pocket but was back on the road again. I had 5 close friends within walking distance of my house and we used each of their houses for various sports. I remember a time when Todd Hall had one of the best dunk goal courts in the neighborhood behind his house and Brewer and I would dominate everyone that challenged us.My front yard was best for baseball because it was wide open with only one dogwood tree that we would use for 3rd base. We would play with wooden bats and tennis balls using all the classic baseball rules except you could peg the runner with the tennis ball. It was usually 2 on 2 so pitching was a tremendous factor in the game. Everything from centerfield and to the left was wide open and you could run for days if you hit in a gap. Right field was a neighbor’s house and they had one of the meanest dogs I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure his name was Rusty but he would attack on sight if he was ever outside of his fence. Everybody was right handed but I did hit left handed as well and would occasionally let one fly into the neighbor’s yard. We left those balls for Rusty. My favorite Rusty memory was when Brewer was going to his house from the bus and he jumped up to grab a pine limb. When he was in the air on that pine limb, Rusty came out of nowhere and was all over him. He wasn’t a big dog but damn, he was vicious!We had an annual beach trip every summer too that was usually Brewer and I with occasional extra friends. Those trips are some of the fondest memories I have from high school. I had a ’92 Red Ford Ranger that was totally pimped out with fat tires, two Fosgate 10’s and an interior black light! We rode the strip at Panama City like bosses playing Das Efx and honking at chicks. One of the funniest things was Brewer yelling out funny stuff at the people walking the strip. He would ask if people were tired of walking and would then say, “Start running!” This was in bumper to bumper traffic in which we were usually being passed by the walking pedestrians. It made no sense but was hilarious at the same time. It was really amazing he never said that to the wrong person too.Panama City Beach was one of the greatest places on Earth in the late 80’s and early 90’s. We still go there as a family and its family fun but back then, it was teens gone wild! I’m glad it has changed now because I couldn’t take it as an adult but I’m so happy I have those memories. There were Haunted Houses, Go-Carts and The Miracle Strip. The Miracle Strip is the one piece of old Panama City that I miss dearly. It was a small theme park where all of us kids gathered at night. There was an awesome old rickety wooden coaster, a log ride, a haunted house and The Abominable Snowman. I would love to take Bailey there today but in the 1990’s timeframe. The Abominable Snowman was an awesome indoor ride that played all of the hottest music of the time. I remember completely jamming to “Found Out About You” by Gin Blossoms on that classic ride!There was one feeling that I always remember though. It came in various situations and it was very depressing. I felt it on the Sunday we headed back from the beach and those last few days before school started back. I even felt it during the school year on Sunday Nights around 9 pm. I would almost get physically ill thinking about forcing myself to get up to go back to school. I completely hated school but would give anything to go back and experience it all over again now. Life is tricky like that. Any time you think you are miserable going through boring parts of life, you are probably making a ton of memories that you will look back fondly on years down the road. If you had told me at the age of 15 that I would miss high school one day, I probably would’ve laughed at you for days. In a cruel twist of fate, that is what I miss as I grow older. I miss the friends; I miss the fun from the ball field and the backyard basketball.I had so much more energy back then. I was so much more outgoing and daring. The world was new and I had not grown cynical yet. I didn’t worry about the next bill that was due, I didn’t worry about where my next meal was coming from and I didn’t worry about whether I had taken good enough care of myself over the years. Life was 100 miles an hour and I loved it because there were no worries to slow it down. It is a classic cliché but I thought I was invincible back then. I know that I’m not now and I understand the world around me at least a “little bit” better. And here we are wrapping up another summer and I’m one more year removed from the “Action Packed” days of my childhood. How’s that for a segue?In 1990, the Hi-Pro Marketing Company released a new type of football card onto the market that had a 3-D look. These cards were called Action Packed and were labeled as “Hi-Profile, Sculptured Cards” with “Action-Specific Notes”. The premier set was 281 cards with some Braille cards included. The card was very well received by my friends and I and we collected 1990 and 1991 heavily. The novelty wore off with us a bit after those years when we were trying to track down more valuable cards but I really loved these when they came out. It was truly next generation and I couldn’t get enough of them. To be honest, I haven’t put a ton of thought into these cards over the years but as I was surfing eBay a few weeks ago, I saw them and had to get me a box. I had a discussion with someone on Twitter about them not long after and I knew that these would resonate with some people.I had never purchased a full box of these and it arrived in one of the plainest boxes of sports cards I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t say Action Packed anywhere on the exterior and you only know what it is when you open it. The packs make up for the bland look of the box with the gold foil wrapper. The box doesn’t even tell you how many packs are included. The packs at least tell you that there are 6 cards inside. After a count of the packs, there are 36 in the box so there is a lot of ripping to do. The back of the packs offered a 1-900 Hotline number to call and get current up-to-date information on Football Cards, Baseball Cards and Hobby Investments; $1.00 for the first minute and .50 for each additional. To rope you in, they said that it was updated 3 times a week so “Call Often!” That is a rip-off I am glad I never fell victim too, although I would like to know what info you got.The fronts of the cards had a gold border with black trim and writing. Along with the photo, the fronts only featured the player name at the top and the team name at the bottom. The backs featured a nice inset photo in the top left with full career stats. There was an action note as advertised on the box and one example of such a note comes from the featured card here; “Steve hands off to RB John Stephens during the Patriots 33-24 victory over the Bills, 11/19/89. His 355 yards passing yds at Indianapolis on 10/29/89 made him the 26th passer in NFL history to reach the 25,000 passing yds mark.” There is also a “break” in the card backs near the bottom and upon closer inspection you can see that they are actually a tri-fold card and this break is where it is secured.

It’s time to see who’s lurking in this 27 year old box of Action Packed!!

The Quarterbacks
There were some good names here but I missed on a couple of the biggest names for me during this era. While Marino, Moon and Aikman are always welcome pulls; missing Randall Cunningham, Jim Kelly and Joe Montana was a bummer. After a closer look at the checklist, Randall Cunningham wasn’t even in the set. I guess he hadn’t gotten his “QB Eagles” issue straightened out just yet.

The Running Backs
Again, a solid list that includes Herschel Walker, Marcus Allen, James Brooks and Thunder and Lightning from New York but some key names were missing. I found no Thurman Thomas, no Ickey Woods, No Okoye, no Bo Jackson and no Roger Craig. A bit disappointing to say the least! Emmitt Smith can be found in the rookie update set so I didn’t expect him to be here.

The Wide Receivers
This group was well represented, though I can point out a couple of obvious omissions. I pulled Jerry Rice, which was the first Action Packed card I ever owned. I also pulled Sterling Sharpe, Tim Brown and Cris Carter. The only two I really missed on were Andre Reed and Michael Irvin.

Defense
I pulled a star studded defense that included Bruce Smith, LT, Mike Singletary, Ronnie Lott and Rod Woodson. There were a few names I would love to see from the box like Deion Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Reggie White but overall, the defensive players were there.There were 216 cards in this box with a set of 281. I pulled way too many dupes in my opinion for that card to set ratio. My dupe stack is about ¾ the size of the base stack I have. I did hold out four packs as a giveaway so there may be some great stars in there but overall, this was one of the worst collated boxes I have opened in the last few years. The cards were in good condition and the names in the set were fun to pull and think back on. There is no question that this is a great nostalgic box to rip but the price of $24 is a little on the high side for me based on the overall results. I can only give this box a 3 on the Dub-O-Meter, and that is driven mostly on nostalgia. The cards were cool and I did pull some stars but I am left wanting a little more at the end of this box. Or, maybe I’m just being negative and ornery because summer is coming to an end.

J-Dub

Scoring Scale

1. Let me be the sacrificial lamb so you don’t have to buy these cards.  Just read the post and thank me later.
2. There is worse but there is much better – not worth the effort though.

3. Middle of the road – I wouldn’t talk you into buying these but I certainly wouldn’t talk you out of them.

4. You should probably go out and buy a box and enjoy the rip – I did!  It has some downside but worth the ride.

5. Stop reading and find a box to buy and get to Breaking!  What are you waiting on?

Cardboard Time Machine

Have you ever stopped to think about how memories work?  Of course, as I get older, the memories get fuzzier and harder to recount.  But there are some that remain vivid and when I stop and focus on them, I can almost place myself in the exact moment in time.  I think about this a lot because I have a 10 year old daughter that is starting to really enjoy a lot of new things.  She reminds me so much of me as a kid.  She loves watching those teen Nickelodeon shows, making slime, playing video games on her iPad and even collecting sports cards.  I was wondering just the other day how much from this age she would actually remember and it immediately took me back to my youth and what I remember.  She may not be able to retain it all but I certainly hope she remembers the role I played in trying to create them with her.

When we went to Disney in April, she rode Space Mountain for the first time and as we stood in the line, I could totally remember the feeling of wonderment I had going through that futuristic environment to ride an indoor roller coaster at 10.  When these moments arise, I always make sure she understands what’s going on around her. I point things out, I ask her what she thinks and I get her to recount the event to her mom or sister so she’ll take it all in and let it soak in.  In today’s fast paced world, it is hard to stop and focus on something that is really meaningful; we have phones in our face, Twitter spilling news everywhere and fidget spinners taking the world by storm.   We are constantly chasing the next exciting thing.  That’s sort of how modern day collecting has become.

Collecting sports cards doesn’t have to be that way.  I can sit down with a stack of cards and show my daughter various memorable players and share memories of my youth with her.  The cards are more to me than a value in Beckett or a dollar sign on eBay.  Do they have those meanings as well sometimes?  Sure, but it’s not why I do it now.   It’s why I did it in 1989 but I’ve evolved over the years into more of a collector than a cardboard entrepreneur.   Cards don’t just take me back to a specific player or baseball moment.  These old collectibles take me back to the year they are from and I remember the world around me at the time and what I had going on in my life.  Let me see if I can explain a little better with a few cards.

1987This time period was just before I started collecting but I have since gone back and bought tons and tons of ’87 cards for my collection.  Topps that year remains one of the most iconic designs in sports cards and I had more woodgrain in my collection than Ford did in the station wagon.  But when I look through these cards, it doesn’t take me back to actual sports cards memories.  At age 10, I was totally engulfed in baseball.  I was cutting my teeth in little league baseball at Centennial Stadium and watching it as much as possible.   I remember Jason Lee having the hardest fastball and always being thankful that my Uncle Speedy drafted him to be on our team.  I remember always wanting to hit a homerun into the O’San parking lot but never being able to.  I remember playing wiffle ball with the neighbors and watching my uncle Greg play with the big boys.

I also watched a lot of baseball on TV.  In 1987, I was blessed with two TV stations that played baseball every day.  We didn’t have MLB Season Pass “back in my day”; we had 2 channels.  One station was TBS, the home of the Atlanta Braves, America’s Team and my local guys.  We would watch Dale Murphy, Ken Oberkfell, Bob Horner and Gerald Perry every night even though they weren’t very good.  Skip Carey, Pete Van Wieren and Ernie Johnson were soothing to the ears and made me long for the baseball field.  The other station was WGN out of Chicago.  The great thing about Cubs baseball in 1987 was that most every game was played in the afternoon because Wrigley field didn’t have lights until late summer 1988.  I would get home from school around 3:30 and a Cubs game would be on and I would get to here Harry Carey and Steve Stone call the game.   The Cubs weren’t very good in ’87 either.  The Braves finished 20.5 games out of first and the Cubbies were 18.5 games out.  But at the age of 10, watching baseball was more important than watching the standings.   And the Cubs had Ryno, Andre Dawson and Shawon Dunston who were all fun to watch!

1988Believe it or not, the first thing I think of when I see 1988 baseball cards is pro wrestling.  That aforementioned TV station, TBS, had a show on Saturday nights called WCW Saturday Night!   I can’t get into today’s wrestling because it is so overproduced and the storylines are all so outlandish.  The storylines were probably the same in 1988 but I was 11 so I thought they were legit.  Also, WCW “rasslin” was way different than today’s WWE wrestling.   These guys got nasty in the ring and they would bleed and poke eyeballs and kick below the belt.  It was more about what happened inside the ring as opposed to the lead up and fall out after what happened in the ring.  And there is also no better ringside announcer for me than Tony Schiavone!

The wrestlers were so much better back then as well.  We had names like Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Arn and Ollie Anderson, Barry Windham, The Road Warriors and The Midnight Express.  There were hateable managers like Jim Cornett and Paul E. Dangerously.  There were vixens like Miss Elizabeth, Madusa, Missy Hyatt and Georgous George.  A new face had joined WCW with Sting and he is an all-time favorite, along with The Nature Boy.   So yeah, it may be odd but 1988 Score takes me back to Jim Cornette and his tennis racket and wanting Hawk and Animal to demolish the Midnight Express.  I didn’t realize until a recent Beckett podcast that Cornette is doing his own podcast now.  He was such a heel but is such a legend at the same time!

1989I have a lot of baseball card memories from 1989 but I also have other memories that are tied to when I started collecting.  One person I always think of when I am looking through my original ’89 Donruss and Bowman is my late friend, Josh Haire.  Josh and I became friends in Middle School and were best friends until late in high school when we had a falling out that I regrettably was never able to reconcile before he passed away far too soon.  But back in 1989, we were two peas in a pod.  We would spend the night at each other’s house on the weekend and watch movies, trade baseball cards and fish at his pond.  He had a ton of Bowman and I had a ton of Donruss so we would trade with each other to try and help build the sets.

There are some very vivid memories I have of my time with Josh and I will always hold on to them.  It was at his house on a scary Friday night that we played “Bloody Mary” for the first time.  His step dad was the “Voice of the Eagles”; our high school football team that won state in ’89 so we were at all the games and got to sit in the radio booth for many of them.   I learned how to play records at the radio station he DJ’d at on Saturdays.  I watched “The Lost Boys” behind my parents back at Josh’s in the attic bedroom he had.   I wasn’t supposed to watch horror movies at 12 but we watched that one!  He had a couple of Doberman’s that were as gentle as could be but still made me very nervous when I was alone with them.  Josh was a great friend during childhood and I will always remember the good times we spent together.  I also look back on the days we were immature and not so good friends to each other with regret and remorse.  But when I look at cards from ’89, it’s only good memories.

1990I was introduced to the second best video game ever in 1990, RBI Baseball 3.  It is close to Tecmo Super Bowl but nothing can ever top that sports classic.  I got my start in 1986 with RBI 1 at my Uncle Speedy’s house.  Unc was a great ball player and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals but his quest to make it to the majors was derailed by Vietnam.  He even knew a couple of the players on RBI 1.  Our area baseball all-star teams were loaded in the mid 60’s from my understanding as my dad and Uncle Speedy both played on teams with Ray Knight and Harry Spielman.   And to hear the legend, my Uncle Speedy was the best player out of all of them.  He was a SS and I do remember seeing him play softball in his 30’s and he was as smooth as Ozzie Smith.   Who knows, the Cards may have never traded for Ozzie if Unc had stayed on the baseball path.  History as we know it could have been altered!

By 1990, we had moved on from kid games and RBI 3 was what you would routinely find us playing.  It had all of the major league teams at the time and even included the division champs from ’83-’89.  I liked playing with the ’87 Tigers and taking out the Twins but that was more for personal reasons.   My favorite two teams on the game were the ’89 A’s and the ’90 Reds.  I loved Eric Davis and Barry Larkin.  But I also loved Chris Sabo or “Beebo” as we called him for some strange reason.  We would even keep season long stats in a notebook and I drove one of my friends crazy because I would steal bases with Beebo.  He would famously remark one day, “I’ll outrun Beebo backwards!”   I remember that because we would record ourselves on cassette tape while playing the games and then go back and listen to the radio gold.  To this day, I strongly feel that Chris Sabo is one of the most underrated baseball players in major league history.

1991I was on my way to being a trading ace by 1991 and was moving all of my non-favorites for Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura and Ken Griffey Jr.  I was only 2 years away from pulling off the awesome (at the time) move of those Igor ’92 Bowman rookies for the Griffey Jr. forgery discussed Here.  But any reminder from 1991 takes me back to the Buffalo Bills.  I know what you’re thinking – Why does a South Ga 14 year old care about the Buffalo Bills?  Three words – Tecmo Super Bowl.  When this game came out, I latched on to the Bills and have really been a closet fan ever since.   I suffered through 4 Super Bowl loses as much as anybody could outside of the state of New York.   I loved Thurman Thomas, Jim Kelley, Andre Reed, Nate Odomes, Cornelius Bennett, Bruce Smith, Don Beebe, Daryl Talley and Steve Tasker.

I went to a post-church youth Super Bowl party every year being the guy that was pulling hard for the Bills.  Every one of those parties ended in disappointment.  The one I especially remember was the loss to the Cowboys because there were a ton of Cowboys fans at this shindig.  Buff was never able to get over the hump but I was consumed with Bills football in 1991.   Remember, the Falcons were not very good at the time.  I pulled for them as my home team but aside from Deion, Tuggle and Rison, there wasn’t much happening by means of stardom.  My heart was broken earlier this year when the Falcons lost in the SB but it really took me back to how I felt each time the Bills lost in the early 90’s.   I know that’s probably crazy to some of you but I can tell you that I will be cheering for Buffalo when they make it back to a Super Bowl, unless they are playing my Falcons.

You see, there are other reasons for me to continue to collect that outweigh trying to get rich.   Besides, I tried that with Gregg Jefferies, Eric Anthony and Kevin Maas and it didn’t pan out.  So when you see me post a review of 1988 Score, don’t think that I’ve lost my mind or that I’m trapped in the junk wax era.  Sometimes, I just want to take a trip down memory lane.  For me, the best (and most fun) way to do that is to go through old sports cards.  The images conjure up the old days for me.  They take me out of the here and now and sit me down in my old bedroom with the Jordan poster and the nerf hoop and the Nintendo.   My stress melts away, if only for a short time.  They are a time machine and I will cherish the junk wax as much as National Treasures for the rest of my days for these very reasons.  I hope that Bailey has something that she can use as a memory inducer when she’s 40 and I’m long gone.  Maybe it will be the cards.  She asks me regularly who is going to get my cards when I’m old and the answer is always, “You, Bailey.”

J-Dub

Meet The Collector – Kin Kinsley

This next installment of “Meet the Collector” is a special one for me.  He may not realize it but he’s the reason I’m on Twitter now with my blog and card collecting.  I have been on Twitter for 5 years or so with a personal account and just messed around with sports news and a couple of friends and never knew this hobby world existed on the site.  Then one day, my “Gems of the Junk Wax Era” was seen and he commented on it and I started following him.  The next thing I know, I was on his blog roll and he was helping me spread the word by sharing my posts.  It wasn’t long before I created a whole new Twitter feed strictly dedicated to blogging and my card collecting.  I still have my personal Twitter but most of my followers there aren’t exactly clamoring for my next Sports Card post.  I have about 250 followers in 5 years on my personal account and am nearing 1,000 on @dubmentality in less than 4 months.  And I wouldn’t be doing this if it hadn’t been for Kin Kinsley with @beansbcardblog!

The first thing that made me realize I was following the right person was the avatar of Bo Jackson with the shoulder pads and baseball bat.  I knew that this was my kind of guy.  I now kind of feel like we are actual friends and I’ve begun to learn more about him and his collection.  I knew some of his answers when they came back to me but there is still a lot about Kin that I learned from the short questionnaire.  I’m sure you have seen him on Twitter and if you have a blog, you may even be on his blog roll like me.  He is so good at spreading the word about the hobby and bloggers that you may not know that he has his own personal blog at ifeellikeacollectoragain.blogspot.com.  He does and you need to go check it out.  And package up some Gypsy Queen and send them his way.  I have a stack going now.Kin started collecting in 1987.  For Christmas, his uncle gave him a hand collated 1986 Topps set.  That must have been a sweet gift that Christmas.  That kick started his collecting and he was playing baseball and loving sports thereafter.  In an unfortunate turn of events, the set was lost in a house fire at his father’s house 3 years ago.  Nothing can replace items lost in a house fire but Kin did start hand collating another set and has compiled it through some boxes and help from fellow bloggers.  This community is pretty awesome and it’s because of people like Kin Kinsley.  While he is active on ePack (user ID kin.kinsley) trading hockey cards, he has otherwise turned away from modern card collecting.  He said he is “over the card lottery, buying boxes hoping for the latest shiny hit.”  He plans to get rid of his modern cards but will hang on to WVU related, Chicago Blackhawks and other random items.He has changed his collecting focus a few times in the last couple of years but he says he has settled in at this point.  He casually collects T206 cards and vintage Indy 500 related cards.  These include ex 1911 Auto Drivers (aka T36), 1954 Stark & Wetzel Indy Winners, 1960 Parkhurst Hawes Wax Indy and 1960’s Marhoefer sets.  The only vintage set he has ever owned is the 1960 Parkhurst /Indy 500 Winners set, making it one of his favorite sets.  He had planned for it to be a long term project that he would piece together.  But about a year ago, on eBay, he stumbled upon a set that had 10 minutes to go that was at an amazing price and he won it.  While he has seen another set listed at $600 a few times, he said he wound up buying this one A LOT cheaper.  He still looks for singles to upgrade the set and put additional sets together.  One Indy card he is still looking for is a 1962 Marhoefer A.J. Foyt.Other than the Parkhurst set, he has the 1987 Topps and Donruss sets listed as favorites because those were the first sets he put together.  Those are both classic sets and Topps is one of the most iconic of all time.  He is also partial to WVU items because he grew up in Morgantown and graduated from THE West Virginia University.  He doesn’t necessarily look for them in their pro uni’s but still likes to add them if they are wearing the blue and old gold of the Mountaineers.  He’s all about the Mountaineers!  He has also been a Blackhawks fan since he was a teen.  There is even a rumored senior photo floating around with Kin donning the Starter Blackhawks sweater.  I think this should be revealed to the world and let us take a long look at that gem.  Since moving to Fort Worth three years ago, he has also become a Stars fan.  He admits though that he has lost interest in pro baseball, football and basketball.  He’s down to following college football, hockey and IndyCar racing and he’s noticed interest waning in the first two lately.I asked Kin about what his favorite pieces were in his collection.  The 1989 Fleer Bill Ripken was one he pulled himself and a 1980 Rickey Henderson rookie was the first “big” card his parents bought him.  Those two have a lot of sentimental value in the collection.  Some others that he mentions are an Andrew Shawn Canvas Young Gun (pulled from a pack); a second one that he had signed, authenticated and graded; his Dale Murphy autographs and a 1955 Bowman Frank Gatskis.  There are four vintage cards that he would still love to add to his collection; a 1950 Topps Felt Back Pete Zinaich (both the yellow and the brown versions), a 1952 Bowman Large Joe Stydahar and the 1962 Foyt mentioned above.

I paid close attention to Kin’s answer to my question about what he liked most and disliked most about the hobby.  I respect Kin’s opinion on the hobby because he is a true collector in my eyes.  He doesn’t follow the trends or jump on the hot sets.  He collects for him!  What he likes most is the information and items available now because of the digital age.  While some of the things he collects (specifically the T36 cards) are still difficult to find, it’s a lot easier than it would have been in 1987.  As for his dislike, I’m right with him on this.  He is not a fan of the greedy collector.  He’s including Pack searchers, shady collectors and people who only care about the newest, shiniest, and highest priced hit.  While it rubs him the wrong way, he tries to ignore them as best as he can.

This leads perfectly to his advice for the young or new collector.  “Just have fun and collect what you want.  Don’t worry about what it’s worth.  Look at buying cards like buying anything else.  Once the money is spent, it’s gone.  Having an expectation of “getting money back” is setting you up for disappointment.”  I wish someone had given me that advice a few years ago.  I chased that rabbit down the hole at one time and it was crushing 98% of the time and fun 2% of the time.  There is a reason those “hits” are hard to pull.  I will echo Kin on this wholeheartedly.  Collect for you.  Collect ’88 Donruss if that is what you like.  Buy a box of ’91 Fleer like I did a few weeks ago.  Just have fun with it!

Thank you Kin!  Thank you for participating in this series.  Thank you for sharing my blog and promoting the hobby the way you do.  Thank you for being an old school collector of cardboard.  Thank you for introducing me to Marhoefer Cards.  Thank you for tanking next week in the Queue the Drake league.  But most importantly, thank you for pulling me into this world of Hobby Twittering!  I have enjoyed the last 4 months of sharing my passion for the hobby on this platform.  I have met a ton of great people.  I have opportunities I have never had before to reach like minded people.  And I really wouldn’t have found those opportunities if Bo Jackson with a baseball bat and shoulder pads hadn’t shared my blog one night!

J-Dub

Meet The Collector – Shane Salmonson

Welcome to a new weekly (sometimes twice a week) series on Dub Mentality that is going to showcase you, the collector.  I have met a ton of great people on Twitter that are very active in the hobby and share very similar backgrounds and stories with me.   I want to make sure you get a chance to meet these fine people as well.  This is also a way to try and help get some names out there for potential trades or PC searches.   Hopefully you enjoy this series as much as I will likely enjoy putting it together.  Let’s spread the word about these guys and build this network.  It’s time to meet our first collector.

Shane Salmonson was one of the first mutual follows I had on Twitter and he’s been hanging around the blog ever since.   He also has his own blog at http://projectpedropc.blogspot.com.  That obviously gives away his PC player but we’ll talk about him a little more below.  Shane has an awesome weekly feature on his blog titled “Cheap Wax Wednesday” where he breaks a cheap wax box and shares the highlights.  I enjoy following that as the cheap wax hits close to home for me but it also brings back some sets I have not thought about in quite some time.  There also isn’t much overlap in our two blogs either because I am a little older than Shane and his wheelhouse appears to be 90’s while mine is 80’s and occasionally 90-92.  Shane is also very active on Twitter and can be found @ShaneSalmonson.

Shane started his collecting habit as a kid with hot wheels.  He would take the truckload of hot wheels he owned and line them up to organize them, much like most of us would do with our ’87 Topps back in the day.  Of course, this translated right into card collecting for him.  In his early collecting days, he collected everything, including baseball, basketball, football, hockey and racing.  His collecting has streamlined more into baseball and football today.  This is a similar story to mine today.   I started collecting everything I could get my hands on but it’s just not financially possible to keep up with all sports for me in today’s market.  It was a lot easier when there were 3-4 card brands.  He still has a ton of basketball, hockey, golf and racing if anyone is looking for these sports.  They are just sitting in boxes for now so give him a jingle on the Tweeter Box.Being from NH, he loves his home town squads; Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins.  He says that he has far too many PC’s to really break them all down but is always looking for Red Sox hits to add to his collection.  As for his largest PC, it’s Pedro Martinez, as indicated in his Blog address. Pedro was a workhorse for the Red Sox from 1998-2004.  I have never been to a game at Fenway but I remember the Yankees-Sox series very vividly in 2004.  I was a huge Red Sox fan for that series and wanted to see them finally break through.   Shane said that every single start from Pedro was an event and were always can’t-miss games.  He considers Pedro one of the most dominant pitchers ever and I would have to agree.  Pedro is the only PC he has an active checklist going on.  He currently owns over 1,700 different Pedro cards and 6,700+ total. That’s a large PC my friends.Shane also actively collects autographs.  He sticks mostly to baseballs but does have quite a bit of other memorabilia such as photos, posters, bats, hats, jerseys, etc.  Most of these are stored away and are awaiting a future Salmonson Man Cave.   From the sound of the Pedro PC, his Man Cave may only leave him a bedroom while the rest of the house will be a Pedro shrine!   I’ve included photos he sent of his Pedro PC throughout this post for your viewing pleasure.Shane’s favorite set of all time is 1989 Topps though he is not 100% committed to it.  The reason this set comes to mind when asked about that subject is that it’s the first real wax box he ever bought.  The design has not resonated with him over time and is not a favorite and he acknowledges that there is very little value to the set but like all of us, there is a draw to that first product we dove into.  My first full box was 1989 Donruss and much like Topps of that year, it was produced in massive quantities and simply holds nostalgic value at this point.  But I will buy a pack or box of ’89 Donruss every time I see it!  There is just something about busting cards from you’re youth that makes you feel young again.

One of the questions I am including in my interview with everyone is, “What do you like most about the hobby?  What do you like least?”   I think this is an interesting topic of discussion for all of us.  The hobby is changing all the time and I want to know how everyone perceives the changes.  As for what Shane likes most about the hobby, “it’s the interaction with other collectors. That is the most fun of anything.  I have had a blast interacting with fellow collectors on Twitter.  It has given me an outlet to share my hobby with others.”  He met up with several collectors that he is active with on Twitter at the National last year and the experience was heightened because of it.   I have not been to the National but I can say that my experience on Twitter has been the same!

On Shane’s don’t like list is the hot button issue of “exclusive licensing.”  I think that is a crowded boat he is on with that dislike.  I know I’m there.  We both agree that it isn’t good for the collectors in general.  Shane describes the current football card sector by saying, “Panini (though they do make some nice products) has almost killed my current football collecting.  The game-used vs event-used/player-worn relics are an absolute nightmare.  The exclusive licensing just doesn’t give collectors many options.  If you are not a fan of Panini, you are pretty much out of luck when it comes to Football.   And that is a shame to me.”   Well said and totally agreed Mr. Salmonson.Shane’s favorite piece in his collection is his Ernie Banks Rookie Card, a 1954 Topps.  He bought it raw on EBay, for what he thought was a solid price, but knew it was a gamble.   He sent it in to Beckett for grading last year and it came back as a 4.  He was very happy with the grade, but was also relieved that the card came back as authentic.  You never know on eBay when you find a great deal.  This would be a “Fireproof Card” at Hustle Headquarters but he adds, “That would be a very hard card to part with for me.”  Sorry Cubs fans, Ernie has a home in New Hampshire.  At some point, Shane is hoping to start checking some Vintage HOF Rookies off of his needs list but understands that it won’t be easy.  He is also looking to add some HOF Signed Baseballs.

Finally, Shane has some words of wisdom for fellow collectors.  Most of us started as kids and many of us just went into the hobby blind because there was no Twitter or other global tool to meet collectors and learn from.  While kids have a few more resources today to gain knowledge, there is also a much bigger card world than there used to be.  So with that in mind, Shane has some sound advice for all collectors.

“The best piece of advice I could give to any collector, young or old, would be to simply enjoy the hobby.  Every collector is different.  Enjoyment is the reason to have a hobby in the first place, is it not?”

Hopefully you’ve gained a little knowledge about a fellow collector of our community.   We are truly all here to help each other enjoy this great hobby of ours.  One way to do that is to meet great new people and share our thoughts, PC’s and experiences with each other.  Shane has been a great supporter of the blog and a fine source of outside reading for yours truly.  Shane is one of the good guys in this card community and if you don’t follow him already, I would recommend you do so now.  Thanks for reading.

J-Dub