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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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?