Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Around The Card Room, Take 13

The end of the school year can be hard on elementary school students. There are plenty of happy children on the final day of school who are ready for summer vacation and the challenges of a new grade level. However, there are also plenty who are sad and disregulated at the thought of having to learn a whole new set of rules and routines the next year. 

Others are sad for different reasons........

At the end of the 2004 school year, I had a student experience what he perceived to be the worst day of his school career. The reason? He found the perfect end of year gift for me and he forgot it at home. After an hour of crying, we tried calling mom and dad, but his parents both worked and could not leave to bring a gift to school. He spent the day in tears and kept telling me, "I got your gift from my grandma's neighbor. It's the best gift ever"

He was tight-lipped with the details about grandma's neighbor.  

Dad emailed me that afternoon and assured me they had found me the most incredible end of year gift, repeated the part about finding it at his grandmother's house, and that they would drop it off at school the next day while the teachers were having their end of year work days.  

I was not overly worried about the gift.  

End of year workdays are so boring. Lots of papers to file, cleaning, and everyone just wants to finish as quickly as possible to start summer break. I can do paperwork so long, but I eventually need a break. In the middle of the morning I walked through the office and saw a brown paper bag stuffed into my mailbox. 

It was crisp and had my name written on it in black marker.  

I pulled it out of my mailbox and I knew it was the gift from the student. Knowing it came from his grandma's neighbor, I figured it was a trinket of some sort or vegetables from their garden. Obviously neither, because I don't blog about vegetable gardens. When I picked up the bag and looked inside, I could it was a baseball, but I couldn't see the writing. 

I picked it up and turned it over..........

Nobody has ever given me a better end of year gift from their grandmother's neighbor.  

Friday, November 24, 2023

Random Ray - 2023 Chronicles Zenith Ray Lankford Autograph

Another Ray Lankford autograph.

2023 has been incredible for the Ray Lankford collection.  

The latest Ray Lankford autograph comes from Chronicles, which is seven different baseball card sets in one pack of cards. You think I am joking, but I am not. Luckily, someone else pulled this card out of a pack and sold it on the internet.  

Here is the front of the card.......

It's a sticker autograph, which is not my favorite, but it's Ray Lankford.  

There is also a picture of Ray Lankford batting on the front of the card, which is a positive.  

What is going on with the baseballs on the side of the card?  

I don't even care, because it's a Ray Lankford card.  

Here is the back of the card........

Nice write-up on Lankford's career, which is actually accurate on this card.  

The picture is fine, as are the lines on the side of the card.  

Whatever, just give me more Ray Lankford cards. You know I will buy it and post it online.  

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

2023 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 14

I picked up another Blake Snell autograph with a low serial number from a previous year. This time a card from 2020 out of the Panini Optic set. I believe this is one of their more high-end products, or it at least has some higher end finishes than the average Panini card.  

Here is the front of the card complete with the logos airbrushed off the card.

The card has a glossy finish and also an on-card autograph. The on-card autograph was a big selling point for this card. Snell has a handful of Panini autographs and almost all of them are sticker autographs. It's one of the biggest reasons there is not a Panini Blake Snell autograph on here every week. 

The border design has some a good nostalgia factor with a similar appearance as the 1986 Donruss set.  

Back of the card........

I like the gold and black color scheme on the back of the card.  The write-up is okay, mainly just highlights from his first two starts from the 2019 season. We've got the Panini autograph guarantee in small print and also the serial number, which is out of 15.  

Monday, November 20, 2023

Random Ray - 2023 Panini America's Pastime Autograph

There have now been three Ray Lankford autographs this calendar year.  

A fourth different Ray Lankford autograph is currently in the mail and should be here later this week.

Here is the latest from Panini's America's Pastime product. I do not know anything about these cards outside of the fact that there is a Ray Lankford autograph. It's actually a really nice card. Thick card stock, nice finishing touches on the front of the card including the autograph, which is on-card. Also love that Lankford signed his number 16.


The design is alright. We've got a giant US map covered in an American flag. Feels like something that came from stock photos. Could we get something more specific to the Cardinals or St. Louis? A toasted ravioli, a can of Budweiser, or a picture of the Arch? Feels like there is something more that could be done with this theme.  

The photo feels like it is from the late 1990s or early 2000s.  

The important thing is that there is a Ray Lankford autograph.

Here is the back......  

which talks about his 1991 season. Unfortunately there are a few errors here.

First, the cycle game facts are off. Lankford was not the first Cardinals rookie to hit for the cycle, just the first in a long time. Prior to Lankford, the last Cardinals cycle was Willie McGee against the Cubs in 1984. Cliff Heathcote hit for the cycle as a rookie for the Cardinals in 1918. We all remember that one.  

Ray Lankford also led the National League with 15 triples in 1991, not 13. His 15th triple of the year was his third hit during the cycle game.  

Lankford also only hit 9 home runs his rookie year, so that "power-speed" thing might have been a bit of an exaggeration.  His home run during the cycle game, the date is correct- it was at the end of the season, was only his 7th of the season. 

Hey, Panini got the centerfield thing right.  

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Around The Card Room, Take 12

More than a decade ago, I was working as an administrative intern at an elementary school in the northern part of Durham County, North Carolina. I also taught fifth grade in a room that was 50% non-English speaking students, and went to grad school classes four nights a week.

I did not have much free time, as school and school took up all of my time.  

I met plenty of great people during my busy year, but nobody taught me more about schools that year than the school secretary and attendance manager. They knew all the students, their parents, which phone calls and conversations would be easy or difficult, the staff members who called in sick ten minutes before work or did not leave sub plans when they were out, and all sorts of other minutia that made my job happier or easier. 

I stuck with them through thick and thin.  

Beyond the school secretary and attendance manager, the front office staff also included a bookkeeper and the two full-time administrators, the principal and assistant principal. The others were not as tightly knit as the two women and it showed.  

One of the proudest possessions of the attendance manager was a photo of herself with Grant Hill in which he appears to be wearing a Carolina hat. The photo was displayed on her desk along with her family members. The assistant principal was a Duke fan and would often express displeasure with the picture. Arguments frequently occurred as a result over the item's authenticity.. During one such argument towards the end of the school year, the assistant principal noted that she was a bartender during college, knew all the local athletes, and had tons of memorabilia from them in her office.  

The secretary bet the assistant principal she didn't have anything more than a single baseball bat that was in the corner of her office. The bet being for the baseball bat. Several photos of Michael Jordan appeared, a napkin supposedly autographed by Sean May, and a basketball that JJ Reddick supposedly gave her after a game.  

The Sean May napkin did not look close to Sean May's autograph, none of the photos were signed or personalized, and there is no way that JJ Reddick gave her a basketball from Cameron Indoor for a few Bud Lights. I argued with the secretary who relocated the bat to her desk after the ten minute argument ended.  

The bat belonged to former Durham Bulls player Steve Cox.  

Cox had been an A's prospect, but the Devil Rays selected him in the Expansion Draft and stuck him in Durham as the Bulls first baseman. He played two seasons in Durham, winning the Triple A MVP during the 1999 season with a .341 average, .588 slugging percentage, 25 home runs, 49 doubles, and 127 RBIs.  He was on the Devil Rays for parts of four seasons, but never hit the way he did in Triple A. Cox ended his career with a brief stay in Japan, followed by a return to the Rays and a few more games with the Bulls in 2005.  

The bat remained behind her desk the rest of the school year. At the start of the following school year, I resigned my teaching job at the school to take another job closer to home.  My going away present was the Steve Cox bat.

Here is the whole bat........

Along with a few close-ups.......

The Steve Cox bat is not hanging on a wall, rather it leans against the side of a bookcase in the card room. Inside the book case is a container of baseballs that are autographed by my former students.  

For example, this is my 2007-2008 class.......

I never saw Steve Cox play, nor do I have any connection, just a good work story.  

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Baby T

College basketball season is upon us. 

It is the happiest time of the year in North Carolina. 

Since all the team's are dependent upon transfers, I am not sure who is going to be good or not. There are current NC State players who appeared in Bowman U. last year with other teams. I had thought about adding a few of those cards, but I find it hard to collect players I have not watched in-person. Maybe later this year I will get to a few games and feel inclined to buy a few cards. 

In the meantime, Panini is catching up with the players who were in college last year, as they have included cards of former NC State player Terquavion Smith in their Prism product. Terquavion, or Baby T, is part of a decade long tradition at NC State of having one player score a bazillion points per game while the remaining players are all role players. Not quite true of last year's roster, but also not far from the truth.  

Baby T is now a shooting guard on the Sixers, but in Panini Prism he is still a member of the Wolfpack.  

Terquavion has a decent autograph. I had seen it several places prior to picking up this card, so I knew he was going to shorten his name when he finally got a basketball card. The design of the card itself seems rather textbook for Panini. Their designs all seem to run together and look very similar.  

Here is a second Baby T autograph I picked up. Both cards cost me less than $5.  

I like the picture on this second card a little better, but the design comments ring true for this card too. 

We shall see what Terquavion does in the NBA. He's an exciting player.  

Monday, November 13, 2023

2023 Blake Snell Autograph Count: 13

The majority of Blake Snell autographs that are missing from my collection are either really low print runs or they are from unlicensed products from Panini and Upper Deck. I am generally not willing to spend hundreds of dollars on cards with giant patch pieces that are more or less one of ones and will also not pay Topps prices on cards with the logos airbrushed off the card.  

I don't even bother to search out cheap Blake Snell autographs most days, but I did last week and I found a few cards that I decided deserved a spot in my collection. I might also have a soft spot in my heart for Upper Deck.  

Here my latest Blake Snell autographed card, which is out of 2015 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions.  

Snell was in Double A and Triple A in 2015, so just a prospect at this point.  

The overall design of the Goodwin Champions set is fine. I dig the gold and light blue border and the design feels like it belongs with the original Champions cards from the late 1800s. The autograph is well placed on the front and the design allows a nice dead space for the signer.  

The photo is a disaster.

This photo is from Snell's time in A Ball with the Bowling Green Hot Rods. In fact, the same non-airbrushed photo is on his 2014 Topps Heritage card. Upper Deck just did a little editing, changed some colors, and voila!!!!  

The Bowling Green Hot Rods have terrible uniforms, maybe it's better that Upper Deck airbrushed Snell out of that yellow jersey. It's one of those attempted oddball Minor League team names gone wrong.  

Back of the card........

I like that Upper Deck still put stats on the back of the autographed cards in Goodwin Champions.  

I also like that they kept Richard McWilliam around after he passed away. He was instrumental in Upper Deck's glory days as a card manufacturer regardless of how his story ended.  

I was hoping maybe this card was going to look a little better in-person. In the end, it checks off an autograph that I do not own and was less than $10 shipped. That's a bargain for a Blake Snell autograph these days.  

Around The Card Room, Take 13

The end of the school year can be hard on elementary school students. There are plenty of happy children on the final day of school who are ...