Category Archives: Misc

Shoebox of Memories – Part 2

Previously on Shoebox of Memories – Tommy’s sister gave him a shoebox (and then some) of baseball cards from his youth.  This week we’ll take a look at the first few sorted stacks for anything that reminds me of anything, then we’ll see if it reminds you of something as well, and then if it does we’ll share a reminder of something dear to us that’s probably not even closely related.

First stack: 1995 Upper Deck

I distinctly remember taking biking treks to the Rite Aid and People’s News stores on the south side of town nearly every day during the summer(s) of 1994-1996.  This was the peak of my collecting days until recent years…money from my parents in my pocket and no rules to abide; we’d scan the Sunday paper every week and see which packs were on sale at which drugstores in town.  Sometimes it was 1995 Score jumbos or maybe the occasional 1995 Pinnacle sets, but nearly every week there was a sale in the insert on some sort of baseball product.  Oddly enough during these times I don’t recall many sales on Topps baseball cards…usually just Fleer, Donruss, Pinnacle, and Score.  But sometimes there’d be a sale on Upper Deck and that’s where these gems came from.  I only pulled one card from this stack to discuss…Mark Grace.

1995 Upper Deck – Mark Grace

Mark Grace was never one of my favorite players, first and foremost because he was a Cub.  However, for whatever reason my memories of Mark Grace are that he was a “scrappy” player.  Growing up I was drawn to average hitting, white, middle infielders with a little speed and warning track power…probably because I was a scrawny white kid who only once hit a home run in our backyard home run derby in years of playing.  I don’t know what it was about players like Grace that made me think “scrappy” but that’s the term I still use today for all the players in this category.  I apply this to players like Jody Reed, Mike Lansing, Spike Owen, this list goes on and on of 1980’s and early 1990’s professional hitters that were good for ten or so homers a year and a decent batting average.  This is what I always wanted to grow up to be until I realized how much cooler pitchers were.  OK, Mark Grace has a lot more talent than the guys mentioned and probably doesn’t deserve to be grouped in with them…but his cards just scream to me “scrappy”.  Sacrificing the body to break-up or turn a double play?  Scrappy.  Taking an inside pitch for the team?  Scrappy.  Eyeblack?  Pure scrappalicious goodness.

Next up:  1995 Donruss

Same memories, different week.  Donruss was on sale?  I’ll blow my allowance on 6 packs.  I chose a couple of cards from this stack…first I want to thank this man for the Dodgers most recent acquisition:

1995 Donruss – Ozzie Guillen

I want to extend a sincere and appreciative thank you to Mr. Ozzie Guillen for basically throwing Hanley Ramirez under the bus and making the situation in Miami so bad that he was traded (along with Randy Choate) to the Dodgers last night for Nathan Eovaldi and a minor leaguer.  Unreal.  I loved Nate Eovaldi…check my previous post about him…but this feels like a genius move by Ned Colletti.  I can’t believe I just typed that and actually mean it.  I don’t know how you lucked into this one, Mr. Colletti, but I can’t help but feel it might save your job if everything pans out.  The best part?  Hanley is excited to be a Dodger, from all indications and the press conferences I’ve watched today.  Ozzie Guillen is such a polarizing figure…I can’t help but feel he’s running the Marlins into the ground though but I guess time will tell on that one.

1995 Donruss – Kurt Manwaring

Now I’d normally never feature a Giant willingly on this blog, but how cool is this picture?  In a set of rather “eh” photography, I just love the look on Manwaring’s face.  Here’s the best part: the guy just about always made this face.  I was looking through others and found similar plays at the plate with what seems like the Man-O-War-ing howl.

Finally, here’s a look at some nice cards from 1995 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice.  I was a big Collector’s Choice fan…lots of neat insert sets and if I recall correctly were priced as the alternative to the flagship Upper Deck sets…and not like “Upper Deck Fun Pack” level of kid-friendliness, just a slightly better bang for my kid buck.

1995 Collector’s Choice – Bo Jackson Silver Signature

Bo knows, kids.  I can’t believe the story of Bo Jackson sometimes.  Whenever a pro athlete holds out or forces a team to renegotiate I think of stories like Bo Jackson and how he was literally the best athlete on the planet one day and the next he injures his hip so badly he can barely run even after years of recovery.  It comes and it goes like that…one minute you’re on top of the world, featured in advertising campaigns, and so good you play two sports professionally…the next minute you are fighting your way back and struggling to keep your career going.  Bo didn’t play after 1994 and even though he hit his highest batting average of his career (.279) for the Angels he was done.

Finally, a trio of cards that just made me smile.  A few hall of famers had 1995 Collector’s Choice cards as well…some of them as hall-of-fame inductee tribute cards and the others as cards from their final years playing.  By 1995 Brett had been retired a year, Schmidt had just punched his ticket, and Sandberg was technically retired.

1995 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice – George Brett, Mike Schmidt, Ryne Sandberg

That’s all for this entry…more good stuff coming up in later stacks but it’s game time and I can’t wait to see Hanley’s Dodger debut!

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Shoebox of Memories – Part 1

My sister called me out of the blue last week asking me to drive her to run some errands.  No problem, went and did my big brotherly duty and took her to the grocery store and what not.  When we got back to her house she mentioned she had some things for me…a Christmas present she had to have returned due to a printing error, some coupons for my wife…and a large shoebox (albeit one of the plastic Tupperware variety) of my old baseball cards she saved from my Mom’s apartment!  My mother died about six years ago now…and the time after her death was the beginning of what I refer to as the Time of Upheaval.  Within three months my mother died, my first daughter was born, I began working for my current employer, and we uprooted and moved my new family back to our hometown.  During the phase of cleaning out my mother’s apartment, stress was at an all-time high and I’m fairly certain I did a once over and told everyone I was good with burning the rest of the leftover mess.  However, my sister stuck around after we completed our part to oversee the estate and complete the cleaning process.  She saved this for me:

The Shoebox of Memories

You’ve heard the tales of finding a shoebox full of 1952 Topps Mickey Mantles in attics?  This story is similar…however this is a shoebox full of memories and it’s glorious.  I returned home that night and helped get my kids to bed and then started right to work on the carpet of our living room…calling out randomness to my wife like “Look at this one!” and “This is the best picture ever!”  When the sort was done, here is what I had:

The Sort Results:
Top Row L to R: 1995 Upper Deck, 1995 Donruss, 1995 Collector’s Choice, 1993 Stadium Club, 1994 Stadium Club, 1995 Stadium Club
Bottom Row L to R: Various Inserts, 1995 Topps, 1993 Topps, 1995 Fleer/Fleer Update, 1990 Topps, 1992 Leaf

The pile off to the top left is damage/unusable cards.  The Pirates got hosed…lots of damaged cards there including a couple of cool Doug Drabeks but again I’m not a Pirates collector so it’s not a big deal.  I’m amazed there weren’t more cards damaged…there were a few funky bends but most of the cards were in remarkable shape, even if they still smelled like my mom’s apartment which was pretty creepy (and gross).  I’m airing the cards out now and I’m going to feature the highlights in the next post.  I picked over this stuff pretty well before abandoning them initially, as there were absolutely no Dodgers in the piles above.  However, you may have noticed there was a 550 count box on top of the shoebox…and that might be where this story really begins:

There be Dodgers here, matey!

I guess I had another box…this one is full of Dodgers who weren’t featured on Dodger cards at the time…i.e. Brett Butler as a Brave and Giant, etc. but it also had those players’ Dodger cards too!  I think at one point in 1996 I made this box for players that had moved on and I had decided to “stop” collecting…but it definitely has Dodgers in it and I am stoked to go through it all and see what we’ve got.  It’s pretty cool to be looking through this stuff and find players still active today (guess who that might be) and Dodgers who have come to be some of my all-time favorites.

Next post, highlights and Dodgers from my youth!