Tuesday, March 8, 2022

It all works out for the best

Have you ever had something happen that seemed like somewhat of a bummer at the time, but in reality, turned out to be a good thing at that particular moment in time?

Along those same lines, have you ever had the occasion, where you think you're ordering one thing, but when it arrives, it turns out to be something completely different than what you expected? 

While it can be pretty frustrating, at least in this particular case, it really turned out to be better than I imagined.

Originally, I thought I was ordering a Japanese phone card of Yokozuna Hakuho.

Of course, you remember phone cards. They were all the rage in the mid-80's and 90's, those plastic cards abort the size to a credit card, which allowed users to make telephone calls using a pay phone. You would buy the card with X-amount of minutes on it. You would then insert the card into a public phone to activate it, or in some cases, you'd use the code on the card, once you scratched it off. If it was inserted into a phone, the phone would punch a little hole on the card to let you know how many credits you had left.

It wasn't long before phonecards were used as promotional giveaways, marketing incentives and charity fundraisers. Just put a picture on them, and they became collectible gold during this time period, Companies ranging from Disney, McDonald's and Coca-Cola, to IBM, Xerox, and New York Life have released collectible phonecards.

Once cell phones began to appear, the hobby quickly fell by the wayside.

As a servicemember, the cards especially came in handy. When I deployed to Germany in 1995, the local VFW, other veteran groups, and civilian organizations would purchase phone cards for us so we could stay in touch with our loved ones. You didn't have to worry if you had enough marks to make a call - you just used the card.

As for the phone card I thought I had ordered, in reality, turned out to be a collectible Japan Rail Railways Pass. Turns out that Japan's high-speed rail system, had also made collectible Sumo Rail Passes at one time.

After doing a little research, I also discovered these gems were also part of that collectible rail pass set.

Of course, I now have to try and track down the rest of these cards.

While I haven't spent much time lately posting on Comatoad on Cards, I hope (hope) to get back on the blogging binge once again. I recently had a heel spur removed and my achilleas tendon reattached, so I'll be laid up for a bit.

Hoepfully, that'll get me time to reorganize things and start blogging again.

Stay safe and careful out there.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Farewell to 'My Two Tonys'

 As a long-time sports fan, it's kind of hard to come up with "my favorite player." With so many great teams, and so many great players that have competed over the years, it's kind of hard to name just one or two.

For example, I was a huge Bart Starr fan growing up. Stan Mikita, of the Chicago Blackhawks, has to be one of my favorite hockey players. Being a San Diego Padres fan, there have been a few players I truly enjoyed watching play.

However, if I have to specifically name "my favorite players," of course, other than Starr, there is no doubt. That would have to be "My Two Tonys" - Tony Gwynn of the Padres and Tony Esposito, of the  Blackhawks. Unfortunately, Mr. Padre, a Hall of Famer, passed away all too soon at the age of 54, from salivary gland cancer on June 16, 2014 (my wife's birthday).

And now, the Chicago Blackhawks have announced that my other Tony, Esposito, passed away August 10, after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.

Maybe it was karma, that my beloved Padres began play as an MLB expansion team in 1969. That was also the same year the Blackhawks drafted Esposito from the Montreal Canadiens for $25,000. He quickly established himself as their number one goalie, as  Chicago went from last to first, while registered 15 shutouts that year (yet a modern NHL record). By the end of that year, he would win the Vezina Trophy (top goaltender) and Calder Memorial Trophy (top rookie).

I became a hockey fan in the the early 70's in Davenport, Iowa. Late at night, when  atmospheric conditions were just right, I could just pick up St. Louis' KMOX FM-radio broadcasts of the St. Louis Blues Hockey team. They always began their broadcasts with the St. Louis Blues March, followed by "This is St. Louis Blues hockey."

At times, I could also pick up KSHE FM (St. Louis), as well as KAAY Radio's Beaker Street program, from Little Rock, Ark., but that's a whole 'nother story.

In any case, living in Iowa, it wasn't long before I became a Blackhwaks fan. A friend and I would pick one game each season to go to the old Chicago Stadium. He would choose games featuring the Flyers, Rangers, or Toronto. and I would select games with the Bruins, North Stars, or Blues. Neither one of us gave a damn about the Red Wings.

According to a release from Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz, "Tony's number 35 has long been retired, but his career with the Blackhawks actually encompassed two marvelous chapters. After all those years of making spectacular saves and hearing chants of 'TO-NEE!! TO-NEE!!' throughout the Stadium, he joined the Blackhawks as an ambassador. He was born for that role, too, as he reached out - whether by request or on his own - to fans, sponsors, and friends of our team. He rejected thousands of pucks in his first job, he never said no in his second job."

To this day, Esposito remains the all-time Blackhawks leader in shutouts (74) and career wins (418). His career record of 423-306-151 ranks 10th in League history, and include his seven consecutive seasons of 30-plus wins (1969-76). Like Gwynn, Espo's number 35 jersey was retired, in a Nov. 20, 1988 ceremony at the Stadium. 

Stats like that only demonstrate one facet of Tony Esposito - that of his competitive side, By the same token, how can you not like a player like Esposto, who was incredibly loyal and giving, an a genuine ambassador of the game.

Needless to say, I have built up quite a collection of Tony Esposito cards over the years.

Let's start off with a 2006-07 Upper Deck Trilogy Scripts SP (#TSTE), 2005-06 Ultimate Collection Ultimate Signatures (#USTE)

2007-08 The Cup Enshrinements (S/N 9/50) (#ETE), 2006-07 The Cup Scripted Swatches (S/N 16/25) (#SSTE) 

2001-02 Greats of the Game Sticks (#3), 2009-10 Upper Deck Trilogy Honorary Swatches (#HSTE)

2008 Americana Celebrity Cuts Century Silver (S/N 11/50) (#89), 1970-71 O-Pee-Chee (#153),  2003-04 Parkhurst Original Six Cleveland National (S/N 8/10) (#97), 2013 Sportskings National Convention VIP (#VIP09), 2009-10 Upper Deck Champ's Red (#22), 2004-05 UD Legends Classics Silver (S/N 63/75) (#91).

Blackhawks beat writer Bob Verdi, quotes Tony's brother Phil in a recent story on Blackhawks.com, "Just so much fun to be around. Easy for me to say, because he was my brother," Phil said. "But ask anybody. Ask his teammates, ask his neighbors. Laughs, a few beers, and more laughs. 

"We'll laugh again about Tony, but not with him ever again. And we're not laughing now. Someday. But not now. Not today or tomorrow. So fast. So soon. Gone."

Like Tony Gwynn, Tony Esposito will be sorely missed in the Comatoad household. 


Stay safe and healthy out there.

Monday, June 21, 2021

What's your oldest sports card?

Going through my myriad number of cards the other day raised an interesting question and one that I hadn't really thought much about - What's the oldest card in your card collection?

When you're a fan of a San Diego Padres baseball team that has only been in existence since 1969, along with the Kansas City Royals, Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals), and Seattle Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers), it's a no-brainer.

Ollie Brown, the original San Diego Padre, was San Diego's first pick in the 1968 baseball expansion draft.

Brown,  an outfielder who could throw the ball on a rope from far right field to third base, led the Padres in batting average in two of their first three seasons.  He hit .272 as a  Padre, with 20 homers and 208 RBIs in 458 games before being traded to the Oakland A's in May 1972. Brown passed away in April 2015, due to mesothelioma. He was 71 years old.

My other sports passion involves the Green Bay Packers. As a life-long Packers fan, and Lombardi-era aficionado, the oldest Packer card honor is held by Dave "Hawg" Hanner and his 1955 Bowman card (#131). 

Hanner was the anchor of Green Bay's defensive line for most of his 13 seasons, after being selected in the fifth round (52th overall) of the 1952 draft. He played in 160 (out of 164) regular season games, three of which were missed during his rookie season. He was Green Bay's defensive line coach (1965-71), defensive coordinator (1971-79) and assistant head coach (1975-79). In 2008, he suffered a heart attack, and died two days later.

On the hockey side, my oldest card would be my 1952 Parkhurst Gus "Hardrock" Mortson (#27), a Chicago Blackhawks Defenseman. 

He started out with the Toronto Maple Leafs  in 1946, winning four Stanley Cups, before being traded to the Blackhawks, in a deal that brought Hawks goalie Harry Lumley to Toronto. He retired in 1958-59, after part of a season with the Detroit Red Wings.

When it comes to non-sport, and I'm not entirely sure how I picked it up, would have to be this 1912 Cries of London, "Do You Want Any Matches" (#15) card. Apparently, it was a 25-card cigarette set produced by John Player & Sons, based on a series of oil paintings by Francis Wheatley, depicting real-life  images of street sellers in the late 1700's.

Now, while a 1912 card is quite old, I have yet another card that's even older, and it comes from the realm of Track and Field, going all the way back to the 1910-12 T218 Champions set.

After immigrating from Ireland in 1909, Dan Ahearne (Ahearn after immigrating) was a triple jump specialist, winning eight U.S. AAU titles over nine years and setting a world record in 1909 with a 50-foot, two-inch jump. Dan competed in the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, finishing sixth in the triple jump. He later became a policeman and died Dec. 20, 1942, at the age of 54.

So, now the question is, what are the oldest cards you have in your collection?

Stay safe and healthy out there!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Life on the road

A great California-based blogger, Fuji, of The Chronicles of Fuji recently wrote about how he was considering purchasing a new toy, a 2021 Toyota Supra, his "holy grail" car. He said it's been 13 years since he purchased his last car and there are days when he's pumped and ready to buy it, while other mornings, he wakes up and thinks to himself, "This is a toy I just don't need."

I have to admit, I know exactly what those dark thoughts are swirling through his head, as our season of indecision occurred last February. It all began innocently enough when my wife and I began watching the half-hour show, Going' RV, on the Travel Channel.

According to their website, "Hard-working couples and families decide to ditch ordinary life for an adventure out on the open road. Take the ultimate ride as they go on a shopping trip to find their perfect RV. Whether it's upgrading an existing motor home, or going all out for a new one with all the bells and whistles, find out what happens when daring homeowners trade walls for wheels."

They take a tour through three different campers, whether a mobile home or pull-along, and then make a decision as to which one. They are then shown enjoying their first camping trip in their new rig. 

So, last February, we went to a local RV lot to price a Motor Home - we had no intention of purchasing one at that time. Both of our cars would be paid off in June, and that's when we thought we'd maybe purchase a camper.

After looking at a few RVs, we then saw this 28-foot, 2012 Thor Four Winds Siesta. It had been on the lot only a couple of weeks after the owner traded it in for a bigger outfit. Needless to say, it was love at first sight and after a few conflicted hours, we were the proud owners of a used RV, with only 19,200 miles on the odometer.

Since mid-April, we'll camp for a couple of weekends, and then take a weekend off. I actually drove it to work on our last day of school. As soon as our last bell rang, I hopped in and drove it to our campsite, where I decompressed for a week, My wife joined me as soon as she was off work.

We're basically traveling within the state while we get used to it (my wife isn't ready to get behind the wheel yet). However, we do hope to hit Wisconsin's Door County before school starts in mid-August (I am a Packer fan after all), but we'll have to wait and see.

But perhaps the RV seed was planted even earlier, when I had the opportunity to actually have a beer with Cubs pitcher Rod Beck here in Des Moines.

1999 Fleer Ultra Rod Beck (#41)

Beck, who was on a rehab assignment in 2003 with the Iowa Cubs after surgery on his right arm, was living in a 36-foot Winnebago right behind the centerfield scoreboard at Sec Taylor Stadium. A buddy and I had heard Beck was living in an RV behind the stadium, so he bet me to get his autograph. 

Beck was very personable and even gave us a Coors Light as we talked baseball, his career, and how we was working his way back to the big leagues, while "waiting for the right fit." It was a great night and Beck was a great host and an absolute hoot.

So we now have the opportunity to visit distant sporting events, card shows, and perhaps even meet some of those fellow bloggers whom I've only seen on line, in person.

After all, this is now how we roll.

Stay safe and healthy out there.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Show me the cards!

 Whatever happened to the sports card industry?

Over the past few months, it's been getting harder and harder to find sports cards at your big, chain department stores. We still have a card shop here in town, but with my schedule, I usually can't get there before their 6 p.m. closing time. As my weekends are usually ear-marked with honey-dos, I usually  don't have much opportunity to shop then, either.

As for the local Walmart stores, all I find are empty shelves and a few collectible card games or comics. As for your local Target store, you can simply forget about finding any sports cards.

Thanks to dispute back in May at a Brookfield, Wisc. Target store, the retail chain is no longer carrying sports cards. You can still order them online, but where trading cards once lined their shelves, you'll now only only find a plethora of Magic the Gathering cards. However, when it comes to Topps, Donruss, NBA, NHL, or MLB, or anything regarding your favorite sports team, you can forget about it. You won't find any of them (or Pokemon cards, for that matter) gracing the shelves of your local store.

It seems four men allegedly assaulted another man in the parking the lot as he left the store with his sports card purchase. The victim drew a gun (since he had a conceal and carry permit), and his attackers ran off. They were, however, later arrested.

Since their top priority is the safety of their guests and employees, according to a Target spokesman, "Out of an abundance of caution, we've decided to temporarily suspend the sale of MLB, NFL, NBA and Pokeman trading cards within our stores, effective May 14."

Not only that, once you do find a few packs, they're more expensive then ever, as I discovered at a post-COVID card show. Gone were the much beloved dime boxes, replaced by common quarter boxes. I can't even imagine what a booster box of cards, much less an actual box, will set you back today.

Well, that's it for the complaining. My broadest apologies.

On a lighter note, I will, however, show you three more of the Padres cards I picked up at the one post-COVID card show I have attended.

2010 Topps Gypsy Queen Fortune Teller Mini Fernando Tatis, Jr. (#FTM16), 2020 Topps Opening Day Red Foil Tommy Pham (#74) and a 2020 Panini Prism Pham (#29).

Stay safe and healthy out there.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

2018 BBM Sumo 5-Card Pack

Since I've developed a relatively expensive interest in the Japanese sport of Sumo, I've only been able to order a few cards here and there off of E-Bay and COMC. I haven't quite got the grasp of how to use Yahoo! Japan, and Buyee, a Japanese proxy service, just has me absolutely stymied.

Recently, however, I was able to order my first actual pack of BBM Sumo cards early last month, picking up a pack of 2018 BBM Sumo Cards off E-Bay.

The BBM 2018 Sumo set contains 90 cards and each pack has a total of only five cards inside.
Here are cards for Kyokushuho Koki (#44) and Yoshikaze Masatsugu (#07), spreading salt to purify the dohyo before their match. After making his professional debut in 2007, Kyokushuho's current rank is Juyo #5. Yoshikaze, meanwhile, retired in 2019, after beginning his professional career in 2004, taking on the toshiyori (elder in the Japan Sumo Association) name, Nakamura.  
Young Hopeful Ura Kazuki (#75), Yamaguchi Masahiro (#61) (retired) and Kotoshogiku Kazuhiro (#09) round out this pack. Ura debuted in 2015, winning the jonokuchi division (lowest sumo division) championship in his first tourney. Kotoshogiku, who retired last year, assumes the name of Hidenoyama, after also becoming a toshiyori. 

I was definitely pumped to bust my first pack of sumo cards, but it's going to take me awhile to build up a collection. That's okay, too. It just gives me the opportunity to savor and learn more about one of Japan's most ancient sports.

Stay safe and healthy out there.

Friday, February 26, 2021

COMC Delivery (Finally)

Remember the old Heinz ketchup commercial, with people waiting and waiting and waiting for this thick, red condiment to finally seep out of the top of the bottle, while Carley Simon's "Anticipation," played in the background?

That's how I felt when I finally received a shipment of more than 150 cards from COMC's Redmond, Wash. location. 

I continue to pick up the odd bit of change by doing their inventory challenge and purchased numerous cards over the past winter, spring and summer. Since they said there could be delays, I waited until late summer to order the cards, so they would arrive well before the Christmas holidays (or so I thought). 

According to COMC, I requested this shipment on August 24, 2020. While it had an estimated shipping date of Nov. 24, 2020, it didn't actually ship until Jan. 10, 2021. I wasn't able to physically hold all these cardboard goodies in my grubby little hands until Jan. 15, 2021.

If you do the math, that's about a half year from when I first requested shipment, until the time I received them.

Oh well, enough griping and let's start with some fun stuff. Here's a pair of 1966 Batman Black Bat cards, featuring The Bat-Gasmask (#43) and Umbrella Duel (#23). I still love Batman - my school kids get a kick out of my Batman phone case.

As for some kindly Saint Nick cards, I picked up a 1991 Parkhurst (#SC), 2016 Panini Black Friday Panini Collection Wedges (S/N 23/50) (#25)  and a 1993 Skybox Nightmare Before Christmas International Promo (#S1).

I must have been especially nice, because I also received a 1995 Coca-Cola Series 4 Santa Card (#S-32) and a  pair of 1996 Coca-Cola Sprint Cel Phone Cards -  Santa With Toy Bag (#18) and Santa They Remembered Me (#19).

Of course, there's also the requisite amount of Tony Gwynn cards in any COMC shipment I receive. Here's his 2019 Topps Allen and Ginter Baseball Star Signs (#BSS42), 2019 Topps Franchise Feats (#FF23), 2019 Topps Allen and Ginter Gold Border (#77), and a 1985 Topps Rub Downs, with Lloyd Moseby and Buddy Bell (#3).

A few Padres cards for those cold winter nights (including another Gwynn I forgot to include in the previous bunch) - 2020 Topps Gyspy Queen Fortune Teller Mini Fernando Tatis, Jr. (#FTM16), 2020 Topps '85 Topps Silver Pack Chrome Manny Machado (#85C32), 2018 Topps Walmart Holiday Snowflake Joey Lucchesi RC (#HMW40), and a 2019 Topps Historic Through Lines, with Stan Musial (#HTL18).

As for my Japanese baseball card collection, these 1993 Kanebo Gold Cards, produced by BBM, are much like the old, raised-surface 3-D, Action-Packed cards. These particular cards feature Tomonori Maeda (#005), Yonetoshi Kawamata (#036), Kaname Yashiki (#006), and Kozo Shoda (#008).

Rounding out my Japanese baseball cards are a 2000 Konami Field of Nine Yuuki (#64), 2013 BBM Mitsuo Yoshikawa (#169), 2016 BBM Rookie Edition Toyoki Tanaka (#47), 1999 BBM Hiroshi Shibakus (#187) and a 1991 BBM Yasunori Ohshima (#132).

As for hockey, I'm not collecting as much as I used to, but this 2017-18 Upper Deck MVP Green Script Corey Crawford (#40) and 2019-20 Upper Deck UD Portraits Alexander Ovechkin (#P30) particularly called out to me.

And of course, I received a bunch of cards for my track and field collection, but perhaps I'll save those for a later date.

Was this collection worth the wait? Yes and no - I finally received my order, but the anticipation between when I ordered it and when they shipped it was painful. Maybe they should have been a bit more realistic on their estimates, or even used a "TBA" for the shipping date.

In any case, there here, they're mine, they're real and they're fantastic.

Stay safe and healthy out there.