Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It's a Givin' Thing

I'm very self-conscious when it comes to collecting baseball cards.

Should I be? No.  But, no one in my circle of friends holds more than a passing interest in America's pastime, let alone collecting cardboard squares of grown men - half of whom are younger than they are.

I feel like a bit of an overgrown child and tend to hide my hobby from people until I get really close to them.  My girlfriend made it 6 months before I let her in on my secret time-passer.

So, when her roommate dropped a bin full of his old baseball cards on me this weekend, I was both stunned and giddy.  I wasn't aware that he was aware, after all.

Not only did he give them to me, but when his mother came to visit from North Carolina, he specifically requested that she bring them with so that he could pass them on to me.  Now, I feel all special and stuff!

Although, I wasn't able to add any new names to my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection, I did find some pretty cool stuff (cool to me, anyway) that I'd like to show off at this time:

Ben Grieve's time as a Cub was brief; he was brought in via trade with Milwaukee in Septemeber of 2004 as reinforcement for the playoff push (that year still stings).  The former AL Rookie of the Year didn't do much though and the lasting memory that I have of him is his crashing into the wall at Wrigley to make a catch.  The thing is, his face bounced off the brick, causing his sunglasses to shatter.  Blood ran down from his eye and I tried not to faint.

Bleeding Cubbie... red, we bleed red.

The card is a lovely, chrome, blue-bordered parallel (almost predicting his Cub tenure) came from the 2000 release of UD's Victory series.  I love the photography and the layout of this set, so this was a fine pull.

Though a little beat up, this is fantastic shot of Kevin Foster in his 1906 throwback digs.  During the first Cub vs. White Sox regular season series, the clubs played like it was '06 in honor of the last all-Chicago World Series.  So, thank you Upper Deck, for including this fun snapshot in your 1998 set.

Foster wasn't the best of pitchers, but he was a mainstay in the Cubs rotation during the mid-90's.  Sadly, renal cancer took him from this world much too soon in 2008.  RIP Kevin.

Another chrome card!  As you can plainly see, I like shiny things.  But, I also am a big Ted Lilly fan.  He was a big part of the Cubs back-to-back division titles in 2007-08 and a colorful character who played the game with an almost reckless abandon.  Who didn't leap up and cheer the night he bowled over Yadier Molina at the plate?

Mess with the Bull, you get the Lilly

He's back with the Cubs in a front office capacity and no one is disappointed about that.  The card is no disappointment either.  Bowman Chrome released this one in 2000 and the colors of the Montreal uniform play well into that year's design.

Finally, we have this little number:

This might just be my favorite of the bunch.  I thoroughly love minor league baseball cards for the fact that they feature players and teams who rarely ever get spotlight attention.  Bonus points for it being a Durham Bulls card, as Bull Durham might just be my favorite baseball movie of all time (The Rookie is pretty high on that list too).

As for Lowery, he is better remembered for his time on the hardwood than the diamond.  At Loyola Marymount, he made it to the Elite 8 in 1990.  As a Cub, he hit .241 in 33 games from 1997-98.

Lowery and his teammates celebrate their upset over Michigan

And these were just some highlights of what I was gifted.  All in all, I added about 40 new cards to my collection.  Needless to say, it was quite the gift indeed.

It almost felt like validation too; that a peer and a good friend confirmed that it was okay for me to collect baseball cards into adulthood and that I wouldn't be a social pariah for it.  

Not to mention, there's no better way to spend a quite weekend evening than sorting through a big bin of FREE baseball cards, right?  Well....


  1. I think six months before letting the significant other in on the obsession is fairly standard. I remember one ex who became concerned that I hadn't invited her to my place about six months in. Well...there was a reason for that. The walls were fully covered with Starting Lineups and the shelves were overflowing with binders of cards. Then there were the random stacks of cards...here...there...everywhere. I think its important to mention, here, that the cards had nothing to do with her becoming an ex. And we're still good friends, today. But, believe me, women know when you're keeping secrets and what they can imagine is pretty much always far far worse than the truth.

    1. Indeed. I was all worried that she'd think I was weird or something. When I finally let her in on it, what does she do? She goes out and buys me four packs. She's definitely a keeper!

  2. Though I've been somewhat guarded about my collection in the past, I've had nothing but good experiences from telling others about it recently. A few friends have offered to give me some of their old cards, similar to what you wrote about here.

    Love that "throwback" Foster.

    1. Same here. I guess it pays to not be so concerned about what others think huh? I guess all those episodes of Sesame Street we're right after all.

      It's a gem too. I'll have a couple nice throwbacks in your package too, which should be going out tomorrow

  3. My wife is supportive of my hobby, thankfully. I'm a big Ted Lilly fan too. Glad to see him working with the team. I wouldn't mind it if his buddy Demp did the same when he decides to officially retire. He might make a good pitching coach -- or broadcaster.

    1. I think Ted Lilly (Demp too for that matter) is going to go down in franchise history as a "forever" Cub. Not as high as say a Fergie or an Ernie, but maybe around the same level as a Beckert or a Matthews.

      Dempster would make a fantastic color commentator and I would definitely tune into that broadcast!