Also, another reason that these Rubbermaid totes sit, untouched, in this shed is because the task of getting to them is quite daunting:
Just look at that mess - bicycles, lawnmowers, pool floaties, random boxes and even wire-mesh aquarium tops are strewn across the floor. It's like the shed has been to Oz and back, via tornado, and nobody noticed.
However, as intimidating as the task was, there were some items in said shed that I needed to locate. So, a couple of days ago, I held my breath, watched my step and made sure to keep an eye out for stranded munchkins while I attempted to sort my way through the chaos. I felt like the cliched thief in numerous action movies, acrobatically twisting my body in order to pass through a field of laser-beam motion sensors.
Thankfully, I was able to come across the object of my quest (a stack of photographs). Plus, as an added bonus and reward for my effort, I also unearthed some bonus baseball collectibles that I'd almost forgot that I had.
What event would be worthy of a special card to prove you were actually "there?"
The answer, of course, is Slammy's 500th home run, an event that would surely punch his ticket to Cooperstown, someday (about that...). However, if anyone attempts to produce this card as proof that they were in the Wrigley bleachers for this milestone event, they most certainly are a liar. In fact, they are a liar, liar pants on fire.
How do I know that, well, just examine the following video:
That's definitely not Wrigley Field - Sammy Sosa hit his 500th longball at Cincinatti's Great American Ballpark, on April 4th, 2003. Obviously, these commemorative cards were proven to be superfluous after they had already been printed. But hey, if my month in Boy Scouts taught me anything, it's that you have to be prepared anyway.
So, since these were never handed out, you might be wondering to yourself, how did I end up with one? Well, three years later, the Cubs decided to clear out their storage spaces (which hopefully were slightly more organized than my family's) in the same way that many American households choose to every spring:
Yup, the Cubs hosted a garage sale in 2006 and 18-year old me made a special trip to the Northside of town to see what goodies I could dig up. Along with that Sosa, I also came across a similar piece made up for Greg Maddux's 300th win, another mile marker event that took place at a field other than Wrigley (SanFran). I know I picked one of them up too, but, unfortunately, I think it may have been lost to the sands of time.
While the Maddux may be AWOL, the Sosa SGA wasn't the only oddly-sized trading card that I found hiding in that tangled mess:
As a Christmas gift many moons ago, I was gifted with this pair of Turkey Red reprints from the first decade of the 20th century. Now, these cards were reprinted in the dimensions of the original issue - cabinet sized - and, being the peon collector I was at the time, I had nothing to properly store or display them in. As such, they were thrown into a box and promptly forgotten about. I was such a grateful child.
That said, times have long since changed and I am ecstatic to be able to reintroduce these big beauties to my collection. That dusk scene on the Solly Hofman (right) looks like it should be framed!
For frame of reference, here is that same Hofman card, along with a standard-sized reprint done by Renata Galasso in 1982 - quite a difference. Remember, the originals were intended to be premium decorations, displayed on cabinets or walls.
As I mentioned, the Turkey Red cabinets were a gift that dates back to my childhood years. On that note, they weren't the only childhood baseball cards that I found during my storage shed mission:
This, battered, bruised and beaten Mark Whiten has definitely seen better days. It's worn, folded, torn and suffering from substantial paper loss. Why would I even bother to save such a tattered trading card, especially one that features a rival Cardinal?
You see, this 1994 Post Mark Whiten is the very first baseball card I obtained - this emerald green, cereal box prize was the launching point for my baseball card fascination. I'd thought this relic had traveled down the "lost forever hole," along with half of each pair of socks that I own, but it was hiding in a stack of high school English papers in a vinyl tote. Turns out that younger me was just as absent-minded as current me.
That did it for the recovered baseball cards; however,t there were still a few other pieces of Cubs-related memorabilia of interest within the "wreckage":
The 2003 Chicago Cubs sent the Chicagoland area into a fever pitch - you know the story, a surprising division title, five outs away, yadda, yadda. They were Chicago's favorite team that year and Chicago's favorite stock car racing team also got swept up into the enthusiasm.
The Venturini family hail from Chicago and their race team has competed in NASCAR and ARCA for 35 years, winning two championships in the latter. Father Bill won both of those titles and son Billy, who's autograph adorns the packaging, competed for several years. Nowadays, their cars are filled with young prospects. For those who may not know, while ARCA began as more of a Federal League to NASCAR's MLB, it has since evolved into a developmental league.
Bill Venturini founded Venturini Motorsports in 1982
Here's a closer look at the special paint scheme:
Billy Venturini & Venturini Motorsports ran this special paint scheme in the ARCA EasyCare 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway that October. The race was won by Kirk Shelmerdine, former crew chief to Dale Earnhardt and longtime independent driver, in a rain-shortened affair. Coincidentally, somewhere in that shed, I'm certain that I have a die-cast signed by him, as well. Meanwhile, Billy V came home with a top ten finish (9th), a good run fueled entirely by "Cub Power."
I remember ordering this commemorative scale model shortly after the running of that race, as it blended my love of baseball and motorsport, through the Venturini Motorsports website. The autograph was an unannounced bonus. Race car drivers may very well be the most genuine and kind group of athletes in sports.
Finally, under that 1:64 scale die-cast was a stack of old programs, including:
The program from when the immortal Ferguson Jenkins came to deliver a keynote speech at my University a few years back, as part of an annual fundraiser. You darn well better believe I came down from my college apartment to come listed to Fergie reminisce about his career and give advice to college students on how to succeed when surrounded by adversity. It was a surreal experience, having a Hall of Famer at our little, private University.
This year, for that same fundraiser, they were able to bring in Grampa Rossy... I'm told tickets sold out VERY quickly.
Speaking of "Grampas," under Fergie was this scorecard that I remember sitting on my grandfather's coffee table, throughout my childhood:
This, I can only assume, is a reprint of the scorecards handed out at the 1932 World Series, between the Cubs and the Yankees. Y'know, the Series that featured the legendary "Called Shot?" Yea, that one.
I can't find any markings that would indicate that this is a reprint, but it's just in such grand shape that it doesn't seem like it could possibly be 85 years old. In 1932, my grandfather would have been nine years old and he was known for truantly skipping out on school to go to Wrigley... maybe it's possible???
The inside is pretty basic, head shots of each player found on both rosters and an (unused) score card. The back features a beautiful lithograph of the old Friendly Confines:
Even all these years and multi-million dollar renovations later, it sure does look remarkably similar, doesn't it?
With that, I had to call the excavation short and get back inside with the stash of photographs that I had originally been looking for (and found). However, these pleasant diversions also came back indoors with me, in order to be redistributed into my collections. A nice bounty of collecting gold as a reward for risking life and limb (seriously, I think tetanus was a risk here) made the whole ordeal worth the effort.
Don't you just love when you find forgotten gems while doing your spring cleaning or reorganizing your home? What's the best item(s) that you've found buried within your storage spaces?
In the meantime, time for me to get to sorting through those Kodak prints...