The turn out for Peter's challenge was impressive and, always looking for a good post topic, I decided to throw my hat in the ring, as well. As a Cubs fan who grew up listening to Pat and Ron on WGN throughout the summer and who studied radio broadcasting in college, it was almost a shoe-in that Ronnie should become my favorite baseball player to ever take the field. Combine those factors with his being one of my grandfather's favorites, my mother's favorites, his inspiring battle with diabetes, and his incredible generosity in giving back to the community and no one else stood a chance.
Therefore, with my player so easily selected, I too immediately knew which Santo card was my most favored. In fact, it was the baseball card which almost single-handedly brought me back into the hobby:
Appropriately enough, it came as part of the "All-Time Fan Favorites" checklist - funny how that works out, huh?
After several years away from baseball (due to the death of my grandfather), paying attention to NASCAR almost exclusively, my mother randomly stopped in my childhood LCS and bought me this card. It was this gift, this small bit of charity, which jump-started my interest in collecting baseball cards once again. Thus, you can see the importance that this Shea Stadium image holds in my mind.
Well, lo and behold, my name came out on top in Peter's randomization and I won myself that prize which was shrouded in so much mystery. I was darn near jumping up and down because I was so happy; I'm fairly certain that this is my first contest win since dipping my toes in the blogging waters. Exciting times, indeed!
That said, as Peter made apparent before beginning the contest, I was going to have to wait a little while before receiving my coveted winnings. You see, he had a little matter to attend to before he could put the package together and get it in the mail - celebrating his and his wife's ten-year wedding anniversary with a nice, long journey to New Zealand and Australia! As he put it in his e-mail to me, "Go BIG or stay home, right?" I'd say that certainly qualifies as "big" and as an incredible experience and I was more than happy to be patient while he and his wife had the time of their lives.
Then, as the calendar rolled into June, Peter sent me another message to let me know that they had made it back stateside safely and that my highly anticipated prize would be dropped into the mail very soon. I began to watch the mailbox like a hawk, as my mind was racing trying to figure out what such a secretive prize could be - I did have a month to daydream on it, after all. Lo and behold, that unknown prize landed on my doorstep this past Saturday and, unashamedly, I ripped into it immediately as I could no longer corral my curiosity.
I know what you're thinking at this point, "c'mon, Tony - what the heck is it, already?!" I have been building this up quite a bit with such a long introduction, haven't I? Well, as it turns out, you've already seen a part of it - the picture of the card above. So, let's just zoom out a little bit so that you, the reader, can see what I saw when I tore into the USPS box:
That, right there, is a custom made, Ron Santo cheese tray! I must admit, this is by far and without a doubt the most unique item that I have ever received in the mail or won in any sort of contest. It's not even close. As you can see, Peter took a copy of my favorite card of my favorite player ever and molded it into a bottle-shaped, glass cheese tray for my entertaining purposes. This guy is a certified craftsman!
But, wait, that's not all! What could be better than a Ron Santo cheese tray?
How about TWO custom-made, Ron Santo "All-Time Fan Favorites" cheese trays? According to the pretty, pink "thank you" card which came with these artisinal beauties, Peter made one as a test run before completing the real thing. In his ever present generosity, he decided that since both turned out great, he would just send both of them my way. Now, I have one that I can use to slice up my favorite hors d'oeuvre AND one to proudly display on the wall of my new hobby room. That's "gouda" news!
Seriously though, I inhale cheese. I will take my wife's deli slices of provolone and just start munching on them if she doesn't watch me carefully enough. I never thought I'd have an item which successfully melded my favorite snack with my favorite hobby, but here we are.
Also, you see, the wife and I are moving into a new, two-bedroom apartment this weekend and that second sleeping area will serve as my "man cave," when we are not hosting guests. I am over the moon to finally have my own space dedicated to my eclectic collecting habits and even more enthused to have an awesome and unique new piece of wall decor for said space.
As a further added bonus, our multi-talented blogging buddy also threw in an appropriate cheese knife to complete the cheesy package:
You might say, this baseball-handled cutting device is a "Swiss Cheesy Knife!"
My "dad jokes" are on point - I can almost hear your groans through my computer monitor. The blocks of cheddar that will be soon be sitting on Ronnie's face aren't going to be the only "cheesy" things in the room.
Thank you, Peter, for hosting such a fun contest which brought the blogging community together and for the most interesting, unique, timely, and tasteful item that I have ever gotten through the mail. I think we can all agree that you did not disappoint when you said that the winnings would include "a great, unique, one of a kind prize." I cannot wait to put these bad boys to use - they will make for excellent conversation starters when my wife and I host company!
For his efforts, Peter truly is "the big cheese"