What's better than going to a card show? How about a a pair of ballgames combined with a baseball card show? Does that move the needle for you?
I don't know about you, but when I saw that one of the local ballparks was hosting a card show on the concourse during one of their traditional Sunday doubleheaders, I nearly leapt out of my chair and immediately circled that date on my calendar with thick, red ink. Okay, more like proverbial red ink; after all, it is the 21st century and I made this notation through the calendar application on my smart phone, which is not Sharpie compatible. Anyway...
When I saw this listing on the Beckett Show Calendar, my heart started pulsating with excitement. After all, any excuse to go to the ballpark is a good excuse, especially one that revolves around my favorite hobby. Plus, I used to work just down the street from this particular stadium and never got around to attending a game there, although I apparently did claim a pocket schedule back in 2015. Hence, this was the perfect excuse to kill two birds with one stone - it almost seemed too good to be true... and you know what they say about THAT.
The warning signs were there - there was no advertising for the show through the park's social media channels, it did not appear on their official calendar, and the information on Beckett was vague. Nevertheless, I chose to plow through these signs in a blissful ignorance, laser-focused on making the half an hour drive to attend a perfect pairing of my two favorite things to do on a sunny, Sunday afternoon.
Of course, I mean attending baseball games and browsing through... a comic book show?
Or perhaps this Simpsons-themed meme is more appropriate:
Out of the 10 or so booths that were set up throughout the concrete walkways of Standard Diamonds Park, all of them mostly focused on comic books, with a few also dealing in similarly themed toys and memorabilia. Two - just two - had any trading cards and those were nothing of substance or significance. Needless to say, my bliss was immediately shattered and I felt immensely let down. I listlessly wandered about, asking myself, how could a show at a ballpark have barely anything to do with America's pastime? The irony!
As I mentioned earlier, I saw the warning signs and I chose not to open up my eyes. I should have listened to Ace of Base on the drive over.
Even though this "card" show turned out to be quite the pumpkin, all was not lost. I mean, worst case scenario, I still got to watch some live baseball and that's not a bad silver lining!
Standard Diamonds Park at Oil City Stadium is a little, neighborhood ballpark in Whiting, IN. It's beautiful, red brick facade and placement in a charming downtown setting (immediately next to an old railroad siding) evoke memories of baseball's past and make for a wonderful place to take in a game or two. The venue plays host to the Whiting HS Oilers and the nearby Calumet College of St. Joseph Crimson Wave ballclubs, as well as a Midwest Collegiate League franchise in the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. It was this latter team who would be starring in that Sunday doubleheader.
Thus, after coming to terms with the card show mishap, I made my way to the grandstand, found myself some real estate on the third base side, near home plate, and plopped down for an afternoon of entertainment. What better way could there be to distract me from my disappointment?
Just beyond the outfield fence, you can see the place where I used to work and the namesake for the Oilmen - the local BP plant. For a few years, I worked as an environmental contractor at the facility and often, maybe while perilously perched on one of those tall towers, found myself wishing I was at the ballpark across the way instead. Well, it took me until two and a half years after I switched employers, but I finally made it! Better late than never, right?
For as displeasing as the card... err... comic book show was, the show on the field was just as entertaining. In game one, both the Oilmen and the visiting Joliet Generals took a dueling no-hitter into the late innings. The home team eventually won by a score of 5-3, with the game ending on a slick defensive play that would have otherwise resulted in the tying run being scored. As for the second game... as enthralled as I was, the heat was starting to get to me due to temps in the mid-90's and there not being a sliver of shade in the stadium.
Nevertheless, I was sufficiently entertained by the first tilt; so, at least I got some value out of my Sunday afternoon trip.
Oh and even though there wasn't really any cardboard to be had, I did end up with a nifty souvenir anyway. I scooped the above foul ball out of the grass just outside of left field and near the lot where my car was parked. That made for a pretty damn cool way to end a day at the old ballpark - it looks great nestled on my dresser next to my Frontier League and Carolina League balls.
But wait - that's not where this story ends. Just so you know, this is where I'm going to get extremely braggy about my better half.
During the breaks in action on the field, I spent some time texting with my wife, who opted to use her Sunday for "me time" instead of baking in the sun. Of course, I let her know all about how I had the rug pulled out from underneath me and the card show turned out to be an unfortunate misnomer. This wonderful woman shared my dismay and immediately took it upon herself to do what she could to make up for my flustering. Later that evening, when I arrived back at our apartment, I found my beautiful wife with this in her hands:
"I know this set has been out for a while and you probably have everything you need from it, but I just wanted to do what I could to make up for the show."
At the moment, my smile could not have fit on a highway billboard. There are billions of "fish in the sea" and I somehow was lucky enough to find this perfect person. I honestly could not have cared less about what was in the pack - it could have somehow been filled with nothing but 1991 Fleer, for all I cared. The only thing that mattered to me was how she cared enough about me to go out of her way and try to make me happy. Look, I could go on and on, but I write a blog about baseball cards, not Hallmark cards.
With that in mind, I guess that's enough of the lovey-dovey stuff... you probably just want to see the contents of the pack anyway. First, the inserts:
As you can see, this pack came from Target, as the Cody Bellinger insert set is only available at the red bullseye.
Next, the Cubs contingent:
One that got away in the form of Christian Villanueva. I'm glad to see that he's thriving in San Diego - he's always had the potential, but was never going to get past Kris Bryant.
Moving on, here's some base:
Nothing too notable here. Although, admittedly, one of these could very well be a photo variation or short print or what have you... I didn't dot my i's or cross my t's here.
And finally, we'll conclude with the horizontal heroes portion of my surprise pack of 2018 Topps Series Two:
I'm usually not one for horizontal cards as they upset my sense of cardboard OCD; however, I must admit, these are some eye-catching images.
So, as you can see, the cards themselves weren't too notable. However, that's not what's important here, as this pack was all about the gesture. This show of affection from my caring wife completed the transformation of the day - while it started out as lackluster, it ended up becoming absolutely wonderful in the end. Although the card show was a comic show in disguise, I got to see an exciting ballgame in a ballpark that I had long been meaning to check out, I made off with a foul ball, and - most importantly - my awesome wife surprised me with a pack of baseball cards to try and cheer me up. Add all of that together and you end up with one happy Burbs.
Although, I do have to ask myself, has anyone else ever been duped in the manner that I was on that Sunday afternoon? Did you ever go into a venue expecting a card show and end up walking into something else entirely? Please feel free to talk about the experience in the comment section below.
Meanwhile, in the future, I'll be sure to pay attention to those previously ignored warning signs. I simply can't afford to let my wife buy a pack of baseball cards every time I do something dimwitted - we'd go bankrupt!