Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Happy World Penguin Day



Courtesy of Cubs great, Ron "The Penguin" Cey.   According to EarthSky.org, "April 25 is World Penguin Day, timed to coincide with the annual northward march to the sea of Antarctic penguins, as autumn edges toward winter in that part of the world."





🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧








🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧




Monday, April 24, 2017

It's a Beautiful Day For a Ballgame

Oftentimes, throughout the early spring, I'll wake up on a fine weekend morning and marvel at the sunny, cloudless skies.  With temperatures finally hitting the point where I can walk about outside without a jacket, I'll longingly mention to my wife, or anyone listening, "gosh, it's a beautiful day for a ballgame."  However, there's usually far too much to get accomplished that Saturday or Sunday to excuse spending the entire day in the bleachers at a baseball game.  Therefore, those urges often go un-quelled and those beautiful spring days are spent elsewhere, being productive and whatever.

Yesterday, the script was flipped.

One of the school district officials offered my family and I their tickets to the White Sox game that afternoon.  Now, I may be a Cubs fan, but free baseball is always good baseball and it's a rule in our household to never turn down free tickets to any event - we value experiences.  Furthermore, I hold absolutely no ill will towards the South Side ballclub and they just so happen to be my wife's team of choice.  Thus, when I woke up that morning and marveled at the blue, cloudless sky and felt the warm glow of the sun on my bare arms, I uttered "it's a beautiful day for a ballgame" with anticipation instead of longing.





It was Family Sunday at the place they now call Guaranteed Rate Field, which is a gaudy new corporate moniker that no one seems to have embraced yet.  Sox Park works for me - although, I do enjoy the nickname of Garfield.  Anyway, Family Sunday means they broke out the "Winning Ugly" era uniforms, which is the look that I am most partial to, when it comes to White Sox duds.

The visitors that day were the Cleveland Indians and while I am mostly indifferent about the Sox, I sure wouldn't have minded watching the Indians lose another game, just for old time's sake 😝


As you can tell from the picture above, the seats were pretty damn decent.  In the section immediately next to the right of the visiting bullpen, we had four seats starting from row one, seat one.  For a better idea of where we plopped our keesters, I'll refer you to a screenshot from the broadcast:




As Abraham Almonte is about to muff a Jose Abreu single (leading to an unearned run), if you squint, you can just barely make out our group in the red oval.  These were definitely some of the nicest tickets that I've ever had in a Major League stadium.  An unencumbered view and easy exit for snack and bathroom breaks = perfection.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, this was Family Sunday.  Besides the early 1980's throwback uniforms, this meant another popular promotion was on tap for the day:  mascot races.  Like many a MLB club, the White Sox have noticed the popularity of the "sausage races" in nearby Milwaukee and have appropriated them for their own amusement.  Washington uses the presidents, Pittsburgh races pierogies, and the South Side of Chicago makes use of caricature versions of franchise favorites.





In years past, names like Carlton Fisk and Paul Konerko have gotten the treatment; meanwhile, this year, the three competitors appear to be Dick Allen, Bill Melton, and Goose Gossage of the 1972 White Sox.  I'd be curious to see the selection process that goes on behind closed doors, also, if any of those guys have had nightmares after seeing their mugs plastered on a giant sausage.

Normally, this sort of promotion would elicit little more than an eye-roll from me, seeing as it's a gimmicky rehashing of another ballclub's shtick.  That said, for several years now, the White Sox have added another level to this goofiness that definitely catches my attention.  Upon entering the ballpark, every patron is handed a coupon book and a manufacturer's coupon for North Star ice cream products:




I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream; but, I think we can all agree that a buck or two off of a box of "drumsticks" isn't all that exciting.  However, once you flip these coupons over, things get much "cooler:"




FREE BASEBALL CARDS!!  WEEEEEE!!!!!!

The front side of these coincidentally 2.5" x 3.5" coupons feature the racing White Sox legends, in all of their phallic glory.  The design of these cards is actually quite solid - the cropped image of the racing "sausage" is set against a black and white image of the ballpark, framed with deep red, slashed corners, plus a couple of sponsor logos.  I think this layout would make for a desirable and collectible, traditional team-issued set, if the franchise were to pursue such an endeavor.

Between my wife, my brother, my father and I, we obtained cards/coupons featuring Melton and Allen and duplicates, but no Gossage.  Almost a full set... *womp womp*





I wasn't too disappointed, as I still had a primo view while the Indians booted balls all over the diamond (three errors), allowing the Derek Holland and the Sox to break an confounding 23-inning scoreless streak and cruise to an easy 6-2 victory.

Notably, at least for me, was the fact that former Cub (and White Sock) Austin Jackson started in center field for the Indians that afternoon.  Naturally, seeing as I am obsessed with the Cubs and their player movement (hence the CATRC), the ex-Cub quotient is something I always pay attention to when I take in a ball game.  In addition to Jackson, who was a late addition to the playoff-bound 2015 Cubs and who went 2 for 3 with a double in the game at hand, the White Sox had Zach Putnam at the ready in their bullpen and Rick Renteria calling the shots from the dugout.




The card which reps Austin in my CATRC



Then, in the ninth inning, with David Robertson on the mound and the game all but over, we fans got a little extra and unexpected entertainment.  A man who had clearly been imbibing throughout the entirety of the contest (from our section, no less) thought it would be a great idea to hop the outfield fence and run about.  Security caught up to the offender pretty quickly, but had a tough time corralling him.  At one point, an officer had the intruder by the waist band of his underpants, showcasing a full moon to the bleacher crowd during daylight hours.  From there, the same officer attempted to grab him by his Paul Konerko jersey, but all that did was rip his uniform in half and the dope was now an accidental streaker.

After a few more minutes of ducking and dodging, the perp was finally taken down, nearly naked and afraid.  At any rate, with the game having been long in hand, the incident provided some bonus excitement.  That said, please drink responsibly, folks.




 Image courtesy of David Banks/Getty Images.



All in all, we had ourselves a grand ol' time at Guaranteed Rate Field... Garfield... Sox Park... whatever you want to call it.  Watching the home team beat up on the Cubs' World Series foes, on a picture perfect spring day, certainly beats running errands and meal prepping, my wife and I's normal Sunday afternoon commitments.

Once Robertson wrapped up the game, we began making our way through the concourse.  Amidst the shuffling herd of humanity, I spotted what appeared to be a North Star coupon, face down and abandoned on the cold, hard cement.  Without missing a beat, I quickly zigged and zagged through the crowd and retrieved the lost coupon card, with fingers crossed in anticipation that it might just be the card the I needed to complete my "sausage Sox" set.

Was I so lucky?





Yes. I. Was!  Hot dog!!!! (See what I did there?)

All things considered, it was the Gossage card that I desired most, seeing as he is one of the relative few men to have played on both the South Side (1972-76) and North Side (1988) of the Windy City.  Seeing as how I keep a PC going of everyone who has ever suited up for the Chicago Cubs, in addition to my main CATRC binder, this makes for an awesome and unique oddball addition to the Gossage section.  Although, as you can see from the scanned, it's fairly scuffed, warped, and worn from being left on the pavement and stomped on by the retreating crowd; nevertheless, happening upon this wanted souvenir put an exclamation point on an already stellar day.



The Goose that sits in my CATRC


And so, I think I can definitely say that my first baseball game of 2017 was a success, based on any merit.   Free tickets, picture perfect weather, phenomenal company, home team victory, Indians lose again, free baseball cards, a streaker, and the bonus card find all combined to make it so.  Here's hoping my first Cubs game of the year is as successful, that is, if I can even afford to make it to Wrigley this year.  Those ticket prices... yikes!

That's okay, there's always the cheapest tickets in Major League Baseball (White Sox) and minor league baseball to be caught.  After all, the school I work for just so happens to be immediately next door to the Frontier League's Windy City Thunderbolts; talk about a perfect arrangement for this baseball nut!  With that in mind, on those spring and summer mornings when I wake up and think to myself, "gosh, it's a beautiful day for a ballgame," there should be no shortage of options to capitalize!

Don't you just love baseball season?





Friday, April 21, 2017

The Best of the Best - Ron Santo

First of all, stupid Blackhawks... what a pathetic showing... first round elimination at the hands of the Nashville Predators with nary any offense to speak of.  That was just not a pretty series.

I need a good palate cleanser.  Luckily, Peter from Baseball Every Night recently commemorated the first anniversary of his stellar blog (congratulations, Peter!) and the celebration of which includes a contest based around a fun and thought provoking writing prompt.  I love a good writing prompt!  The concept here is to show off your favorite card of your favorite baseball player of all-time - sounds simple enough, right?  However, there's a small twist (not M. Night Shyamalan-level, but a twist nonetheless):  the card selected must be book at less than fifteen bucks.  We're not looking for "mega mojo hits" here, just your favorite baseball card of your favorite baseball player.

The guidelines here shouldn't be too hard for me to follow, seeing as I'm a decidedly low-end collector and it would be tough to find any cards worth more than a couple bucks in my possession.  Therefore, I've decided to add a little extra challenge.  Instead of simply showing off my favorite of favorites, I'm going to do a top five countdown.  This allows me to rack my brain a little more, milk the post concept for all that it's worth, and show off a few more cards that haven't made it from my binders to the internet just yet.

First, allow me to officially declare my favorite baseballist of all-time, something I don't think I've ever clarified:




While I've waxed poetic about Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg, and even Sammy Sosa - the stars of my childhood - the king of kings in my baseball almanac is, without a doubt, Ron Santo.  While his playing career had been over for fifteen years before I was even born, this belated Hall of Famer was a favorite of my grandfathers and it was he who imbued his love of the Cubs into me.  Furthermore, Ronnie's struggles with diabetes, his perseverance and undying positive spirit, and his giving back to the community through ADA walks were a constant inspiration of hope and good faith, which made him an excellent role model.






Of course, Ronnie is best known as the emotional color-commentator on the Cubs' WGN radio broadcasts.  While he was not the best broadcaster, in the technical sense, and he was about as big of a Cubs homer as could be, one could not deny that the man was entertaining.  His emotional outbursts, goofiness, and clumsiness in the booth paired perfectly with Pat Hughes' straight-man persona on play-by-play, making for a radio call that I'd often mute the television for.  As an aspiring radio professional, this was another aspect of Ronnie that I glommed on to.

Thus, good ol' number 10 is certainly my favorite baseball player to ever take the diamond.  With that established, let's jump right into my countdown, shall we?  Before we go, I just want to note that the IP autograph that you saw above is not being included in the list (story on that card here).  While, uncertified autos might not generally be worth the requisite fifteen bucks, the John Hancock of a Hall of Famer still feels like cheating.

Okay - now, let's begin:





#5


That picture look familiar?

The sight of Ron Santo in White Sox colors (even airbrushed) might seem bizarre and sacrilegious to many Cubs fans.  However, I'm a big time fan of short-term stops - Ryne Sandberg in Phillies garb, Sammy Sosa in Orioles duds, Kerry Wood in Yankee pinstripes, Billy Williams in the bright yellow of the Oakland Athletics, etc. - I find such odd sights to be absolutely fascinating.  I'd say that Ron Santo, a Cubs icon and nearly a franchise mascot, in the uniform of their South Side rivals certainly qualifies.

With this "Traded" card from 1974 Topps, we have Ronnie's only true, vintage White Sox card and it's attached fascination makes it an easy selection for this list.  I hold no ill will towards our South Side brethren.





#4


As much as I love the oddity of seeing famous players in unfamiliar uniforms, I love the oddity of oddball trading cards.  This five of diamonds hails from the 2004 Cubs edition of the recently-featured Hero Decks product, the caricatured checklist of which included Mr. Santo.

Many thought Ronnie made a cartoon out of himself in the broadcast booth, so I guess this is somehow appropriate.  The only way this artist's rendering could have been more apropos is if it depicted "This Old Cub" in the midst of his iconic heel-click, the way he celebrated each Cubs victory in 1969.





#3


Speaking of oddballs, while the embossed All-Star cards of 1965 were produced by industry standard Topps, they certainly are "out of left field" when compared with other baseball cards of their era.  These slightly slimmer than standard, shiny inserts have been often maligned for their susceptibility to chipping, odd size, and the profile portrait bearing only a passing resemblance to the corresponding player.  Nevertheless, when I saw this card in the discount bin of my local card shop, many moons ago, there was no way I was going to pass it up.

It's different and I like different.  Not to mention, it was a shiny, vintage, unfamiliar card of my favorite player, as well.  I'll bite on that every time.





#2


Three oddball cards in a row - this one of the team-issued variety.  In 2003, with the Cubs having just clinched the NL Central Division title and just about to embark on a memorable playoff run, the Cubs honored Ron Santo by retiring his number 10.  As part of his unjustly long battle to get into the Hall of Fame, Ronnie had been denied Cooperstown induction by the Veteran's Committee earlier in the year and this was the franchise's way of saying, "hey - you matter to us!"  As part of the festivities, the team passed out these standard-sized trading cards to commemorate the retirement ceremony.

Speaking of which, this is an event which was also retrospectively featured by Topps in a recent insert set:




Santo appeared in a Topps product (along with his wife Vicki) for the first time in a long time, as part of their 100 Years of Wrigley insert set from 2017 Flagship.  This card just missed my top five, but I'm going to take this opportunity to show it off anyway.

Now, I was not so fortunate as to be able to attend this event and I picked this card up several years later at an antique mall in Volo, IL.  That said, I remember attentively watching the event on television and the unfiltered emotion that came from Santo ("this means more to me than the Hall of Fame")  left a lasting impact on me.  Plus, it was the first number retirement of my lifetime.  As such, this card is an easy selection for number two.

And now, the moment of truth - what Ron Santo card is the best Ron Santo card???  Drumroll please:




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Okay, okay... I was just trying to build up some dramatic suspense.  Without any further ado, my favorite card of my favorite player is:




#1


A 2003 All-Time Fan Favorites single.  This reworking of Topps Archives used the same basic concept, cards done in the style of classic Topps sets but with different photographs.  Especially in today's retro-crazed card market, this technique is overdone and wholly uninteresting; however, this card will always and forever stick out to me.

You see, it was this very card that got me back into baseball card collecting.  When I was a child I built my baseball card base; but, when my grandfather passed away, the cards were shoved into boxes and banished to the back of my closet.  We all grieve in our own way I suppose.  In the ensuing years, my focus shifted from our nation's pastime and onto NASCAR racing and my card-collecting habit transferred over to that sport. Until I was mid-way through my teens, all I collected was NASCAR cards and memorabilia; baseball stayed stashed behind my forgotten t-shirts and beat up running shoes.




For a long time, these were the only kinds of cards that I chased.



Then, one day, my mother decided to stop into my childhood LCS (RIP Double Play Sports Cards), for old-time's sake, and picked up the ATFF card you see above.  Like I said, he has always been a familial favorite.  When she brought it home, the blue sky, the clean photograph, the awesome Cubbie bear sleeve patch, and those glorious sideburns reminded me how much baseball once meant to me.  Within a few days, those old boxes came out of their thick coat of dust and, just like that, back into baseball I did delve.

In short, this Ron Santo card is responsible for my rediscovery of baseball and baseball cards.  While it's quite a nice card in it's own right, what it represents makes it impossible to pass up for the number one spot.

So, there you have it - my favorite card of my favorite player of all-time, along with a gaggle of other neat Ron Santo cards.  I hope you enjoyed this wild ride.  I also highly encourage you to participate in Peter's challenge along with me - the prize is promised to be exceptionally unique and picking out my favorite card turned out to be a notably fun diversion.  Plus, I'm curious to see everybody elese's selections.  Bang out your post and drop a link on Peter's original post and *BOOM*  you're entered.

What's your best of the best?





Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Tisket, a Tasket - There's Cards in This Basket


As I mentioned in my post about postage stamps, Hobby Lobby, and the Sex Pistols this past weekend, my wife and I may be in our mid-to-late 20's, but we still exchange Easter baskets with each other.  After all, we both enjoy putting together gifts and we're also both giant, overgrown children - so, it's only natural that we continue this childhood tradition.  What can I say?

So, come Easter Sunday, I whipped up a basket filled to the brim with rubber ducks, picture frames, Reese's products and Peeps (all of her favorite things), hid it under the sink, and made her search it out.  At the same time, she had also hidden a basket of goodies with my name on it; thus, we were both on the hunt for some holiday treasures.  Hopefully, she was satisfied with what I put together for her because she absolutely knocked it out of the park with what she assembled for me:




T-Shirts, Cosmic Brownies, Tootsie Rolls, new flip-flops to replace the same pair I've had since 2007, a spiffy polo for work wearing and other assorted goodies.  Needless to say, I was absolutely ecstatic with the bounty that turned up inside the dresser.  Of course, being the cardboard addict that I am, the first thing that I noticed in this basket full of awesome was a hanger box full of baseball cards.  I guess that's just how my eyes are wired:




Kris Bryant bid me a happy Easter before I ripped into this packaging.  He also wished me good luck with my pack rip - hopefully the hanger would be as bountiful as the Easter basket itself proved to be.

As my wife dug into her giant Reese's egg, I tore into this 72-card sampling of 2017 Topps Series One with Easter cheer:




Not a ton of Cubs or Cubs-related content, but there was a few cards to be had.  Unfortunately, all except the Geovany Soto "Cubs of a Different Color" exhibit were doubles in my collection and, boy oh boy, does Geo look proud of himself.  Although, admittedly, I don't recall offhand what cards I actually still need from this particular product.  Nevertheless, Cubs are always better than no Cubs, even if they're doubles.

As for the rest of the notable cards from the hanger:




Here are the inserts which came within, of which there were a few, including the Target exclusive "Fielding Awards" (Keuchel, Arenado, Kinsler) which the pack boasts of on the front.  I had to do double take on the Luis Coronel "First Pitch" single, as he's so well-dressed for the part, that I didn't realize that he wasn't an actual pitcher on an actual base card.  Apparently, Mr. Coronel is a popular singer of regional Mexican music and not an MLB hurler.

Also, in the bottom right, we have the obligatory buyback - this one featuring Brewer Bill Schroeder from 1987.  See, Tony L.?  There ARE Brewers in Topps 2017 products. *sarcasm alert*





Speaking of 1987 Topps, I also walked away with another tribute to the wood panel set (from the 30th Anniversary checklist) this one re-imagining Don Mattingly's card from the force-fed set.  As tired as I am of the tributes to this set, I cannot deny that this is a wonderful dugout shot of the mustachioed "Donnie Baseball."

This wrapped up the hanger box of 2017 Topps.  If you see anything you like, just let me know - it's all up for trade.

After we wrapped our personal Easter celebration and we cleaned up the Reese's and Cosmic Brownie wrappers which were already strewn about our floor, the wife and I made our way over to my parents to celebrate the holiday with that side of the family.  Apparently, I got my love of gifting from my mother, as she also prepped a pair of Easter baskets for the both of us.  This was quite a lovely surprise.




Nestled among even more snack foods like pistachios, Riesen's chocolate caramels, and a large package of Twix bars, were some treats for the eyes.  Apparently, my mother went so far as to actually visit my favorite LCS and pick up a few items for my collection, including this baggie full of miscellaneous former Cubs.  It certainly doesn't hurt that it starts off with Ryne Sandberg - that has to be a good portend of what's to come.  I guess my mothers knows me pretty well.




The baggie was full of mostly junk wax era singles, plus some cards from the mid-to-late 90's and the early aughts, my favorites of which are showcased above.  One of these is not like the others... can you figure out which one?

Here we have Derrek Lee showing off his Gold Glove-winning defense ('07 Fleer Ultra), Eddie Zambrano mid-throw ('95 Score), a Carlos Marmol All-Star commemoration ('08 Topps), a rookie card of the eccentric Turk Wendell ('95 Score) and Sammy Sosa beaming at the bat rack ('96 Donruss).




 
Then we have Willie Smith, via a minor league ProCards single, posing for the camera.  However, the AAA uniform he's sporting is not that of the Iowa Cubs, it's a Columbus Clippers get up.  This is a switcheroo that this LCS proprietor makes fairly often, as the "C" of the Clippers cap looks quite similar to the iconic Cubs "C" at a quick glance.  Oopsy daisy.  For the record, Smith briefly reached the Majors in 1994, with the Cardinals, for eight games.

That concluded the repack baggie of past Cubs; however, that was not the end of the Easter baseball card madness.  In fact, my mother went ahead and brought out the big guns for this basket case.  As a special holiday treat, she also selected a pair of vintage Hall of Famers from the glass display case in the front of the store (a selection of cards from which this cheapskate almost never picks from).  She choose well, going with a pair of familial favorites going back to my grandfather, to put an exclamation point on this Easter holiday:




 

Hot damn - a 1970 Kellogg's Ernie Banks and a 1968 Topps TSN All-Star Ron Santo!  My jaw was literally agape when I saw these, tucked away next to the Twix bars and stored safely in top-loaders.  In fact, the Kellogg's card of Mr. Cub is my very first vintage Banks, as playing day cards of the franchise icon hold an imposing premium in the Chicago market.  The same can be said for vintage Santos as well, even when they come in burlap.

It's a good thing I found these last, as there's no way that these could have been followed up.

In short, I had one heckuva Easter and ended up with a surprising amount of cardboard, in addition to my traditional junk food.  The only thing that could have made the holiday better was if I also got a bag of licorice jelly beans.  The rest of the world might hate them, but they are by far my favorite pieces of Easter candy.  That said, the oddball Banks and the All-Star Santo are pretty swell consolation prizes.  My wife and my mother are pretty awesome.

Did anyone else find any baseball cards in their Easter baskets on Sunday?






Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Taxing Day





Allow me to walk you through the range of emotions I feel on Tax Day, after discovering that I've checked the wrong box on my employment paperwork and that I owe the Government and TurboTax some hard-earned dinero.

Here is a visual representation, in baseball card form, of how both my wallet and I feel:



Confused...







  ...annoyed...









...pained...








...and beaten.



Always remember to make sure you you fill out pedantic paperwork correctly - if you glaze over it, that will almost certainly come back to bite you in the butt.  I've learned this lesson the hard way.

Okay, I'm probably (definitely) being overly-dramatic here.  While it's uber-frustrating to owe the government money after grueling through my taxes and disappointing to not get a tax return for the first time in my life, it's not a huge amount of money and I can easily absorb the unexpected expense.  I just needed an outlet and this blog is my most trusted place of fairly anonymous expression.

However, I hope Tax Day goes better for all of you reading this than it did for me.





Saturday, April 15, 2017

Going Postal at Hobby Lobby

It's the day before Easter and I'm just now putting together a small basket of goodies for my wife. Since I'm a bonafide guy, of course I waited until the day before to assemble this gift - isn't that the grown man tradition?  Although, I must admit, I did do some early preparation for the good deed.  A couple of days ago, I strolled into the local Hobby Lobby in search of some crafting supplies, as I'd decided to get crafty with parts of said Easter basket.

However, I didn't take into consideration what I was wearing while wandering around the notably conservative craft store.  I could feel eyes on me as I meandered up and down each aisle.  I know what you're wondering, what could I have possibly worn that upset the crowd of old retirees and rich soccer moms that populate such an establishment?




The answer is a t-shirt for a band that's been around for 40 years now and whose frontman apparently has spoken fondly of Donald Trump in recent weeks.  But, they have the word "Sex" in their name; so apparently, they are still lewd, scary and threatening to the patrons of Hobby Lobby.  Also, the sheer oddity of a bearded man in a punk rock t-shirt buying beads and colored jewelry wire could have also been the reason for the stares.  My demographic was certainly not well-represented in the establishment.

At any rate, I definitely felt uncomfortable and, as soon as I found my needed materials, I was happy to get the heck out of Dodge,  That said, I couldn't help but make a quick trip to their "collector's aisle" in the back of the store before I made my retreat.  Filled with models cars, HO scale railroad set paraphernalia, stamp stuff, and card-collecting supplies.  While I was there to make a gift for someone else, I decided to grab a little treat for myself too.  Spoiler alert:  it wasn't from the card-collecting supply portion of the aisle, either:




Yea, I grabbed a starter kit for stamp collecting; I ventured a little bit off of the beaten path.

In my life, I've collected A LOT of thing - baseball cards, records, watches, rubber wristbands, band t-shirts (like the one I was wearing!), action figures, 1:64 scale die-cast, coins and so on and so forth.  Since I was a kid, I've basically collected everything, so it's bit strange that one of the few things that I've never really dabbled in is stamp collecting, one of the world's oldest collecting interests.  My mother has a book full of them and tried to pass them on to me, at one point, but they just never drew me in.

That's truly not about to change any time soon either.  I did't grab this "Famous American Men" starter pack in order to kick off a new collecting habit.  I grabbed this cellophane wrapped cardboard envelope in hopes of finding some baseball-related stamps for my baseball card collection.  After all, both feature pictures of famous people and hold collectible value - they're basically cousins.

For a couple of bucks, I shrugged my shoulders and figured, "why not?"  It's something different.





Lo and behold, I was not skunked.  Baseball immortals Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth were featured front and center on the packaging, but the disclaimer of "stamps included may vary" had me doubting whether or not they'd be included.  Success!

As you can see, these stamps have already been mailed or cancelled, as evidenced by the markings inked over their pictures, so that's a bit of a drag. The "luckiest man in the world" appears on a 25 cent stamp, issued on June 10, 1989 from Cooperstown, as part of a set which honors athletes from the era of 1903-41. Meanwhile, the "Sultan of Swat" shows up on a 20 cent piece issued on July 6, 1983, released in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of baseball's All-Star Game.

These two Yankees were the only baseball or sports-related personalities to fall out of the envelope (no Cubs - womp, womp), but there were still several other "famous men" who caught my attention.



Oh look, a controversial in his time musician - how appropriate for a purchase made during my Sex Pistols snafu.  Elvis the Pelvis shows his mug (but not his hips, heaven forbid!), in beautiful, bold colors, on this 29 cent stamp from 1993.

Presley was the only musician of the bunch, but this next fella sure knew how to drop some mad lyrics:



Edgar Allen Poe - god to every emo and goth kid from my age bracket.  This acclaimed poet shows up on a considerably older stamp, a 3 cent piece that dates from way back in 1949.  Ooooh, antiquey!

To make up the rest of the "stamp repack," we have a few presidents...





...and some other, miscellaneous and notable Americans.  All except the Bobby Kennedy example appear to date from the 1930's or 1940's.


With that, we've reached the end of this random pack of stamps.

Overall, nothing here was super rare, of high value (even in mint condition), or even particularly notable; however, like a baseball card repack, those aren't the goals for this starter kit.  What they are is fascinating little bits of American ephemera that make a great jumping off point for a blossoming collector.  I shan't be one of them, but I did get my baseball-tinged stamps; so, overall, I'm calling this a win.

Meanwhile, I should probably get off Blogger and wrap up this whole Easter Basket thing - I do have less than a day's worth of time left, after all. "Ironman Lou" and the "Colossus of Clout" will make for great additions to my random baseball oddballs accumulation.  In fact, while I've stated that I never collected stamps outright, they won't even be the first such pieces to enter into any of my collections.  Like I said, trading cards and postage stamps are basically cousins.

Also, the Sex Pistols are still scary to old people.