Monday, August 31, 2015

Say It's...So?

According to multiple media outlets, MLB is expected to hand down a decision on the reinstatement of Shoeless Joe Jackson tomorrow morning.  An announcement is expected to be made on the Facebook page of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum.  This is something that is a long time coming, considering since he died in 1951.  Since it was a lifetime ban and his lifetime is over, this makes a lot of sense.

I know the circumstances around his ban rocked baseball, and the need to be able to trust that the players are on the up and up is very important.  Jackson, if reinstated, would be something of a sure bet for the Hall of Fame.

My hope is that if Jackson is reinstated, that Buck Weaver will also be reinstated as well, especially since it is widely known that he never took any money for the 1919 World Series fix.  Weaver just didn't rat on his teammates.

We will know for sure tomorrow, and I, for one, am really excited.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

2015 National Free VIP Signer - Maury Wills

One of the other highly anticipated autographs that I was able to get at the National was Maury Wills.  He was actually the last VIP signer that I got (even though I still have another to show after this one).  Wills was really nice, and we chatted about the weather (believe it or not) during the signing.  As I walked up to him, thunder could be heard, and the both of us commented on it.  Then we could hear the torrential downpour that was going on outside.  It turns out, a severe thunderstorm was passing through Chicago at that time.  I don't believe any tornadoes were spotted, but I think we were as close to having one as we could.  A few minutes after Wills signed for me, the power went off in the venue.  It was a weird sight, for sure.

Wills (b. 1932) played in the majors from 1959 to 1972 for the Dodgers, Pirates and Expos.  He had 2,134 hits, 20 home runs and a .281 career batting average.  He led the league in stolen bases six seasons in a row.  He was the 1962 NL MVP and won the World Series in 1959, 1963 and 1965.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

2015 National Free VIP Signer - Manny Sanguillen

I think the free signer I looked forward to the most was Manny Sanguillen.  I kind of follow the Pirates a little bit, here and there, especially since I have been to PNC Park twice now.  Sanguillen is a Pirates legend, having won two World Series in Pittsburgh (1971 and 1979).  He played in the majors from 1967 and 1969 to 1980 for the Pirates and A's.

What sticks out most to me about Sanguillen, though, is a story that I read about the memorial service for his former teammate, Roberto Clemente.  When Clemente passed away, the Pirates held a memorial service for him that was attended by all of his teammates, with the exception of one, Sanguillen.  The reason he wasn't at the memorial was because he was busy diving off the coast of Puerto Rico in shark infested waters, looking for Clemente's body.  That's true friendship, right there.

According to Sanguillen's SABR page, it says that Sanguillen was actually supposed to accompany Clemente on his ill-fated flight, but had misplaced his car keys and missed the flight.

Sanguillen was really quiet during the signing at The National, but he was friendly when I spoke to him.  I thanked him for the autograph and moved along, since his line was so long.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A $5 Mystery Pack At The National

When our group was walking around the National, we stopped by one vendor who had a bunch of mystery packs for $5 each that promised vintage hits like a Bowman Joe DiMaggio, a 1939 Boston Red Sox signed baseball, and stuff like that.  We all thought it would be fun to give the mystery packs a shot, so we all bought in (Me, Andrew, Max, Frankie and Max's dad).  The first mystery pack I bought yielded a 1970 Hoyt Wilhelm and a 1966 Don Schwall.  Not too bad.  It was fun enough, so I figured I would try again, as did my friends, and my second mystery pack was much better.

I pulled this 1982 Topps Cal Ripken RC out of a $5 mystery pack.  Now my fourth '82 Topps Ripken, this was a really cool hit.  Frankie ended up with an early 50s Bowman card, which carried some value, but none of the stuff the guys pulled equaled the excitement I got out of pulling this Cal.

Yeah, I know I have others, but it still was a lot of fun to get a PC item (a rookie, at that).  Maybe I'll take the plunge sometime and get one of them graded.  I don't know.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2015 National Free VIP Signer - Cecil Cooper

One of the coolest baseballs that I got signed at the National was this 1983 All Star Game ball by Cecil Cooper.  I got the ball for something like $15.00 off of Ebay right before I left for the show.  Max and I had spent some time on Skype trying to find specialty baseballs that would cover some of the guys we were going to meet.  I saw this one and jumped on it.  I know it is aged quite a bit and has that big splotch on it, but I believe it adds character to the ball.
Cooper played in the majors from 1971 to 1987 for the Red Sox and Brewers.  He had a much better career than I first thought.  He had 2,192 hits, 241 home runs and a .298 batting average.  He had over 200 hits in 3 seasons and batted .300 or batter in 8 seasons (7 in a row).  He was an All Star 5 times and finished as high as 5th in the AL MVP voting (three times, 1980, 1982 and 1983).

Max got this 1987 Topps signed for me, since we had extra vouchers for Cooper.  I provided some cards and Max got the signatures.  Since I had 1987 Topps cards coming out of my ears, I figured that getting a few signed would be nice.  They do, in fact, look good signed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

2015 National Free VIP Signer - Eric Hinske

Another of the free signers was another award winner, 2002 AL Rookie of the Year, Eric Hinske.  I will always remember Hinske for his winning the award with Orioles Rodrigo Lopez finishing runner-up.  Lopez had a really good year, that year, and an argument could have been made for him winning.

Hinske had a pretty good career.  He played for 12 years and amassed 947 hits, 137 home runs and a .249 batting average for the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Yankees, Braves and Diamondbacks.  He won the World Series in 2007 with the Red Sox and in 2009 with the Yankees.

Hinske was pretty nice, but didn't go above and beyond like Tom Gordon did.  Nothing against him or anything, but it was hard to pass Gordon.  The 2002 AL Rookie of the Year inscription was free, which was nice.  I do like a good inscription, so this worked out well.

Monday, August 24, 2015

2015 National Free VIP Signer - Ben Grieve

The next specialty baseball I got signed at the National was this 1998 Rawlings Official All Star baseball by 1998 AL Rookie of the Year, Ben Grieve.  Grieve didn't talk a whole lot, but was friendly nonetheless.  That ball, though, looks really cool.  It is in Rockies colors, and Grieve signed it below the logo.

The 1998 AL Rookie of the Year inscription was also free, which was nice.  I did my best to get some special baseballs for some of the free signers, since I didn't necessarily have a need for them in the collection.  I do like getting various rookies of the year, or MVPs, so it did work out with Grieve and a couple of the other signers.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

2015 National Free VIP Signer - Tom Gordon

The first signer I got at the National was during the Wednesday Sneak Peek, right after I got off of my plane.  I had rushed to the show, got my VIP pass and vouchers and quickly met up with Max and Andrew.  They helped me find the Schoop patch, then it was off to the autograph pavilion to try to get signatures.  There was no line for Tom Gordon, and I had purchased this 2006 All Star OMLB specifically for Gordon.  I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get his auto, since my plane landed so late, but I was happy to see that Gordon was still there.

He was really nice to Max, Andrew and I, and talked to us for quite a while.  He told us a story about who the toughest players he faced were, naming guys like Manny Ramirez, and others.  He then decided after naming several names, that he would be better served telling us who he owned.  He told a story about how he absolutely owned Roberto Kelly, so much so, that he struck him out so much, that Kelly threw his bat to the ground as hard as he could after on futile at bat.

I closed up our meeting with Gordon by telling him that he has been really fun watching his son, Dee, play ball, and that I had seen Dee play since his time with the Lookouts.  Gordon thanked me, and said that his son was a good kid and would be signing autographs at The National like him some day.  He's right.

I was really happy with how meeting Tom Gordon went.  That session alone made my getting the VIP passes worthwhile.  I was so happy to see how good he was wish everyone he signed for, and that he went out of his way to make us all feel like we were having a great time.  He won some new fans that day, for sure.

My ball got the full name and nickname signature: "Tom Flash Gordon".

An Amazing Pull From 2015 Topps Chrome

I'm interrupting my regularly scheduled series of posts about what I got at the National to show what I pulled yesterday out of 2015 Topps Chrome.  I got a jumbo box in the mail from my supplier and busted it right before dinner last night.

I was very excited to pull this purple refractor of Kris Bryant that is numbered 211/250.  The card is amazing, no way around it.  I would normally keep something like this, but I already have a buyer lined up, and I doubt I would let it go to anyone else.

Still, though, this was a really awesome pull, and the box I bought it paid off and then some by just one card.  I wish I could be this lucky all the time.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Another Set Need From The National

I'm still way off on needs for the 1967 Topps set, but I have them all listed out in my notebook.  I wanted to make sure the cards I needed were listed in there at least, before I went to Chicago.  I figured that I might see some cheap 67s, and I was right.  I got this card out of a bargain bin and snatched it up, since I knew I needed one for the set.  I already had one in the Brooks PC, but I didn't want to rob from that to work on the set.

I also found another 67 that I needed in one of my own boxes at the house, so, that's two cards down, a lot to go.  I will work to get the needs list posted on here.  Since I finished off 1959, I plan on knocking out 1967 and 1969 before I jump into more vintage sets.  One set I really need to get done is 1972. I bought a lot of those in bulk, hoping I could make a dent in that set.  I did ok, but I still need quite a few more.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Great Dime Box Finds At The National

If the National lasted two weeks, I still don't believe I would have had enough time to look through all of the dime boxes that I saw.  Nonetheless, I did go through quite a few of them, and was happily surprised at some of the cards that I found.  There were color parallels of some of my PC guys, there were a bunch of vintage (I bought out a guy's 1972 Topps that he had in a dime box to help me have a decent start when I begin that set), and several good rookies.

The two best cards that I found in the dime boxes were, in fact, rookies.  The above Josh Donaldson 2010 Bowman was a great find for a dime.  He is a legitimate MVP candidate (although, I hope he falls short for my own selfish reasons) and is having a career year.  I liked Donaldson quite a bit when he was with the A's, but now that he is with the Blue Jays, I can only respect the fact that he is a really good player on a team I am continuing to loathe more and more.  Still, though, for a dime, this is a great card.
Because I have so many 1987 Topps cards, I am always looking to help folks out with that set.  I doubt that I will ever be rid of my 1987s, but I can dream.  The one card that I always am picking up is the Barry Bonds RC,  Usually running for $2-$3, I got this one for a dime.  I could easily sell it for 20x to 30 times what I paid for it, which isn't bad.  If I had found more, I would have grabbed them, too.  I may end up holding onto at least one of these at some point, since I do like the set design, and this is the most iconic card in the set, steroids or not.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Awesome Brooks Robinson Pickup From The National

On the last day of the National, I was way over budget and almost tapped out on cash.  I didn't let it stop me from adding some cards to my collection, though.  I mean, that was the reason I went to the National in the first place, to have a good time and buy some cards.

I had seen this 2010 Topps Sterling Brooks Robinson 5-piece relic card at the Wednesday sneak peek, but the guy at the table gave a redonkulous price, and I balked at it.

Come Sunday, however, the prices were much more reasonable, and I grabbed this card as my last purchase.

This is the Sterling card that I had mentioned a couple times, if you haven't figured that out already.  I really like the product, and being able to add this to the Brooks PC, well, that was a nice treat.  This might be one of the best Brooks cards that I have in my collection.  It is right up there with the Brooks RC, or the graded 1967 Topps that my mom got me.

My pile of cards from the National is beginning to dwindle down, then I have some IP autos to show.  I'll continue to post some stuff from the National, of course, but in the next week or so, I am going to start getting back into maildays and such.  I hope you all are enjoying seeing the stuff I picked up, though.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Gift From An Amazing Friend

One of my favorite parts of the National was that I was able to spend the 4 and a half days I was there with some of my closest friends in collecting.  I even made a couple new friends while I was there.  I've been friends with Max, now, for over a year and a half.  He is a really great guy, and is beyond generous.

Max is a huge Cubs fan, and living in Chicago, he goes to a bunch of games every year.  Recently, he picked up this baseball for me during one of his trips.  He had gotten the ball signed by none other than Cubs rookie, Kris Bryant.  The best part, though, is that Max didn't ask for anything in return for the ball.  Well, he did ask for a graded 10 Andre Dawson auto that was given to us when we entered the show, but I was going to give that to him anyway.

At Max's house, he and his family showed us great hospitality.  They held a cookout for us, and later in the evening, I played Pack Wars with Max and Andrew.  We had a lot of fun, and even got some trading done.

I was able to see Max's "Skype Studio" during my tour of his home, which was kind of weird.  It was just different seeing what was on the other side of the webcam.  He also showed me his collection, his card setup and "man cave."  It is always interesting to see how others have their stuff set up, and Max had one of the best setups I have seen.

Max has become one of my closest friends, in the community, and outside of it as well.  He has shown me his amazing generosity, to which I will always be grateful.  I'm very happy that we met and have traded, and now have met in person.

Max is an incredible athlete.  He has excelled in football and baseball.  He advanced to the National finals in football last year in Florida.  He has also won baseball tournaments in Cooperstown.  I know he is really proud of his accomplishments, and the awards he has won mean a lot to him.  That isn't lost on me at all.

Thanks so much for the ball, buddy, and the other stuff you have given me.  I cherish it all.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bob Feller Pickups From The National

I'm always on the lookout for new Bob Feller stuff when I go to card shows.  The National was no different.  I was able to pick up two new Feller autos for my PC.

The above Feller auto from 2001 Topps Archives Reserves is a nice one that I hadn't seen before.  The card is really sharp, and was one of the last purchases I made at the show.  I bundled it with a higher end card that I still need to show (I referenced it when I was discussing Topps Sterling a few days ago).
This Feller was also picked up on the last day of the show.  The night before, we all congregated at Max's house for a cookout and played pack wars.  I won the bulk of the cards, including a 2012 Topps David Ortiz printing plate.  Normally, I would have contacted my friends Joey, or Scott, who collect the Red Sox and would have offered it to them.  Instead, I decided to take it to the show on the last day and see what I could flip it for.

It took me two tables/vendors to find a match, and when I offered the plate for this Feller, the vendor said "Sure, I'll do that trade."  So, I was able to take a card I won in pack wars and flip it for a nice PC pickup.  An autograph (on card) of one of the greatest pitchers ever.  I was happy with that deal.

The card is a 2001 Fleer Greats of the Game and, again, the auto is on card.  It looks really sharp scanned.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Chris Davis Pickups From The National

It is going to be a tough offseason, coming up.  Chris Davis becomes a free agent, along with several other longtime Orioles, and it looks like an extreme long shot for the Orioles to re-sign him.  He's been my favorite Oriole for the past few years.  He has been pretty hot lately, and I'm hoping he can keep it up so the Orioles can stay in contention.

I ended up with quite a few Davis cards from the National.  My good friend, Max, helped me find several that I needed for my PC.  The above card was in a cheap relic/auto box, and Max handed it to me as we were sorting through.  This is a 2014 Panini Classics Baseball relic numbered 98/99.
Max actually gave me this 2014 Panini Classics Baseball relic of Chris Davis, which was really nice of him.  This one is numbered 78/99.
Finally, Max found me this manufactured patch from 2014 Topps.  I had the plain O's logo, but didn't have the 60th anniversary one pictured here.  I'm glad I have it now.

I'm slowly making my way through the cards that I got, but there are still a ton to go.  I also stil have some signed baseballs to get to.  In the meantime, some packages have come in, so I will have plenty to blog about for a good while.  I'm happy about that.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bargain Bin Nolan Reimold Pickups From The National

I have a long way to go before I finish up all of my posts about the National.  I'm cool with that, since I had a good, dry spell with very little to write about.  I still am not buying any cards, which is good, but that hurts with trades, since nothing new is coming in.  I still will be a while before I can get my expenses back in line, especially with the unexpected one that arose last week.

Anyway, I wanted to show off two of the bargain bin cards that I picked up while I was at the National.  I got these two Nolan Reimold cards from the same vendor; he had $2.00 (I think) relics and autos, so I made out like a champ with these cards.  They were either $2.00 or $5.00.  I don't remember.

I already had one of these 2009 Topps Triple Threads 7=pc relic/auto cards.  This one, though, has a patch.  Numbered 73/75, I was really happy to add it to the Reimold PC.
I didn't have this 2008 Donruss Threads Diamond King auto, in the PC yet.  I was really happy to spot it in the box.  It is numbered 222/500.  I think I did really well with my Reimold PC while I was at the National.

I learned that it is really tough if you are looking for singular cards while you are there.  However, if you have a couple players in mind, you have a good chance of finding them in the bargain bins, as long as their name isn't Mantle, Ruth, etc.  One of my friends is a big Jack Wilson fan, and another is a huge Nori Aoki fan, and I found quite a few cards of each of those guys while I was there.  I'm sure if I had hit a few more of those bargain bins, I would have come away with more Reimolds.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Jimmie Foxx Pickup at the National

One of the first cards I picked up the Thursday at the National was this Jimmie Foxx 6-pc bat relic card from 2008 Topps Sterling.  The card is numbered 9/10 and looks amazing in person.

I found it early that day while I was walking around with Max and Andrew and looking for the Cal Ripken Donruss Elite auto.  This makes a really cool addition to my Foxx PC.  I love Topps Sterling, and was happy to add another card from that series to my collection.  I actually liked it so much, I picked up another Sterling later on in the show.  You'll have to stay tuned to see what that was.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Christmas Present From Mom, in August, at the National

This past Christmas, my mom gave me a $20 prepaid Master Card to use on baseball cards.  It took me until August to use it, but I think I did pretty well.

I challenged myself to get the best possible deal with the card, and the two cards I got far surpassed anything that I thought I would be able to find.

The above 2014 Topps Trajectory jumbo relic of Chris Davis would probably have found itself on next year's Top 10 Wishlist, since I really wanted one, but hadn't jumped on one yet.  The card is numbered 11/99, and looks awesome.  I really loved the Trajectory design, and now I have this and a Ripken auto.
I was also able to throw in this 2014 Topps Supreme Jonathan Schoop auto, numbered 45/45.  This was the other Schoop auto I had referred to in my Schoop post a couple days ago.

The Davis jumbo has gome for $15-$20 regularly, so being able to get it, and the numbered to 45 Schoop auto was really a steal.  I feel like I did a great job in my "challenge."  I may do something similar at next year's show.  Take a certain amount of money, and challenge myself to get the best possible deal, then blog about it.  Seems too easy...

Thanks for the Christmas present, Mom!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Another Tough Day

I was really pleased with how his urn turned out.  I am so glad I chose to go this route, as opposed to burying him.  He was an inside cat, and I am glad I kept it that way.
Yeah, this blog is normally about baseball cards, but really, it has been a sort of diary for me as well. I don't often let emotions show, unless I am ranting about the Orioles, but the last couple of days have been pretty tough.  The outpouring of support that I have gotten is amazing, and so appreciated.

Today, I picked up Jericho's remains from Carolina Pet Crematorium.  They did a fantastic job for me, and the urn I picked out is pretty classy and very fitting.  You can see it above.  He will now rest atop my desk, overlooking his domain.  Some folks say that they "own" a pet, but I am here to tell you that this cat "owned" me.  I sure hope he knows just how much I miss him.  I didn't want to run the issue into the ground, but I am having a harder time that I ever thought I would.
Kitten Jericho playing peek-a-boo in a clothes basket.
You see, I cared for him and protected him ever since I took him from that couple in the parking lot at Harris-Teeter.  I've always been the sensitive sort, especially when it comes to animals.  There was once a cat that had been hit by a car in the parking lot, and I was really upset and freaking out a bit, and one of the kids that worked there had the nerve to say "come on man, it's just a stupid cat."  I'll never forget that poor thing.  It's just how I am.

Back to Jericho.  He really was special.  He was among a litter of four kittens that a couple nursed after having found them when the cats' mother had been run over by a car.  They nursed the kittens for as long as it took to get them to where they could eat on their own.  When they were old enough, instead of taking them to the animal shelter, they decided to give them away for free in the HT parking lot.  That was a pretty fateful day, because my then-roommate had recently discussed adopting a pet for our apartment.  We each picked out our own cats, his a black one that he named "Hunter" and I picked Jericho because he resembled the family cat we had back home that was named Sam.

I always respected Sam because he was this huge outdoor cat with tons of notches in his ears from all of the tangles with wildlife that he had.  Sam was a badass; ask any of my siblings and they will tell you.  He was the reason that I picked Jericho that day.  When Sam lost his final battle (with a raccoon) and died, I was upset.  I even cried a little.  He was 12 or maybe a little older, but I knew when he passed, that raccoon had gotten the biggest fight he ever bargained for.  It got an even bigger fight when my brother put a bullet in him, but that's another story for another day, but good riddance, raccoon.
Jericho was always complimented on his eyes.  He was one beautiful cat.
I said in a previous post that three of the four kittens were given homes by me, my roommate Mike and my friend Jennifer.  I have no idea what happened to that fourth kitten.  For all I know, it got a loving home, and may even still be alive today.  I know Mike's cat (Hunter) passed away unexpectedly a couple years after he and I went our separate ways, and Jennifer's cat (Casey) ran away not too long thereafter.  This left Jericho.
Jericho is all business, with his paws crossed, waiting for some catnip.
Anyone who came to my home would be greeted by Jericho not too long after their arrival.  He would make his presence known by jumping up on the couch and demanding to be loved.  He never knew a stranger, and was skiddish only around my little sister, Christy, who was 2 when I got him and tried to ride him like a horse.  Even recently, he would still hide from her (and she is now 15), and all young blonde girls (my niece being one of them) because he did not want to be ridden.
He would always come into the bathroom in the morning and plop on the floor in front of me, further reminding me that I have absolutely no privacy in this house.  He and our other cat, Ozzy, would compete for that spot in the floor, with Ozzy yielding to the older Jericho.  Ozzy would come in and taunt him, trying to goad a fight, every now and then.  This would cause some good entertainment in the mornings that made any bathroom reader unnecessary.
Jericho's favorite position, though, was the one seen above.  He would lie on his back, with his legs spread, leaving his special no-no parts exposed for all to see.  He didn't care, this was his house.  When the dog (Rocky) was brought in around Christmas 2012, Jericho paid him no mind.  Ozzy would taunt Rocky every now and then, bat him on the nose, just to mess with him.  Jericho, well, he just ignored Rocky because as far as Jericho was concerned, Rocky couldn't pet him.

I would joke at work with my friend Rae, who would pet-sit for us.  She would always tell me how good a dog Rocky was and how Ozzy would talk to her and demand attention.  She would then tell me "I had to poke Jericho because he would never move, just to make sure he was alive."  That was Jericho.  He did what he wanted, and had an amazing life.  I still think back to the other night when he passed, replaying it in my head.  I wish I had been able to just hug him and tell him it was going to be ok.  Jericho knew it wasn't, but I didn't.  That last bite to my arm wasn't any attack on me, I know it.  It was his final way of telling me, "Daddy, it's not ok.  I'm really hurting."  Well, buddy, I am glad that you were able to tell me that it was time and that you were able to go with Mal and I around.  I'm glad it wasn't overnight, for me to find you in some corner after I woke up.  I think that would have been far more traumatic.  Also, I am glad that I didn't have to make the decision to put you down.  I don't think I would have been able to function at all if that were the case.
Check out the amazing job that the crematory did for me.  They did a nose print, a paw print, this great poem, also a clay paw print and a wildflower that we can plant in his memory
God, I miss him.  It is the little things, really, that make you notice that a loved one isn't here.  Last night, Ozzy was on my lap (and, man, you can tell that he is down) and I wanted to get up, so Mal said for me to bring him to her, and she would let him lay on her for a while.  So, I picked him up, thought for a second, and started crying.  Mal asked me what was wrong, and I told her "Kitty get an airplane ride..." which is what I always said to Jericho as I put him on the couch every night before bed.

Today, when I pulled into the parking lot of the funeral home (the pet crematory is run by a local funeral home), my XM Radio was set to Pearl Jam Radio, even though I normally would have it set to MLB Network.  I just happened to have it set to Pearl Jam, and "Love Reign O'er Me" came on as I was set to get out of the truck.  That was a nice fit, but even better, when I had picked him up and was driving back to the office, Pearl Jam's "Come Back" came on.  The lines of that song fit everything I was thinking at that very moment, and then when Eddie Vedder sang the part "It's ok... It's ok..." I felt like I was being spoken to.  I cried.

So, the story of Jericho closes for now.  I will do my best to revert this blog, my facebook page and my instagram page back to as normal as can be.  I appreciate you all bearing with me.  I'm happy that I have this tool, this blog, and all of my friends.  Jericho's guestbook page (which you can check out here) had quite a few comments on it already, so much so, the funeral director made a point in mentioning it to me.

So, again, I will try to go to sleep tonight amidst memories of one of my closest friends that I have ever had.  A fat, lazy, sweet, demanding, lovable, huggable cat named Jericho.

**I haven't been able to thank all of you personally, but to everyone who commented on my last couple blog posts; everyone on Facebook, and everyone on Instagram - thank you so much for your stories about your own pets, your own losses, your love and support.  I never would have guessed how many of you really care, and it means a lot to me.  Thank you so much.**

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Show Must Go On

I wanted to take a minute before I start this post and thank everyone for the outpouring of support following the loss of my cat, Jericho, last night.  I got messages on here, Facebook, Instagram, text, kik and snapchat, all with well-wishes.  That meant a lot to me, and I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.  He really meant a lot to me, and after the arrangements I made today, he will be taken care of.  So, thank you all, again.

I'd like to say that he would want me to continue on posting as normal today, but I knew him well enough that he would not want me sitting here posting.  He would rather I be in the recliner with him on my lap, grabbing my hand and forcing me to pet him for hours.  I always told my wife that if he had opposable  thumbs, he would have been dangerous.

So, that being said, I would like to continue on as normal as I can with my next post from the National card show.  It is going to be so tough to show all of the cards I picked up, so I will probably condense them down into the best of the best.  I did want to start out with a showing of the Jonathan Schoop cards that I got.  The top card is the 2014 playoffs patch/auto of Schoop and was actually the first card that I picked up.  I had just landed, and took the shuttle to the hotel to check in, then I took the shuttle to the convention center and met Max and Andrew.  They immediately took me to a table that has the Schoop, and I bought it for $25.  Those playoff relics were a "tough get" and would run pretty high, so landing the Schoop was real nice.
Now, the biggest problem I have with all of the cards that I picked up is that I don't remember where all I got them.  The next couple of Schoops were gifts, I believe, from Andrew, Frankie and/or Max.  I wish I could remember who gave me what, but all of the cards were put into a box as we made our way around the show over the next 4 days.

The price tag on the back of this 2014 Bowman Inception Schoop auto says $2.00, and I could have very well picked it up myself.  I have a feeling that it was given to me by Max at that table, and I hope that he will remind me when he reads this post.

The auto is on-card, and looks amazing.  Inception looked really awesome that year, and I wish there were more Orioles in the product.
This Schoop auto came out of another cheap relic/auto bin, and again, I believe it was a gift from one of my friends.  From 2014 Panini National Treasures, this card is numbered 25/99 and looks like the old Sweet Spot product from UD.  I think this card is really cool.
I can say with about 65% confidence that I picked up this 2014 Topps Finest refractor auto of Schoop myself, from a $2 relic/auto bin.  I feel that this is the case because it was right next to an Andrew Lambo auto.  Heck, Max may have gotten me those cards as well.

Speaking of, I was blown away by the generosity of my friends while I was at the National.  Between the four of us (Me, Max, Andrew and Frankie), there were cards being passed back and forth, and all kinds of trades being made.  Care packages were handed off and lots of fun was had.  I think spending the National among friends was the best way to do it.  These are some of the best of the best collectors around, and I feel honored that they wanted to spend time with me.
Finally, I picked up two 2013 Pro Debut Heritage Schoops from a dine box.  I don't recall having any of these, as I only opened a couple packs.  I pretty much expanded the Schoop PC trememdously at the National.  I did pick up one other Schoop auto, but I will show that in a later post, as it has its own story behind it.

Thanks again for reading, and again, thank you all for the support.

Oh, by the way, today is my good friend, Frankie's birthday.  Head on over to his blog (here) and wish my buddy a happy birthday!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Rest in Peace, Old Friend

I always told my wife that when my cat, Jericho, passed away, I'd be inconsolable.  Well, I was right.  Tonight, at approximately 9:02PM, he passed away on the way to the pet emergency clinic in Greenville.

He had been acting funny the last couple of days, and tonight, we discovered that he had been sitting in his own waste all day.  I took him and gave him a bath, but sometime during the bath, he rolled over and pretty much stopped breathing.
I got him from some folks who were giving away free kittens out of the back of a van at the Huntersville Harris-Teeter.  My former roommate and I each got a kitten, along with another friend of ours.  Of the three kittens that were given homes that day, Jericho had the longest life.
He grew up with me when I was in college, working odd hours and going to class.  I would come home exhausted, and he would crawl up onto the couch and lay on my arm, much like this photo.  Always the attention hound, he got mad at me one night when I was doing homework and wasn't paying him attention.  He promptly walked over to my bookbag and peed on it, since the things I was paying attention to came from the bag.  That was Jericho.

He was a quiet cat, never making a sound, unless he wanted food.  Then, it would be one tiny, quiet whisper of a meow.  That's all it took.  His bowl would be filled.  He had a good life, these last 13 years.
Goodbye old friend.  I love you, and I'll sure miss you.  I wish your last moments were in my arms instead of that stupid bath, but I didn't know.

I love you so much.  I wish you could see how much of a mess I am right now over you, you silly fat cat.  You'd probably hop up onto my lap and grab my hand with your paw and demand that I pet you.  It's what you did.  God, I'll miss you so much.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Third National Autograph Session - Lou Brock

My third and final paid autograph session at the National was with Hall of Famer, Lou Brock.  He was the one voucher that I needed and could afford for my collection.  All of the other guys were a bit too expensive, so Brock was the one.

He was really nice, and I got a video of him signing for my friend, Andrew.  I'm sure it will be posted on Andrew's blog sometime soon.

Brock (b. 1939) played in the majors from 1961 to 1979 for the Cubs and Cardinals.  He had 3,023 hits, 149 home runs, and a .293 career batting average.  His 938 career stolen bases at his retirement were a record until it was broken by Rickey Henderson.  Brock was a 6-time All Star and finished as high as 2nd in the NL MVP voting (1974).  He finished second to Steve Garvey that year.  Brock won the World Series with the Cardinals in 1964 and 1967.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985 (his first ballot) when he received 79.7% of the vote.

Brock is my 118th Hall of Famer and was the 8th and final Hall of Famer that I picked up at the National.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hall of Fame Signed Baseball - Leon Day

I added my 117th Hall of Fame signed baseball when I got a steal at the National from the same dealer which I purchased the Greenberg ball.  Day baseballs usually sell for around $150-$200, and I got this one (JSA authenticated) for only $100.  Not a bad deal at all.  You don't see a lot of Leon Day stuff, so to be able to find this one was a treat in itself.

Day (b. 1916 - d. 1995) played in the Negro Leagues from 1934 to 1943 and 1946 to 1950 for the Baltimore Black Sox, Brooklyn/Newark Eagles, Philadelphia Stars and Baltimore Elite Giants.  He was a 7-time Negro League All Star and won the Negro League World Series in 1946 (with the Philadelphia Stars).

Day was elected to the Hall of Fame via the Veterans Committee in 1995, just six days after learning that he had been elected to the Hall.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Rocky Memorabilia at The National

One of the things that I enjoyed most about the National, aside from spending time with my friends looking at cards, was the huge amount of memorabilia that was available at the various booths for the auction houses.  Heritage Auctions had a lot o Rocky memorabilia that had been put up by Sylvester Stallone for auction.  Above, you can see the belt used in the Rocky movies, as well as photos, gloves, etc.
They had the ring robe for Ivan Drago, which I thought was really cool. Rocky IV is one of my most favorite movies, so seeing this stuff in person was so cool.
With Rocky IV being one of my favorite movies, Apollo Creed is one of my all-time favorite movie characters.  I always enjoy his entrance in Rocky IV, to James Brown's Living in America, so this Uncle Sam outfit was so awesome to see.
It is really cool that a new Rocky movie is going to be released in November.  It seems that Rocky stuff is all over, and is even in this year's Allen & Ginter.  I pulled Drago in a pack of Ginter before I left for the show.  I bought a box at the show, and busted it at the Topps booth in order to get the redemption packs.  In that box, I pulled Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan).  I went to a vendor who had a bunch of singles to pick up the rest of the cards in the series, Rocky, Clubber Lang, and obviously Apollo Creed.  I want to get a 5-card frame and post these on the wall.  I was really happy to get them all, and being at the National made it really east to pick up the ones that I needed.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hall of Fame Signed Baseball - Hank Greenberg

Probably the most epic of all of my pickups at the National was my 116th Hall of Famer on a baseball.  Sundays at card shows are always the best days to go for deals, and the National was no different.  Nothing like taking advantage of vendors who don't want to load up a bunch of stuff for the long ride home.

There was a nice Greenberg auto at the BBC Exchange booth, but they wanted $2,000 for it.  I couldn't drop that much on a ball and live to tell about it, so I just admired it every time I walked by and looked for other baseballs to add.  Finally, I was looking at some balls in a huge shelf and saw this Greenberg at a much lower price.  I asked the guys at the booth what the lowest price for the ball would be, they responded with an even lower price after calling the owner on the phone.  When I told them I would think about it, the owner of the ball must had heard, and then offered his final lowest price.  The price was far too good to pass up, so I worked it out and purchased the ball.  I had to do some self-financing, but this is why I went to the National.  I went to find stuff that I normally couldn't find at home, and I bought this ball because it would have been much higher on Ebay.
The ball is an old baseball in itself.  It is a Ford Frick ONL ball.  The vendor told me that as far as he knew, it was signed in 1954 when Greenberg was a GM with the Indians.  The ball had a full LOA from PSA, which assured me that it was legit.  The LOA says that there is evidence that other signatures were removed from the ball, but I can't tell, even with my glasses on.

Greenberg is a really tough ball to get, and aside from Jimmie Foxx, he might have been at the top of my HOF ball want list at the time.  This ball supplants my Carl Hubbell or Mickey Mantle as the best HOF ball that I have at the moment.

Normally, when one spends a large amount on something like this, there is a good bit of buyer's remorse.  I can tell you that I have felt none of that with this baseball.  My birthday is in September, and I look at it as a birthday present to myself.  I work anywhere between 45 - 50 hours a week, my bills are always paid on time, and my family never has to want for anything.  I was able to take a little chunk of money and have a ball (pun intended) at the National.

Greenberg (b. 1911 - d. 1986) played in the majors from 1930, 1933 to 1941 and 1945 to 1947 for the Tigers and Pirates.  He retired with 1,628 hits, 331 home runs and a .313 batting average over his 13 seasons.  He won the World Series with the Tigers in 1935 and 1945.  He was the AL MVP in 1935 and 1940.  Greenberg led the league in home runs in 1935 (36), 1938 (58), 1940 (41) and 1946 (44).  His final season in 1947 was instrumental in turning Ralph Kiner into the home run hitter that allowed him into the Hall of Fame.  Greenberg was a 4-time All Star (1937 - 40).

Greenberg would later become the general manager of the Indians (and part owner with Bill Veeck) in 1949.  He would remain as GM and part owner until 1957.  He later joined Veeck at part owner of the White Sox for a few seasons.

Greenberg was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956 when he was named on 85% of the ballot (his 9th).

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

2015 National Autograph Signing - Brooks Robinson

Our second paid autograph signing at the 2015 National was with my favorite Oriole, Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson.  Yes, I love Cal Ripken, but I do believe that Brooks is my favorite Oriole of all time.  I had met him once before, in 2009 at the "Evening With Brooks" in Baltimore.  I was so star struck then, I wasn't able to get but a few words out.  This time, I said a lot more to him, thankfully.

My son, Chris, got to meet Brooks as well.  When I was buying up autograph vouchers, I made sure to get Brooks, and I really wanted Chris to meet him.  He was gracious as always when he met us, and chatted a bit with Chris.  Chris was wearing his uniform shirt from this season.  He played on the Orioles and his uniform number that was randomly assigned to him was 5.  Brooks's number.
When I got up there, he paused and looked over my picture.  I told him it was from the Evening With Brooks, and how much I enjoyed meeting him then.  I told him he was my favorite, and how much it meant to me when he yelled back "I love you, too" when I yelled out "We love you, Brooks!" during the 2013 Hall of Fame parade.  I then asked him if I could get another picture, which he happily obliged.
Here is what I had signed.  He signed the photo: "William, my best.  Thanks for your support. Brooks Robinson HOF 83.

Brooks is probably the most approachable Hall of Famer that there is.  The two times that I met him, he was amazing, and I have always heard stories about how awesome he is with fans.  As you can see, Brooks has aged over the last 6 years.  He has battled various health issues of late, but seems to be a lot better than he has been the last couple of years.  I attended the Evening With Brooks in 2009, and then I was at the game where the Camden Yards sculpture of Brooks was unveiled and dedicated.  He means the world to the Orioles franchise, and to Oriole fans everywhere.  It was always said that "They named a candy bar after Reggie Jackson in New York, but in Baltimore, they named their kids after Brooks Robinson."

I am so very thankful that I got the opportunity to meet Brooks again.  I'm also very glad that Chris got to meet him as well.  To close, here is the video of Chris and Brooks.  Thanks for reading!