Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Joy of Junk Wax - 1991 Upper Deck

You know how the older you get the more you come to appreciate certain things? This is how I feel about some early 90's baseball cards sets. I was new to collecting cards when many of these junk wax sets were released. While I knew of a handful of players, I wasn't watching baseball on TV or following the sport as closely as I do now. In my youthful excitement of opening cards, I would gloss over many of the cards. I didn't appreciate the photography featured on the cards like I do now.

I recently purchased a jumbo box of 1991 Upper Deck. I chose this set for several reasons.

1) I have always loved the base design of the cards
2) It represents a time when first started collecting cards
3) Upper Deck always had some of the best photography
4) Ths jumbo packs contained a Silver Slugger card in every pack
5) "Find the Hank" Baseball Heroes set

As I opened the box the other night, I just started taking pictures of random cards that stood out to me in some way. For this post I decided to try and group them together into different themes. Enjoy.

Rest In Peace

Hall of Famers

Young Talent

Is that a young Sammy Sosa sitting on the bench beside Frank in the background?

I'm Seeing Three


I love "aerial" action photography.

Card Back Photography

Action in the dirt.

While I don't care for Sosa, I love the Angels players sitting in the bullpen in the background.

Cal kickin' up some dirt sliding into home. General goofiness from Jose Lind w/ Mike LeValliere.

Play at the plate cards are always cool, even if the picture is on the back of the card.

Just Because...

David Justice was the first player that I had poster of on my wall as a kid. There was just something about him that I was drawn too. I have always found this card of his to be iconic in a way. Hershiser was one of my late father's favorite pitchers. Anything that reminds me of my dad is aways special. 

Julio is one of my Player Collections and I don't believe I had this card before the other day. Not sure how Bip showed up...

Team Cards

I could have taken pictures of many more of these as the artwork on many of them are beautiful, but this card of the Tigers bomber, Cecil Fielder was one of the better ones.

Hank Aaron Baseball Heroes

Does this card above not look like Al Roker from The Today Show?! When I was a kid, I thought these Baseball Heroes insert cards were awesome. I still find myself drawn to these and now I can't wait to complete this set for Hank Aaron.

I still have not taken the time to collate the cards and put together a want list. The big stack you see in the bottom right corner is my stack of 700 cards. At first I thought the collation was just really bad (and it was), then I realized the box I bought was a combination of the low and hi series. I may end up buy box of the low series to see if I can round out the set some more...or I may not. Regardless of what I end up doing, it was a blast sitting at the kitchen table opening the packs and looking over each card. Am I the only one that gets a kick out of opening junk wax?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Verse

Psalm 121:7-8

New International Version

The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; theLord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Rey Ordonez Holy Grail

Being a super collector of a player is tough, especially when that player played in the 90's and early 2000's. Card companies were much more plentiful back then and they loved their parallels. I already have enough trouble trying to keep track of the cards released. I can't even fathom trying to be a super collector of a modern day player.

Speaking of parallels, Pacific Trading Card Company had their fair share of different colored parallels, including low serially numbered parallels. I also believe they may have been one of the first trading card companies to include 1/1 printing plates into packs. Unlike the Topps printing plates, Pacific didn't include a sticker on the back of the slab of metal with card info. Kinda bland if you ask me, but again they were pioneers in this area.

Recently I had a chance to pick up not one, but two Rey Ordonez 1/1 printing plates. I ran across a seller that was selling printing plates of many different players and he had two cards of Rey. I didn't even know these cards existed and I took a lot of pride into the completeness of the list of his cards I've compiled. Needless to say I was quick to strike a deal. The cards just arrived the other day and man are these awesome. Of course it threw off my organization in my binder and had to move a lot of cards to make way for these, but hey that's part of the growing pains collectors go through.

1998 Pacific Omega 1/1 Printing Plate

I honestly can't remember if Topps releases the print plates for the back of their cards, but obviously Pacific did. While it's cool to own this card, it's really not the easiest card to read because of blue text on the light blue background. I also recently discovered the front side of this card was recently on eBay...but I was sniped at the last minute this week and lost out. I really wish I could contact the buyer and make them offer so I could "complete" this card.

1999 Pacific Private Stock 1/1 Printing Plate

I also grabbed this '99 Private Stock printing plate. I particularly loved this set by Pacific and was able to build the entire set by hand. I'm so thrilled to be able to add this card to my Rey Ordonez super collection as well.

I'm getting down to a few autographs, low serially numbered parallels and 1/1 of cards before my collection will be complete (if that will ever happen) so you can imagine my being on cloud 9 with these purchases. I've been at collection Rey ever since his rookie year in 1995 and I'm thrilled I'm getting closer and closer to picking up every card he has. Still have some work to do though so if you can help me out or at least point me in the right direction I'd very much appreciate it. Here's a link to my master collection of what I have (in blue) and what I'm looking for still (in black).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Let's go to SunTrust Park!

Last weekend I had the pleasure to accompany my wife down to Atlanta, GA to visit the Braves new home, SunTrust Park for not just one game, but two games! Thanks to my brother-in-law, we got to add Saturday night's game to the trip we had previously been planning for months. This was my first visit to the new ballpark so needless to say I was excited. This is the 3rd professional baseball stadium that I've been to...and they've all been the Braves home field! I took my camera with me so I could capture all the views and scenes, but wouldn't you know it I left it in the hotel room on both days?! D'oh! So I just had to make due w/ the camera in my iPhone. You can click on any of the pictures for a larger view.

I purchased my parking passes online through the Braves before the game as I read that parking at the ball park could be tricky. On Saturday we ended up in a parking garage on the otherside of I-285. It was only a 10 minute walk at best. The above shots were taken as we were walking up on the stadium.

We were there for games 2 and 3 of the series against the Arizona Diamondbacks...which we ended up sweeping! On the cover of the program is the Freeze. If you don't know the backstory, the Freeze is part of Atlanta's grounds crew, but it's also a Olympic medal winning track star. Nigel Talton is his name, but this superhero like character has been a big hit in Atlanta. He races fans from foul pole to foul pole, but will give his competition a healthy lead. He has been beaten once in Atlanta and of course on his largest stage, the 2017 All-Star game in Atlanta. He raced at Saturday's game, but took the afternoon off on Sunday.

For Saturday's game, my brother-in-law's tickets were up in the Coca-Cola section which was above left field. These were $12 tickets, but the view was amazing. There were a few times where it was hard to see the action, but for the most part these were not bad seats at all. Being that we were in the Coca-Cola section, we also got a free 20 oz. bottle of Coke! The scoreboard was massive and looked fantastic. It was off to our left so we didn't have the best straight on view, but we could still follow the action.

The Coca-Cola section was pretty cool. The whole concourse area was covered in astro turf and there were a few props to take pictures with, such as this oversized baseball. Here you can see my beautiful wife and some ugly slug.

The first order of business after finding out seats was to see what there was to eat. Chip Carey on the Fox Sports telecasts has often bragged on how good the food was at SunTrust Park so we had to see for ourselves. My wife found a street taco place once we made it back down to the main concourse and ordered herself 3 tacos. You're looking at $12 there. Add in her bottle of water and my wallet was $18 lighter. On a good note she said the tacos were really good. I ended up with a plan jumbo brat and a bag of peanuts. After all, I'm at the ballpark so it just felt natural to eat "baseball food".

As we walked around the park Saturday evening, we made it over to the kids area. Wow, this place had everything. Speed pitch, a climbing wall, a zip line and several booths that housed different carnival style games. It appeared that you bought tokens to play these different games. Everytime we went through this area, it was packed. In the evening it looked even cooler w/ the lights strung across the top.

Outside of the main Customer Service area there were these glass plaques of various baseball players that have played for the Braves organization since 1871. You may recoginize a few of these guys...

There were a lot of these glass plaques, displayed 3 (or was it 4?) vertically in rows. A very impressive sight, however there would be more Braves history to look at just around the corner it turns out. The Braves Monument Garden contained a lot of Braves history and was laid out in a very cool way. The path started out with various Braves jerseys from over the years...

I tried to get close enough so you could read the little plate inside the glass case that told you a little about the jersey. I don't know about you, but I really liked those powder blue jerseys they wore in the 80's.

On the opposite side of the jerseys the walk way took you various awards won by Braves players such as the MVP, Cy Young, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove and Rookie of the Year. Below each award was a list of the players and the year Braves players won the award.

All along the sides of the walk way were these cool translucent "walls" that contained images and history from the Braves organization. In person it was much more beautiful than what I have pictured.

At the top of the arched walk way was a big memorial and bronze statue of none other than Henry "Hank" Aaron. The large screen was looping a video about the legendary player and his accomplishments both on and off the field. Underneath the screen was a large 755 made out of Louisville Slugger baseball bats. Across from the bat display was a large bronze statue that overlooked a little waterfall.

As you walked down the path on the opposite side of the Hank Aaron memorial there were different artifacts for your viewing pleasure. 

An autographed champagne bottle by Tom Glavine used in one of their post game celebrations and
the knee brace wore by Sid Bream during that moment we Braves fans call "the slide".

Game used baseball bat and ball from Bob Horner's 4 HR game and a Hank Aaron jersey

1957 World Series ring

By the time we made it all the way through the Monument Garden, it wasn't long before the first pitch so we made our way back to our seats. However on Sunday I got visit the other items on display which you'll see below.

Fireworks are shot from behind the Coca-Cola area after a HR is hit or when the Braves win. Late in the game, bottom of the 8th if I'm remembering correctly, Jace Peterson came into the game to pinch hit for the pitcher and hit a first pitch HR. I quickly turned around and snapped a picture of the fireworks celebration.

After the game, we made our way outside the stadium along with the other 41K people in attendance (the Braves set a new home game attendance record that night) and while in the massive crowed, I turned around to snap one last picture. Have no fear though as I was coming back in less than 24 hours to catch another game!

For Sunday's game we got to park in Lot 9, which was right outside the Battery. The Battery if you don't know is a large multi-use area just outside SunTrust Park. While it's still being built up, there are businesses, restuarants, shops, a movie theatre and even condos where people live above all the action. These large murals were on the outside of one of the Battery parking decks.

I knew that Sunday was Braves Alumni, but what I didn't know until I looked up from my phone was that we were walking in right behind Braves legend, Dale Murphy!

These images were taken from the Battery just outside the main gates. When I say this area was absolutely awesome, you have no idea. There was music playing, games being played for the kids, lots of restaurants to hang out in before (and after) the was an amazing place. By this time it was about 11:30 AM so we still had plenty of time before the first pitch. We opted to have lunch at the Terrapin Tavern which also served Fox Bros. BBQ.

My wife settled for the Frito pie appetizer, but I went for the pulled pork sandwich with mac & cheese. Oh. My. Goodness. This was some of the best pork BBQ I've had, period. Fantastic atmosphere, fantastic lunch. Only $22 too for the two of us. Oh and I can't forget to mention the sweet tea...or as my wife called it, sugar water. Oh soooooo good!

After lunch we went ahead into the stadium and made our way over to the team store. The line on Saturday was longer than I wanted to wait...and sadly by the time we got there on Sunday it was just as long. I remember seeing a smaller New Era team store around the corner so I opted to go there. I wanted to buy a new hat anyways so that was the perfect shop. After I picked out a new hat, we continued to walk around the main concourse and back to the Monument Garden. This time I took pictures of the trophies and rings that were showcased on the opposite side of the garden walk way.

Beautiful stuff here.

We had great seats for Sundays game. We were in the first row in left center field. We were right behind centerfielder, Ender Inciarte. However after the game was over, we made our way over to the first base side, lower level and grabbed some very nice seats for the free post game concert featuring South Carolina's own Needtobreathe. This is why my wife picked this game in the first place!

SunTrust Park is a beautiful baseball stadium and I think any baseball fan would be hard pressed not to find something there that they wouldn't like or enjoy. Granted the only other parks I have to compare it against are the Braves old homes (Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field), I think it truly is amazing. Not sure when I'll get back down there, but I'm very thankful for the chance to see two games there already. My wife and I both had an absolute blast.

Oh, one last thing. On Sunday when we got to the ballpark, I tweeted that I wanted to meet Fox Sports South reporter Kelsey Wingert. While I didn't get to meet her, I did get a "like" from her official Twitter account!