Catching up…

Last year I drove across the mid-west getting married, on our honeymoon, and driving to the National and back in our personal car. This year, I helped drive my best man and brother from another mother(cousin) move from Ohio to Minnesota. Next year I’m not driving anywhere! However, while I was out and about, I stopped in a few different cities to check out the card stores/retail chains. I’ve posted most of these on twitter, but as Paul Harvey was fond of saying, here’s the rest of the story…

I left Texas sometime around the early morning of the 17th of May with the intention of being in Dayton around midnight. I’ll never forget the day, as prior to leaving we found out about the death of a music legend, Chris Cornell. His music(whether in Temple of the Dog, Soundgarden, as a solo artist, or with Audioslave) has been always been an influential part of my life, and it’s a shame that he’s passed.* As far as making it to Ohio that night, our tires had other plans. As around Nashville both right side tires would not stay inflated. I tried stopping to fill them up a few times, and I could limp for an hour without needing to refill, however they wouldn’t stay inflated. My wife’s a magnet when it comes to attracting nails in tires, and these had been plugged a few times. Thus I decided it was probably for the best to crash for the night, get them changed in the morning, then drive the remaining 5-6 hours. That morning while waiting for my tires to be changed, I grabbed a few retail packs of 2017 Donruss. While I can’t be certain which individual packs they were, I posted on Twitter my entire trip’s worth of Donruss/retail pack breaking here. With the right side tires replaced, rotated, and filled I set out for Dayton.

When I made it there, my cousins(best man, and his younger sister – my god daughter) and I stayed up super late and played different games on my Nintendo Switch. That next morning I figured it was probably best if I stopped by and said hello to the in-laws(same town), and helped the father in law move his truck onto a trailer so he could sell it later that week. Beats mowing his lawn, eh? Lol. For this, his wife(mother in law) rewarded me with the Nintendo line-up of toys that McDonalds(where she works on the side) had at the time.

Later that day, we stopped in at the local card/comic/gaming shop – Mavericks where they had a discount bin of 3 relics/autos for 2$. I was pleasantly surprised to find several Hall of Fame, and future Hall of Fame members from the “relic boom” era of the early 2000s. I may have even started a binder sorted by induction year because of this discounted box. Also, they had junk 4,000 count boxes for 4$ each, of which the one that I purchased, I’ve yet to fully dig through – but most of it is from the junk wax era, naturally.

A day or two later, we set out for Minnesota with cookies and monster handy for the equally long 18 hour drive. We stopped for breakfast in the Twin Cities, and made a stop into ‘topher‘s favorite LCS 3 Stars. Here I picked up a Heritage team set(minus SP/inserts), and a bargain box.  The latter of which, I broke down in the replies below the bargain box link.

When we finally made it to northern Minnesota, we both crashed hard at our grandma’s house. There’s absolutely nothing around, and if you leave our hometown in any direction there’s no cell phone signal for hours. It’s a dark hole of technology. Everything moves slower up there, they get major life changing gadgets years after they’ve released – the sports bar finally got wifi! Last year! I suppose waste not, want not is most important for the mostly rural farmers.

We did drive down to the nearest bigger town to stop in at Wal-Mart for groceries for the final leg of our trip. Naturally I checked their sports and toys aisles, nothing intriguing sports wise, but I did get a rare World of Nintendo Ganon 2.5″ figure. Woot. From there, we drove down to Fargo where after lunch with his father and grandmother, I left my cousin behind and rejoined my grandma and uncle three hours north. But before leaving Fargo to return to my hometown, I wanted to check out Fargo’s visitor’s center to see the wood-chipper from the movie(Fargo, duh…). I was saddened to hear the Roger Maris museum was temporarily closed after a major theft last year that the FBI is/was investigating.

There’s something about grandma’s place that feels safer than any other. She lives 17 miles from our hometown, in a town of ~300, mostly middle aged and elderly folks. The town’s got two gas stations, a grain depot, a bar, two churches, and co-op schools serving K-12. There’s absolutely nothing around for miles, and it’s just perfect. I need to go up there every so often just to completely refresh the brain batteries. :).

The wife found cheap flights and flew in the Friday before Memorial Day and flew into Minneapolis, so I drove down the 6 hours and after picking her up, returned up north. She had arranged for us to catch the Twins game that Sunday – but only booked the hotel for Sunday into Monday. While driving home, AGAIN the tires went out – this time the other two. So we slept in the car in the parking lot of a Walmart outside of Alexandria, Minnesota. While there, we grabbed a few packs of 2017 Donruss, and a discounted Bowman from 2016. In the morning while getting the other two replaced, they informed us that the tire shop in Nashville didn’t rotate them, and that both new tires were placed on the right side – passenger and rear. The tire shop in Minnesota swapped them around however and replaced the remaining two older tires.

With the tires taken care of(and a 2 ton jack purchased….), we made the trip up to my home town and had a dinner party at my uncle’s place. Before driving the 17 miles to grandma’s for bed, we stopped in at the ‘barely staying alive’ K-Mart. Inside we grabbed these Angry Birds Twins stuffed animals for a buck each. In the morning, grandma made her specialty pierogies for breakfast before helping us pack for the return trip to Minneapolis.

We arrived in Minneapolis just in time for the team to open the gates – two hours early. We’d been hoping to catch a few of the local sights after the game but… little did we know, the Twins were about to play the longest game in Target Field history – six and a half hours! 15 innings! During the game, which the Twins lost, we met up with the team’s mascot T.C. and got his signature on our ticket, saw a deranged drug addict run on the field, and enjoyed our favorite stadium food – a Cuban sandwich from Tony O’s(Tony Oliva’s restaurant if that weren’t obvious…) stand near the gate we entered.

After the game we were wiped, so we decided on checking into our swanky, spendy, 5 star hotel in downtown. Really. It was right across the street from First Avenue, the Target Center, and the Mayo Clinic. The first of which, we checked out the attached restaurant and had two Purple Rains, and a Grave Dancer. Pretty good drinks, obviously named in honor of Prince, and Soul Asylum.

Before leaving for Texas the next morning we checked out a few of those local sights, including the Spoonbridge and Cherry, Minnehaha Falls – no Little Hiawatha to be found, and Mickey’s Diner – yes the same one from Mighty Ducks and a few other movies/TV shows. In a semi-funny twist of fate, the return trip to Texas, was about the same amount of time it took me to get to the Twin Cities, pick up the wife, and the entirety of the Twins game.

So with all of that, you might understand the blog absence. The wife spoiled me with a few hobby boxes of Diamond Kings after we made it back, and tomorrow I’ll share some of the pictures and background story for those of you who missed it on twitter. :).

  • May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and with the tragic suicide of a music legend, I feel the need to share a few of my favorites. If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out for help from friends or a licensed physician. 
  1. Hunger Strike, in tribute to their fallen friend, and fellow musician Andrew Wood, Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder showcase a perfect harmony. 
  2. Nothing Compares 2 U, a cover of a Prince penned work. Truly, nobody’s compares to Cornell ‘ very distinctive voice. 
  3. Billie Jean, with no offense to Michael Jackson – Chris absolutely rocked this tune.
  4. Black Hole Sun, probably Sound garden’s most memorable music video and song. 
  5. Unplugged in Sweden, I cannot recommend this acoustic performance enough. 
  6. Wide Awake, much more could have been done to prevent the Hurricane Katrina disaster that affected others and my own family. This one’s dedicated to those affected with property damage, and the unfortunate who lost their lives. 
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#3-stars, #angry-birds, #bowman, #chris-cornell, #donruss, #fargo, #mavericks, #mickeys-diner, #minnehaha-falls, #minnesota, #nintendo, #prince, #roger-maris, #soul-asylum, #spoonbridge-and-cherry, #t-c, #tony-oliva, #twins, #update, #world-of-nintendo

The National: fin.

Due to work responsibilities we had to leave around noon on Sunday, which is about the time that most of the vendors are packing up as is anyway. So, we made our way to the show floor early for once, and most all of the breakers had vacated. We met up with Eric, Ivan, and Mel and said our last goodbyes. We shopped around for the best price we could find on a box of 2015 Diamond Kings, and let Mel choose which one as they always seem to have ALL THE LUCK. Seriously, let them choose your box. Usually each box yields two auto, relic, or auto relic cards per box, one or two serial numbered cards, as well as two of each insert, and two short printed image variations from the rookies subset 151-200. We all gathered around the Topps booth for their luxurious floor mat, and I busted at an empty table. The highlights below:

A few packs in this Jameson Tallion #27/99 relic card popped up. Meh. Usually when there’s a relic card such as this, it’s not the best hit of the box. Don’t let your hopes fall down.

Then this mini Bobby Thompson #13/99 showed up. Usually these are an extra hit, and we had at least half the box left when we pulled it. Always nice pulling a long retired hitter’s jersey plus, “THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!, THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!” is an excellent home run call. But a few packs later, our third hit of the box blew everyone away.

Miguel Cabrera. Dual jersey. Autograph. 4/15! The DK streak continues.

Rounding out the rest of the day, we hit up the booth that had vintage and picked up the few we returned Friday. Some odds and ends Fleer issued pennants, game pieces for Mincher, Perry, Kaat, and Tony-O, and Eddie Yost’s tab-less Red Man. With the exception of the DK box, no new stuff on Sunday. Gimmicks and parallels-less fun day.

Before leaving we ran into Robert again, and chatted with him for a good bit about his Hall of Fame bat, cats, and the internets. We also slabbed Ivan’s mouth on the Mike Berkus main stage with blue painter’s tape. Best use of it all week.

The show’s end really sets home when you close your car door and the slow drive away from all the friends you’ve met up with, and all the sads(to borrow a phrase from Eric) start to kick in. We picked up our fair share though, enjoyed the honeymoon through the east coast, Cooperstown, and Atlantic City, and had another successful National Sports Collector’s Convention. With another year in the books, we look forward to 2017 in Chicago!

#2015-diamond-kings, #dalsubfan, #don-mincher, #eddie-yost, #fleer, #jim-kaat, #jim-perry, #melrises, #miguel-cabrera, #the-national, #thosebackpages, #tony-oliva, #watchthebreaks

This Week in Twins History – 1963

Minnesota Twins: 1962’s successful season brought fans to the seats in 1963, an AL leading 1.4 million fans saw the Twins win 91 games, good for third. Killer led the AL with 45 homers, Camilo Pascual led the league in K’s with 202. But we still couldn’t put it all together, coming as close as one and a half games behind, a string of losses in June and July made the AL ripe for the Yankees to take. However, the Twins crushed the ball on an August 29th double-header against the Washington Senators(entering the day 38 games back!). In the first game the Twins cruised to a 14-2 victory, with jacks by Vic Power(2), Harmon Killebrew(2), Rich Rollins, Bob Allison, and Bernie Allen. In the second game, Bernie Allen, Jimmie Hall, Versalles, and Killer would all hit ’em out of the park to a 10-1 victory. Quoting the AP at the time:

The spree set major league records for most homers hit in four consecutive games(17) and for three straight(15). The Twins slammed eight homers in the first game to equal a major league mark for a single contest. Also tied in the first contest was a record of six players on one team hitting homers.

Here’s the combined box score for the games:
Untitled

Results: 91-70, 3rd American League.

On the farm: Single-A affiliate Wilson Tobs won their league championship, lead by future Twins Ron Clark, Jerry Fosnow, Frank Quilici, Paul Ratliff, Ted Uhlaender, Bill Whitby; ex-Twins Dan Dobbek, Jim Manning and career minor leaguers Charles Holle(13-10 in 200+ innings) and Luke Vasser(.317, 17 homers, 22 doubles and 152 hits – having spent his entire pro career with the Twins from 1961-1971, Luke’s the definition of career minor leaguer – only retiring after the 1972 season in the Mexican leagues).

Key additions/losses: 

Rule 5 Draft – Drafted Bill Fisher from the Athletics.

First-Year Draft – Drafted Bill Bethea(Cardinals), Jim Ollom(Yankees), Bud Bloomfield(Cardinals), drafted away John Donaldson(Athletics), Rob Gardner(Mets), Rudy May(White Sox), Reggie Smith(Red Sox), Steve Jones(White Sox). It hurts to think what could have been had we kept Rudy May and Reggie Smith through the 70s.

Key Trades – Traded Jack Kralick for Cleveland’s Jim Perry. Such a bad move for the Indians – Kralick would pitch four seasons for the Indians before retiring – meanwhile Jim Perry helped bolster a Twins starting rotation for 10 seasons. Pitching to the tune of a 128-90 record, 3.15 ERA, 1025 Ks and for the saber-friendly, a 113 ERA+ with a 3.50 FIP. Perry earned two All-Star Game nominations, and in 1970 went 24-12 in 40 starts, earning the Cy Young Award!

Card Of The Year: 

1963 Topps #228 – Tony Oliva’s rookie card. Also features Max Alvis, Bob Bailey, and Ed Kranepool. I absolutely love these multi-player cards that dominated the 60s cardboard era. For comparisons sake, here’s each player’s career stats:

Kranepool – 1853 games/1418 hits/225 doubles/25 triples/118 homers/614 runs batted in/.261/.316/.377 bWAR of 5.5 highest single-season 2.5 – 1971.
Alvis – 1013 games/895 hits/142 doubles/22 triples/111 homers/373 runs batted in/.247/.302/.390 bWAR of 8.2 highest single-season 3.7 – 1963.
Bailey – 1853 games/1564 hits/234 doubles/43 triples/189 homers/773 runs batted in/.257/.347/.403 bWAR of 28.7 – highest single-season – 4.8 – 1973.
Oliva – 1676 games/1917 hits/329 doubles/48 triples/220 homers/947 runs batted in/.304/.353/.476 bWAR of 43.0 highest single-season 7.0 – 1970.

I’d like to think we’ve got the better player of the four.
60-228Fr
Best of Media: 20th Century Fox’s Cleopatra dominated the box offices this year, despite nearly bankrupting the studio to film, and the scandalous affairs of Elizabeth Taylor and Rich Burton. MGM’s How The West Was Won, and United Artists’ The Pink Panther and It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World were also successful. Alan Alda, and Mel Brooks make their film debuts. 100 Grand, General Hospital, My Favorite Martian, Let’s Make A Deal, Magilla Gorilla Show, and the New Casper Show begin showing on t.v.’s near you this year. The Japanese cult-favorite Astroboy cartoon starts airing. Dr. Who premieres in Great Britain in November. Yosemite Sam ends it’s original run from 1945-1963, as do Leave It To Beaver, and The Jetsons. CBS and NBC adopt 1/2 hour weeknight news broadcasts. Walter Cronkite interrupts your scheduled programming to bring you the news of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Daley Plaza, Dallas, Texas. The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, The Yardbirds, and Bob Marley and The Wailers were formed. Chart toppers included The Kingsmen’s Louie Louie, Lesley Gore’s It’s My Party, and The Beach Boys Surfer Girl.

In sports, Loyola of Illinois defeats Cincinatti 60-58 to win the NCAA basketball title. The Celtics defeat the Lakers 4 games to 2. The Maple Leafs clinch the title 4 games to 1 against Detroit’s Red Wings. Sonny Liston defeats Floyd Patterson in the 1st round. In the AFL the San Diego Chargers route the Boston Patriots 51-10, in the NFL the Bears beat the Giants 14-10. In the Rose Bowl, USC defeats Wisconsin for the NCAA National title 42-37. Roger Staubach wins the Heisman. For the first time, instant replay is shown during the Army v. Navy game. The NFL’s first Hall of Fame class includes Sammy Baugh, Red Grange, Earl Lambaugh, George Halas, Jim Thorpe, the University of Minnesota’s own Bronko Nagurski, among others. The Yankees would be swept by the World Series winning Los Angeles Dodgers in four games. The NL all-stars beat out the AL all-stars 5-3 at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, the All-Star MVP was awarded to Willie Mays(1-3, 2 runs, 2 RBI).

Beatles Check: Released: She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Please Please Me, P.S. I Love You, Mr. Postman.

Famous Births: Michael Jordan(Athlete), Chase Masterson(Actor – Star Trek Deep Space Nine), Mike Meyers(Actor/Comedian), Conan O’Brien(Late-nite talk host), Johnny Depp(Actor), Helen Hunt(Actress), Lisa Kudrow(Actress), Brad Pitt(Actor), Jason Newsted(Musician), Jeff Ament(Musician), Vanessa Williams(Musician/Actress), Coolio(Musician), Fatboy Slim(Musician), Sir-Mix-A-Lot(Musician), Eazy-E(Musician), Les Claypool(Musician), Lars Ulrich(Musician), Scott Ian(Musician).

Famous Deaths: John F. Kennedy(President), Patsy Cline(Musician).

Twins Born This Week: 

January 13th – Fred Schulte(Senators).
January 14th – Mike Pelfrey, Ron Clark, Ralph Miller, Nig Perrine(Senators).
January 15th – Don Cooper, Mike Marshall, Georges Maranda.
January 16th – Jeff Manship, Matt Maloney, Joe Bonikowski, Buck Jordan(Senators), Showboat Fisher(Senators), Marv Goodwin(Senators).
January 17th – Chili Davis, Jay Porter(Senators), Roy Glover(Senators), Lum Harris(Senators).
January 18th – Mike Fornieles.

All decade candidate: How great was Bob Allison in 1963? Lemme explain, the 1959 Rookie of the Year finished ’63 off with 35 dingers, 25 doubles, 91 runs batted in, a league leading 99 runs scored, 143 hits, and a .271/.378/.533 slash line good for a .911 OPS, 151 OPS+, both OPS’ lead the league. An All-Star appearance and MVP considerations(15th…) were announced throughout the year. Check out his appearance’s on the old TV show Home Run Derby here(vs. Hank Aaron), here(vs. Bob Cerv), and here(vs. Willie Mays).  Pretty solid, I think…

#bob-allison, #john-f-kennedy, #review, #tony-oliva, #year-in-review