Friday, April 10, 2009

Summer of '09

Please redirect your attention to I will be adding posts twice per week to The Recepticle, but will be devoting my attention during ball season to my 35th & Shields blog. Thanks for your support. And Go Sox! (Does that look as bad as it sounds?)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Comiskey Park

As a kid nothing really compared to a day at the ballpark. It's a piece that has been written about for years by columnists and sport writers. Entire books cover the very subject of the experience. And for me, going to 35th & Shields three or four times a year with my dad was nothing short of heavenly.
My dad worked two jobs for quite sometime, so catching up with him at a game was most ideal for both of us. He didn't have to worry about me asking him why he had to work so much, and I didn't have to worry about him reprimanding me. He was able to be a dad. I was able to be a kid. What made our trips to Comiskey Park so genuine was the spontaneity. Dad would decide the day of the game if we were going to go. It was as though he was being a kid along with me. He also made sure we rode in style, hoping on his Honda motorcycle heading up the Dan Ryan.

The arched windows, the distressed facade and the smell of warm beer from discarded beer cans. It was all Comiskey. Dad and I saw some great games over the years and got to see some Hall of Famers as well. I remember how much he loved Carlton Fisk and how thrilled he was when Tom Seaver came to the Sox.
Three years ago my dad and I took in another game. This time at US Cellular Field. McCuddys is no more. All relics that pointed to a more tranquil game have long vanished. While the game is still...the game; something is amiss in baseball. It doesn't sit well with me, but every once in a great while something magical happens. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, deep in a meaningless season, Jermaine Dye crushed a three-run home run to tie up the game. It was at the game three seasons ago that I again felt like a child. Be sure to follow me as I follow the White Sox @

Monday, April 6, 2009

Keep em' comin'

My son and I got our first mail autograph back today. We sent two cards to Jim Thome less than two weeks ago. Both cards were received today in the SASE we provided. However, only one card was sent back signed. We were happy nonetheless.
My son and I learned our first important lesson in our mail autograph hobby. Always request that the player sign the card in ink. As you can or cannot see in the photo, Thome apparently used black sharpie marker to sign the card. The card itself is a glossy cardboard which does not bode well for a sustained autograph. Oh well....
We recently sent out a Upper Deck Miguel Cabrera,Carlos Quentin, and Alex Rodriguez Home Run leaders card. The card was sent to Quentin. My hope is to have all three eventually sign the card. My hope is that A-Roid will break down and sign some cards for some big kids like me.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Seek and Enjoy

With a limping market for hobby enthusiasts, I have redirected my attention to a hobby that is almost as old as collecting cards itself. Mail autographs. Most novice collectors do not know that by simply sending a SASE and a short note and a card to a player, they most likely will return the card autographed. Two weeks ago I began this activity and am awaiting my returns. I sent for Jim Thome, Josh Hamilton and most recently Carlton Fisk.

Here are some general guidelines when requesting an autograph by mail.
1) Always be courteous and keep it simple and sweet. Players do not want to hear your life story on why they are your favorite player. It's OK to include a BRIEF story of why you enjoy or enjoyed them as a player.
2) Do not forget to include a SASE. Do not assume that the player will simply have a stamping meter at their disposal for such instances.
3) Not a good idea to send a rookie card or jersey card to get signed. There is no insurance on getting these cards back and the mail guy who might collect himself may "forget" to drop it in the mailbox.
4) Three cards is the max on items to request getting signed.
5) Don't count on acquiring too many A-listers. It's always a good idea to get as many B-listers and "up and comers" as possible. An Alexi Ramirez or Longoria was probably much easier to acquire a couple years ago.
I will keep you posted on how my returns go.
"Hot Pack" update: Chipper Jones GU jersey pull. Spent $2.99

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Things are getting 'Hot" already.

Today I visited Toy's R' Us for the first time in ages without my kids. I went fishing for 'Hot Packs' for the very first time in my life. I spent a total of 10 minutes searching their inventory attempting to decipher which packs held the 'inserts'.
I have to admit that the selection of cards was fairly impressive, considering the venue. The biggest obstacle was the Topps American Heritage packs, which were double-packaged to prevent against theft. I dropped $2.99 on one pack of cards that I felt had passed the "stress test."
There is something to the whole "where a kid can be a kid" tune. Toys R' Us once became a place where I couldn't wait to get to the register, jump in the car and begin tearing open packaging. Shamelessly I might add. As I tore open the packaging, I felt as though my search would be vindicated, if only I were to pull an insert.
Bill Clinton Presidential relic and monument insert. Group B. 1:925 retail packs. It has a piece of Shea Stadium outfield wall padding. It is currently selling on ebay for $26.00. Not bad for a $3.00 investment.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Step One: Admitted that I had a problem.....

Those of you who know me well enough know of my past problems with drugs and alcohol. Those of you who don't know me that well; just be glad we know each other now. It will be 10 years this upcoming August since my last major bout with that nonsense. Now a new kind of nonsense is rearing it's ugly, yet tempting head. The hobby card. Oh yea...the gold ole' hobby card.

The average pack of hobby cards will cost me $2.99. Some 25 years ago, those cards were roughly $.35 per pack. And I was guaranteed a stick of gum. Things are much different today. The market is not what it once was, and Topps pretty much has the monopoly on the industry. Since people are not buying cards like they once were, manufactures like Upper Deck having been luring suckers like me with the obligatory "insert" card. This obligation is limited to 1 insert per 6 packs or so. A common term among card jocks are "hot packs." Take for example my most recent favorite Topps production: The American Heritage lot. The base set consists of 150 cards and has several subsets. Inserts include historic chrome parallels, the standard refractors, presidential inserts, presidential patches, celebrity autos and the CREAM OF THE LOT...the presidential auto!

I was at a recent show where a kid no older than the socks on my feet, pulled a Theodore Roosevelt cut auto. Numbered 1 of 1...of course. I counted four different people that were pulling cash from their pockets trying to connive this 'pizza face' into forking over the autograph. I simply felt like knocking him out and sprinting out the show. Forget paying the guy. Sometimes I still think like a drug addict. Sorry.

There was something very special to me about that T.R auto. I have read a couple Roosevelt biographies and looking at that autograph somehow made all of what I read come alive. If only for a minute. I really enjoyed it. But what really made it great was knowing that anybody has a chance of getting such a relic; if only they drop a cool $2.99 first. So I will be spending $2.99 a couple times a week in the hopes I score a "hot pack." BTW, I've been doing a little homework on how to identify those "hot packs." I won't go into detail on my blog, however I will let you know when I score a "hit." In the meantime, I'm in the middle of a bidding war on some "hot packs" as I write this. I will update the blog on "hits" and also post videos of any pulls.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beauty and Complexity: Part 1

I remember when I was a youngster and marveling at the height of the Sears Tower. Like absolutely any person who stood at the base of the 110 story, sleek office building..... I was in awe. I believe it took some 4 years to complete.
According to the most read book in all of human history: the Bible; the world took all of six days to complete. Six days.
Stick with me. Please.
As a father of two children I can attest to the fact that the incubation period for one human life is nine months. Sometimes it can be less. The eyes you are using to READ this took less than one year to create. Thousands and thousands are made each day. The eyes are only as good as the brain used to interpret the images. I'm assuming your brain may possibly be attempting to interpret what I am am trying to convey.
It is true that I am a Christian and I am a bit biased when it comes to the whole intelligent design versus "chance."
Between 1508 and 1512, Michelangelo "created" the beauty which is known as the Sistine Chapel. The Chapel is located within the Vatican in Rome. Micahelangelo had 6,000 square feet of ceiling to paint. He painted while standing on a scaffold, laying on a scaffold, paintbrush high above his head. During the summer months he would utilize each of the 17 hours of sunlight given to him. He sweated profusely in the summer and shivered fiercely in the winter. Until the ceiling became no more.