Sunday, December 31, 2023

AM Radio and Denny Felsner

After finding a Moe Mantha 1986/87 Topps card in a bowling alley in the spring of 1987, I had a strong obsession with the sport of hockey. I wasn’t quite collecting hockey cards yet (they were pretty scarce in my area for a little while), but I enjoyed watching Penguins games downstairs in my parent's basement while my dad and his friends lifted weights on our home gym system that my dad was given by his friend. Of course, my dad's friends would use swear words, and then my dad would make me go to bed. I just loved swears when I was a kid! 

One evening, my mom’s best friends husband came over to lift weights with my dad in our basement. This guy was huge, and also was a professional softball player. He was 6’8” and could bench press all of the weight on my dad's home gym with ease. He also was a huge sports fan. When he began asking me what hockey players I liked watching I really had no answer other than “Mario Lemieux”. Everyone loved the guy in Pittsburgh, so it was probably 90% of everyone’s answer to the question. He thought it would be a good idea to expose me to a bunch of other players around the league, so he would bring over VHS tapes of other teams, and I would watch them over and over. I’d give them back and he would give me more tapes to watch. Also, later on in the 90’s, he gave me 2 tapes of Don Cherry’s Rock’em Sock’em Hockey. One day in late October, probably in 1998, my mom’s friend left him due to some differences and I’d never see the guy again until summer of 2007. I ran into him in a gas station where he was waiting in line to buy cigarettes. We shook hands and I asked him if he wanted his VHS tapes back and he laughed and said, “No, those were for you. You had a lot of passion for that sport and it made me happy.” What he didn’t know is that he influenced me more than he knew. On one of those tapes he gave to me, I watched the St. Louis Blues play a game against Quebec in 1990 where the Blues went ballistic scoring 9 goals! Also, while watching that game, I found my favorite player of all time, Brett Hull. I would spend hours watching his quick release and I patterned my game to be just like his. My friend John would always come over and play hockey with me in my parents garage. I would always pretend to be Hull, and one day John asked, “Well then who the heck am I?” This was at a time before the internet, so I went back and watched the VHS tape until I knew every player on that St. Louis Blues team. This behavior of mine continued into the next season until my dad who worked for USAirways would start bringing me home USA Today newspapers that people would leave behind on the plane. The sports section would have full box scores. I kept a notebook and tried my best to keep stats, but without getting one every single day, that was near impossible.

In 1992, I got my first radio for Christmas. It was Sony AM/FM and it had 2 tape decks, a CD Player and a headphones jack. One night I was screwing around with AM radio and came across a hockey broadcast. It wasn’t the best quality, occasionally it would be muffled, but it was the St. Louis Blues broadcast from KMOX radio! I could not believe it! I still to this day remember it was station 1120 on AM radio. My dad picked up a Blues schedule for me from one of his friends he used to fly with who was now based on Missouri, and I never missed a game. If I felt myself dozing off to sleep, I would hit record on my tape deck and record the rest of the game and listen to it on the school bus going to and from school the next day. This was my life every season from 1992-1998. I knew every player on those teams. On my 12th birthday, my parents even got me a St. Louis Blues cake! A footnote to this cake was it had this raspberry filling in it and although it looked great, it didn't taste the best to me. I was kind of a picky eater back then, but my parents tried their hardest!

Also, enjoy a photo of me playing left-handed hockey. (I leant out my right-handed stick to one of my friends who attended my party and used my cousin Alan's left-handed stick he left in our garage). Please note, my Brett Hull jersey!

Back to my Blues fandom. One of the more intriguing players to me was this prospect named Denny Felsner. Denny was a highly touted prospect who lit up the scoreboard in college for the Michigan Wolverines. Somehow in 1992 he didn’t win the Hobey Baker Award as the best college player that season (even though he outscored the winner and eventual St. Louis Blues alum Scott Pellerin by 37 points). The KMOX announcers seemed so elated about Felsner, and it really had me excited about the player. I still remember listening to his first game on that station. It seemed every time the puck touched his stick they were just waiting for something good to happen. On April 16, 1992 (I didn’t even look that up, I remembered it), he finally got his first point (an assist) on a goal by Dave Christian. I for sure thought this would be one of many to come. The next season, I tried to get every Denny Felsner card I could. Our local LCS, was owned by my mom’s best friends brother. He held Denny Felsner cards for me, and when I would come in, he would sell them to me at a discount. I remember having a full page 9-pocket binder page of his Topps rookie card alone! I eventually had every rookie card of his except for his Topps Gold. That year, I split a box of Topps with my brother trying to obtain this elusive Denny Felsner Topps Gold. Neither one of us got that stupid card. I ended up spending so much of my grass cutting money buying packs of that product that summer, and still couldn’t pull one. Finally, I just gave up looking for this Denny Felsner card that I swore didn’t exist.

Over the next 3 years, Felsner bounced around between the Peoria Rivermen and the Blues (mostly with Peoria). Felsner only suited up for 18 games total with the Blues. These 18 games would also be his only games played in the NHL. I still remember his first NHL goal. It was against the Blackhawks in the Division finals back in 1993 and I listened to the call on KMOX while I was supposed to be sleeping in my bed. Though technically a playoff goal, it was still his first goal he had in the NHL. I was so pumped I believe I yelled while in bed and got yelled at by my mom. After that last season of Felsner’s, I packed away my collection of him in a binder and tucked it away in my large closet in my bedroom. 

About 10 years ago, my nephew started to play ice hockey. One night while my nephew was spending the night over at my parents, I had stopped by to grab my dad’s wire cutters, and my nephew said he had found a binder in the closet with hockey cards in it when he was searching for board games. He asked if they were mine or his dads. My nephew and I went in to take a look, and after seeing the first page full of Topps Felsner rookies, I knew they were mine. The binder was just filled with 90’s junk wax rookies. I told my nephew he could have the binder, and he was excited! It was a blast from the past and I enjoyed flipping through the cards and talking about some of the players with him.

Last July, our neighborhood had an annual garage sale. I put out some junk wax rookies in team bags to give out to kids. One of the neighbors in the townhomes on the next street over who appeared to be about my age asked if I still collected cards. I told him, “Yeah, but not as much as I used to.” He asked me if I would stop by his house to take a look at some of his cards. I said, “Sure!” I got his phone number and when I called him the next week, he asked me if I could stop by the next Sunday afternoon. We made the arrangements and after I put my youngest son down for a nap, I gave the baby monitor to my wife and headed down the hill toward the townhomes. His wife greeted me at the door, and I made the journey up the stairs to my new friend's office. There he had 4 shoe boxes of hockey cards. As I sifted through what seemed like too many 1991/92 Score American and 1992/93 Pro Set hockey cards, I came across something that struck my eye. There it was, the 1992/93 Topps Gold Denny Felsner! I said, “NO WAY!” He looked at me with an excited look and said, “Is that a good one?” I looked at him with my surprised/intrigued look and said, “No, not at all!” He seemed so confused. I told him how hard I looked for that card as a kid. Really, I had forgotten all about it, but here it was about 1,000 feet down a hill from my house. I told him that I had to have this card and that I would give him whatever I had in my wallet for it. He said, “Sounds good!” So, I paid him the $3 I had in my wallet for it. Although his collection wasn’t worth much, he and I had some fun conversations on some of the players on the cards he had. This summer, he and his wife moved away to a single-family home in a housing development about a mile away. I have seen him a few times around town at the grocery store or gas station. That guy will always forever remind me of a Topps Gold card of a failed St. Louis Blues prospect, but that is My Cardboard Life in a nutshell. 

1992/93 Topps Gold Denny Felsner RC #514

Who was a prospect from your favorite team growing up that you had a lot of cards of that didn't pan out? I'd love to hear about some in the comments. Thank you for reading.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Parent/Teacher Conference

**I'm trying to get through my backlog of pending blog posts, so you may see me have 1 or 2 more posts before 2024 hits. Enjoy!**

November 2, 2023  

I had a Friday off and it just so happened to be on a day when there was a card show at a nearby mall. My wife and I had a parent/teacher conference first before we ventured inside for our 5-year-old who is excelling in his kindergarten class. His teacher had a glowing review and also added how polite he is. Looks like we are doing something right!

When we walked into the mall, we walked past Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop just so I could smell the cinnamon goodness! It was delightful. Since I have lost 34.6 lbs. since May, I used my willpower and just walked by without buying a thing. My wife was proud of me. I am finally at the weight I was when I got married almost 10 years ago. 

Finally, we made our way down the escalator and to the middle of the mall where the show was located. We got there right at 10am so a lot of vendors were still setting up. It was a small show, but I like it that way because I feel like I browsed everything I wanted to and came home with exactly what I wanted. 

My wife took this photo of the show:

The first table we stopped at was a nice gentleman named Joe who had a $1 box set out with hockey parallels and inserts along with some unopened boxes. I went through his hockey box and then hit his 4 for $10 auto and game used stuff that was a mix of all sports. I ended up picking up 6 cards. My wife also noticed he had some 2023/24 Upper Deck Series 1 hobby boxes for sale and she bought one for me. I think we spent a total of $140 there. Before I go any further, I should add that everything I picked up is going to be my Christmas from my wife since she had no idea what to get me. 

The next vendor whose name I believe was also Joe had some nicer hockey set out. However, when I grabbed a stack of stuff to look at it was all backwards. I had to let him know that his box was backwards and I flipped it around for him and he fixed his sign and thanked me. After 20 mins or so I found some autographs and game used cards I liked and using his color coded stickers on the team bags he had each card in, my total was $45. When he added them up, he said since I helped him out he knocked $10 off my price so I paid $35! Fellas, listen, it pays to be nice to everyone. Seriously. 

The next vendor we stopped at was Smog City Cards. I am pretty sure he said his name was Eric. If it isn’t, I’m sorry about that. He had a small batch of hockey to look at and a few 5200 count boxes of 10 cent cards. A guy had set up shop at the 10 cent card boxes, so I moved over to the $2 box of hockey cards and began to look. In the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a 10-cent card the guy next to me threw in his pile that piqued my interest. After I pulled out a stack of hockey cards that should have totaled me $18, Smog City Eric told me $10. Wow! My wife and I chatted with him about his kids and our kids a little bit, and after a few minutes I asked the guy looking through the 10-cent stuff if I could buy one of the cards in his pile. He said, “Sure thing, which one?” So, I showed him, and he handed the card to me, and Eric said it was free and to just take it, so I handed the guy looking through the 10-cent bin a $1 and told him that I’d like to buy 10 of his cards for being so kind as to giving up this card for me. Which I will be using for a later post.

So, I left the card show with a decent haul and a fantastic review from my son's teacher. All in all, a great day to be a dad and a card collector. Here is my card show haul:

Cool pictures bro, but what cards did you get? Well, glad you asked. Here are my top 10 pickups from the show:

10. 1998 Upper Deck Star Rookie Jason Peter RC #12

Grabbed this for a future blog post. This is the 10 cent card that I paid the guy $1 for since it was in the stack of cards he was buying. Might look like a crappy common rookie card to you, but it means something to me!

9. 1995 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Update Craig Powell Gold RC #U13

Who? Well, this guy was a 1st round draft pick if you believe it. Also grabbed this for a future blog post. Really excited for this one as well! Got it in a 25-cent bin over towards the left of the photo my wife snapped of the show. It was the only card I purchased from this particular seller.

8. 2019/20 SP Game Used Nolan Patrick Stadium Series Jersey #SSNP

I did the calculations and I actually got this from Smog City Cards for $1.Thanks again to Eric (once again, if I am saying the wrong name, I apologize!). Nolan Patrick has since retired from the game of hockey, and with me being a Brandon Wheat Kings fan, this made me sad. I was still happy to get this one to add to my collection though. 

7. 2018 Topps Chrome Anthony Santander Refractor Auto RC /499

Got this from Joe in his 4 for $10 auto bin. I actually didn't realize this was the refractor version until we got home. I had Santander as a fill-in for a few weeks this year in my fantasy baseball league, so I didn't want to leave this one at the show. Glad I didn't. It appears to be a decent buy!

6. 2001 SP Authentic Future Watch Josh Heupel Patch RC /800

Back in the day, I did enjoy watching Heupel play college football. I also got this in the 4 for $10 bin from Joe. I had this card back in 2001 and traded it, I was happy to own it once again. I ended up selling this on November 29th for $14 + shipping once something shiny I saw popped up on eBay. I figured this would be an easy sell and I was right. I don't think I had it on eBay for more than 2 days before it sold. It did help fund my PC purchase later on, so it climbed the list a bit more than other cards.

5. 1995 Action Packed Ki-Jana Carter 24Kt Gold RC #21G

I grew up a PSU fan. My cousin Amy went there and made sure my brother and I were always decked out in PSU gear when the school year started. Due to this, I will always have a soft spot for PSU. Carter was a beast and I remember vividly watching him and wanting to root for him in the NFL. Well, after tearing his ACL before his rookie season, he never really made a real impact in the NFL and that just sucks. I got this thing for $1 from an older guy who had a lot of overpriced stuff. This was the only one I found with a more than reasonable price tag, so I gave him my dollar bill. I now own 3 of this exact card. 13 year old me would also be super stoked about this one!

4. 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects Stephen Strasburg Refractor RC #1 /777

I paid $2 for this one. I am pretty sure it was mis-marked, but I did ask the guy what he wanted for it and he took it from me, looked at it and said, "It has a yellow sticker on the back, so it's $2." I didn't hesitate and gave him the $2 he wanted. My wife said I lit up when I saw it in the stack of cards I was looking through. I don't remember doing that, but maybe I did, who knows? Anyways, I'm happy with this for $2 for sure. What do you think this thing costed someone back in 2010? Also, my laser printer scanner doesn't scan refractors very well, but I assure you it's the refractor version.

3. 2016 Panini Prizm Josh Doctson Gold Prizm RC #259 /10

This was found in Joe's parallel box. I think he may have overlooked this one because I paid $3 for it. The card is not a $100 card or anything, but surely you agree it's not $3 either. Maybe he is the type of person who leaves easter eggs in each of his boxes for people to find? If that's the case, I definitely found it and was glad to be one of the first people to show up to look at his stuff. Does this qualify for a card that should be in a one-touch? Would I be crazy to put this in a one-touch? I was a fan of Doctson in college, but his career wasn't anything special. Prizm gold's are pretty hard to find, I think I am putting this in a one-touch. 

2. 2018/19 Upper Deck Ice Rinkside Signings Wilf Paiement Autograph #RS-WP

For some reason I am a big Paiement fan. I remember him when he played for the Penguins when I was 5. He was a bit of a dirty player, but he also had a lot of skill. If you google him, you will find that there are a lot of people out there that hate the guy, but I don't. He had a short career here in Pittsburgh, but my dad and his friends liked him, so I guess it just got passed down to me. He did have a decent career of 814 points in 946 games, so he wasn't a bum by any means. This is my first autographed card of Wilf. The other auto I have of him is on a puck. If you YouTube him, you can definitely see some vintage fights. I recommend it if you want to go down a rabbit hole. You will definitely see a lot of mustaches. Enjoy.

1. 2002/03 Parkhurst NHL Heroes Dany Heatley/Brett Hull Dual Jersey #NH-11

I grabbed this one from Joe #2 for $8. Growing up, I loved Brett Hull and Pat LaFontaine. Those guys were my favorite players. I even wore #16 playing varsity hockey in high school to honor them. So, of course this would land at the #1 spot. From what I remember these cards were hard to pull and I think they have a print run of 90? I might be wrong, so don't quote me on that one. Anyways, for $8, I'll buy this card all day long. Heatley was a guy I loved watching play as well, so a total no-brainer here. I miss the days when jersey cards were a big pull and back in 2002, this was kind of a big pull. Sad that in 2023 no one sees this card as something cool. Well, I do. 

I hope you enjoyed my card show trip. Also, I do recommend the one dealer if you ever need something, here is his business card. He was really good to me and was fun to chat with. Smog City Cards:

Friday, December 29, 2023

Summer interns

At the company I used to work for, before we were bought out, we used summer interns. These interns would learn how our business works and after a week or two of observing, they would choose a branch to work at for a paid internship for a few months before heading back to school in August. They were college kids, and with me being in my 20’s back then, I usually became fast friends with a few. In 2007, one of the interns named Ryan (who was going to Pitt University) chose our branch to work at during his summer internship. Ryan was pretty cool, and a huge sports fanatic so he and I became pretty close that summer. One Friday night in particular Ryan came by my condo to hang out with my buddies and I while we watched baseball. My friends asked him where he was from, and he said New Jersey and then he got to talking about a baseball player from his hometown named Billy Rowell.

At the time, I had no idea who Rowell was, or much of the younger players who had been drafted. I played in a 10-team fantasy baseball league with our IT department, and if a guy wasn’t in the top 200 players or had a hot streak and wasn’t a good waiver wire choice, chances are I didn’t know much about them. Ryan told us some stories about Rowell and how great of a hitter he was, and occasionally after that night, I would check out his stats. His stats really never jumped out at me as superstar potential, but Ryan swore up and down that this kid was going to make it. 

After the summer was over, Ryan went back to finish his last few semesters of school. I remember him shooting me an email asking if he could use me as a reference for a job the spring of 2008, but I hadn’t heard much from him until around 2011. He came out for a wedding for a friend of his from college and he met up for a beer with me in town. We talked for about an hour, and he said to me, “Remember when I told you about that guy from my hometown who got drafted by the Orioles? Well, my brother hung out with him, and I guess he is switching from 3rd base to a pitcher.” I thought that was pretty wild. Ryan then told me how he was moving to Viriginia soon for a job. In 2012, he and I text back and forth a bit and he let me know that he was engaged to his girlfriend. I congratulated him, and we kept in touch every so often. One day, I received an invite in the mail to his wedding in Virginia. It just so happed to be on the same day as my wedding reception (my wife and I eloped in Tybee Island, Georgia in May of 2014, so we had a reception a month later to celebrate with friends and family). I called Ryan the night I received the invite and told him about the scheduling conflict. I did end up sending a gift though to the lucky couple for their "big day". We received a thank you from them in July 2014 and a few years had gone by before I heard from Ryan again. 

Every so often, I would either get a random text or an email from Ryan. He was doing great at his job and working through rough patches here and there with his wife, but other than that, his life seemed good as far as I knew. One morning early in 2022 (February I believe), I decided to check my old email address (I hadn't done this in almost 6 months). There was a message in there from Ryan from December 11, 2021. I opened the email and soon had tears in my eyes. Ryan's wife had emailed Ryan's contact list to let everyone know that he had passed away from his short battle with cancer (he had passed within 8 months of his diagnosis). She had given the funeral arrangements in the email, and I immediately felt like a jerk for not being there. I looked at the last text message I had from Ryan. It was April 17, 2021: "How is your little one doing? I hope all is well with you guys. Went to the Admirals game last night. I wish I watched more hockey in my lifetime. I am regretting this a lot. You were right, it's an awesome sport. Would have been awesome to see you play." It just so happened that was the day my youngest son was born prematurely, and I forgot to respond. Now, I really regret it. Was this Ryan telling me he was sick and knew what was ahead? Also, I felt numb with a lump in my throat. The entire day I reminisced about the times Ryan and I hung out at work, outside of work, and also our conversations. I let my old buddies know about Ryan's passing since they all had hung out with him plenty of times that one summer and all of them had about the same thing to say: "That's awful news. He was cool! RIP" "He was a good dude, loved sports and was one of us. RIP." My friends really liked the guy. He was a good person. I told my wife about him and how he passed away, and how bad I felt that I wasn't there. I wished my wife and kids could have met him, even if he wasn't one of my best friends. If he had lived closer, I could almost guarantee he would be my best friend. 

Later that night, my friend asked me if I wanted to meet with him at this card shop for a trade night in 2 weeks. These trade nights are not really my thing, but I decided to go with him and took a really small box with some traders. While at the trade night, I was flipping through a guy's cards when I saw it. A Billy Rowell printing plate. I smiled a little bit, but then started to get a bit sad. The guy asked me, "What's wrong man?" Well, I told him about my friend who had passed away and how bad I felt about missing his funeral and the email and how he grew up in the same town as the guy on the printing plate. The guy looked me in the eye and said, "I don't need that plate as much as you do, please just take it." I didn't take it from him, but I did trade him a nice Taylor Ward card he liked and made the deal. When I got home, I told my wife about the plate and showed it to her, she thought it was pretty cool.

2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects Billy Rowell Black Printing Plate 1/1

I put this card in a brand-new sleeve and toploader, put some painters tape on the back and hung it up in my office on the wall next to my light switch. It definitely reminds me of my buddy Ryan.

Fast forward to Father's Day this year. It started just like a normal day, my kids fighting with each other and my wife and I figuring out what we were going to do that day. She had gotten me a tin of Upper Deck hockey cards. My oldest son and I opened them up and I pulled an Owen Power Young Guns, so I was pretty thrilled. We then went about our day. We went to a local park/playground and ate some pizza and had ice cream at the ice cream shop near our house. Once the kids ate dinner, were bathed and headed to bed, my wife started a load of laundry. I was getting our dishwasher ready to run and she said, "Oh no!" I looked back to see she had a long cylinder box in her hands. She said, "I'm sorry hun, I totally forgot I bought this for you forever ago for Father's Day. It's been in the box in the linen closet this entire time!" She handed me the box and I popped off the bottom of the box and took out some packing paper and out slid a bat. I looked at her confused and then I twirled the bat to see who's bat it was...

Billy Rowell Rawling's Game Used Bat

My wife actually listens to me when I talk to her and she's pretty ok in my book. Also, if you take anything from this blog post, make sure to keep in touch with your friends. Even if they aren't your best friends, just do it. I wish I had. RIP Ryan, you were a "good dude" as my friends put it. Sorry for not being there for you...

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The Heist

When I was 5 or maybe even 6 years old my Aunt and Uncle’s house was robbed. The burglars took their television set, VCR, a bunch of jewelry and some other family stuff that meant a lot to them. Shortly after the theft, my mom and dad took us over to their house and while they discussed grown up things my brother and I got to play with our older cousins Jason and Alan. It was really the first time I remember spending a lot of time with them. They had the coolest toys, had cool posters in their rooms, were allowed to watch TV shows my brother and I were forbidden to see, and listened to cool music. Also, they knew so much about baseball players and baseball cards. They had binders of them, complete sets, even cards in 4 screw down holders! They were way ahead of my brother and I. At that time, our collection was located in shoe boxes under our beds, and each team stack was wrapped with colorful rubber bands. 

When my mom and dad decided it was time to leave, we said our goodbyes to everyone and headed back home. On the way back, my mom and dad had explained to us that our Aunt and Uncle were soon going to be our neighbors. My dad and his other brothers decided to sell off a portion of land they owned so my Aunt and Uncle could live about 900 feet away. You can imagine our excitement at the news! 

While their house was being built, they all were staying right next door at my grandparents' house (most of my neighbors growing up were family from my dad’s side). It was great! After a year or so, their house was built and my brother and I would frequently stop over and listen to music we weren’t allowed to listen to, trade baseball cards, read Cracked magazine, watch shows we weren’t supposed to watch like In Living Color or Married with Children. I loved these cousins. They even had TV’s in their rooms! It was pretty cool. 

A year later, my mom finally nailed down a decent job and my dad had received a little bit of inheritance from a family member passing away and my parents decided to put in a swimming pool! 

Our swimming pool became a hit that summer. My cousins were always over swimming with us. One particular afternoon, my oldest cousin Jason bet me I couldn’t throw our pool basketball from one end of the pool and sink it in the pool basketball hoop all the way at the end of the pool (40 feet away) in 1 try. He said if I made it a I could pick any baseball card of his that I wanted. I chucked that ball with perfect accuracy and “swish!” Nothing but net!

My cousins were flabbergasted that I just made that shot! So, Jason and I dried off and headed over to his house. When we got there, he told me to sit in the kitchen and enjoy a peanut butter cookie. So, I did. A few minutes later he came out with a few sets that were in the boxes and said for me to pick from these sets. I tried to tell him that wasn’t our deal, but I noticed he had a 1989 Topps set out and the card I was after was in that set, so in the end I was ok with it. The seal on the set was already broken meaning he had gone through it, but the card I wanted was still in there. He put it in a toploader for me and we headed back to my house and kept enjoying the pool for the rest of that afternoon. 

A few weeks had passed, and my mom received a phone call from my Aunt. When they hung up, my mom stormed to my room and just started yelling at me telling me, and I was in big trouble. I had no idea what I did, so finally she told me that I stole a baseball card from my cousin Alan. I tried to tell her I had no clue what she was talking about, but she said Alan was coming by to get it and to lay out all of my cards until he got to our house, so I did. Once he got there, he immediately found the card and said, “This is it!” He looked at me with a mean glare and left in disgust. All I could do was cry because I didn’t think I had done anything wrong. When my dad got home, my mom told him what had happened and well, it wasn’t a good night for me. I should have just told them what Jason did, but I looked up to both of them so much, so I just took the punishment.

1989 Topps Sandy Alomar Jr. Future Stars RC #648

I was so confused and upset that my cousin Jason would do this to me, and I was even more upset that Alan was furious at me. My mom ended up grounding me for the last 3 weeks of summer which meant no TV and certainly no swimming. One day while my parents were at work and my older brother was watching me, the doorbell rang, and it was Jason. He apologized for throwing me under the bus. I stayed calm and asked him to tell Alan everything so he wouldn’t be mad at me anymore. Eventually, he did. Alan came by my house and apologized for being mad at me, and also for his brother being a jerk. In the end it all got squared away with my parents because Alan told them what had happened, and I was no longer grounded. 

Three years ago, I saw my cousin Jason for the first time in 11 years. We were both at the sandwich shop near my house. He had stopped talking to his parents, his brother, and basically everyone in the family. I’m not sure what exactly the circumstances are behind it, and I’d much rather stay out of family drama because that is who I am. It was weird seeing him though. However, he did talk to me. We sat down together and had lunch and reminisced about all the fun things we used to do like sled riding, throwing the baseball around, camping out in tents in each other's yards in the summers, playing street hockey, flashlight tag, you name it. He stopped for a minute and gave me a look and said, “I still feel awful about that Alomar Jr card you know.” I honestly hadn’t thought about that in years and assured him there was no hard feelings and that it was in the past. Before leaving, I told him that I missed him being around and I gave him a hug. After all, he is family. I haven’t talked or seen him since; of course, I didn’t expect to either. 

For my entire childhood any time I saw that card, I would stay away from it. I actually pulled it one time when my dad took me to the general store near our house, and I gave it to my brother. I didn’t want anything to do with it, even though I collected Alomar Jr back then. Last Saturday after my sons t-ball game, I picked up a Fairfield re-pack at Rite Aid along with some Nerds gummies for my son (if you have read my blog recently, you would see that I have grabbed a few of these re-packs lately). In that re-pack log jammed in a bunch of ‘89 Topps cards was the Alomar Jr Future Stars Rookie Card. I made a weird shriek in the car while I was opening the box. My son asked, “Daddy, are you ok?” I said, “Yeah bud, I’ll be ok. Do you want another baseball card for your collection?” I turned around in the driver's seat to see my son eating his Nerds gummies and him staring at the card. He took a few seconds looking at it and looked at my face and simply said, “No daddy, I think you should have that one.” I gave him a smile to let him know I was ok and said, “Ok bud, I think I’ll keep it. Let’s go home.”

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Buffalo Chicken Dip & the 1995 NHL Entry Draft

***CAUTION - This post is incredibly wordy and long. It will not be for everyone, so if you don't have 10-15 minutes, you may want to skip this, or read when you're on the toilet***

Additional Disclaimer: This is the day as I remember it from my memory. It may not be 100% accurate, but it is close enough!

Growing up, my mom loved to entertain. She would have all sorts of weird parties, and when she had these parties, my brother, dad and I would most times just leave the house and find other things to do. One year my mom had a home interiors party on the same day as the 1995 NHL Draft. The '95 Draft was held on Saturday, July 8, 1995, in Edmonton, Alberta. This was also the day after my brother turned 15. My dad, making sure he was home for my brother's big day had to go back out to work the next day, so he was not home for my mother's festivities. My brother decided he was going to hang out with his friends, and they came to pick him up around 10am to go to the guitar store about 40 minutes away. That left me at home with my mom and her gang of 40-something cronies mostly for the entire day. My mom had gotten up early that morning to start prepping food for the party. When I entered the kitchen after I woke up, I got the "fend for yourself" speech and the "stay downstairs in the basement and find something on tv to watch so you don't bother us." Real nice. 

When I went down to the basement, I turned on ESPN 2 and found out that the NHL Draft was that day. Staying downstairs didn't seem so bad after all. Around noon the ladies started to arrive at my house. I greeted a lot of them at the door when my mom appeared to be too busy. Some of them I knew, others were complete strangers to me. I started smelling some great food. One lady I think her name was Tracy asked me when I opened the door if I liked buffalo chicken dip. I was a big fan of spicy food and anything hot wing related, so I said, "I've never had it before, but it sounds delicious!" 

For the life of me I cannot remember what time the draft actually started, all I did know was I didn't want to miss a single pick of that first round. I interviewed my mom last Friday about this day, and even asked her who Tracy was, what time the party started and how much crap she actually bought at this party. Just to add more detail: 1. Tracy was a co-worker who always made good food and my mom said “She made you that St. Louis Blues birthday cake when you were 11.” Ahh yes, the Blues cake with raspberry filling that I wasn’t a fan of. Pretty sure it was my 12th birthday mom, but whatever. 2. My mom has “no damn clue” what time that draft started and “why do you need to know that anyways?” And my personal favorite: 3. “Your dad was away, so I probably spent over $100.” My dad looked over at me and rolled his eyes and said, “now the truth comes out!” Moving on back to my memories of 1995….

Before the first pick was selected, I remember having a Root Beer to drink. I'm pretty sure it was Barq's which is mildly upsetting, but that is always what my dad bought while I lived there. Later on in life I did tell him how terrible that stuff was compared to other Root Beer brands out there and he agreed. It was probably cheap if I had to guess. 

With the draft starting in a few minutes, I heard my name upstairs, so I creeped a little closer to the staircase of my parents split entry home to find out what was being said about me. My mom was just telling her friends about my first season on the freshman team in ice hockey. I figured that might be my queue to go up for some food. I started up the steps and I heard my mom's friend Sandy say, "Well, I think I hear someone coming up the stairs." When I emerged the ladies were all looking at some wall portrait of an old mailbox with a wooden wheel with some birds on it. It looked absolutely hideous. I asked them all if they would mind if I made a quick plate and went back downstairs. They all were totally fine with it, and I remember making all of them laugh with something I was saying. The spread of food looked unreal. My mom broke out her nice blue tablecloth and everyone was actually using our silverware instead of plastic cutlery. After grabbing my plate, the first thing I grabbed was a heaping pile of that buffalo chicken dip, some crackers, some clam dip, carrots and broccoli and a meatball sandwich. I was good to go. Now it was time to head back into the basement, but before I did that, I thanked all of the ladies and told them all to have a blast.

Back to draft time. The Islanders were about to select the first selection of the draft. Everyone on the panel covering the draft pretty much knew who it was going to be, so the element of surprise was pretty much lost. Well, the Isles brass is headed to the podium. With the 1st selection in the 1995 NHL Draft, the New York Islanders selected....

Bryan Berard!

1999/00 Topps Chrome Bryan Berard Refractor Parallel 

Berard ended up having a decent career with the Islanders, Maple Leafs, Rangers, Bruins, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets and even a stint with Team USA during the 1998 Olympics. He even won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 1997. However, a serious eye injury on March 11, 2000, during his tenure with the Maple Leafs derailed his career a bit. He took a stick to the eye from Marian Hossa. His eye was slashed on the sclera and resulted in a retinal tear and a detached retina. After several surgeries to correct this issue and a special fitted contact lens that allowed him to meet the leagues minimum vision requirement, and he made a comeback to the NHL by signing a contract with the New York Rangers. He bounced around a bit after that, but still ended up playing 4 more seasons in the NHL before retiring after 25 games in the KHL. 

After the Berard selection, I dug into the meatball sandwich. It was "ok". I could tell my mom used store bought meatballs instead of the ones she usually made for our family. My mom made pretty darn good meatballs growing up, however, I do believe the ones I make now as an adult are far superior. I totally understand why my mom put out the cheapo meatballs though. With 15 or 16 mouths to feed, it’s totally different than feeding only 4 (most nights 3 due to my dad being away 4 days a week most weeks). The clam dip was phenomenal though. As is tradition. My mom usually made this beer bread with it, but this time, it was just served with crackers. I took a sip of the root beer, the sting in the back of my throat from the Barq's Root Beer wasn't pleasant. On to pick #2...

With the 2nd selection in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Ottawa Senators selected....

Wade Redden! 

1998/99 SPx Finite Wade Redden Spectrum /300

I am really trying hard to remember what the commentator's thought about this pick. For some strange reason, I thought they were thinking the Sens were going to select a forward. Maybe it was the Kings I'm thinking of, either way, Wade Redden was the pick by the Sens. In my collection, I didn't have any Wade Redden. If you're reading this, I hope you continue on because I had to buy a lot of cards of these guys to get this story out there. This post will end up costing me $28.77. It stinks because I had given away all of my Redden stuff to a young kid who had concussion issues while I was still dating my wife, so probably 11 years ago. Hey kid, if you're out there, can you at least give me back my Paul Gillis nosebleed Pro Set card? Thanks. Wade Redden was decent until he signed a huge contract with the New York Rangers. I remember Redden's name always on the trade block back then. They just could not get rid of the guy. Eventually, they buried him in the AHL to rot the rest of his hockey career making millions to play in the minor leagues. Crazy, but true.

Before the Kings were on the clock, I had polished off the clam dip and the meatball sandwich. “How the hell do you remember this crap, Bryan?” says my wife. Well, because the next thing that happened would change my life forever just like these kids' lives changed during the same time. I took a cracker; I plowed through the middle of the pile of buffalo chicken dip and got myself a nice helping of it (seriously though, why does everyone go and dip right in the middle of a pile of's never the sides or the back, nope, the middle..anyways). Now the Los Angeles Kings were on the clock. Crunch. WHAT WAS THIS? Oh my! My tastebuds were having a party. This was the first time I ever had buffalo chicken dip. Man, oh man, was it fantastic! The Kings brass made their way to the podium. They probably thanked Edmonton and yadda yadda yadda. With the 3rd selection in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Los Angeles Kings select....

Aki-Petteri Berg!

1995/96 Score Summit Aki-Petteri Berg Artist's Proof RC 

This guy's name should have come with an AKA. I swear I never heard a single person refer to him as Aki-Petteri Berg other than the Kings staff that selected him. He was always Aki Berg. Aki was a decent defenseman during his NHL career.  Don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure I remember the commentators of the draft saying this was the first time 3 defenseman were selected with the first 3 picks of a draft. If I'm wrong, sue me, you won't get much. Berg played his entire NHL career which consisted of 10 seasons with the Kings and Maple Leafs. He was mostly a stay-at-home defenseman that would dish out some decent hits from time to time. I actually have a Kings signed puck of Aki Berg. My buddy in California gave it to me for helping him move one time, so there's that. Other than this Score Summit card, that's all the Berg crap I own. I also purchased this card for this blog over at Sportlots. It cost me a whopping $1.39 shipped. It was a card I was familiar with as I had this exact card in my collection back in 1996 or 1997.

So, after a few bites of this buffalo chicken dip, I decided to go upstairs to make sure my mom got the recipe from this Tracy lady for this stuff. My mom who enjoys anything spicy like myself had already been one step ahead of me and had it written down. Score! For years afterwards, my mom would always make this dip in her mini-crock pot anytime there was a gathering, so this day started it all! Ok guys, I'm sure you're sick of reading all this crap, but if you made it this far, thank you. Remember what I said, this post actually cost me money to make, so if you read it all, my $28.77 made it all worth it. 

The Anaheim Mighty Ducks were on the board next. I'm really trying to remember who they thought they were selecting and for some reason I think they thought Daymond Langkow was going next, but they were wrong. It did end up being a forward only he was from the OHL instead of the WHL like Langkow and he played a softer game. With the 4th selection in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks select....

Chad Kilger!

1996/97 Donruss Press Proofs Chad Kilger /2000

I'll admit it, I didn't have a single Chad Kilger card. This was purchased for $1 from Burbank Sportscards. Shoutout to those guys over at Burbank. The first card they sent to me had a huge ding in the upper right-hand corner and I messaged them to let them know and they got me a new one out no questions asked. Top notch guys there, so thanks again Burbank! I used to have a cool OPC Kilger card that was /100, but I traded it about 8 years ago to a Maple Leafs fan. I didn't even keep the scan of the card. Way to go Bryan! Kilger ended up being a journeyman who suited up for 6 teams during his 15 seasons in the NHL. Cool fun fact is that his slap shot was once clocked at 106.6 MPH. This would be the unofficial hardest shot in hockey. 

After the Ducks had picked Kilger, I remember going over to our basement fridge and grabbing a piece of my brother's leftover birthday cake from the night before and plopping it down right where my meatball sandwich had once rested. Although it kind of sucked since it was a chocolate cake, it was still sugar and it kept me from going back upstairs and interrupting the party. While eating the cake, it started to thunderstorm outside. When a bolt hit near the house, it startled me since our blinds were up in the window in the basement and I could not see outside. Speaking of lightning, they were currently on the clock. I thought that was a weird coincidence.

I used the bathroom while the Lightning were on the clock and while in there, the lights flickered a bit. After I came out of the bathroom, the Lightning were still on the clock (my bathroom trip was only a #1, come on guys!). The Barq’s root beer went right through me. I then sat back down on the couch and a half a minute later, the Lightning had made their pick. With the 5th selection in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Tampa Bay Lightning select....

Daymond Langkow!

1996/97 Select Certified Artists Proof Daymond Langkow /500

This Langkow card cost me a whole $.61 at COMC. Langkow turned out to be a pretty decent pro. He had played his junior hockey with another draft pick in the 1st round of this draft with the Tri-City Americans in the Western Hockey League. In his pro career, he would wear 4 different NHL sweaters (Lightning, Flames, Flyers and Coyotes) and play 1,090 games and end up with 672 points. Fun fact is that his brother Scott (a goalie) saw time in the NHL playing 20 games for the Jets, Coyotes and Thrashers. 

Immediately after Langkow was picked, the ladies upstairs were laughing hysterically at something. I hate the feeling when something is funny, and you hear people laugh and you are dying to know what they were laughing at. I remember looking at the screen and they were showing Langkow taking photos with the Lightning front office. Knowing that I probably had a few minutes before the Edmonton Oilers would select, I decided to put on my shoes and ventured out of our basement door to check out the storm. The sky was pretty dark, and I saw some lightning out in the distance. I was just hoping the electricity wouldn't go out so I could keep watching the draft. 

Once the Oilers were ready to pick, I am pretty sure the commentators were saying they were looking for someone with a lot of speed and they bet the selection would be Steve Kelly from the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. Well, let's just see about that. With the 6th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Edmonton Oilers select....

Steve Kelly!

1997/98 Donruss Canadian Ice Steve Kelly Dominion Series /130

The thing I remember most about the Steve Kelly pick was that they interviewed his younger brother and sister, and they probably gave the dumbest interview I have ever seen (at least from what I remember). Another card I had to buy (I hope you guys appreciate this weird post!). This one cost me a few bucks. Steve Kelly never really had the success he had when he played junior hockey. Kelly was a fast skater, but he couldn't really put it together. He had a short NHL career of 149 games and only scored 9 career goals. This definitely wasn't what the Oilers were looking for with the 6th pick of the draft. A cool thing I learned about Steve Kelly is that he is currently a police officer in Calgary. 

The Winnipeg Jets were now on the clock. The commentators I remember 100% they got this one right on who they thought the Jets were picking. Shortly after the Jets were announced to be on the clock, their front office was already on the stage ready to draft their player. It was almost like they were relieved the Oilers picked Kelly, because they had outsmarted them with their pick (totally true by the way). With the 7th selection in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Winnipeg Jets select....

Shane Doan!

1995/96 Bowman's Best Shane Doan Refractor RC

Before I get to Doaner, I actually pulled this card you see here. It was from the only pack of Bowman's Best hockey that I purchased that year. I put it in my PC and it's been there since 1997. 

What a great pick by the Jets! Shane Doan was a true power forward that didn't take crap from anyone who could also bury the puck any time he needed to. I have also heard that he never used swear words. That is quite a feat, especially in pro-sports. Doan really never got a chance to sniff getting close to the Stanley Cup and that probably is because he played for the same crappy team his entire career. That really sucks. He was a great player. Shane Doan spent his 21-year career playing only for the Jets and then the Arizona Coyotes (technically the same franchise depending on who you talk to since the Jets became the expansion Coyotes). He ended his career with 1,540 games played and 972 points, made the All-Star game twice and now serves as chief of hockey development for the Coyotes. Would Doan's career had been the same if he was drafted by the Oilers this draft (who had been pretty awful at developing their young talent in the early-mid 90's)? 

Right before the next selection, the power in my house went out. I have no idea what transpired before the actual selection. My power came right back on a minute or so later. My tv took another minute or so to fire back on. Of course, since it was 1995, my tv would go back to channel 3 anytime it had been reset, so I had to go back to the channel I was on (ESPN 2 was channel 28). My mom's friend from work ventured downstairs and asked if it was ok to use the bathroom (we only had 2 in the house - split entry, remember?). I obliged and left the room and gave her some privacy since the bathroom is right next to the couch/living area. I ended up going back upstairs to see if any of the buffalo chicken dip was left (I was a pudgy 13-year-old growing boy). There was a little bit of the buffalo chicken dip left, so I asked the ladies if they were going to indulge any more, or if they were done. They all told me to eat it. Especially Tracy. She was happy I liked it. So, I made a small plate of veggies and buffalo chicken dip this time instead of crackers and headed back down to the cave below. By the time I got back my mom's co-worker had finished using our facilities and she was actually standing in the living area of our basement watching the draft. She asked me if the Penguins had picked yet, and I informed her that they had pick #24 and if she needed me to, I would let her know who they selected. She thanked me, but said it wasn't necessary and headed back upstairs. 

It looked like Montreal was about to pick, and I swear the commentators thought they were going to select Radek Dvorak. Well, let's just see about that. With the 8th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Montreal Canadiens select...

Terry Ryan!

1996/97 Leaf Preferred Terry Ryan RC 

I clearly remember someone on the broadcast saying how terrible of a skater Terry Ryan was and also that he was from Newfoundland. Terry Ryan had a pretty lackluster career, and he is considered a first round bust not only by every hockey fan and member of the media, but also by Ryan himself! He wrote a book about his career called, "Tales of a First Round Nothing." Trust me, this book is worth the read. I own it and have read it twice. It's beyond hilarious! 

Tales of a First Round Nothing

I will note that the card above really bothered the crap out of me when I was younger. Look at how he is cross-checking that player near him. Look at his skates. Just seeing this made me think this guy wasn't very good when I was a kid, and I was right! Anyways, Terry Ryan was a bust, but has now become somewhat of a celebrity with a podcast, some cameos in movies and also starring in a Letterkenny spinoff called "Shoresy." He plays the part of a hockey player named Ted Hitchcock. 

Sometimes my memory gets a little foggy, and this is one of those times, so I apologize. My brother and his buddy eventually came home from the guitar shop, and it was either during this pick or the next pick. All I know is his friend Chris put me in a pretzel wrestling move as soon as he arrived at my house, and I punched him in the back. My brother's friends were always picking on me. My brother came home with a used guitar with his birthday money from the guitar shop. It wasn't anything special, just a red Squier Stratocaster. Those two took a seat on the couch, and started playing their guitars together which was a little bit distracting, but I just tried to ignore them. I eventually ate the rest of my vegetables and dip and waited in anticipation for the Bruins to pick the next player. The Bruins front office made their way up to the podium. With the 9th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Boston Bruins select....

Kyle McLaren

1995/96 Stadium Club Kyle McLaren Members Only Parallel RC 

I don't have much to say about McLaren. He was a steady defenseman, that played his entire 12-year NHL career with 2 franchises (Boston and San Jose). He was a large guy (6'4", 220lbs) that would throw around the body when he could. You loved him if he was on your team and hated to play against him. He was that kind of player. 

The Florida Panthers were now on the clock. Around this time, I kinda remember the lightning outside starting to sound like it was further away, so it seemed like maybe it had passed, so that was good. Hopefully no more power outages. My mom did end up coming down the steps while they were on the clock to say "Hi" to my brother's friend Chris (my parents were in a bowling league with his parents), and also to ask my brother if he ate while he was out. He said that they had stopped and gotten fast food, so they were good. When she went upstairs, I had to tell my brother about the buffalo chicken dip. He seemed like he didn't care, or maybe he had tried it at a friend's house, I can’t remember. 

The broadcasters I think called this pick. They kept saying how every team was taking this guy when they got to the podium and it didn't happen, so I figured at some point they would get it right. Here we go! With the 10th selection in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Florida Panthers select....

Radek Dvorak!

1995/96 Pinnacle Zenith Rookie Roll Call Radek Dvorak 

DUFEX! I did have some crappy Score base card of Dvorak, but I realized no one wants to see that crap, especially me, so I bought this for everyone's viewing pleasure. I love these cards. I may have to do this set. This bad boy cost me $5.25, and it would have been a steal at that price if it didn't have a ding in the bottom right corner when it arrived. I really try to put cards in decent condition on this blog as a reference, but this is a time where I failed. Sorry guys! Dvorak was supposed to be some offensive dynamo, but he only had one season where he scored 30 or more goals (2000-01). Dvorak was a "decent" forward though. I remember him being a part of my NHL '96 team for the Super Nintendo when I won the Stanley Cup. Dvorak had a long career. 18 years in the NHL to be exact, and he played in 1,260 games! To go along with his long career, he also suited up for 8 NHL franchises (Florida, New York, Edmonton, St. Louis, Atlanta, Dallas, Anaheim and retiring with Carolina). All-in-all a decent first round selection!

Now I could lie to you guys and say that I was around for the next selection, but sadly I wasn’t. The doorbell rang and I answered it. It was a co-worker of my mom's (Donna) that I knew, and she had a beagle dog that would wander around their office. If I was sick or off school for whatever reason, my mom usually just let me chill with her at work. When I was there, I’d always pet her dog and it would cheer me up. Anyways, she was telling me how her dog had gotten sick, and she had to take her to the vet and that is why she was late for the party. That dog would end up passing away a few weeks later from cancer. For the life of me, I do not remember the name of this dog, and for the accuracy of this story, I reached out to my mom, and she thought it was Lady, but that didn’t ring a bell with me, so I’m not putting that in stone here. Sorry to sidetrack you on this, back to the draft. After I got done talking with Donna, I walked her upstairs so she could join the party. By the time I was back downstairs for some NHL Draft action, the Dallas Stars had already selected. This selection ended up producing the only Hall of Fame player in this draft class, and I missed it. Damn you Home Interiors! Just for uniformity of this blog post, here you go: With the 11th pick of the 1995 NHL Draft, the Dallas Stars select…

Jarome Iginla!

1995/96 SP Jarome Iginla RC 

About Jarome Iginla…where do I start? I have sat around thinking about what all I can say about this guy. I absolutely loved how he played. He was a power forward, but also had some finesse to his game. Iginla could beat the pants off of you in a fight, and then dangle you the next shift he had and bury one. The crazy part is, Dallas ended up trading him before he ever set foot on the ice for them. With Joe Nieuwendyk in a contract dispute with Calgary, the Flames dangled him in a trade to Dallas for Iginla and Corey Millen, and the Stars accepted it. I guess a decent move for both teams since Nieuwendyk helped Dallas win a Stanley Cup in 1999, and Iginla ended up being one of the most decorated Calgary Flames in their team's history. Iggy holds the Flames record for goals and points. When Calgary began to rebuild in 2013, he was dealt at the deadline to my hometown Penguins for some draft picks. He only ended up playing a half a season here before moving on after the Pens were swept in the playoffs by the Boston Bruins (I was so angry during this series). Who did he sign with in the off-season of 2013? The stupid Boston Bruins (which angered me even more). Eventually though, I got over it. Iggy continued his career for 4 more seasons after suiting up for Boston by playing for the Colorado Avalanche and finishing his career with the Los Angeles Kings. During his NHL career Iginla played in 1,554 games, became the 20th player in history to score 600 goals (625) and amassed a total of 1,040 points. Sadly, he wouldn’t ever raise the Stanley Cup. He did however win 2 Rocket Richard trophies (most goals in the league), an Art Ross trophy (most points) and a Lester B. Pearson award (most outstanding player as voted by NHLPA). Not bad for a guy who got passed over 10 times in his draft year! In 2020, Iginla was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame!

After the Stars selected the focus soon shifted to the San Jose Sharks. I think it was Bob McKenzie on the broadcast saying something about the Sharks always picking guys that were off the board. My brother and Chris raided the basement fridge, and both had a huge helping of my brother's birthday cake. There we were, 3 teenagers watching the NHL Draft with birthday cake and root beers, life was good! The Sharks front office made their way to the podium for the selection. With the 12th selection in the 1995 NHL Draft, the San Jose Sharks select…

Teemu Riihijarvi!

1995/96 UD Collector’s Choice World Junior Championship Platinum Player’s Club Teemu Riihijarvi RC

I actually pulled this Riihij√§rvi card you see here. When I was 14, I would walk in a path behind my house that led to my great grandmother's house. Then, from there I would take the main road all the way to our local Rite Aid. This Rite Aid sold cards. Mostly Collector’s Choice, Pinnacle, Fleer, Stadium Club, Score, and one time they had Flair! On one particular afternoon, my neighbor Jimmy and I ventured to Rite Aid for some candy and a few packs of hockey cards. I bought 2 packs of Collector’s Choice this time and in the 2nd pack I pulled this Riihij√§rvi. I remembered him being the Sharks 1st rounder from the draft I had watched a few months earlier and held on to this thing. That year I ended up pulling 3 Platinum Player’s Club cards from this Rite Aid (Nikolai Borchevsky, Derek Plante, and Riihijarvi). Sorry, I just had to take you back to the origins of this card. Back to the Sharks selection! The entire broadcast seemed flabbergasted by this selection. One of the commentators said something like “it was from left field”. Not what you want to hear when you’re selecting a first-round draft choice. Since this was almost 28 years ago and my memory isn’t as sharp as it once was, I am pretty sure this guy was just tall and someone saying he was basically a “hot head”. Riihijarvi never ended up playing a single game in the NHL and spent his playing career in Finland and Sweden bouncing in between their various professional leagues until his retirement in 2006. 

Before the next pick happened, my brother's friend Jim came over. I never liked this asshat. He was always a total jerk to me, and my brother never stuck up for me. When I turned 16, I punched him right in the face after he kept running his mouth to me. He fell down and his nose gushed with blood. Well, he never once was mean to me ever again. If you ever read this Jim, dude, you suck. When Jim finally settled in, he grabbed the remote and put on MTV (I told you he was a jerk). I grabbed it back and said to my brother and his friends that I really wanted to watch the draft and if they didn’t like it to leave. Well, they did just that! Chris asked them all if they wanted to go play guitar in his garage with his new amplifier and they all seemed pumped to do so. Good riddance! With the Hartford Whalers on the clock, I decided to break out some of my hockey cards. After sorting a little bit, the broadcast was mentioning the Whalers were about to select. With the 13th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Hartford Whalers select…

Jean-Sebastien Giguere!

1997/98 Donruss Rated Rookies Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Ok, I paid for this card. The Giguere cards I currently have are boring in my opinion. This card came via COMC for 67 cents! “Giggy” had a pretty darn good career. He played very limited time for the Whalers, however. After Hartford had relocated to Carolina to become the Caroline Hurricanes, Giguere was dealt to Calgary along with Andrew Cassels for another goalie who was a 1st round draft pick in Trevor Kidd and the main piece which was Gary Roberts. Giggy's career never really took off until he was traded to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on June 10, 2000, for a 2nd round draft pick. This was a steal for the Ducks who rode Giguere who was the hot hand all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2003. However, he would eventually lose in 7 games to the New Jersey Devils. Giguere ended up winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs and become only the fifth player to receive the trophy as part of the losing team. Giggy stuck around with Anaheim for 6 more seasons and battled injry and inconsistency and eventually lost his job a few times to Ilya Bryzgalov and Jonas Hiller. He would later be traded in 2010 to Toronto and play there for 2 seasons and then finish his career in Colorado 5 years later. In his last NHL start which would be against Anaheim, Giguere shared a victory lap after the game with former teammate Teemu Selanne. After seasons end, both players retired. Pretty cool tidbit there (thanks for making me remember that internet!).

Immediately after Giguere was selected my buddy John rang the doorbell. He and I usually rode our bikes to each other's houses in the summertime (roughly 1.23 miles - I GPS'd this for accuracy this past week), and we would normally sleep over if it was a Saturday and then just go home with our parents the next day when we would see them at church. It was kinda our thing. Of course, my house was the place to be back then because if my dad was away for a weekend, we could play hockey in my dad's detached garage since his truck bay would be vacant.  John just loved to play goalie and I could pepper him with plenty of shots, so he was awesome to have as a friend. When he came downstairs, he noticed the draft was on and he was pumped. I remember him asking, "What is going on upstairs? Do you realize there are cars parked all the way up your driveway?" I told him about my mom's Home Interiors party and then I had to tell him about buffalo chicken dip. His response was, "Dude, of course I know what buffalo chicken dip is, my uncle makes it all the time!" How was I the only one who never had this stuff before? 

Back to the draft. The Buffalo Sabres began walking to the podium. I remember John yelling at the TV for them to take a goalie. Haha, not this pick buddy. With the 14th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Buffalo Sabres select...

Jay McKee!

1996/97 Fleer Ultra Jay McKee In-Person Auto

So, what I can remember about the analysts talking about McKee was that he played his junior hockey pretty close to Buffalo and that he could drive 10 minutes up the road to the rink and I found that pretty cool for the guy. Anything else they said about him was pretty foggy to me, so I won't embarass myself with anything else. Let's talk about the card I have pictured instead! I bought this card. I had only one Jay McKee card and it was some crappy base card that had a terrible photo. Most of the McKee cards I looked at I hated. Found this for $3 shipped, so it lands on this blog post. I don't have much else to chime in on about McKee. He played for 3 teams in his career (Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Pittsburgh Penguins). When he played here for the Penguins, he was just a guy on defense. You didn't notice him until he made a mistake. He was mostly a defensive defenseman. He would occasionally chip in an assist or something, but for the life of me, I don't recall him scoring more than 1 goal for the Penguins. That is without even looking at hockeydb or anything else online and I'm not going to even fact check it, I'll stand by it. Anyways, McKee was kind of boring for a first-round selection if you ask me, but he did have a long career (14 years), so his selection is justifiable.

During McKee's interview, we decided to play mini-sticks and I remember this because I had a white Pittsburgh Penguins mini-stick that was signed by Peter Ahola and while we were playing, it broke because I flexed too hard on the shaft of it. If it was autographed by any other player, I probably would have really been mad. Also, I did have another Ahola signature on a Penguins license plate, so it was "ok" with me to have to throw away the mini stick. Toronto was on the clock next, and John asked if we could check out some of my hockey cards. John and I headed upstairs, and he came up and said "Hi" and introduced himself to my mom's friends and grabbed a meatball sub with some chips and I grabbed my black British Knights shoe box which had most of the hockey cards and football cards I wanted to trade, and we went back downstairs. When we got downstairs the Maple Leafs front office was literally announcing the pick. With the 15th selection in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs select...

Jeff Ware!

1994/95 Select World Junior Championships Team Canada 

Fun fact, I had this card, so I didn't have to purchase it at all. When my cousin Alan, who I have talked about on this blog a few times turned 16 and eventually got his driver's license, that day he took me to the card shop. The blog post about it was here. I bought a pack of Select hockey cards and this was one of the cards that was in the pack. Thanks cousin Alan! I don't really know much about Jeff Ware, so I had to use Wikipedia as a source. Ware played on an Oshawa Generals team that won an OHL league championship back in 1997. He also won a gold medal with Team Canada in the 1997 World Junior tournament. Ware's professional hockey career however, was not the greatest. Jeff had 5 knee surgeries and it looks like this is what caused him to retire after only playing 21 games in the NHL for the Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers scoring only 1 point, an assist. 

The two of us continued to go through my cards. A few cards were catching his eye and he was putting them in a pile. We frequently traded sports cards, and there was 1 trade in particular that will live in my memory forever (that will be a separate post one day). After Ware and the Leafs management team left the podium, the Sabres were back on the clock. Of course, once again John was calling for the Sabres to take a goalie. Well, John would be in luck. With the 16th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Buffalo Sabres select...

Martin Biron!

1999/00 Stadium Club Martin Biron One of a Kind Parallel /100

The Marty Biron cards I had were pretty dull. I snagged this puppy from Burbank Sports Cards again. It was a little bit pricier than the other cards I grabbed from them. This put me back $6. I did want it for my collection though as it's a nice shiny piece, so it was the price I had to pay. The commentators at the draft were talking about Biron sporting the #00 during his junior career. That's pretty much all I can remember about what they said about the guy. Biron had a pretty solid NHL career and is now a studio analyst for the Buffalo Sabres before previously being an analyst for TSN and NHL Network. In his 16-year NHL career, Biron suited up for the Sabres, Flyers, Rangers, and Islanders. He retired in 2014 with 230 wins. Fun fact, his brother Mathieu played in the NHL as well!

John had a nice stack set aside before the next pick. He and I talked about the Capitals and what position they might pick, and we both figured it might be defense. Well, why don't we see who they actually selected. With the 17th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Washington Capitals select...

Brad Church!

1995/96 Signature Rookie Draft Day Brad Church Auto /4500

The crappy thing about this card is, I had it at one point in time. My wife bought me one of those weird re-pack things probably 10 years ago now and my auto guessed it, this exact card. I think I gave it to my nephew. So, I had to re-purchase this card for this blog. It cost me roughly $2 via Sportlots. Church didn't really make an impact at all with the Capitals. He played 2 games in the NHL (all for the Caps). He was known for his big frame, and I do remember him being known as somewhat of an enforcer when he was selected. From looking at his junior hockey totals, it looked like he would be a great pick, but he never panned out. Church doesn't even have a real licensed NHL card. However, he did end up having somewhat of an impact on the game of hockey as he is the current COO for the AHL's Portland Pirates. So, you learned something today from this blog of mine.

Before the next pick, we decided to venture out to my garage so I could show him my new Easton Aluminum stick that I had purchased that week. It's still kicking around somewhere (possibly at my brother's house). It was this awesome blue color (sort of looked like the color of the Silver Hawks Blue Grass figure back in the 80's). That's the best I can describe it. I broke the blade on that thing probably 4 games after I purchased it. My mom ended up finding someone she worked with whose son quit playing hockey early on and had 2 extra Titan replacement blades with the glue still on them, so I got them for free! John and I ended up taking my stick inside and we started to tape the blade up with some black tape. By this time, New Jersey was ready to select. I wonder who they would take? With the 18th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the New Jersey Devils select...

Petr Sykora!

2007/08 Ultra Ice Medallion Petr Sykora /100

I didn't have a Sykora card in his Devils uniform, but I did have this parallel numbered to 100. I had a common of him in a Penguins uniform, but the left corner looked like I dropped it on a hard floor. I like to give you guys decent examples of cards when I post them, so you get this instead. Sykora was an awesome pick. He had such a great career scoring 323 goals and 721 total points. I loved watching him when he was here with the Penguins, and he even got to raise the Stanley Cup with them in 2009. I watched that last game where they won it with my buddy and 2 girls, we had no interest in at Buffalo Wild Wings about 10 minutes away from my old condo. I don't know why you needed to know that, but it's here and now posted on the internet. Sorry Shannon, I wasn't interested in you, but thanks for inviting me out to watch the game with your friend Ahsley (who my friend was not interested in). Anyways, Sykora played in the Stanley Cup finals 6 times! However, he would only win twice. Once with New Jersey in 2000, and as I said earlier, with the Penguins in 2009. This is a player the Capitals probably should have taken instead of Church. Heck, a lot of teams that picked before the Devils should have taken him!

After the Devils selection, I remember getting yelled at by my mom. I grabbed a puck from my hockey equipment bag, and I was shooting wrist shots at the back of the couch. Since it was a pull-out couch with a bed, the springs in the bed were making a noise and my mom snuck away from her party to tell me to stop. This is a reoccurring problem with me. I shot so many damn pucks at the back of the couch through the years. John thought it was hilarious when she would yell at me for stupid crap I did. Shortly after she went back upstairs, I began sifting through all of the cards in the pile John had set on the table in front of the couch in the basement. It didn't take long before the Blackhawks were ready to select. With the 19th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Chicago Blackhawks select...

Dmitri Nabokov!

2000/01 Topps Silver Foil Dmitri Nabokov Parallel /100

This is the only Nabokov I own. I found it in a 25-cent bin back in 2015 at a card show. Sadly, it was the only hockey card I purchased that day. It was mostly vintage baseball and newer basketball cards and was at a church about 20 minutes away. I went with a friend of mine who actually told me it was going to be fun. Well, it wasn't. $3 admission fee and I think I came home with 4 cards and spent $6-$7. Ugh. Nabokov lit up the WHL the year after he was drafted for the Regina Pats, but the analysts referred to him at the draft as a project. I remember reading about him in some publication as being a prolific scorer. He would only play in 55 total NHL games though (with the Islanders and Blackhawks) and compiled 24 points. After a stint in the AHL with the Lowell Lock Monsters and not really gaining any traction on another call up to the NHL, he went back to Russia and played 13 more seasons between different leagues in Russia, Austria and Finland. He finally retired in 2011. Sadly, Nabokov passed away from "an illness" on April 14, 2019. RIP Dmitri.

John really had a heaping pile of cards set out, and it was mostly all my good stuff I had for trade. I remember he had set aside a bunch of Rick Mirer rookies that I had compiled, and eventually I would trade them to him that summer for an official Roller Hockey International puck. I played so much with that puck that whatever else I threw in on that deal, I still ended up on top. I shattered 2 nets with that thing taking wicked wristers and slap shots. Man, I loved that stupid puck! After going through the stuff, he had set aside, I would visualize his collection and figure out what he could or could not trade for. You see, his collection wasn't as good as some of my other friend's collections, so I had to temper some expectations on what I would be receiving back. We traded so frequently, and a lot of times I would hook him up. He would sometimes trade me some sort of sports equipment instead of sports cards, and most times it was better than getting something from Play It Again Sports. We chatted for a bit about stuff he had for trade and then the Calgary Flames were selecting. With the 20th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Calgary Flames select...

Denis Gauthier!

1999/00 Be A Player Millenium Signature Series Ruby Denis Gauthier /200


This was a card I had in my collection since around 2008 or 2009. I had bought a crapload of 50 cent cards from a guy on Sports Card Forum who was lightening his load. This was one of the cards I purchased. I just saw it was numbered and decided to buy. Gauthier had a 10 year NHL career for the Flames, Kings, Flyers and Coyotes. He was mainly a stay-at-home defenseman with a bit of mean streak. Fun facts about Gauthier are that his dad was a professional wrestler and his mom was the sister of 3 professional wrestlers! Also, his nephew is Julien Gauthier who currently plays in the NHL for the Ottawa Senators (for the time being). 

During the Flames interviews after the pick, there was laughter erupting, so John and I decided to see what was so funny. Well, my mom's friend made some stupid joke about some earrings and the ladies all thought it was hilarious. John and I failed to see the amusement, but while we were upstairs, John grabbed some pretzels, and we went back downstairs. We were chomping on some pretzels and drinking more crappy Root Beer because that's what teenagers do, and the Bruins made their selection. With the 21st pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Boston Bruins select...

Sean Brown!

1997/98 Donruss Sean Brown In-Person Auto


I will admit I bought this card. It cost me a few bucks and the guy who had it listed on eBay had several Sean Brown autographs on this card in particular. He even still has some listed. Some are blank ink, some a blue ink. He has to be a relative of him or something. Sean Brown was dealt a year after being drafted by the Bruins to the Edmonton Oilers. However, Brown would eventually make his way back to the Bruins in 2001 for some playoff depth, but the Bruins never made it past the 2nd round losing to Montreal 4 games to 2. Brown played parts of 9 seasons in the NHL. He was pretty much a hard-hitting goon from what I remember of him. There was one time in particular where he beat the snot out of Jeff Odgers. I watched that game and I'm pretty sure Odgers was bloody. Well, that was who Sean Brown was. 

Guys, you almost made it through this thing. Keep pushing, just a handful of picks left. After the Bruins selection and we had our gullets full of pretzels and poison soda, we saw who was picking next and we decided that we didn't care who those jerks picked (the Flyers were picking next). We took my Easton Aluminum stick back to the garage that we had taped up. While in the garage, we noticed my dad's mouse trap had caught a fresh one. John and I just looked at it for a minute or two before I picked up the trap, threw the dead mouse over the hill and reset it. We went back inside and saw that a pick had already gone by, but for the sake of this blog, here you go. With the 22nd pick in the 1995 NHL Draft the Philadelphia Flyers select...

Brian Boucher!

2000/01 Stadium Club Glove Save Brian Boucher Die Cut

Oh my, what a cool card! I had a Boucher card from his days with the Coyotes, but when searching through Burbank's inventory, I had to have this one. My eBay purchase history says I paid $1.50 for this. Honestly, money well spent because this card looks awesome! You probably know Boucher from his time as a studio analyst with ABC, NBCSN, and ESPN. He is actually really good at his job. He also was a pretty good goaltender. Boucher bounced around playing for the Flyers, Hurricanes, Coyotes, Sharks, Flames, Blackhawks and Blue Jackets. His win loss totals don't really tell the story on how good he was. He had a win loss record of 120-139-30. In his defense though, he also played for some pretty crappy teams. In 1999/00 he had his best season and led the league in Goals Against Average with 1.91. I remember him as Team USA's goalie in the World Junior Tournament in 1996 and again in 1997.

We both looked at the tv and saw Washington was on the clock again. John HATED Washington. Almost as much as he hated the Flyers. John hated Washington because some kid used to say he looked like Kevin Hatcher. Man did that piss him off, even though he was no longer a Capital at the time, I just think it stewed enough for him to start hating the entire franchise. Fun fact is that I never once traded that kid a Washington Capitals card. Not Olaf Kolzig, Peter Bondra, or Kevin Hatcher. Now, on to the pick. With the 23rd pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Washington Capitals select...

Miika Elomo!

1995/96 UD Collector’s Choice World Junior Championship Platinum Player’s Club Miika Elomo RC

One of the analysts when Elomo was selected said that Miika was a funny guy. He told some story about what he said about one of the prospects and I remember it not being funny at all. John surely was not amused by it. I do remember what John said once Elomo was selected. He turned to me and said, "Dude, I bet he never even plays for them and just goes back to Finland." Well John, you were wrong. Elomo played 2 games for the Capitals. I was able to see one of them on tv too. It was against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, and I think Elomo got his only NHL point in that contest. I'm pretty sure anyways. I 100% watched that game with my dad and remember Elomo from watching the draft a few years earlier with John and remember telling my dad that he was a first-round draft pick a few years back. My dad would say something like, "Oh ok." He always thought I had a weird mind when it came to sports. Hockeydb tells me Elomo spent only 2 seasons in North America before heading back to Finland to finish off his career. 

Now we were really pumped. The next pick would be our hometown team's selection, the Pittsburgh Penguins were on the clock. We kept looking at the best available picks when they came up on the screen and we would listen to the analysts on who they thought we would pick. I'm pretty sure one of them was spot on with the pick, but I could be wrong. John wanted them to pick a goalie (of course). I remember hoping the pick was either Morozov or Jan Hlavac. Well, let's see who my team selected. With the 24th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Pittsburgh Penguins select...

Alexei Morozov!

1997/98 SP Authentic Future Watch Alexei Morozov

We both liked the pick and after seeing all the highlights they showed of Morozov after he was selected, I thought we had another Jagr on our hands. Sadly, he was super inconsistent. There were times when he looked like the best player on the ice, but most nights he would just be unnoticeable. I just wanted him to become a superstar so bad! He had great hands, a pretty decent shot, but he could never elevate his game like a star could in the NHL. His best season in the NHL was in 2001/02 when he scored 20 goals and had 29 assists. Alexei didn't even top 50 points in a season. I guess he was a disappointment, but I still like the guy. Morozov has a ton of accomplishments in his hockey career, but none of them were from his time in the NHL. He's been the leading scorer in the Russian Super League, a silver medalist with Russia at the Olympics in 1998, and a 2-time Gagarin Cup winner. The most impressive thing to note about Morozov though is that he is the current President of the KHL! Pretty wild! This card came from a birthday gift from my brother in 1999. He bought me a bunch of Penguins cards from a friend of his and put them all in top loaders and wrapped them for me. Sometimes he was nice to me, but it was a rarity. 

The next pick was pretty wild, and I'll never forget it. The Quebec Nordiques were relocating their franchise which would become the Coloardo Avalanche. However, at the draft, they hadn't selected their name yet. So, when the analysts and commentators would talk about their team, they would say the Coloardo franchise, or just refer to them as Colorado. Also, their logo was the NHL logo. John and I were talking about how crazy it was that they couldn't get that figured out before the draft. The Colorado franchise's front office started walking towards the stage and they were holding a jersey with the NHL logo on it and I felt bad for the guy who had to wear that thing and get his draft picture taken in it. Let's so who the unlucky guy was. With the 25th pick in the 1995 NHL draft, the Colorado franchise selects...

Marc Denis!

2000/01 Upper Deck Marc Denis UD Exclusives /100

When I figured I would complete this blog post, I knew the exact Marc Denis card I wanted for it. I owned this card a while back, but I traded it to a Blue Jackets fan. So, I paid $2.04 for this one on COMC, but it's well worth it. I remember when I pulled it, at first, I thought he was playing golf. Then it hit me, he was playing street hockey with some kids while wearing a polo shirt and some khaki shorts. Ok then! It might not be your cup of tea, but I dug it. Marc Denis has a losing record. I don't think he was a bad goalie though. His win loss totals are 112-179-28, so you be the judge. Sometimes numbers don't tell the whole story though. The Blue Jackets teams he played on were dreadful and hung him out to dry plenty of times. Denis played parts of 11 seasons in the NHL for 4 different teams (Blue Jackets, Lightning, Avalanche and Canadiens). I still feel bad for your Mr. Denis. It sucks your draft photo wasn't taken in an Avalanche jersey. Blame it on Bettman, because, why not!

Well folks, the last pick is upon us. For some strange reason, I feel like Marc Moro is who the analysts thought was going to be the pick, or am I just imagining this? When I looked at the selections and I saw his name, it sounded familiar to me. John and I were going through some of my Penguins cards before the next pick and both of us were wondering when my mom's party was going to end. John said he was probably going to have to move his bike, so no one would run over a tire or something pulling out of the driveway because a lot of them would have to try to back out of my parents ridiculously long driveway. Back then, there weren't back up cameras. So, John went out to put his bike in the garage. It was a minute or two before he came back in and the selection was made. With the 26th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft, the Detroit Red Wings select...

Maxim Kuznetsov!

2000/01 Be A Player Memorabilia Maxim Kuznetsov Ruby /200

The analysts seem to keep saying how tall this guy was. That's pretty much all I remember about him. I don't remember him in the NHL and from his stats, there is a reason why. In the 136 games he played, he scored a whopping total of 2 goals and 8 assists. He was pretty much just a guy. Kuznetsov stood at 6'5" and 240lbs, so he was a big boy. I'm guessing he was a player in the mold of Kyle McLaren only worse at hockey. When the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2002, Kuznetsov's name was left off the Cup due to only playing in 39 regular season games and 0 games in the playoffs. Had he played 2 more games that season, he would have qualified to be a Stanley Cup champion. Man, that has to suck. Surprisingly I owned this Kuznetsov card. I have no idea how I obtained it, but it's here and it's mine. 

Before I close this thing out, I just wanted to mention an elite player in this draft who was selected at pick #91 by the New York Rangers...Marc Savard. I am mentioning him because I loved Marc Savard. He was AWESOME! He was a 2-time All-Star and even won the Stanley Cup in 2011 (even though he didn't play in the playoffs due to post-concussion syndrome). He's also the Oshawa Generals all-time leading scorer. Concussion issues derailed his great career and that really sucks. Well, enjoy my favorite Savard card from my collection:

2010/11 Black Diamond Marc Savard Double Diamond Gold Parallel /10

Ok, let's take you back to 1995. 

So, about 10 or 15 minutes after the draft was over, my mom's party started to end. The ladies upstairs were all leaving through the front door and I could hear each of their cars and minivans starting. I figured I'd go upstairs to see what my mom had purchased. So, I get to the top of the steps and see my mom putting chairs back in the dining room and I look to the right of me and what do I see?

Yep. My mom bought that stupid portrait of an old mailbox with a wooden wheel with some birds on it, or at least I thought she bought it. I had to ask my mom about this thing. Yes, she still has it "somewhere under the steps". She also said that it was a gift from the lady running the show. She said it was "old stock" and that my mom could have it. So, thankfully my mom did not pay for this thing, but it hung up downstairs in our basement from 1995-2008. True story!

I want you all to know I had this entry pending completion for 4 years, 11 months and 17 days. It was bugging me to the point where I would work on this every spare minute I had until it’s eventual completion. Enjoy!