Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Gas Station Fried Chicken and a Christmas Duo-Tang

1989 was a wild year for me and my family. My aunt, uncle and cousins had just moved next door with my grandparents from my dad’s side while their new house was being built (as noted in this previous post here). My mom finally had a steady office job (until the company went under in August of 1990). My grandparents from my mom’s side moved from Colorado to Pennsylvania, and I got to see them once every few months rather than 3 times a year. Also, I finally started getting an allowance for completing chores around the house like washing dishes, taking garbage out and dusting the living room. Three whole dollars every month. With those $3, I planned on buying as many 1989 Topps packs as possible to try to compile the entire set. A lofty goal for a 7-year-old kid, but I was determined. 

When my birthday rolled around, my family members bought me 1989 Topps packs to try to help. In mid-October that year, I realized I probably wasn’t going to be able to complete the set before packs started drying up in my area to make room for new products. Once they were gone from the usual spots where I could get a pack or two per week from (Foodland, Dunham’s, KMart, general store, gas stations), then I’d have to figure out how to fill all the holes in my binder by either by trading or buying. 

Well, after 1989 came to a close and we were in the thick of 1990, I still had 37 cards I needed for the 1989 set. Just as I had suspected, packs dried up in my area. I decided to move on and placed all of my 1989 Topps cards in a large box and put them on the shelf in my closet. I was so upset that I didn't complete the set or pull the iconic Gregg Jefferies Future Star card that I wanted so badly. My brother had pulled one, and asked to trade it to me, but I refused. If I was going to have that card, I wanted to pull it from a pack myself. It's no fun having such a cool card and saying, "Well, my brother traded it to me." Lame. 

In the last weekend in July in 1990, my family had a family reunion. It's always at the same place. There's no air conditioning, there are fans blowing all over the place, but the food is worth it! My grandma usually makes a few dishes to bring and this year she made a lasagna! Lasagna is my favorite food. Always will be. Since my family had to make a 3-hour trip to this reunion, my parents usually brought cold drinks in a cooler and bought some sort of food out there, so it was hot when we arrived. Finally, after the 3-hour car ride, we made it to my grandparents' new house. Since we were staying for the weekend there, my brother and I unloaded the car and took our suitcases inside and dashed to see inside. Once we got settled, we packed into my grandparent's boat of a vehicle and planned to stop at a gas station near the venue to pick up some fried chicken (my grandfather said it was the best in town). Keep in mind, where my grandparents live, there is a low population, only 1 or 2 general stores, 2 gas stations, so it was slim pickings when it comes to restaurants or things to do. Once we got to the gas station, my grandfather parked, opened his door, locked the rest of the doors and grabbed me (I was sitting right next to him in the front seat while he drove). He and my dad always tried to grab the check or pay for each other's things, so him locking the door meant my dad could not get out and I was probably allowed to grab something from this gas station while our chicken was being packed up. I scanned the candy and was going to grab a slim Jolly Rancher Apple, and then I saw a box of 1989 Topps!

It didn't take much convincing for my grandfather to cave and buy me a pack, but he insisted I pick something up that my brother would like, so I grabbed my brother a Whatchamacallit candy bar and he paid for the chicken, cards and candy bar and we headed back to the car. I decided to wait until we were back at my grandparents to open the Topps pack though. 

We had a good time at the reunion, my brother and I skipped rocks at the dam nearby, waded in the creek, and also caught some crayfish. After 5-6 hours, the reunion was over, and my brother and I helped clean up and then piled back into the car on the way back to my grandparent's house. Once we arrived, we unloaded the car and then everyone took a seat in the living room. They had pink carpet. YUCK! I took a seat on the floor near a pair of wooden shoes my grandfather brought back from Holland when he was stationed there in the army, and I decided it was a good time to rip that pack open. Well, let's see what was inside. Take a trip back with me to 1990, will ya?

Look at that wax pack...

The back, with a stain on poor Don Baylor.

YUM, some tasty gum from 35 years ago!

Card 1: Ron Kittle #771 

I had this card already. Actually, I had multiple of this card. Kittle rockin the glasses!

Card 2: Tim Belcher #456

Another dupe! It's ok though since it was a Rookie Cup card. I loved those when I was a kid.

Card 3: Charlie Hough #345

Yet another dupe (sigh!). At least it's a Hall Of Famer!

Card 4: Bobby Meacham #436

I did have this one, but this one was in better shape than the one I had. 

Card 5: Pete Stanicek #497

Stanicek was a dupe. Wasn't he supposed to be a big base stealer (from what I remember anyways)?

Card 6: Mike "Spanky" LaValliere #218

Not a dupe! I actually needed Spanky to finish the Pirates team set! YAY!

Card 7: Dwight Evans #205

Evans was a guy I low-key collected back in the day for some weird reason. I did have his rookie card that I bought at a card show that was in pretty rough shape for $2 in 1991. The 1989 Topps, however, was a duplicate (bummer!)

Card 8: Gene Nelson #581

I can't tell you how many of this card I had. It was probably 7 or 8. So, dupe...

Card 9: Topps Company Store card

This probably met my bike spokes. When I got really into collecting, these were great because you didn't have to use an actual player card. Who else did this with these things?

Card 10: Jim Rice #245

The legend. However, a duplicate. I had plenty of this card in my '89's.

Card 11: I HIT IT! Gregg Jefferies Future Star #233

I finally had it! I pulled it myself! Once I saw the red outline and the F in Future Star, I knew it! Everyone was talking in the living room, and I put down the cards, got up and danced around the room cheering. My brother came over to my pile of cards to see what was the big deal, and I said, "Get your chocolatey fingers away from that Gregg Jefferies!" My dad knowing that I had wanted that card so bad gave me a high five and I went over to my grandfather's chair and gave him a big hug and said, "Thanks pap! I have been wanting that card for so long!" My grandfather said it was no problem and that he loved me and was glad I was happy. I loved this card so much that I kept the entire pack together for all these years. When I was looking for a Jeffery Leonard card for this post here, I found the 1989 Topps pack, still in its wrapper and figured this would be a good time to post this, so here you go. 

Card 12: Argenis Salazar #642

Another need! This pack was great! Why couldn't I have bought this pack in my own town?

Card 13: Neal Heaton #197

I saw Heaton pitch once with the Expos and another time when he played here for the Pirates. This card was a dupe though.

Card 14: Larry Andersen #24

This card was also a dupe. I recently saw Andersen pitch in a replay of the Kerry Wood strikeout game on the Marquee Network. 

Card 15: Baltimore Orioles Leaders #381

I had all the team leaders cards in the 1989 set, so I did actually already own this one.

Final card with a small wax stain on the back: Card 16: Don Baylor #673

I had plenty of this card, but I was cool with it since I pulled the Jefferies. 

This past year, it was probably around November, my oldest son who was in kindergarten had a yellow folder that he had to keep in his bookbag every day had come home with his folder looking a bit trashed. I joked with my wife and said, "Buddy, do you want me to give you my huge Bo Jackson 1988 Topps folder instead? Then I can buy the 1989 Topps Future Star Gregg Jefferies folder that is on eBay for $2.99 + shipping." My wife laughed and my son said he still wanted to use his yellow folder and that was that.

When Christmas rolled around, we were opening our presents and my wife said to me, "Hun, open that big bag over there. It's from me and the boys." So, I open this gift and my wife bought me the Gregg Jefferies folder. I got a little teary-eyed and told her the story about my pap buying me that pack and I got emotional for some reason about it. She had no idea, but it made the gift more special. So now I also have this:

1989 Topps Gregg Jefferies Future Star Duo-Tang (with a pen on it to show actual size):

So, that's my story about the ICONIC (it is to me still) Gregg Jefferies Future Star card and added duo-tang. As a side note, I never completed the 1989 Topps set, but it is on my list of things to do before I die, so eventually, I will get it done. 

Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Cards that bothered me as a kid

Recently while flipping through some of my old commons that were stashed away in a Rubbermaid tub in my storage room, I came across some cards that really bothered me as a kid. For whatever reason, my young mind had a problem with, or questions regarding the photos or players depicted on the card. Let's get to it!

Card #1: 1990 Topps Mike Brumley #471

Topps didn't do Mr. Brumley any favors with this photo. It bugged the crap out of me that his face looked like he saw something terrifying while catching a ball. At one point in time, I had a full binder page of 9 cards of this one (not by choice). Thanks, Foodland, for selling me so many packs with this card in it.  

Card #2: 1992 Topps Gold Brien Taylor RC #6

Did I pull this card? You bet I 1996. That is what bothered me the most. I was out and about with my dad one day when I was almost 14, and we stopped at a hardware store near our house. The store had five or six 1992 Topps packs, and I bought two of them. This was in the 2nd pack. On our way back home when I was ripping them open, I remember saying, "Oh crap!" My dad thought something was wrong, but I told him I pulled a Brien Taylor Topps Gold Rookie. He had no idea what that meant, but I knew it was basically worth nothing now. Wish I had pulled this thing back in 1992 and I cashed in. That's why this card made the list. 

Card #3: 1988 Topps Joey Browner #170

At a general store a few miles from my house, they always had football and baseball Topps packs. Sometimes, I would be adventurous and ask my parents to buy me a football pack. I pulled this in my 2nd football pack I ever opened, and it bothered me because of the brief case next to Browner on the bench. What the heck is it for? My brother had the same card and he always wondered that too. Was it medical supplies? What's in the case? WHAT'S IN THE CASE? I posed the question when someone on Twitter posted this card a few years ago and it sparked a debate. No one had a clue.

Card #4: 1983 Fleer Ken Smith RC #148

When I was in 3rd grade, my class took a field trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo. When it started to storm, they made us all pack into the bus and on the way back to the school, we stopped at a mall food court to eat. Some of my buddies and I ventured over to the Woolworth's next to the food court and bought some re-packs they had there. I landed this awesome Ken Smith card that day. My friend Jason and I looked at this card with intrigue on the drive back to our elementary school. Why didn't anyone want to play catch with Ken? He's open...someone throw him the damn ball! Poor guy. Ken Smith, if you're reading my blog, I will play catch with you dude. Any time you want, just hit me up buddy. I'm in.

Card #5: 1983 Topps Tom Cousineau RC #246

When I was younger, my mom pretty much took my brother and I everywhere. My dad worked for USAir, so he was gone 3-4 days a week (sometimes more). One day my mom took me to the dentist. When I was in the waiting room there was a boy who had football cards he was flipping through. I was too shy to say anything to him, but when his name was called, he gathered his pile of cards and one fell on the floor. I went over and tried to get it to take it back to him, but the door closed. When I asked the receptionist to give it back to him, she said the kid had just left as he was waiting for his mom to get done with her dental visit. I didn't know what to do with it, so I kept it. I always felt bad about this, for that reason this card bugged me that I had it. Of course, in true Bryan fashion I held on to it, just in case I saw the blonde-haired kid who is probably 45 years old right now so I could give it back. What is wrong with me? So, blonde-haired kid, if you dropped a Tom Cousineau card in a dentist's office in western Pennsylvania back in 1986, I have your card. You can have it back now.

Card #6: 1995/96 Upper Deck Collector's Choice George Zidek Platinum Player's Club RC #240

I loved the UCLA team Zidek played on. The O'Bannon's were pretty cool too! When I was 14, I had a bout of asthmatic bronchitis. Since I do not have asthma, I had to get this special inhaler as a prescription from the Rite Aid near my house. My mom must have felt bad, because she bought me a few packs of Colletor's Choice that day without me even asking. This card was in one of the packs. It was extremely miscut and has an indent in his cheek, above his right wrist and on his shoulder. My scanner couldn't pick it up, but it's there I assure you. I was so furious that it was damaged. Still makes me mad to this day. So, that's why this card bothered me as a kid. One day, I will replace it with a near mint copy. Thanks, Upper Deck...

Card #7: 1988 Donruss Sammy Stewart #596

Mr. Stewart, I am sorry for what I'm about to say...your eyebrows scared the crap out of me as a kid. I was so worried growing up after seeing this card that one day I would have a uni-brow just like you. It's mean, I know. I've been teaching my kids not to judge by appearance like I did as a kid. It's not right, but man did this card rattle me a bit. Then I saw the movie Dune and the guy with the eyebrows in that movie made me feel a little better for Sammy Stewart. I never grew a uni-brow if you want to know. 

Card #8: 1989 Topps Traded Keith Atherton #4T

Let me start by saying when I received this card, I was 7. There was a vending machine that gave you a card between 2 cardboard pieces for 25 cents at an arcade my brother and I went to when my grandparents lived in Denver, and this was my 25-cent treasure. Back in 1988, my parents started a bowling league. Occasionally, my parents would host their bowling cronies over for parties. In April of 1990, they had a big party for their league.  There was a guy that my parents bowled with that came, and I wasn't sure of his name, but he looked EXACTLY like Keith Atherton from this card photo. So, at said party, I asked him to sign my Keith Atherton card. I guess it offended him because I was sent to my room. While in my room I could hear them laughing about it, but for some strange reason my dad didn't think it was funny. So yeah, this card bugged me because when I was 7, I thought my parents bowled with Keith Atherton. 

Card #9: 1986 Topps Traded Pete Ladd #58T

Back in 1989, my mom got a perm haircut, and her hair was cut short to her shoulders. When she got home, I told her that her hair smelled like mushrooms and that if she put on my dad's glasses and my Mariner's hat that I got from my uncle that she would look like Pete Ladd. Well, it made my mom cry. I don't enjoy seeing my mom cry. That night I drew her a picture of her flower bed, my cat Leonard in it looking for mice and my mom with her new haircut planting flowers to make amends. Pete Ladd, your haircut sucks and I hate your '86 Topps Traded card. Still brings back an awful memory. 

Card #10: 1991 Stadium Club Benji Gil RC #58

When I would go to the grocery store with my mom, sometimes she would let me get a magazine. Usually, I would grab a Sports Cards magazine. They were always fun! I liked them more than Beckett and Tuff Stuff. In one of those magazines, I saw this card. There was a piece on Gil (I suppose due to being an up-and-coming prospect). I put this card on my wantlist. My brother and I went to a card show in the spring of '92 and I saw this card for sale, but I didn't have the $5 the guy was asking for it as I had blown my money on a stack of Brett Hull cards. My brother leant me the $5 on the condition that I work it off by doing all of his chores for 3 months along with giving him an Ulf Samuelsson Rookie Card. Well, after the 1993 season it looked like Gil wasn't going to be a superstar and I lost out on the trade. I always hated it when my brother won. Here I am stuck with this Gil card 31 years later. Still bugs me. 

Card #11: 1989 Topps Alvin Davis #687

My brother and I paid way too much attention to the photos on cards when we were younger. This card was one that I spotted one day and made my brother check it out. We were both freaked out! Look at Alvin's eyes. Where are the pupils? Jeez this card bothers me still. SO WEIRD. Ugh, I can't even look at it for longer than a second. Does this freak you out?

Card #12: 1991/92 Stadium Club John Tonelli #189

This card made me laugh when I first saw it, but then I thought, "What is making John Tonelli so mad?" I still wanna know at age 41. What the heck was it? A pretty hilarious photo, but as a kid it bugged me that I had no clue what set him off. 

Did you have any cards that bothered you growing up? If so, what were they? I'd love to hear in the comments. 

Thanks for reading.