Sunday, October 31, 2021

Custom Card Store: The eBay Option

Quick post today.
First things first, thank you very much to the folks who've already purchased some custom cards from my new bonanza store! The site offers some good analytics tools, and it's been fun looking through the stats to see which cards are being viewed and purchased the most. To this point, the Beastie Boys Future Stars card has been the biggest hit, far and away.
But for those who might not want to go through the trouble of setting up an account on just to make one purchase, I totally understand. That's why I've decided to take some of my stock and post it on eBay as well. 

Being that a lot of collectors (myself included) already do a good amount of buying and selling on eBay, and sometimes even receive special discount codes or eBay Bucks, I figure the platform might be more convenient to use.
As for the base price of each card, it's a bit higher because eBay charges about 5 times more in seller fees than Bonanza. However, I've tried to combat that higher base price by offering discounts if more than one custom card is purchased. Here's the rundown:
1 card is $4.00
2 cards are $3.40 each
3 cards are $3.20 each
4 cards or more are $3.00 each.
So, if you want to use Bonanza, absolutely do that. But if you already have an eBay account and would rather use that site, you also have the option now. Check out the Nine Pockets eBay store here.
Thanks again for the support and enthusiasm so far. It's definitely given me a boost of inspiration and energy to whip up some new custom cards. In fact, I'm working on a couple right now.
Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Game Ball

Here's a special item I found during a visit to my mom's place:

You're looking at a baseball from my Little League days. Specifically, it's an example of a "game ball" that our coach would sometimes hand out to a player who'd earned it on the diamond that particular day. And I think I remember why I received it all those years ago. Here's the quick story:

I was playing second base that day. Earlier in the game, I'd committed a real bone-headed error on the easiest of ground balls. It was a 5-hopper that was slowly making its way through the infield grass and onto the dirt. I moved in to make the play, but took my eye off the ball at the last moment to see how close the runner was getting to first base. (Dummy.) The ball scooted right under my glove and the runner made it safely to first. 
I took a lot of pride in my fielding back then, and I definitely looked up to our coaches, who worked hard with us, so I wanted badly to redeem myself.
Now it was late in the game, and we were back on the field with two outs in the inning. The next batter was a big right-hander who could hammer the ball, but he'd been late with his swings all game. (He was using a wooden bat instead of aluminum for some reason, so maybe that had something to do with it.) This crossed my mind, and as he got into the batter's box I covertly took a few steps toward first base. Fast-forward just a couple of pitches into the at-bat, and sure enough, the guy was late on his swing again. He connected hard and hit a line drive to my left that I reached out and speared, going down to a knee, almost like a hockey goalie making a glove save. 
If I hadn't crept over to the left beforehand, that ball would have gone through the hole and kept the inning going. Instead, the inning ended and we retained our small lead. The next inning we held them again, and won the game.
Redemption. And a game ball.

It's funny how all of those details can come back as soon as you see a certain object, isn't it?

And those detailed memories caused me to go straight for a particular box full of cards when I got home, in order to take out a related item:
I don't have any video from my Little League days, but the game ball and this card are two special items. Man, those were good times.
How about you readers? Do you have any childhood cards of yourself, whether it was from a baseball league or any other sport?
Share in the comment section, and if you're a blogger, why not create a blog post that features your card? I'd love to see what these types of cards might have looked like in other regions of the country.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee Dating Game (Episode 20)


Welcome back to The 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee Dating Game, where we'll randomly select three eligible bachelors from the set and you, the reader, will choose which one wins that date with a special lady. How do we know they're bachelors? Why, it says so right on the back of their hockey cards, that's how!

Previous episodes are available here.

The big winner of episode 19 was 1980 Olympic gold medalist Mike Ramsey. (U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!)

Now, let's start the 20th round and introduce the bachelors chosen by the randomizer! [APPLAUSE]
Bachelor number 1: Goalie from the Edmonton Oilers, Grant Fuhr
Bachelor number 2:
Goalie from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vincent Tremblay
Bachelor number 3: Center
from the New Jersey Devils, Steve Tambellini

We haven't had many goalies on the program so far, but now we've got two in the same episode. It's a goalie battle!

Let's find out more about all three gents from the back of their cards.

Well, two bachelors were so bashful that they just couldn't share any hobbies. Grant Fuhr responded by revving his engine. Will that affect the outcome this week? Time for you to decide!
Who's going out on a date with our nice young lady?

Bachelor number 1: Speed racer Grant Fuhr.

Bachelor number 2: Vincent Tremblay, Quebec guy through and through.

Bachelor number 3: Nearly a 30-goal man last season, Steve Tambellini.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

This Custom Card has Gotta Get Back, Back to the Past. . .

I enjoy good animation. And a good story. And creativity.  
Not surprising, then, that I was intrigued by the Samurai Jack series when it hit Cartoon Network in the early 2000s. Admittedly, sometimes I thought it was weird; other times cheesy. And there were episodes I wasn't exactly enthralled with. But there were special times when the whole production team would just nail an episode. The combination of animation, backgrounds, audio, story line, and creativity hit the highest mark. The following clip provides an example.

And so I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that when I discovered menko a couple of years ago, they also intrigued me. The artwork and colors on many menko from the old days are just fantastic. So much so, that when I recently came across a book called Sayonara Home Run—which told the story of baseball and menko in Japan—I snatched it up and read it, cover to cover. 

During that reading, I came across a particular Japanese baseball player whose profile reminded me of Samurai Jack.  

1948 Hiroshi Oshita

Soon a formula worked itself out in my mind. 
Menko + Samurai Jack = Custom Card. 

So I got to work. Here's how it turned out. (Front and back shown.)

Design elements on the card front: The Japanese kanji character at top left is for "samurai". The phonetic "Jakku" ties the card to phonetic spellings used on baseball menko of the late-1940s, and indicates how a Japanese speaker might pronounce the American name "Jack" using the syllable sounds of the Japanese language. A famous example from the era is a Babe Ruth menko that spells his name "Bebu Lusu" on the front. 
As for the card back, the image of Jack is from an episode that was set in outer space (season 01, episode 05). The number 0105 on top is a little reference to that. On the bottom, the Japanese katakana characters spell out the word "spaceman" (su pe - su man).
PS: Ryan at Japanese Sumo Wrestling Cards and Menko, thank you for verifying the kanji and katakana characters for me. I'm going to send a copy your way.
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 3, 2021

From the Favorites Box: Glenn Healy, 1991-92 O-Pee-Chee #368

A series where I post some thoughts about favorite cards. Previous cards in the series are available here.

Here's Glenn Healy, minding the net at Nassau Coliseum.


The old Coliseum, the classic home white uniforms, the advertisement on the boards behind him, it all reminds me of a Glenn Healy story from a game I attended back then—probably around the same year this card was released. 
Toward the end of pre-game warmups, Mr. Healy was still on the ice and noticed a few kids standing 15 or 20 rows back from the glass, behind his net. No one else was in that section of seats. (The Islanders weren't very good at the time, and weren't drawing huge crowds during pre-game warmups, especially on a weeknight as it was.) It became clear to me that he was trying to figure out a way to get a puck or two up there so the kids could go home with a souvenir. But how? 

Well, he got the attention of a couple of his players and pointed them toward the kids. Then he moved to the side of the goal, tapped the blade of his goalie stick on the ice, and tilted it back, effectively producing a ramp. (Can you see where this is going?) 

The players picked up on it. They began deliberately shooting pucks hard and along the ice, right toward Healy's stick-ramp.

Unfortunately for Healy, he'd angled his stick perfectly wrong. Instead of going up and over the glass, the first shot went straight into the top of the goal!

He threw his head back as if he were saying "D'oh!"

It was a funny moment. And as I look back now, it's impressive. Think about it. There was Glenn Healy, professional NHL goaltender, having fun like a kid—during warmups of an NHL game. 

When most players were busy getting their game faces on, Healy was busy trying to get a hockey puck to a few kids in the stands. Now it could be that he wasn't the starting goaltender that evening, and that's why he was goofing around a little bit. I don't know. But in any case, the moment stuck with me.

And if you know anything about Mr. Healy, it will all make perfect sense. 

He was quite a lighthearted guy during his playing career (as evidenced by a little TV comedy spot he'd occasionally do with teammate Patrick Flatley called The Heals and Flats Show. In this particular segment they discuss the differences between the NFL and the CFL). 

Not surprisingly, after his playing career ended, Healy continued to amuse hockey fans as a color commentator and analyst for various Canadian television networks. Currently he's the President and Executive Director of the NHL Alumni Association, and despite the lofty job title, I'm sure he still keeps everyone laughing.

Here are his career numbers across 15 seasons: 437 GP, 166 W, 190 L, 47 T, 13 SHO, 3.37 GAA, .887 SV%

Although he didn't spend much of that time as his team's outright number-one goalie, Healy had some pretty good individual seasons, winning as many as 25 games with the Kings in 1988-89 and 22 games with the Islanders in 1992-93. He also played a big part in taking the Isles to the Conference Finals that season, dethroning the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins along the way. 

The following year he was traded to the Rangers, just in time to provide solid backup to Mike Richter across 29 games of the regular season. He also helped the team hoist the Stanley Cup that year, appearing in parts of 2 playoff games and posting a robust .941 save percentage (16 saves on 17 shots) along with a minuscule 0.89 goals-against average.

I'm sure he played a big part in keeping his teammates loose during those intense Stanley Cup games, too.

And for reminding us that it is indeed possible to have a little fun despite the pressure of playing a professional sport—or perhaps because of the pressure—1991-92 O-Pee-Chee #368 has a spot in my box of favorite cards.

Here's to the new hockey season.