Sunday, February 26, 2023

A Custom Softball Card Featuring a Guy Who Designs Custom Cards

A few months ago I shared a story on the blog of how I joined a corporate softball league back in 2018, which rekindled my love for the sport. I've been playing softball ever since.

With all the custom cards I've designed over the past few years, a couple of commenters in that blog post mentioned how they thought they were going to see a custom softball card featuring the guy who designs custom cards.

Well, I didn't share one in that post, but I do have one to share now.
There I am, featured "in action" during last year's softball season.
Note that my last name is not actually Ninepockets. I just figured it would be better for branding to use that name. Which brings me to the back of the card.

The In Action card backs from the original 1982 Topps set were divided into three sections: All Star, Championship Series, and World Series. As you might have guessed, each section featured highlights from the player's all star and playoff experiences to that point in their careers
To make the card back particular to Nine Pockets, I changed those three sections to Blog, Custom Cards, and Softball. Then I just filled in the text descriptions accordingly and added a link to the blog at the bottom. It's a good way to highlight this part of my life and what it's all aboutkind of like a business card or CV. (In fact, the next time I apply to a job in the creative field, maybe I'll hand out one of these cards along with my résumé.)

Thanks for reading as always, and let me know how you like the Nine Pockets custom in the comment section.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Baseball in French, Lesson 3: Le Frappeur D'Urgence

Welcome to Baseball in French, Lesson 3. Previous lessons can be found here.
Today's term is le frappeur d'urgence.
In English, that translates to "emergency hitter". What's the baseball translation?

Pinch hitter.

Here's one of the best pinch-hitters of all time, proudly wearing the Expos colors on his 1971 O-Pee-Chee card.

Staub, popularly known in Montreal as Le Grande Orange for his ginger hair, put up exactly 100 pinch hits over his career, which at the time of this writing puts him at 19th on the all-time list. He's tied for the most pinch-hit RBI in a season (25) with Joe Cronin and Jerry Lynch.
As for the baseball terminology, I think this is a case where I like the English version better. Your team is in a pinch, and you need to bring a hitter off your bench to help you out. Hence, pinch hitter. Easy. Effective.
"Emergency hitter" is just a little too dramatic for me. It's not like you're in a Bugs Bunny cartoon where all your teammates are getting trounced so badly that they're being carried off the field on stretchers, and you've got to find someone from the crowd to go bat for the team.

How about you? Do you prefer pinch hitter or emergency hitter? Leave a comment below, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 12, 2023

PSA's First-Ever Gem Mint 11

There's some big news in the trading card world. The authentication and grading company PSA has logged its first-ever grade of Gem Mint 11. That's one higher than ever before.
This is even bigger news here at Nine Pockets Headquarters. 
Because it's one of my custom cards!
Here's the back:


I'm not sure if any other card will ever receive an 11, but even if one does at some point in the future, I can always say that I had a copy of the first. 

Now as much as I'd like to say that all of this is true, it's of course not a real submission. And that's not a real slab from PSA. 
It's the work of artist and photographer Robbie Augspurger, who did pick up a copy of my Spinal Tap custom card and, unbeknownst to me, decided to do the most clever and brilliant thing anyone has ever done with one of my customs.
I discovered the project on Robbie's instagram page, and contacted him to thank him for doing such a clever thing. He replied, and let me know how much he enjoyed working on the project. Then he asked me a question: 
Would I be interested in a PSA Gem Mint 11 copy of my own?
Yes. Absolutely. Yes.
Turns out he had a few additional blank slabs lying around.
I asked if I could send him some more custom cards in return, because there was no way I was going to accept such a rockin' gift without compensation. He happily selected a few additional customs from my list, and the deal was done.
And here's what arrived in my mailbox recently.
I'm not a collector of slabbed and graded cards, so this automatically becomes the best one in my collection. But who are we kidding? Even if I had some slabbed cards, this would still be my favorite.
For those of you who haven't seen the film This is Spinal Tap and are wondering what all the hubbub is about, here's a clip that will explain the Gem Mint 11 joke.

It's pretty cool that I can look at a fellow collector, hold up my Spinal Tap card from PSA, and just like Nigel Tufnel, say to them, This one goes to eleven.

Will that line ever get old? No. No it won't. And neither will my slabbed and graded Spinal Tap card.
If art and photography are your interests, please consider stopping by Robbie's website, or following him on instagram if you're so inclined.

And now a question for you readers and collectors/investors:
Should I hold onto the slabbed Spinal Tap card for a while, or sell it for a couple million dollars right now? The trading card market is still hot, after all.

Leave your suggestions in the comment section, and thanks for reading as always.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

This Custom Card Would Like Us to be Excellent to Each Other

Want to see two most excellent dudes on a custom card?

Okay, behold:

It's Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and Ted "Theodore" Logan. And together they are . . . WYLD STALLYNS!
The design is based on the team leaders/checklist cards from the 1983 Topps baseball set. And really, why wouldn't Bill and Ted have ended up in 1983 at some point on their time-traveling adventure, rubbing elbows with a couple of baseball stars of the time like Johnny Bench and Ozzie Smith? I can picture Bill or Ted seeing Ozzie and saying "Whoa, it's the wizard dude from baseball!" (As Ozzie proceeds to do a backflip, further impressing them.)
Anyway, more on the design: Of the various color combinations from the original set, I went with the neon blue and dark purple used for the Braves and Blue Jays, as those colors seemed like a good nod to the '80s era. It's a most triumphant scene with what could easily be the San Dimas High School baseball field in the background there, too. And I figured it was about time that the two members of Wyld Stallyns appeared on a trading card together. 

I must admit, however, that I failed to do any trading card research before setting off on the creative process this time. It turns out that in 1991 a company called Merlin produced a 128-card set featuring the two dudes (Bill & Ted's Totally Excellent Collector Cards), and in that very same year Pro Set released a 100-card set of their own (Bill & Ted's Most Atypical Movie Cards). 
So my Bill & Ted custom card is not as unique as I thought.
I still like it a lot, though. And to tie it back to baseball, "Wyld Stallyns" could very well be the name of a minor league baseball team from San Dimas, California, don't you think? I mean, you've got the Binghamton Rumble Ponies these days.

As for the actors themselves, Alex Winter (Bill S., Preston, Esq.) got his name out there a couple of years before the first Bill & Ted movie with a role as a vampire named Marko in The Lost Boys (1987). Along with Bill & Ted in 1989, Winter also earned some coolness points by appearing in a Red Hot Chili Peppers video ("Knock me Down"). He's also done voice-over work for a couple of Ben 10 animated films (2007, 2009), and has more recently gotten into the directing field, working on the 2020 film Zappa and 2022's The YouTube Effect.

And then there's Keanu Reeves (Ted "Theodore" Logan). To add another tie to the sports realm, early on in his acting career he played a goalie named "Heaver" who was teammate to Patrick Swayze and Rob Lowe in the hockey film Youngblood (1986). You might also know him as Johnny Utah in Point Break (1991), Jack Traven in Speed (1994), Neo in The Matrix series, and John Wick in the John Wick series. He's also known to be an overall good dude.
I haven't seen the other movies in the Bill & Ted franchise (Bogus Journey in 1991 and Face the Music in 2020), so I can only speak for the original Excellent Adventure when I say it's worth a watcheven if you already saw it back in 1989.
Aside from that, what's my only other advice?
Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes!
Thanks for reading, as always.