Sunday, November 26, 2023

I Found a Good Use for My Collectible Sports Coins

Back in the late-1990s, the Pinnacle brand tried something a little different.


They released baseball, football, and hockey versions for a couple of years, along with an accompanying card set. Depending on the sport, each pack came with at least a couple of cards, plus a coin that was nestled in a little plastic tray. Back then I was a college hockey player, working at a sports collectibles store that sold autographed memorabilia, clothing, jerseys, and packs of cards—a preponderance of packs—including Pinnacle Mint coins. So it only follows that I bought a couple of packs of the hockey version with my employee discount, just to see what the fuss was about.

Out of the 30 possible coins in the set, I pulled a Teemu Selanne and a Jaromir Jagr from those packs, which I certainly wasn't complaining about. But you know what? 
They were coins. 
Not really my thing at the end of the day. So they went into a shoebox, and that's where they lived for decades. But now they're seeing the light of day again, because I found a good use for them.

You see, this past year I got back into playing golf. And when your golf ball makes it onto the green, you're permitted to mark it with a coin of some sort, pick it up, clean any little pieces of grass or dirt from it, and put it back down. I'd been using a couple of random coins throughout the season, but eventually came across Mr. Selanne and Mr. Jagr in that old box, and figured why not add them to my golf bag? Here's a closer look at Teemu.

I've mainly been getting out on the course with my brother, who lives nearby, and who loves the idea of using the Pinnacle coins as golf ball markers. He's been into golf for the past couple of years, and has clearly been bitten by the bug. Hearing him talk so excitedly about a sport that I was once really into has motivated me to play a lot more as well. In fact, he and I had a weekly golf date throughout most of this season. It was tremendous. I saw the dude every week, and we had so much fun on the course. And because he only started to truly focus on his game this past year, his improvement has come in leaps and bounds. He's also younger than me. And stronger. Next season I'll need to step up my game if I want to stay ahead of him. And I figure some sports stars on coins might help me out.

On that note, here's Jaromir.


It's nice to have choices. 
Have my scores improved as a result? No. Coins don't improve your game. And besides, golf is too random anyway. I'm sure I've shot some good scores while using each coin, and some poor scores as well.

But it's still fun to mark your golf ball on the green and see a pro hockey player smiling back at you.

Me: [Gulp] Five feet for par. Downhill. Fast. Right to left...
Jaromir Jagr: Come on, Greggy. Just roll it right in there.

How can you not put forth a solid effort after that pep-talk? In fact, I've recently added another coin to the collection.


That's right. I needed a baseball coin. Who better than Donnie Baseball?

This one comes from a special set of 46 Starting Lineup coins issued in 1991. Lots of star power on the checklist there.

Maybe envisioning that sweet, smooth Mattingly baseball swing will keep my golf swing smooth as well. It's a fun thought, anyhow. And golf should be fun. Not too serious. So I'm happy with the addition.
And although I don't really need any more of these coins, the fact remains that I'm a collector, just like many of you. So now that I'm putting the coins to good use, I have to admit that I've been searching the web to see what other baseball or hockey options might be out there, and which players might be available.

What do you all think? Which baseball or hockey players from the 1990s would be the best for giving a golfer some extra mojo on the course? Junior Griffey is one that immediately comes to mind.

Share your choices in the comment section, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

For a Longtime Jets Fan, This Custom Card Was 50 Years Overdue

I  think it's safe to assume that most folks who read blogs about trading cards are also sports fans to some degree. It's probably also safe to say that many of those folks have a favorite team they not only root for every year, but also collect. It's a little bit easier if that team is successful, of course. Winning games is fun. It makes collecting more fun.
But if your favorite team has had a long run of unsuccessful seasons, missing the playoffs by inches or miles or anything in between, then you might sympathize with a particular collector who reached out to me a few months ago, asking if I would design a specific trading card for him.

You see, he's a fan of the New York Jets football team. A longtime fan. Long enough to have young memories of "Broadway Joe" Namath leading his 1969 team to victory in Superbowl III. After that? Well, the Jets still haven't won another Super Bowl. Or even made it into the Super Bowl. In fact, they've only made the playoffs about a dozen times in all those years leading up to the current day.

And as if that weren't bad enough for a Jets fan, the 1970 Topps football set didn't even commemorate the team's Super Bowl Championship with a card. Nothing.

Well, this particular Jets fan and card collector wanted to right that wrong. So he asked me if I'd create a card in the style of the 1970 football set to document the team's big victory. After all, other football sets of the 1970s and 1980s did issue a few cards to commemorate the AFC champs, NFC champs, and Super Bowl champs.

Well, I did some research on the game, and got to work. Here's the result:

If you didn't immediately connect the year of 1970 with its football card design a few paragraphs ago, that ought to do it. Iconic, for sure. And once I found that specific photograph, I knew it was the one. You've got Emerson Boozer, Joe Namath, Pete Lammons, and Matt Snell, all battered, dirtied, and catching their breath with the offensive line as a full crowd in the background awaits the next play. It's a great team photo for a card like this one. There are no horizontal cards in the original 1970 set, so I had to create one, but the effort was well worth it.

Now here's the back:

I tried to model the design after many of the Super Bowl cards featured in Topps sets of the '70s and '80s. One half of the card features individual player stats, while the other half tells the scoring story. (Kicker Jim Turner had quite a game for the Jets.) As for the card number at top left, there are 263 cards in the 1970 Topps set, so this one became 264 in that "what if" sort of way.

Although I'm not a football fan and haven't watched a game in years, I'm happy to have helped create a card that documents such a memorable Super Bowl. I did grow up in New York, and I did grow up around a fair number of Jets fans, so I felt this collector's pain. He was overjoyed with the result when I sent him a digital proof, and even happier when he had a copy of the actual card in hand, and was able to slide it into the final page of his 1970 Topps football card binder. Since then, a few other collectors have picked up a copy, which is gratifying.

How about you readers? Does this custom card evoke any nostalgic feelings for you? Any Jets fans out there? Let me know what you think, and thanks for reading, as always!

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Winner of the Nine Pockets Wax Pack Giveaway

Alright everyone, it's time for the results of the Nine Pockets wax pack giveaway!
It was a pretty good turnout, with 14 of you entering the giveaway within the designated one-week period. Here's the list of contestants, plus links to their associated blogs or TCDB profiles:
Nachos Grande (Nachos Grande)
RJ Sahl (TCDB: rjsahl)
Mark Zentkovich (TCDB: mzentko)
Vrooomed (TCDB: vrooomed)
David (TCDB: BucCollector)
jlcre2003 (TCDB:jlcre2003)
Sportzcommish (TCDB: Sportzcommish)

After the sign-up window closed, I entered all the names into a special randomizer called the Duck Race. If you haven't seen it in action, here's how it works: Each entrant is represented by an animated rubber duck that is sitting at the starting line on an animated river. The starting gun fires, and all the ducks begin floating randomly along the river as the screen scrolls horizontally. Eventually the finish line appears, and the first duck to cross the line wins. 
Yesterday I ran the script and recorded the action. Want to see how it all turned out? 
Play the video, find your duck, and here we go.  

What a finish! 
Here's your prize, Mr. Grande:

I don't think I have your mailing address, which means we've never sent each other cards before. Could that be right?? In any case, please get in touch via email or TCDB and send me your info so I can mail the wax pack out to you.
Congratulations again to Nachos Grande, and thank you all for participating!
PS: Let me know in the comment section if you enjoyed the duck race as a method of choosing a giveaway winner. I wouldn't mind bringing it back for another run at some point in the future.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Broten Brothers

It's the 1970s. You and your two brothers are growing up in hockey-mad Roseau, Minnesota. And you're all making names for yourselves at the rink.
As the oldest by a year, you're the first to hit the college ranks, attending the University of Minnesota. As the decade nears an end, your coach, Herb Brooks, invites you to try out for the upcoming 1980 United States Olympic ice hockey team. And you make the cut. As exciting as that might have been, it was nothing compared to the miracle gold-medal victory that your and your teammates would carry out a few months later.
Instead of heading straight for the NHL (your hometown Minnesota North Stars selected you in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft), you decide to go back to University. Younger brother Aaron is on the team now, and during the 1980-81 season, the two of you help carry the Golden Gophers all the way to the final game of the NCAA championships, losing out to Wisconsin.

By that time, Aaron had also been selected by an NHL team—the Colorado Rockies—and you were both ready to make the jump to the pros, while teenage brother Paul waited in the wings.
The next season, 1981-82, you and Aaron get your first big taste of NHL action. You both have excellent success over the next few years, while Paul begins attending that same University of Minnesota and hones his hockey skills. At the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, he's selected by the New York Rangers. After finishing four years at University, he'd make the jump to minor league hockey in 1988-89. Then, in 1989-90, a few great things happen. 
First, Paul makes it to the NHL, meaning all three of you are officially NHLers. 
Next, during the second half of the season, Aaron gets traded to the North Stars. You'd be playing pro hockey with your brother! 
And if that weren't cool enough, on February 4, 1990, all three of you would play in the same NHL game for the first time when you and Aaron travel to Madison Square Garden to take on little brother Paul and the New York Rangers.

Paul would have the last laugh that night, as the Rangers took the game by a score of 4–3. It was pretty quiet on the scoresheet for the family, though. You'd post an assist on rookie sensation Mike Modano's 22nd goal of the season, and Aaron would take two penalties. Paul had three shots on goal, all stopped by another rookie standout: Mike Richter.

Still, what a night for the Broten clan. Here are all three brothers on hockey cards from that same time period.

1990-91 Bowman #178 Neal Broten, #185 Aaron Broten, and #224 Paul Broten

Just a few seasons later, the landscape had changed. The Minnesota North Stars had moved to Dallas, and you'd go with them. Aaron had retired. Paul wasn't producing in New York. 
However, it wasn't all bad news. After the 1992-93 season ended, Paul would be traded by the Rangers. And he was shipping off to . . . Dallas!
You'd already played on the same NHL team with Aaron. Now you'd have the chance to play with your other brother. How cool.
Here's a statistical rundown for all three Brotens.   




(17 seasons)

(12 seasons)

(7 seasons)



























(Career highs in bold)



(1985-86, Minnesota)

(1987-88, New Jersey)

(1991-92, NY Rangers)


























Neal would eventually join the New Jersey Devils, just in time to help them hoist the Stanley Cup in 1994-95. Across his career he played for the North Stars/Dallas Stars, Devils, and Kings, and received Calder, Selke, and Lady Byng Trophy consideration. He was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000.

Aaron is also a US Hockey Hall of Fame member, having been inducted in 2007. He suited up for the Rockies, Devils, North Stars, Nordiques, Maple Leafs, and Jets.

Paul was the only brother to play four years of college hockey at the University of Minnesota. Across his career he played for the Rangers, Dallas Stars, and Blues.
So here's to the Broten brothers. Hockey royalty in Minnesota, and a legendary name in US hockey.